Monday, 29 December 2008

Senator Breckon Replies - JEC Price Hike

I have received a reply from Senator Breckon, as follows:

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to get in touch regarding the proposed price increase by the JEC.

I should say that as Chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council I have met with some of the company directors and the senior management team on numerous occasions over the years to discuss levels of service and pricing.

I, with a colleague met last with the above on Thursday 25th September, as we had picked up from information contained in a company report that prices would increase by up to 25% from January 2009. The reason for meeting was to seek justification for this increase. We were shown information that demonstrated the European power market in which the JEC were buying (price wise) and that they were buying in Euros - which in itself meant a 15% increase because of the £'s weakness (at that time- since then it has weakened further) They explained that they wanted certainty of price which meant forward purchasing electricity supply at a given price - they explained that as the crude oil price was the driving factor they were purchasing supply in segments for 2009 and "hedging" the Euro against the £ to try to spread the risk and obtain the best deal for Jersey - at that time crude oil prices were still over $100 per barrel - so they are now locked into a deal that does not look very good for them or Jersey consumers as crude is now around $40 per barrel.

At the time of the above discussions I was not aware of company information or profits, recently announced.

Regarding the States holding which equals about 62% of the company - I have felt for a long time that there is a conflict of interest - because the Treasury Minister has a duty to maximise the public return - while on the other hand - the shareholder - the public of the Island - gets walloped with these large increases - so I do not believe that the public interest is best served at the moment also this effects people's very real cost of living - also this feeds into the retail price index and is inflationary so what exactly does the public benefit from this arrangement?

Also because the JEC are a publicly quoted ( on the Stock Exchange) they are limited in what they can disclose to the people of Jersey or publicly say. I am given to understand that the non States shareholders (some are UK institutions) are not content with the dividend they receive and complain if the company do not pass on any price increase in full + I have publicly stated that States should review its interests in JEC, Jersey Waterworks, Post & Telecom and decide how it may best proceed in the PUBLIC INTEREST - for example it may see the JEC as a "strategic asset" and consider buying the rest of it? - then again it may not?

I am not defending the JEC with the above - I am telling it to you how it was told to me.

Please feel free to publish this reply as you see fit

Regards Alan Breckon

A few questions spring to mind, but firstly, I'd like to thank Senator Breckon for his detailed and interesting reply.

  • What is the other States Members' involvement? Do they receive full and detailed, regular reports?
  • Has any States Member examined the terms of the "locked into" deal?
  • Just how definite is this deal and when does it end?
  • What is the current States participation? Do they have any say on the running of the company, on behalf of the public?
  • Should Senator Breckon not have been made aware of the profits, etc, at the meeting?
  • Who was the Treasury Minister at the time and what was his involvement?
  • The current arrangement of 62% States ownership is not working and what is going to be done about it?

Clearly, it is just plain wrong. How can the Treasury Minister aim for the best profits for the company and at the same time the best interests for the consumer?

From January we will all be paying a surplus in our JEC bills, some of which will be pocketed by UK companies. And we have no choice.

So what is going to happen? Will the States buy it or sell it, or seek to improve the conditions for the consumer? Or nothing at all?

Monday, 22 December 2008


I was going to write about the fantastic crazy letter in the JEP from a Mr Gallichan, husband of St Mary's constable, but Stuart has beaten me to it. I loved his statement " Tradition is more representative than democracy". Mmmnn. Well, you might as well say ""Apples" are more representative than democracy" or "Squirrels" or anything. Also he finishes his letter with a comment blaming it all on "political correctness" I can't see how it has anything to do with political correctness. It seems like the author has just chucked all the words in that make him angry. Is this literary Tourette's?

I have been very short of time, but a few things have been bothering me so I thought I'd fire off some emails to States Members and then wait for the response (if any). They are:

The JEC's Enormous Price Hike

Email to Alan Breckon:

Dear Senator Breckon, I voted for you and I am hoping that you will take an interest in the enormous hike in charges by the JEC. As this company is mainly owned by the States, I believe a States Member should intervene and seek to stop the proposed 24% increase. It is no excuse that there have been no price rises for the last two years. The JEC, in my opinion, has failed to embrace renewable technologies, and now we are at the mercy of the French nuclear companies. I heard a spokesman on BBC radio Jersey explain the enormous price rise by infrastructure costs, and even the weakness of the pound. Well, the profit made last year could cover a great deal of the costs, and as for the argument concerning the weakness of the pound - the price rise was proposed before that even occurred! I have a blog, , and might publish your reply.

Wasteful Energy Use of St Helier and Light Pollution

I emailed the Constable of St Helier, asking about light pollution; one particular light was bothering me. This was the reply

Emails to/from Constable Crowcroft (starting in July):

Hello, the Connetable has forwarded your comments to me, I trust the following is helpful. Street lighting is paid for on a contract basis, and the turning off of one (or 100) will make no difference to the bill we pay. The issue of turning off lamps for light pollution reasons is an interesting one, and we have recently written to the emergency services to gauge their view. It may be of interest to you to note that we seldom receive requests to turn off street lamps, but have regularly calls to increase lighting in poorly lit areas or those with non existent lighting. In addition, when street lamps are off because of a fault it is usually no more than a couple of days before residents want to know when it will be repaired! I think the current indication is that we would receive more complaints about a lamp which was removed than compliments on the savings made, however, we await the comments from the emergency services before making major decisions on this matter.
Regards John Stievenard ICIOB ABEngAssistant Director Technical & Environmental Services

And my reply to him:

Hello. Thanks for your reply. I didn't know about the arrangement for payment of lighting. However, if 1 or 100 lights are turned off there will be a cost and energy saving somewhere. Should that not be part of a government's responsibility, even if it doesn't directly affect the Parish's accounts? As for light pollution, every light turned off makes a difference. Ref: Sadly, I agree with your comments regarding the public's desire for street lighting. They may be a life saver in towns, but even on a road normally deserted by pedestrians from dawn til dusk, my own experience is that people generally seem to want the damn things! Of course, there may be a silent majority, or at least as many people, who do not want them. However, should government, even at parish level, not take responsibility and act as leaders rather than purely representatives of public desire? If the parish wants to cut energy usage/reduce pollution, then turning off lights which are on quiet, out of town roads, is a sensible course of action. As a regular runner in the early morning darkness ( or rather in the gloom of street lamps), I'd much rather see a real dawn than the lights switching off for morning. The level of street lighting is inappropriate for this area, which I'd suggest is in category E2 Environmental zone. Ref: Please give this matter some consideration

And the reply from Simon Crowcroft:

thanks. I'll see this gets the attention it merits and revert to you in due course.rgdsSimon

And my email today:

hello simon. i wondered if you can tell me if this matter has been considered? in the interests of energy conservation will the parish be examining how much energy it is consuming? i have a blog now, , and i might publish your reply. regards and best wishes for christmas.

Treatment of Court Defendants/Prisoners with Mental Illness

Email to Senator le Marquand:

Dear Senator Le Marquand, congratulations on your election to the States! I am writing to you regarding Jersey's court system and certain recent cases, which I have found disturbing. There appears to be a lack of recognition of defendants' mental health problems. Recent cases have included a woman who believes she is controlled by a nine year old girl wearing a diving mask; the court was instructed not to take account of her mental illness. Also, a man has been brought to court several times this year for removing all his clothes in public places; he has been sent to prison, I could not see any account of help available for him in the JEP's report. I would be interested to know your views. I have a blog, , and may wish to publish your reply.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Random (Interesting?) Thoughts

Greenfields/Les Chenes

I worked for a time with children with challenging behaviour, some of whom attended Les Chenes. I assisted the teachers and although I had not completed my Degree, I was also sent to the prison to teach a 15 year old, and I did some work at Grainville School and Haute Vallee.

I am following legal advice so I will not write about my experiences (and I've had legal aid before - over the disputed sale of my organic business to Graham Falle, and I know how useless that is). However, I'm sure I can say that the prison officers I met and some of the teachers and TA's at Haute Vallee were both very kind and very professional.

I'd also like to say that I have spoken to Simon Bellwood and think he has done a great job in progressing change in the care of vulnerable children. I personally know that years ago it was not easy to complain and to try and improve things in an organisation in which "toeing the line" leads to promotion is like swimming through mud.

It would be great to see all organisations have thorough whistleblowing structures in place.


Katy Ringsdore, a candidate in the Deputies' elections, has been derided online and called "vacuous", "a spoiled brat", "thick", "over-privileged", "stuck-up" and even dehumanised - "this Ringsdore thing". I have no problem with people making these sort of statements as long as they are known themselves. To think these things and then post them online, anonymously, is horrible and reminiscent of a mob.

And I would rather vote for a goose or a donkey as I don't follow her views at all, but I have no idea if she is spoiled, thick, stuck-up, etc.

I'm sure this sort of nastiness deters people from standing for election or even making their views known.

And then we get the non-story about Jeremy Macon. Does it really matter if his mother helps him? He is a new States Member. If his mother is answering his emails after he's settled into the States I expect that would suggest he's not ready to be Chief Minister, that's all. Some of the media seemed to revel in this story in a way not unlike the anonymous posters of hateful comments.

Anyway, I'd love to know about the people who tell many of the States Members what to think. How many of our elected members make up their own minds? How many will check with their "supporters" first?


The patent for the invention I have been working on for the last few years has at last been filed with the UK IPO. If anyone wants some information about how to develop an invention I'm happy to share my experiences. Just remember not to disclose the details to anyone, at least not without a non-disclosure agreement.


Damn, I can't find it now, but I read a very interesting article in either the Guardian or Independent, in which the writer suggests we analyse fairy tales by imagining all the characters are parts of the same person. So, Cinderella must allow her nurturing, mothering side (fairy godmother) to develop her own self, so that she can be her true, admirable self, and not let her negativity (ugly sisters) persuade her into a life of servitude. (have to go now - back to work)

Thursday, 13 November 2008

1/ Discredit Evidence 2/ Just a Matter of Interpretation

1/a)Warcup and Gradwell denigrate evidence, questioning validity of the scope of the HDLG investigation.

1/b) The person with ultimate responsibility, Graham Power, is suspended

2/ a) Frank Walker and co. question the legitimacy of resourcing the investigation, based on discredited evidence.

2/b) Without evidence, and possibly the will to resource the investigation adequately for the future, what happened at HDLG becomes a matter of interpretation.

In other words, the A to B of turning a major police enquiry into a minor one.

The JEP's headline of 12/11 must be the most stupid headline ever. "There were no murders" Without being God or some other omnipresent being, how on earth would anyone know that there had been no murders? Perhaps the evidence is questionable. Even so, logical thinking leads to the belief that murders were not unlikely. There are plenty of witness statements of abuse and cruelty, children were not properly protected while in care, even the latterly convicted paedophile, Paisnel, visited children's homes.

So why now? Why an evidence review at this particular moment? Senator Stuart Syvret spoke to the media in the Royal Square about these matters (pictured, by W. Walton). He raised concerns over the lack of transparency regarding the evidence - how bones had been tested, etc. He also considered it an opportune moment for the launch of this "evidence review" at a time when Jersey's establishment awaits the imminent publication of the Howard Leaugue's Report on youth justice and child custody. Without this review, a damning report on child custody practices would have doubtless been linked in the national media with the ongoing HDLG investigation, indicating a prolonged and recent lack of responsibility towards child care issues by Jersey's government. Now that the waters have been muddied, the report's publication is less likely to provoke such a big story in the national media.

Perhaps that will be some comfort to the establishment figures of this Island. But there is no doubt they have failed and that over the years they have been culpable of child neglect. Over the last few decades Jersey has been a place with "money coming out of its ears", but clearly not enough money to fund the proper care of children; not enough money to support parents in need; not enough money to fund foster care. Jersey had the means to support parents who couldn't cope, even now it does not have a Surestart programme as in the UK. It had the means to fund foster care, enabling the many good people in Jersey who would like to offer respite to children, to have the space and time to spend on children. And as a last resort it had the means to ensure that children staying in group homes were well cared for, and it didn't.

The publication of the Howard League's report will offer a way to reflect and improve on past practices. It is imperative that it does not get discredited too.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Mike Liston - Renewables Revolution NOT

Mike Liston was recently interviewed by the JEP about the feasibility of developing renewable energies (wind, solar, marine) in Jersey.

In their article he is said to be the chairman of the Renewable Energy Group Ltd. He is not. He is actually the non-executive chairman of Renewable Energy Generation Ltd.

He says that "The economics to make the scheme work (renewables such as marine) will prevent them from being a reality in Jersey for another 15 years"

Whether a renewables scheme could work in Jersey, I suggest has a lot more to do with will rather than means.

Samso Island near Denmark is totally energy self sufficient. The islanders own their means of energy production and can even sell the surplus to the mainland. They can profit from their wind turbines 6 to 7 years after construction. They started 10 years ago with a couple of turbines and a district heating plant. Why can't Jersey do the same? At least as a pilot project.

Their energy supports a population of about 4,500 people, which increases 10 fold each summer with tourists. The cost so far - about £40million (less than one tenth of our strategic reserve).

If we get some green candidates elected, will they propose at least a pilot renewables project?

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Corroboration Rules - Wendy Kinnard's Resignation

I only have minutes to write this, but where is the information in our local media regarding the corroboration rules? Journalists are paid to research these matters but i can't find any proper explanation in the JEP, BBC radio Jersey, etc of the matter of Wendy Kinnards's resignation.

It took minutes on google to find out that what she resigned over is called the "corroboration rules". I can understand her resignation. She has long been involved in feminist issues and especially support for victims of rape and sexual assault.

The request from Home Affairs, supported by the Attorney General, was to take the matter forward immediately - to change the current situation in which a warning must be given to a jury over uncorroborated evidence from certain types of witnesses - children, sexual assault victims and other defendants. And the Council of Ministers said "No" or at least "Not yet" and are prevaricating, suggesting further research.

Jurisdictions around the world have updated their laws to get rid of this seemingly sexist and ageist requirement, but Jersey lags behind, and at this time particularly, as the process continues (slowly) to convict offenders of the shameful Haut de la Garenne situation, Jersey's Council of Ministers gets it wrong again.

For more information see

"Traditionally, the evidence of victims of sexual offences has been regarded as peculiarly susceptible to fantasy or fabrication, perhaps motivated by frustration, spite or remorse" (Quoted from above source) Charming.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Housing Crisis

The housing situation in Jersey is a disgrace. It has been going on for so long that it just seems like part of life, like people getting sick, rainy days or crab paste sandwiches. That the average Jersey person cannot buy a house or rent one without state support is not a normal part of life however, it has come about through States policies and the "free" market. It can be challenged.

In the 1999 elections I researched the matter of affordable housing. It was as simple as typing "affordable housing" into a search engine. This is the sort of thing that came up . I did more research on shared equity schemes and publicised them in my election campaign, through my leaflets and at the hustings. States members did not want to discuss this and I was told that the idea was a non-starter due to some sort of legal problem, but I kept going with the idea because anything that helps people get their own home is important.

I was not that pleased to see the "Fly" column in the JEP, last week refer to Freddie Cohen's new idea of shared equity housing schemes in his 2005 election manifesto. Well, I know that ideas do not belong to people and being noble means that I should really not be bothered. In fact, it was good that he developed the idea. On the other hand, at the very least, I'd like to make him parade up and down town with a loudhailer, shouting out "It was not my idea"

Seriously, there is so much money here that if the Jersey government wants people to own their homes, then they have the power to make it possible. Why don't they roll out shared equity to all sorts of properties for residents of this island?

And why not reintroduce price control on the sale of houses? It was done in a bad way in the past, arguably very unfairly, but why not a transparent scheme set at today's valuations, allowing a small percentage increase each year? Current home owners would not lose out.

Any election candidate who even suggests the possibility of house price control can expect to be demonised by the local media, so it's hardly a vote winner, but sitting States members could investigate the matter. Why don't they? Is it laziness or is there a desire to keep property prices high? Jersey's government has a large proportion of millionaire property owners and developers, and the type who agree with everything they say. Every community has problems with corruption and plain self interest.

When price control was used in the 1980s it was an unfair scheme and very unpopular. However, it meant that people could buy a house with a deposit of a a few thousand pounds, an amount which it was possible to save, even in those days, and the knock-on effect of price control on all house sales was that rents were much more reasonable too.


A good part of being human is the opportunity to indulge in sensual pleasures as a distraction to all the inequality in the world. When i was a teenager I used to think it was immoral to do so; even to eat out in a restaurant seemed wrong. Luckily for me as the years go by I am abandoning my (restaurant eating) principles. I enjoy cooking too and this is what we had to eat last night We added more pesto towards the end of cooking time and squeezed some limes diluted with water to drink.

Friday, 17 October 2008

More Election Stuff

I forgot to mention on the previous post: The Incredible Conservatism of Jersey

Consider for a moment the United States. Their candidates are trying to win over voters for the presidential elections. Obama is doing very well and I hope the US gets its first black President. Also, Sarah Palin is a very popular figure. Personally, I don't like her beliefs and her policies are pants. But can you imagine for one moment the Jersey electorate openly supporting a female candidate with young children? It is the kiss of death to mention the existence of a young family to Jersey voters if you're a female candidate. They condemn you for doing anything other than staying at home and looking after the kids, as if that was even an option. Jersey is demonstrably more conservative than republican America.

Now on to a list of our election candidates:

Ian Le Marquand
He looked good and spoke well. His promotional material - the colour leaflet in the JEP looked very good. I saw it being left out in different offices, homes, etc, and that was purely because of the presentation. He announced he was "centrist" Brilliant. This man really knows how to read the people. He is an establishment figure with high status. I expect he had a load of votes from the god squad too. He couldn't lose

Alan Breckon
Years of hard work paid off. This man got his votes from respect.

Alan Maclean
He looked good, wore the right suits, has a pretty wife, is rich and supported by the establishment. He can say one thing and do another and get away with it. He could be facing a hard time with the public next time round.

Paul Routier
Also supported by the establishment, he goes along with Frank Walker and his ilk. Look at his nominations - people who are working for the organisations he presides over. I think that's rather tacky. However, he got consistent support across the parishes, including the urban ones. It looks like it's impossible to get him out.

Philip Ozouf
He has a nice face and speaks confidently. Clearly voters do associate him now with GST, etc, as he has lost a lot of support since the last election.

Sarah Ferguson
She comes across as the voice of reason. She looks and sounds dependable. People want to trust her.

Geoff Southern
This man has worked so hard- not just for his district, nor the many propositions he has brought to the States, but also his efforts to bring party politics to Jersey. And he just keeps going. He is seen as a threat by the rich but well supported by the ordinary Jersey person, as can be seen by the variation in results between the rural and urban parishes.

Mike Higgins
He carries an air of efficiency and command due to his association with the Air Display, and has done nothing to dispel that.

Mike Vibert
Dropped by the establishment!

Montfort Tadier
No doubt he would have been elected in a smaller field of candidates. He is eloquent and publicises himself well.

Trevor Pitman
I saw Trevor walking from the car park towards the polling station at First Tower on Wednesday morning and he looked very smart. He has presented himself well and should do well in the urban parishes.

Peter Troy
Peter fell between two stools. He doesn't follow Frank Walker's lead enough to be one of the establishment's chosen, but his image of "rich man" will not win him any favours with the anti-establishment voter.

Cliff le Clercq
I don't know much about him and I think that was his problem generally - people just don't know him well enough.

Daniel Wimberley
He has long been politically active. I remember him at the first open committee meeting following Stuart Syvret's Freedom of Information victory. The only members of the public were me and Daniel. I was drawing them all. He is also a genuine environmentalist - he used to buy veg from me! He is intelligent, creative and committed. A good example of how suits are more important than principles to the Jersey electorate.

Jeremy Macon
Whether through ageism or genuine beliefs that he lacked experience - it was his age which counted against him.

Nick Le Cornu
Nick looks good and speaks well. And he is a lawyer. If he can lose the "radical" tag he could get in.

Chris Perkins, Mark Forskitt and Adrian Walsh
The reason I've put these three together is because they all offered the same problem for me - I could not find out enough about what they stood for. They need to develop their profiles., and get out and speak to people, get heard on the radio phone-in as Monty does, etc.

Nick Palmer
Nick has worked hard in the past for environmental issues and was quite well known. I think he needs to regain that support, perhaps from getting FoE going again.

Mick Pashley
Perhaps he should consider whether he wants to be elected or just have a platform for his views. In Jersey, supporting civil relationships, although admirable, is not going to be a vote winner.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Election Analysis 2008 Senatorials

Same old, same old.

The Establishment has won
Why? Some thoughts:
1/ Confusion:
It's not always easy to find out where to vote when you're in St Helier. Three people I knew wanted to vote but didn't know where to go. I checked the website, which did not list the road names for the different polling stations but provided a link to the CAB website with their own list. That did not have the names I was looking for either. So I phoned the Town Hall and the phone was cut off. Then I phoned again. Finally I got the required information for Ann Street, Columbus Street and Rue de Podetre. I'm interested in politics and I found that time consuming. How many people are deterred from voting by this nonsense of polling stations for different roads? (and not everyone knows their district).
2/ The core establishment vote:
Denzil Dudley, on Radio Jersey, had noticed almost matching votes across the parishes for 3 candidates - Alan MacClean, Philip Ozouf and Paul Routier. Well, I expect that's because there is a network of people across the Island who voted the "Establishment" vote. This is not some sort of strange conspiracy theory but a belief that groups in power organise their friends and associates to support them, and clearly these were the chosen candidates.
3/Too many candidates:
The anti-establishment vote was diluted due to the number of (good) candidates. One way to stop this happening again is for there to be no gap between senatorials and deputies' elections.
4/Lack of Appeal:
There are people who will stand for the States so they have a platform to air their views and expect the electorate to take them as they are. Well, good for them. But if someone does want to be elected they have to be appealing to the voter. The average voter is, in my experience, over 40 years old. I know - I have spent the whole day at polling stations. I also spent a lot of time talking to elderley voters at a previous election and most of them said they wanted to vote for "A young man", which meant a man up to about 50 years old. Also, a fair amount confused Stuart Syvret with Philip Ozouf, voting for Philip becuase they thought he had done what Stuart had done. Please note, I am not trying to make fun of older people, just stating what actually happened. It seems to be important to be a good speaker, look presentable (eg, no beards), wear a suit, etc. This may not be the most flattering view of the electorate, but it's not what you say that counts, but how you say it and what you look like at the time.
5/ Money:
Time and again it can be seen that those who can only afford to spend a small amount on their promotional material do not generally do well. It helps to be a millionaire.
6/ Money again:
Looking at succesful newcomers in the senatorials over the years - what do they have in common? Either they have great personal wealth and property or they protect it (eg, magistrate, investment manager) This is, after all, a finance centre, and there will be many powerful people who want to keep it just as it is.