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)