While I’m all in favour of Senator Ozouf getting well into the faces of those who waste money – and former Detective Superintendent Mick Gradwell spelt out recently how heaven knows how much was poured into a hole at Haut de la Garenne during an excavation which he said was a complete waste of time, effort and public money – I can’t help wondering if all that the Treasury minister supports will prove to be money well spent.
For example, it’s only within the last few weeks that the young Senator approved spending £337,000 from the £44 million fiscal stimulus package on what has been described as a facelift for the seafront promenade between West Park and Rue de Galet so that the surface will be improved for the cyclists and pedestrians who use it.
I have to say that the last time I walked along a bit of that stretch – admittedly a few months ago and only from near the Waterfront gardens to about First Tower – I was never worried about stumbling because of the allegedly poor quality of the promenade surface. However, the rate of knots some of the cyclists were travelling at gave me the willies and because of that I seriously question the wisdom of improving anything if the end result will be that the morons from the cycling fraternity – as always, a minority but that does not mean they don’t exist – will be able to go faster still.
Indeed, if there is evidence to support my assertion about the likelihood of increased speed following surface improvements – and the Department of Expensive Cock-ups should have some statistics on this – then I for one would suggest that a few more ruts and potholes, along with the occasional speed hump, would be public money better spent.
However, the real point of concern that I have is that after announcing that the work will cost almost exactly a third of a million pounds, Transport Minister Mike Jackson then said that a number of local firms including hauliers, builders’ merchants and asphalt and concrete suppliers will all be invited to tender.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, or indeed a professor of written English to discern that what was said was that all those firms will be invited to tender, rather than have been invited to tender.
So, here we go once again with our elected representatives making it as easy as it possibly can be for the public purse to take a battering by telling the world and his brothers – as well as those in business who take the view that obtaining States work is akin to a licence to print money – precisely how much they’ve got to spend before inviting tenders.
The old song – Where Have All The Flowers Gone? – said it all. When indeed will they ever learn?
Keith Shaw is a regular contributor to the correspondence columns of this newspaper which means that – at Chez Clement at least – he falls into one of two categories: should read or avoid like the plague.
As an aside, I would add that now I’ve learned how to get hold of internet comments on individual stories and letters published online, so I am getting more adept at identifying those comments which make some sort of sense and those which seem to have been written by something which needs watering each day and twice when the weather is warm.
But back to Mr Shaw and his recent observations on the wisdom or otherwise of lobbing some of the rainy day fund in the direction of Jersey Heritage in order to help that body meet the financial difficulties it finds itself in.
I was certainly impressed by a couple of his comments, and in particular where he observed that while each new project created or developed by Jersey Heritage has added to and complemented the Island’s heritage stock, it has also added to the trust’s
But perhaps the most telling comment related to the farcical (my observation rather than Mr Shaw’s) situation which led to Mont Orgueil being covered in scaffold for what he describes as its repair, restoration and alteration stages – although others may not put that description of what went on quite so politely – and the later issue of access to Elizabeth Castle.
As Mr Shaw succinctly put it, neither of these matters added to public confidence regarding the use of public money. I mention all that because my comment the other week about there being plenty for people to do in Jersey – and in particular the reference to a visit to Mont Orgueil and the falconry display there – drew a response from someone who works at a Jersey Heritage site.
Given how whistleblowers employed by this outfit have been treated in the past, I will not disclose his name but simply say that he suggested that before that lot in the Big House decide on Jersey Heritage’s future funding, some of them should at least take the trouble to visit some of the attractions.
He went on to say that in all the years he has been employed on Jersey Heritage properties, he has seen fewer than a handful – that means four at the most – pay for admission and see what was on offer. ‘If they don’t visit, they’ll be deciding in the dark,’ he said.
And finally … so they want to know yet again why almost everything is far too expensive over here? The quick answer boils down to one word – greed.
A combination of greed by landlords and greed by businesses. There’s no need to launch another inquiry when the answer’s that