Time to wipe slates clean in the Planning hearing system

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However, as I explained to her – at some considerable length, it must be said, although it will do me no good to say so – that doesn’t mean to say that I agree with Mr Carée’s every word but simply that I enjoy the way he puts things.

Take his latest offering for example. If he is anything like me then I can imagine that he was in town, probably at something of a loose end having walked from Sand Street car park up as far as Boots and not seen anyone he recognised when he decided to pop in to a Planning Department hearing at St Paul’s Centre.

Had I done that it would have brought back memories – not entirely happy, I have to say – of the old New Street Boys’ School when Max Le Feuvre was the headmaster and the teaching staff was populated by representatives of the Gough and Lobb families and very little else. The yellow and black school caps that were worn by the inmates (there’s no other word to describe us) were purchased from an outfitter in Bath Street opposite Jeff Le Marquand’s emporium and bore the legend NSS which, my father used to say – and for years I believed him – meant No School Sundays. But I digress.

Mr Carée said that he saw some ‘fantastic projects produced by some talented architects shot down by some farmers and youngsters who had absolutely no qualifications between them’. He went on to observe: ‘I am totally baffled as to how a project that may house a number of local families can hinge on a thumbs-up of totally unqualified people, merely expressing their own personal taste.’

To illustrate the point, Mr Carée reflected upon an architect presenting a design for a building with a nautical theme, only for a committee member to ask why the building had round windows. Take heart, Mr Carée, take heart. When Herself and I first submitted plans for our modest home the better part of 45 years ago we thought we’d please the then Island Development Committee by suggesting that the tiles on the roof should be green as that was in keeping with the rural setting in which we sought to build.

We got the plot approved but among the stipulations the committee of the day attached to the permit – you’d have thought we wanted to build a ten storey office block half a mile east of St Ouen’s Pond the way they went on – was one which stated that the tiles must be grey so as to be in keeping with the slates on the roof of a nearby farmhouse.

The only criticism I have of Mr Carée’s letter is that I really wish he’d have named the member of the Big House who asked about the round windows. Then we’d all know a little bit more about who is doing what in our names.

Like Maria Barnicoat, I too read Dr Chandrasekhar’s comments on the ‘shock rise in facial injuries’ caused by violence on the streets of St Helier and read also his suggestion that the States Police should show schoolchildren closed circuit television footage of violence.

He clearly believes that such a demonstration might turn some of them away from weekends of binge drinking and that, in consequence, might reduce what is now an appalling level of violence on the streets.

Ms Barnicoat clearly believes otherwise and asserts that there is already enough violence on television without increasing their exposure to it. I lean towards Dr Chandrasekhar’s view for the principal reason that those in the age group he seeks to target are not stupid.

Ms Barnicoat cites Eastenders as an example but in doing so suggests that children are too stupid to understand the difference between what is viewed as part of a wholly fictional television programme and the brutal reality of what the police would show them.

Does Ms Barnicoat really believe that driving cars in the fashion glamorised by scenes from the latest James Bond film or erstwhile episodes of things like the Dukes of Hazzard is as influential in terms of demonstrating the dangers of speeding as are, for example, some of the videos taken by police officers of real car crashes and their often horrendous consequences?

I happen to think that the vast majority of young people are more than intelligent enough to tell the difference and would be as shocked by the reality as they – and a lot of adults – are entertained by the fictional productions.

I say the vast majority because we all know that there are those – not peculiar to this generation, I stress – who will always drive dangerously and will always get drunk and resort to violence, until, all too often, they become the victim.

If following Dr Chandrasekhar’s suggestion led to a mere handful of young people being deterred from drinking to excess and resorting to violence as a result then I would consider the exercise to have been worthwhile and so, I suggest to Ms Barnicoat, would the great majority of responsible parents. The trouble is that no one will ever know whose view is the correct one.

And finally … Now that the drugs conspiracy trial has been brought to a conclusion and those found guilty will face their just desserts in a couple of months or so, a word of praise and thanks for those involved in the prosecution. It goes without saying that this community owes a debt of gratitude to everyone involved but particularly, if I might say so, to those Island residents called upon to do their civic duty and serve on the jury. We are all indebted to you.

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