Back on Planet Jersey it’s been a fun few days but one thing is constant: an Executive Chef. mess
I have just returned from a week away. I went to Blackpool to have a very special time with my family and close friends. It’s been a week where every second has meant so much to me, and the value of the people I care about has only grown.
But, while I’m away, I can never really disconnect from home life. I had a self-imposed social media hiatus for the week (more for the benefit of others than anything else) but I remained a ‘prowler’ checking out what got people talking, having a good read of the JEP digital edition each morning, as well as the websites of our other island media.
Things jumped out at me as unusually strange. What I don’t know is if this was just another status quo week that felt different with the advantage of the distance between me and said events, or if it really was seven fun days on Planet Jersey. .
First the new chief executive of the government. We know Charlie is gone. We know the outfit of Paul’s shop in the meantime. And we know there has been pressure for quite a while to delay any permanent appointments until after the next general election to avoid all of the catastrophic failures of the last time your top official was appointed in the last days of a week. regime only to end up working mostly under a whole new one with different priorities and personalities.
Indeed, I wrote a column on June 12 extolling the merits of a delay in the procedure, with formal pressure for this delay to be adopted through a debate of states (due today in the occurrence) tabled by MP Kirsten Morel on July 30.
I had heard the rumor about three weeks ago that the CEO of Belfast City Council was offered the job at the end of July. Earlier this week, the Belfast Telegraph splashed the story of Suzanne Wylie’s impending move on its front page.
A day or two later, after a classic government wall of silence, the chief minister confirmed that the job offer had been made.
As always, blood from a stone, on the back foot, and looking like another mess of the States Employment Council. Imagine being offered the job, then finding out that there may be a political blockage to your appointment, and the government was obviously trying to keep it all on the QT. I really feel for Suzanne Wylie in all of this.
Either way, it was the number one quirk. The recurring “can we ever do something right when it comes to a CEO” merry-go-round.
Then there was a really weird claim from someone I don’t know – Paul Sangan – that he was going to run as the Alliance Party candidate in the general election because he was fed up with empty promises from politicians. . It might just be me, and if so, I apologize, but the Alliance is actually a gathering of the current ruling establishment. So if you are fed up with empty promises, this seems like a weird place to claim your claim. Either way, I wish Mr. Sangan the best of luck and it will be a great addition to the Assembly of States to have an additional candidate focused with laser precision on the environment.
And the third on my list of weird stuff was a government social media post that had the effect of saying ‘we don’t want migrants in Jersey’. It was actually part of a campaign to get us to contribute to the population control debate but, in the midst of all that is going on in the world right now – and at a time when hospitality is on its knees in due to a chronic understaffing – it was muted at best. Surely there is quality control and meaningful control in these processes? Surely someone looked at the message and snapped their teeth hastily? Obviously no.
We are at a strange moment in this four-year political mandate.
There was a fairly good population management plan on the table just before the last general election, but here we are, almost four years later, and we are no further ahead. There was a long, drawn-out policy review process, a short public consultation, and a promise of something tangible before we all went to the polls next June, but it actually equates to a full political mandate reaching the square root of naff all.
The same goes for what is called the housing action plan. Light on the action. Lots of things to throw at review after review. In the meantime, this island faces a chronic housing shortage, house prices just don’t seem real, and we hear story after story of young people leaving the island at the earliest opportunity to settle anywhere. where but here because you have to be born into money or have a lucky inheritance to get a good foothold on the scale. Mortgage wage multipliers are simply unreal. Something must give. Yet again, almost four years after this government’s reign began, there does not appear to be a plan.
I must, at this point, mention Andium Homes, which continues to quietly and efficiently try to roll out its real estate developments, even in the face of what appear to be ludicrous reasons why projects are delayed or denied at the planning meeting stage.
Oh damn it. Did I come back from Blackpool with my glass half empty? I hope not. And I don’t think so. I remain optimistic about how much our island can and is accomplishing. But I remain concerned that the final days of this government continue to be characterized by inertia disguised as action, more reviews disguised as decisions, and some ministers genuinely believing they are the best thing since sliced bread when their cabinet colleagues and the hard-working, real-job public servants despair of focusing more on claiming credit and creating photo opportunities for themselves than on really hard work.
I do not name any names. But if you have even one reproach that maybe it is you I am talking about minister … you are right.
Let’s deal with this CEO situation, depending on how the vote goes today. The whole public sector deserves to be clarified as it remains in the very good interim hands of the talented Paul Martin. Let us see that our political parties really set out what they all stand for so that we can all fully engage in the democratic process. And let’s make it difficult for our government to get things done. They now spend £ 1billion a year of our money to run the show. We have every right to know that they are more than a talking shop.
Actions not words, please.