30 July 2014

Happy Birthday 70th Birthday to a True Living Legend

Today, Mike Dun is 70 years old. And this blog would like to wish him many happy returns, and say a few words, if it may, to celebrate this self-effacing local hero.

I have known Mike for a few years now through politics, and I am pleased to also call him a friend. Later this evening I will see him for a (non political) party and I hope he is wearing his full regalia, as in the photo above!

Mike (Mr Dun) will be well known to States Members and the staff of the Greffe and scrutiny, as he is someone who keeps a tight eye on public matters, as well as policies and legislation coming out of the Big House. Whether or not all of the aforementioned share my affection for Uncle Mike, I am not sure, because he is no doubt often a thorn in the side to them, especially when processes are not followed, and social policy is slow to appear.

And this is why Mike deserves special mention, today: he has been a tireless campaigner for justice and equality during his time in the island. He often takes up individual cases that some States Members are either unwilling or unable to take on. He is a keen supporter of the under-dog, the disaffected and dejected, as can be seen from his many posts.

Like any true hero, much of his good deeds are not seen, but they are still appreciated by those he helps.

So today, I wish a happy big 70 to Uncle Mike. I know that Tom Gruchy would be proud to call you one of his comrades.

I'll leave you a slightly comically aged video from 1993 of Mike talking in a programme on Human Rights in Jersey. 'Plus ├ža change...'

05 July 2014

Equal Marriage - the fight for civil rights goes on.

Crunch time for Equal Marriage - How can you help?Reproduced courtesy of http://sammezec.blogspot.com/
We now have a time and date for the Equal Marriage debate in the States of Jersey.

On Tuesday 8th July at 9.30am we will crack straight into the debate which could take several hours before it culminates in a vote.

Victory is by no means predetermined.

States Members have received all sorts of correspondence from all sides of the argument.

Needless to say, the opposition to it is noticeably the least articulate and logical, but we have had more against than for so far.

We have a perfect opportunity to take a huge step towards equality for a previously marginalised group. If this fails, it will be a sad day for Jersey.

So what can you do to help?

The simplest thing would be to contact States Members and lobby them to vote for "the P.102/2014 proposition on same-sex marriage". I've copied their email addresses at the bottom of this post. You can

They are YOUR States Members and you have every right to email them and ask them to vote in favour of this. Believe me, the people who are asking us to vote against it have not needed prompting on this point!

Write them an email asking them to vote for it. It can be as long or as short as you want. It will have an effect. States Members love to reject decent propositions with the nonsensical argument of "ah, well I've not had any Parishioners contact me asking me to support this!" so don't give them that amunition.

If you are free, you are also more than entitled to come and stand in the Royal Square as members are walking into the States building (from 8.30am - 9.30am) and try and stop them for a chat to lobby them. Obviously that sort of thing requires a bit of confidence, but some people have a real knack for that and can be very persuasive, so if that's your thing, give it a try.

Finally, States proceedings are open to the public. Most weeks the public gallery is completely empty, but sometimes a specific proposition can enthuse enough people to see it packed. The presence of the public in the room does have an effect. It means members are extra careful about what they say and know that they are dealing with an important subject matter.

So if you aren't working, come down and watch it. It's sure to be an enlightening event!

You have until Tuesday morning, so get emailing!!







28 January 2014

Reform Candidate for District 1, St Helier

Political Campaigner, Nick Le Cornu

St Helier No.1 By-Election

 Social reform campaigner to stand for Deputy

Havre des Pas resident, Nick Le Cornu, is to stand for election for Deputy in St Helier No 1 district.
Mr Le Cornu is a qualified English Solicitor, has practiced commercial law and litigation in the City of London. He now specialises in employment law and is currently assisting Union members with employment issues.

He is also the Secretary of the Jersey Human Rights Group, which campaigns for greater equality and anti-discrimination measures.
‘Social and Political reforms are now urgent,’ says Mr Le Cornu.
‘In recent years, we have seen a decline in the standard of living of ordinary islanders as the tax burden has shifted from corporations to personal taxation. We need to elect States Members who want to change this.’
‘My priorities will be:

-          To improve the quality and affordability of private and social rented accommodation.

-          To implement statutory maternity and paternity leave.

-          To oppose any suggestion of an increase in GST.

-          The fight for a true ‘living wage’.

-          End the overuse of zero-hour contracts.

-          Investing in Fort Regent, with improved access from Snow Hill – this is vital.

-          Managing population growth.

-          Fair representation for St Helier.’
Mr Le Cornu was also active in the Option A campaign, the option which St Helier
backed2:1 against 'option B' - which would have left St Helier greatly under-represented.

27 January 2014

Holocaust Memorial Day 2014

The events of the Second World War and all acts of Genocide and hatred will be remembered - but also those act of kindness that took place in the face of such human depravity. Wreaths will be laid in Jersey following a memorial service at the Maritime Museum, in St Helier. I am honoured to be laying a wreath on behalf of the Jersey Human Rights Group this year.

I am posting a link to the official UK HMD site. Please take a moment to visit and watch the moving video.

'Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. A day for everyone to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.
On HMD we honour the survivors of these regimes of hatred and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today.

Visit http://journeys.hmd.org.uk/ to mark the day online.'

20 January 2014

Reform: Last Chance Saloon...

Below is an adapted version of an email I have sent to States Members today.

'The gerrymandered mess, Option B+, has been put forward by its proponents as a ‘last chance saloon’ for achieving any change for 2014.

However, this is not true. Those States Members truly wanting to improve our system, and not wishing to take two steps back, need only support p.171/2013 - Introduction of the Single Transferable Vote and Alternative Vote - as recommended by the Electoral Commission and its advisor, Dr Alan Renwick.

STV and AV can work with any system and was proposed when the EC themselves were hoping suggesting multi-seat constituencies to potentially run alongside the single seat constituencies of the Constables.

By way of example, the merits are laid out in the appendices to the report (HERE), however one simple example of why we need AV is given below:

(I ask Deputy Martin for forgiveness in advance…)

In 2000, a by-election took place in St Helier no.1. The results were as follows.

Election date: May 2000[1]

Total no. of valid votes cast: 707.

The winner, Deputy Martin, was therefore elected with 26.9% of the vote. In other words, 73% of those who voted did not vote for Deputy Martin.

Subjectively, I am very pleased that Deputy Martin won, but there is no way of knowing whether she was the most popular candidate overall.

One has to question the effect on democracy and subsequent apathy when over 70% of the electorate were not listened to, because they were not given a choice, once their preferred candidate was out of the picture.

This position is made even worse when multiple-seats are involved.

I look forward to your support this week.

Kind regards,

Montfort '

16 December 2013

Better Housing Standards now on the Agenda

Today I had what I hope will prove to be a productive meeting with Deputy Andrew Green, Minister of Housing, and the director of Corporate Policy to discuss what can be done to regulate private rental standards. 

It is a curiosity that in Jersey, the only residential accommodation to be inspected [and regulated] is Lodging Houses. It is not clear why only these units have to meet basic standards, and not other housing units. It is likely a historic legacy from the heyday of Tourism, when there were a lot more seasonal workers, and therefore more lodging houses.

The Residential Tenancy (Jersey) Law 2011 came into force in May this year. Article 9 (below) states that you do not have to pay your rent if the property is uninhabitable. 

Article 9 Premises uninhabitable 

If a residential unit that is the subject of a residential tenancy agreement becomes uninhabitable through any event other than a malicious act of the tenant – 
(a) the tenant is not required to pay any rent or other amount payable under the agreement in respect of any time during which the residential unit is uninhabitable; and 
(b) the Court may, on the application of the landlord or tenant, make an order varying or terminating the agreement if in all the circumstances the Court considers it just to do so. 

It would be interesting for someone to test this, but I suspect many tenants might be reluctant to for various reasons: they may be scared of getting kicked out, though this would be unlikely. They may know the landlords personally. Many, of course, would not be even be aware of the law

However, it would be interesting if someone out there, with rising damp, were to inform the landlord that they would not be paying their rent until it was fixed. The ball would then be in the court of the landlord...

This is clearly not the preferred option of the department. Rather, they see the need for some kind of regulation, possibly inspections, for ALL rental properties, qualified, unqualified and social rented (the latter will be provided for under the new housing unit).

I will continue to press for these reforms. Watch this space. The days of Rupert Rigsby and his sub-standard properties may be numbered.

07 May 2013

Jimmy Carr to Visit Jersey as Mr Battle?

The 14ft replica head of Jimmy Carr awaits shipping, as Jersey Finance prepare
for their first ever entry in Jersey's Battle of Flowers with their K2 themed exhibit
 - we are told they will use a 'special purpose vehicle' to tow their float

Rumours are rife that Mr Battle is going to be revived as passengers boarding at Portsmouth spied a giant replica head of Anglo-Irish Comedian and erstwhile tax dodger, Jimmy Carr waiting to be loaded onto the Commodore Goodwill yesterday evening in Portsmouth.

It is understood that the giant head was secured by Jersey Finance Ltd, who had originally wanted to buy the head last year and burn it as an effigy on Guy Fawkes night because of all the 'bad press' the island had received because of him. However, the delivery was delayed due to a localised strike from courier staff in the South-East region who thought that this might have been an intricate LVCR scheme to sell it back to the UK - minus the VAT. 
Jersey Finance's, Geoff Cook is tight-lipped on the identity of Mr Battle
'Unfortunately, it did not make it here in time for November, so we had an office brain-storm to think of an alternative use', said Mr Cook. 'One of our young female staff members suggested that we could use it as part of a exhibit for the Battle of Flowers. I thought this was a great idea and when one of our senior managers suggest using all the left over Option B posters from the referendum to make the body of the float that simply sealed the deal. We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and this was a great example of recycling Jersey style.'

When asked about the rumour that Mr Carr himself may have been making an appearance as this year's Mr Battle, in the  absence of the organisers being able to find any suitably famous tracksuit-wearing, cigar-smoking nonce, Mr Cook just gave us a cheeky smile and avoided (but did not evade) the question.

The content of this post is purely comedic in purpose, not real and not intended to offend.