Thursday, 22 September 2011

Green Street Barracks Saga Part VI - Lime Grove House + Treasury Minister = TOAST?

“This is far too serious for playing political games” Deputy Egré BBC Radio Jersey, Morning Show 22.09.2011
It looks serious. The Head Girl, Senator Sarah Ferguson, has referred her Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel Report on Lime Grove House to a very senior Prefect for further consideration. A caning (Human Rights compliant) by the Headmaster or even expulsion from the school could be on the cards for OV and Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf.

However, none of this is likely. Senator Ferguson wants a Ministerial position in the forthcoming Bailhache-Ozouf government and consequently has not stuck the knife in. It has conveniently been referred for a further report which will gather dust in the fullness of time.

The Report leaves lots of questions hanging. All of them point to the competence of the Treasury Minister and his CEO John Richardson. We all know there is no accountability in the Jersey political scene. In fact this is quite acceptable to the wealthy, as all they want is stability. Stay in power and keep your hands on the tiller whilst we carry on making money. Hence they will all vote Bailhache and nothing will change. Elections are merely an occasions for elites to shuffle round the chairs and someone new gets to sit on the throne.


The bit that appealed to me as a feral lawyer was the allegation that the Treasury department had “weeded” their files before handing them over to Scrutiny.  Surely not!
We were dismayed, however, that correspondence between various parties appears to have been omitted. We have also been unable to find documentary evidence of the rationale of the offer final offer price and the instructions to the external negotiator [Chairman’s Forward p5]
Weeding is a technical term for taking out of a file and destroying any inconvenient or incriminating letters, drafts, bits of paper and notes. It’s an art form because it has to be done in such a way as to leave no obvious breaks. These lacunae are often covered over with replacement letters, “final” drafts, bits of paper and notes etc that have conveniently been found in the bottom draw of a desk or earlier misfiled and rediscovered. Fortunately, this is something that only happens in the “real world” of wicked business deals and not the irreproachable public service.

The Ego has landed

“…all parties to the transaction, except for the Minister for Treasury and Resources, were anxious to proceed” (p9)
What appears to have happened is that Senator Ozouf, based on discussion with shadow advisers, who were not property experts, decided to personally take over the purchase negotiations. This is where things went wrong. An attempt to shave £500k off the price was initially successful; the vendors reluctantly accepted but were clearly resentful. It was a high risk act and it worked. However, the vendor's dissatisfaction was compounded by significant delays in completing the deal. The result was that when a new potential purchaser turned up in the shape of State Street, they accepted offers to lease the builing and blew out the States.

This is all egg on the Treasury Minister’s face for being too clever. He is not a property developer or speculator, but, as he keeps telling us, guardian of the public purse. So why take such risks? It was a gamble and it failed. Exit casino with just enough loose change for the taxi home.

The losses caused by this failure have yet to be quantified. It is certainly £1m per year for every year of delay in finding new offices for the Police. There are also reputational considerations.

Like all gamblers they will be back as soon as they can. Meanwhile there is an election. My money is riding on 26 Black.

There are many issues in this matter that should be of concern to the public as to the way that the leading group in the government operate. It needs to be put on the agenda during the Senatorial elections and the candidates must be required to comment. The future Bailhache-Cohen-Gorst-Le Marquand-Ozouf Counicl of Ministers will be doing the same time and again as they seek to sell off public assets cheaply to their mates with the same reckless abandon. This is why "progressive" candidates should stop dreaming of being a Minister or Assistant Minister and get on with building an organisation that warrents the name Opposition.


  1. "He is not a property developer or speculator,"

    Nor is he a Treasury Minister

  2. Enough evidence here to sink King Ozouf several times over and support from some very highly qualified professionals that he got it all wrong.
    Yet Sarah and Co still cannot bring themselves to sign the regicide warrant!!! Why - how can they be so reluctant? Does Sarah really crave Ministerial office as you suggest or is it just lack of b---s? Excellent blog.

  3. Nick.

    In reply to your anonymous commenter at 15:41.

    Today I have interviewed Senator Ferguson, which I hope to publish tomorrow, and also hope that the interview will answer some of the questions of the commenter.

  4. VCF

    I look forward to listening and being enlightened.