Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Mould or Mold? - Liberation Court – La vie en rose

Canvassing yesterday evening I knocked on a door and entered a veritable adventure.

I realised there was an important story to be told about the reality of life in contemporary Jersey. This is the invisible world that the four media entities care to ignore. Within twenty minutes my cameraman was in attendance to record an interview. This enabled me to nip across the corridor and speak to the neighbors who will be voting. The issues they raised were precisely the same as every pensioner – surviving on a fixed income in the face of inflationary prices and oh yes, a dysfunctional government of millionaires.

Sandra has emphysema. Her kitchen is being replaced. The original dates from 1995 when the building was constructed.  There is dust all over the kitchen and in the flat. No thought has been given to its potentially detrimental effect on her health. Why? We know why stupid.

Her bathroom suffers from mold on a regular basis. This seems to be a lack of ventilation. The bathroom is internal and relies on a fan to remove steamy air.

When the lights went out following an all island power cut, none of the emergency lighting in the corridor worked. In other parts of the building it did. This would be extremely dangerous for a disabled person evacuating the building, say if there were a fire, especially as the exit is down several narrow steps to the road.

Sandra is a disabled person and this is supposed to be a ground floor flat but is accessed via eight steep steps which are not to modern safety standards and she has fallen down them.

She has been cared for by her daughter for years who is now attending Highlands College on a vocational training course for which the widowed mother has borrowed money from a  money lender to pay the fees - if the daughter had just signed on at SS as unemployed she would receive about £90 per week but receives nothing apparently because she is training at Highlands.

The financial burden is great upon this widowed mother. Family photos show the young English born deceased husband as a handsome - fit young man but he was for years incapacitated through illness and their young son also died.

This is a family that knows tragedy and hardship - even when the proper order is restored to this flat and it is all re-decorated - across the road the old Wesley chapel site is being redeveloped and there will be 18 months of noise and dust ahead.

When the island-wide power cut doused the lighting the mother went searching for the electricity meter in the pitch dark but found that it was already loaded with money ---this is the measure of poverty in modern Jersey where electricity can only be afforded by the meter full....what will happen when the cold of January and February hits this struggling family?

PS. I actually discovered a use for Mary O’Keefe-Burgher’s four page manifesto – I found a copy that was lying on the floor beside the letter boxes in a discarded pile of others and rolled it up to keep open an external building door that would otherwise have locked behind me. Everything has a use value and not necessarily its original purpose - it just requires a little imagination.

Mary has the following paragraph in her Manifesto and this may explain why so many copies had been discarded on the floor by tenants. I am not sure if I would tolerate such patronising snobbery either.

"The number of people wishing for social housing has risen. The Government needs to help people to understand that social housing is not a right but rather encourage independence of States (sic) benefit. Understanding that this is an extreme fall back position in exceptional circumstances and should not be an automatic domestic ambition."

Having watched this video I wonder if Mary now considers the reality of social housing less aspirational and more a deterrent?


  1. Nick.

    Senator Sarah Ferguson talks to Citizens Media about, (among other things), INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

  2. I agree with your criticism of this statement from O'Keefe Burgher's brochure. Like 5 out of the 8 candidates in St Helier No. 1, she doesn't live in the constituency and, furthermore, seems to have little understanding of the way many people on low incomes have to live.

    I note that she was proposed by Pierre Horsfall CBE and government lapdog Senator Paul Routier (most recently responsible for the new Housing/ID Cards laws which, amongst other things, will mean that essential employees will gain the right to access A-H housing unless a condition was imposed on their licence preventing them from doing so).

    I would also just draw your attention to the fact that those on below-average incomes who have to rent in the private qualified sector are also having it tough, if not tougher. I quoted some relevant statistics in this sadly-overlooked post (comment No. 2):


    As for comment No. 1 above- if I wanted to know Sarah Ferguson's views on anything I'd go and find a Sarah Ferguson fan page. In fact, I would give up doing my own political research and just ask Sarah what the truth is. No need to post SPAM for your website here.

  3. All candidates in this election should be demonstrating a similar interest in the shocking social problems and housing conditions of so many residents.
    We hear the same old promises of change year after year but the reality is seldom exposed for all to see like this.
    I suppose somebody will protest that it is bad for Jersey's reputation to publish such information! Keep plugging away Mr Le Cornu and I hope that the voters appreciate your efforts.

  4. The MOKB position is understandable if you base your politics on Coutumier law - one of the fundamental ideas in that is that you go first attempt to help yourself, then you go to your family, and only at last resort do you go to the parish or States. In fact there was a judgement on care home costs some years ago that stated this - and the judge was a man called Bailhache...

    The fact that in the modern world most people simply do not have the family network to call upon is an indication of how much the legal system needs rebuilding in Jersey.


    The Housing Minister has been contacted to comment and act on the issues raised in this video blog. His response will be noted and a follow up video produced.

    A number of suggestions have been made to effect improvement including:

    Adaptation of the kitchen fittings for someone with disability

    Lower level storage units

    Fan extractor over the hob not simply on an outside wall

    Failure of hallway emergency lighting

    Steep external steps with railings without nosings

    Unlit external steps

  6. Nick,

    As you know I am a great supporter of your commonsense attitude to "what's around us" and I wish you the best of luck with your bid for No.1 District.

    As a residentially qualified non-resident of Jersey I accept that "not everyone" may see that my views can be currently relevant, but, you talk about Colomberie, and your shopkeeper who has suffered economically as a result of the evaporation of day-to-day Island Tourism. I then recall what a thriving area it was - what?, only twenty years ago. in the summer months. And for the twenty years or so before that, you couldn't easily drive a car from the bottom of Mont Millais down towards Snow Hill, for the visitors spilling off the pavements. And - the sun shone "forever."

    The strategy of positioning Jersey as more of an all year round destination has, I am sure, helped maintain and develop "tourism." But this is very much at the upper-middle to upper tier.
    The "holiday-maker's destination" seems long gone as are the hotels they once stayed in - now long gone memories turned into expensive flats. Social housing hasn't developed from those social holiday accomodations.

    That brings me back to the part of your blog report that I find incomprehensible.

    I do not know Mary O'Keefe-Burgher. However your description of the conditions in which Sandra lives ought surely to cause some concern to a candidate standing in this lady's constituency. I understand from your other correspondents that the candidate in question lives outside the said boundary.

    Is it social housing or, perhaps, "social ambition" that can lead a potential candidate for the post of Deputy not to acknowledge that there are those (who through no fault of their own) simply find themselves on the wrong side of everything - falling through the gaps? The answer may be found (as you yourself stated) in the blurb from said candidate's flyer:

    Social housing .... "should not be an automatic domestic ambition."

    I suggest this was written by an educated person, too well educated and brought up for their own good.

    A betot by Cry!