Although there is evidence that this promise is being kept in some circumstances by some departments, there are also glaring examples of the administration’s right hand not having the faintest idea about what its left is doing.
The present roadworks fiasco at Bel Royal is a dramatic case in point. Transport and Technical Services are spending the better part of £1 million on works that will produce an ‘informal crossing’ – whatever that might be – at the end of Victoria Avenue, but it appears that no one at any level thought of consulting the emergency services about the impact of the project.
Belatedly, changes have been made to the project’s design to help emergency vehicles to pass the queues of traffic that build up in this area, but the final outcome will be anything but satisfactory. Indeed, one emergency service spokesman has spoken of the need for ‘skilful driving and positioning’ of vehicles such as fire engines to negotiate the supposed improvements.
This might provide a solution that is, at a push, workable, but it will be a far cry from the careful planning and wise expenditure of a large sum of hard cash that Islanders were entitled to expect from those who act on their behalf.
Instead, the whole episode has about it a distinct air of government extravagance – with many asking even before this week’s exchanges in the States whether the work was truly necessary in these apparently straitened times and why it should be so expensive – now compounded by government incompetence on a spectacular scale.
Transport Minister Guy de Faye was honest and direct enough to admit in the States this week that vital early contact with the emergency services had been overlooked. That candour will do his political reputation little harm, but the same may not apply to the basic oversight and its incompatibility with one of the alleged major advantages of ministerial government.
Deputy de Faye has said that an investigation has been launched into the failure to consult. Unfortunately, that could well be the last anyone outside Transport hears about the issue. In Jersey internal inquiries and secret disciplinary procedures are still very much the rule, and full accountability comes a very poor second.