‘Mystified’ backbencher criticises lack of advisory meeting minutes

A STATES Member has said he is ‘mystified’ by the government’s continued failure to publish minutes of the meetings of experts shaping Jersey’s public health response to Covid-19.

Deputy Kevin Pamplin (29217151)
Deputy Kevin Pamplin (29217151)

In spite of unanimous support from politicians for Deputy Kevin Pamplin’s call for improved levels of communication, records of most meetings of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell remain unpublished. So far, two sets of minutes, both from late April, have been published in the nine weeks since Deputy Pamplin’s proposals were debated, with the Chief Minister describing the delay as ‘slight’ and putting it down to STAC members having been on leave.

‘It’s basic governance, especially in these unprecedented times, that meetings like this should be documented,’ Deputy Pamplin said. ‘If this had happened, then the minutes would be there, or if they were minuted, why are they being withheld?

‘I am mystified. I know that Jersey is in a good place generally and getting global recognition for our testing programme, but it isn’t democratic when the whole Assembly had agreed to this.’

Deputy Pamplin contrasted the situation in Jersey with that in the UK, where minutes and other data relating to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies are readily available.

His proposition, which included a deadline of 1 August for the government to take action, also included a requirement for ‘a press conference, briefing or engagement’ to be held weekly.

Since the deadline, the Chief Minister has fronted one press conference and has taken part in other activities such as a radio interview and Q&A session on Twitter.

‘There seems to be an issue of egos within government, with people unwilling to admit to shortcomings in their approach to communication,’ Deputy Pamplin added. ‘They are using semantics to try to point out the other ways they are communicating.’

The St Saviour Deputy said he would be continuing to press the government during States questions.

Responding to Deputy Pamplin in the Assembly last week about whether he would apologise for the slow response, Chief Minister John Le Fondré said: ‘I’m always happy to apologise if an apology is necessary. Some minutes have been published, and the slight delay in others purely stems from hard-working members of STAC having been on holiday.’

Senator Le Fondré also said there had been weekly press engagement all the way through the pandemic, and that this would continue.

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