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The rumour is that it will be a quiet few years at Cyril Le Marquand House

Voices | Published:

By Gary Burgess

Gary Burgess

‘CONSTIPATED!’

Not quite what I was expecting to hear when chatting to somebody high up in one of the big government departments the other day.

‘He’s decreed there’ll be no big or controversial propositions for the next two years. We’ll be constipated. This isn’t good.’

This, it’s alleged, is the direction Jersey’s new Chief Minister wants to take the Island in. A steady-as-she-goes approach that avoids anything radical. I suspect, in reality, it’s how one group of people have interpreted the early mood music from Senator John Le Fondré… though if such an edict exists, please send it my way, as that would be quite a policy.

A stroll down the street and I bump into another senior civil servant.

‘Oh we’re in for an interesting time. It’s quite an unusual bunch. They’re all so different. Will they even get on? We could have our work cut out.’

Said person may be right. They may be wrong. But, again, it illustrates some of the initial thoughts about the Island’s new government.

It seems to me that job one for our new Chief Minister is to look and act like he’s in charge. We know he’s got a forensic mind, is across detail, and was widely lauded as a good scrutineer in the last parliament.

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Well the game’s now changed.

Judging by the vacuum of information in the higher echelons of the public sector, it’s time to inspire, it’s time to lead.

Otherwise, never mind constipated, it could be dire ’ere.

***

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THERE’S been a lot of love-bombing of doctors and nurses at the General Hospital in recent weeks. I’ve seen an outbreak of praise being posted on social media sites and being shared by the government’s Facebook account.

More of this please!

For what it’s worth, I’m writing this column in central London, where I’ve been attending hospital following a referral from Jersey.

Every step of the process in the Island, from getting the referral to arranging travel, has been superb and well communicated.

I should also add that all the doctors and nurses I met in London were brilliant, too. But it also brought home to me what’s special about Jersey’s health service. It’s nothing like the mad-busy service I witnessed in the capital. We have a personal approach, where medics take their time to ensure you’re treated well and understand what’s happening.

What they lack is the facilities they deserve to deliver that high standard of care.

The message I’m getting, again and again, is ‘just get on with building that bloody hospital’.

***

AND while Islanders wait for their new hospital, the Jersey Lifeboat Association have got their new-to-them lifeboat.

Sir Max Aitken III arrived from Great Yarmouth earlier this week but won’t be in service for months.

I’m not going to rehash my confusion about fundraising for an all-weather lifeboat when we already have a locally crewed all-weather lifeboat operated by the RNLI. That debate has now sailed.

So, instead, I’ll wish the crew well in their endeavours to become an additional search-and-rescue asset alongside the 80 or so other people that the coastguard could deploy when the alarm is raised.

They describe the 31-year-old boat as ‘temporary’ and are aiming to raise £100,000 for an all-weather boat, £20,000 for crew kit, and £230,000 for an in-shore boat.

That’s an awful lot of money to replicate a service that already exists.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the JLA manage to maintain their new policy of not publicly attacking the RNLI and instead focus on getting their boat ready for service.

When the alarm is finally raised and the JLA is finally deployed, you can be sure that the politics of the last few years will be forgotten and – just like the local crew at the RNLI – we’ll be in awe of their skill and bravery at sea.

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