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Thursday, 24 March 2011

"Deputy Defends Flawed Recruitment Allegations"

A Jersey deputy has defended his allegation that job offers for the new States of Jersey Development Company, were made before the recruitment procedures were complete.

Deputy Phil Rondel, who himself sat on the recruitment panel, is not going public on his evidence, but says he will tell scrutiny.

Earlier this week it emerged that members of Jersey's Appointment Commission were threatening to resign after Deputy Rondel made comments in the States implying that job offers for the States of Jersey Development Company were a foregone conclusion.

His outburst angered members of the Appointments Commission, such as Ken Soar, who said the allegations were completely unfounded.

The St John Deputy refuted claims he had acted in an unprofessional manner by bringing the issues to light in a public forum, and said the information was not brought to his attention until after the recruitment process had been completed.

Deputy Rondel said: "Over a period of time I thought there's things here which aren't right and I have to raise them at the appropriate time and the appropriate time is in the States chamber it's not to be discussed with others, these things, there's a place for everything."

The new company were due to take over from WEB, the Waterfront Enterprise Board in April.

But that transition has now been put on hold while Scrutiny review the appointments procedure.

THE splendidly titled Baroness Ford of Cunninghame in North Ayrshire will by now be starting to appreciate some of the special qualities that make Jersey that little bit different.
Far from rubber-stamping her appointment as chairman of the newly established Jersey Development Company, the quango created after much heart-searching and several debates to oversee future public-private construction projects, the States have blocked it with what amounts to a demand for more information about all of the proposed JDC non-executive directors and how they were chosen.
Now the whole proposal for the composition of the board is to be reviewed by the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, chaired by another rather formidable lady, Senator Sarah Ferguson. That is a sensible decision of the House which will be welcomed by the Island public if not by the Council of Ministers, who have been presented with another challenge to their authority as well as another obstacle on the rocky road towards establishing the JDC as a replacement, and one with even wider powers, for the unlamented Waterfront Enterprise Board.
It need not, though, be seen as any kind of slight towards Baroness Ford. If the high-flying Labour peer has done the necessary research into Jersey’s postwar history of both property development and the management of public resources, particularly on the St Helier waterfront, she will understand fully why many politicians, reflecting the similar concerns of their constituents, should be so wary about handing so much control over so many community assets to anyone, let alone someone from outside the Island.
The Scrutiny Panel, and by extension the rest of the States, will rightly want to explore whether Baroness Ford’s experience as chairman of the London 2012 Olympic Park Legacy Committee and Scotland’s Irvine Bay Regeneration Company and as a senior director of Serco, the private company now engaged in the outsourcing of public services around Britain, does indeed make her, as the Treasury Minister suggests, an ideal candidate for a tiny island with a fragile environment already facing huge pressures generated by the interplay of politics and property development.
The States were right, too, to bridle at any suggestion that they were being presented by the Treasury with a fait accompli and to take the opportunity to remind the ministers that the Assembly remains supreme. The creation of the Jersey Development Company is a massive gamble and it is in everyone’s interests, including those of its board members, that it should start life with the fullest possible public confidence in the credentials of those running it.
There is no reason to suppose that Baroness Ford will not be appointed chairman in due course. She will be better placed to carry out the role if she realises from the start that one of her main challenges will be to help the JDC win the trust of an understandably sceptical Jersey public.

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