Back to the Days of Capital Project Overspends

My posts may seem too long or esoteric for easy digestion. So here is some topical Jersey political correspondence.

I won’t put a Joke of the Post in this entry because – the story is the joke – well, at least if you share the sense of humor of Samuel Beckett.

From: Stuart Syvret
Sent: 25 January 2008 09:36
To: Alan Breckon; James Perchard; All Senators; All Constables; All Deputies
Subject: RE: Media problems !

Alan & Jim

Back in the 1990s this kind of thing was called “A Capital Project Overspend”. The total of such cock-ups cost taxpayers £49 million.

So, we’re going back to such days. OK – the spin is far cleverer today. Do not let people recognise it as a catastrophic mess – don’t describe it as an over-spend. Instead, just say it’s a “Project Improvement”.

The plain fact is that there can be absolutely zero excuse for this – no matter which way you cut it. Perhaps it wasn’t realised that these specifications were needed? In which case hopeless incompetence. Or perhaps it was known all along that the cost was going to be far higher – but to head off opposition, the lower figure was used – and once we were inextricably committed to the project, the rest of the cost could be sprung upon us?

Let’s face it – the Airport has “form” in this respect. In the 1990s – it was known perfectly well to senior management that the costs of re-developments and necessary improvements were going to be horrifyingly large. So they just didn’t tell anyone. A bit like now, really. For example, it was only after repeated questioning and delving into matters that it became clear the airport control tower was in a profoundly unsafe location as it cut into the 1 in 7 clearance slope either side of the runway. Why weren’t the States told about that at the very outset? Why did we spend vast sums building things like new departure halls – necessary, perhaps – but before something so fundamental as putting the control tower in a safe location?.

Alan & Philip like to imagine themselves as hard men of financial rigour. I wonder if they would have been quite so happy to blow £5 million quid they hadn’t planned to spend if it was their money?

It is difficult to escape the impression that the tax payers we represent are being treated with contempt.

As I said – no matter which way you cut this – its a disastrous financial error – of somewhat greater proportions than giving too much to the Battle of Flowers for soft porn “celebrities”.

The irony is that we all know if an anti-establishment member had been responsible for this – people like Alan & Philip would be baying for their blood.

£5 million! – a whole £5 million – which we hadn’t budgeted for!

It is difficult to see that the Minister and his Assistant Minster have any choice other than to initiate the relevant disciplinary processes. Whichever extremely expensive, so-called “expert” within the senior management of the airport was responsible for this must be sacked.

Stuart Syvret

From: Alan Breckon
Sent: 25 January 2008 08:44
To: James Perchard; All Senators; All Constables; All Deputies
Subject: RE: Media problems !

Jim this is called “Ministerial Government”

The “Westminster Protocol” is that Ministers make statements to Parliament / Members FIRST before media

In Jersey this does NOT apply – it was probably on a “B Agenda” following a Corporate Management Board decision

This is progress – apparently without transparency or access to information (Freedom of Information) no doubt the details could be “commercially sensitive”

I heard a story on Radio Jersey this morning about some deal for Ferries for the next umpteen years – the public will not be amused – then don’t we know what’s best for them anyway – or some do

Have to close now have just seen a pig fly past the window

Regards Alan

—–Original Message—–
From: James Perchard
Sent: 25 January 2008 07:58
To: All Senators; All Constables; All Deputies
Subject: Media problems !

Dear Colleagues,

I note that the Jersey Evening Post and Radio Jersey claim that Economic Development now estimates the total cost of the runway capital project at almost £20 million. They go on to say that the assistant minister in charge of the Airport, Deputy Alan Maclean, has signed off a formal decision to ask for the extra £5 million, saying “that the extra money was needed to upgrade the formal runway classification from 3c to 4c and that if the runway was not upgraded there was a chance that more would have to be spent on it before the end of its 15-year lifespan.” and that “airport opening and closing times restricted the hours in which work can be undertaken further putting up costs ” !

I am getting terribly worried about the Jersey media as it appears that they now feel able to fabricate such tales. This crazy story is obviously completely untrue as we the elected members of the States only recently approved the £13,540,000 (in the 2008 States Plan) necessary for the capital cost of the Runway Construction and AGL system.. The story has obviously has been fabricated, as we the elected members of the SoJ have not been informed of any requests for extra funding to cover for what would be a gross and shocking underestimate in the costs of delivering this project.

This media story simply must have been fabricated, as we have not given an explanation as to why the upgrading of the formal runway classification should, at this late stage be promoted and that the desirability of the 4c classification was not originally anticipated and budgeted for.

We have not given an explanation as to why the necessity for night time working on the runway has suddenly come as a surprise to the Minister and his team.

No this conjured up media story must be fictional. I suggest we ignore it, unless or until we the members of the States of Jersey hear of any such proposals through the formal and normal channels.


Jim P

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