The issue of who is behind the running of St Peter Port has been brought sharply into focus once again following the resignation of St Peter Port Douzenier Pete Burtenshaw.
In a letter copied to his fellow Douzeniers, Constables and Parish deputies, Burtenshaw made a series of sharp criticisms at the way the Douzaine is being run, and these include allegations of bullying, cronyism and vested interests. He chose on this occasion not to go into detail.
Deputy Barry Brehaut responded to Burtenshaw with a short one line email: “Your correspondence is of no concern to me, I have no idea why you felt compelled to copy me in on such objectionable tripe.” This appears to exemplify Burtenshaw’s point about a bullying culture, but ignoring this potential breach of a deputy’s code of conduct in terms of courtesy (I ignore it because I quite like deputies to get a bit hot under the collar and show some passion now and again), the questions for Brehaut to answer are: “Why is the Government and administration of St Peter Port of no concern to a deputy elected by the parishioners of St Peter Port? Where is your evidence that Burtenshaw’s claims are unfounded or “tripe” as you put it?”
Had Brehaut – or any other deputies – chosen to seek substantiation of Burtenshaws’ allegations, I have little doubt they would have uncovered, amongst other stories, the following chain of events:
Senior Parish Constable Dennis Le Moignan announced on BBC Guernsey a Legacy Team project to restore the Bathing Pools and surrounding area at La Vallette. The radio sold the project as the best thing since Guernsey milk, the Guernsey Press ran with it and, boom whoosh, before you know it anybody seeking to object to it or ask questions about the manner in which it had been agreed was spitting into the wind. Burtenshaw and Junior Constable Jenny Tasker felt strongly that the Parish Douzaine should have been notified in advance, and Tasker sent Le Moignan an email making that very point.
Then Le Moignan issued the following statement:
“La Vallette Challenge
Although this item will be on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, I feel it is better to explain the following in writing to all Douzaine members. Moves have been going on for some 18 months or so to improve La Vallette area.
In recent times a group of people called ‘The Legacy Team’ got together and decided that the whole area should receive a makeover and they are:
Pat Johnson – Chairperson
Dennis Le Moignan – Vice Chair
Andrew Pouteaux – Treasurer
Joe Mooney – Project Manager, Pools
We needed to keep things under wraps while we talked to people and obtained various permissions, also to see what help there was available in the private sector to enable us to get the job done. This was essential before we made public our intentions. It would have been a much better situation had there been a Douzaine meeting immediately before the public release, unfortunately there was too much time to the release date and we could not afford any accidental mention of what was about to happen.
Out of courtesy to Jenny Tasker as the other Constable of the parish, I informed her of the plans just before I went on holiday, but she appears not to have understood what I said, as I note she then sent out an email to Douzaine members demanding that I apologise to you all. That was done without even speaking to me first about her perceived problem.
I understand other Douzaine members also feel aggrieved they were not told and some even complained to the Guernsey Press that they were hard done by and had the right to be informed of what we were proposing.
I refute that, as this venture is being run by private individuals, one of whom happens to be a Constable/Douzenier and one a Douzenier. Therefore the Douzaine had no right to be privy to our proposition before its public release.
If any members of the Douzaine wish to be involved in this project, which will be of great benefit to locals and visitors alike, they can apply to take part (one already has expressed interest) and will be very welcome. Teams of 10 physically fit persons are preferred if possible, although individuals are welcome.
The intention is to initially start work on the following Sundays;
25th October, 1st & 15th November. Workers can sign up for half days or the full day, times are 08.00 – 12.00, 12.00 – 16.00.
Tea and coffee plus bacon rolls will be supplied.
Workers should wear suitable clothing including proper shoes. (trainers will not be allowed)
Work may be scraping seaweed off the stones of the gents pool or clearing brushwood and branches from the old garden area to the shredders, or truck for removal. The area will be totally closed to other traffic and pedestrians for those days, also, workers will have to sign a disclaimer and sign in and out of the area.
I will not apologise to the other Constable or the Douzaine, as I have done nothing wrong. I am just sorry some people have unjustifiably taken offence before knowing and understanding the full facts.”
There are some valid points there. But there are also alarm bells. “Moves have been going on for 18 months” and “We needed to keep things under wraps while we talked to people and obtained various permissions” are particularly note worthy. Permissions from whom? Presumably amongst these groups were the Parish Constables who, currently are Le Moignan and Tasker, yet Tasker knew nothing of it. 18 months ago of course, the Constables were Barry Cash (Senior Constable) and Le Moignan (Junior). But wait a second, what else was going on 18 months ago? There was the row over the clandestine appointment by Cash (also a Town Centre Partnership director at the time) and Le Moignan of Jack Honeybill (Town Centre Partnership) to the newly created role of Town Centre Manager. So it looks as if at the very time Cash and Le Moignan were weathering one storm of secrecy with one hand, they were, behind the scenes, involved in constructing the framework for another fait accompli.
Usually when planning permissions are sought, notification is placed in La Gazette Officielle and a notice posted on site? The latter is a legal requirement. I assume the rationale for this is that it gives any potential dissenters the opportunity to protest.
In his statement Le Moignan speaks of “necessary permissions” but did the people of St Peter Port give permissions? I wasn’t asked. I might have wanted to play tiddlywinks amongst the weeds or study hedgehogs or have been in the middle of a botanical project, only to see all my plans disappear into the scoop of Joe Mooney’s bulldozer.
Did these notifications happen in this instance? If so then why was the Douzaine blindsided? And if not, then why, as Le Moignan describes, was it necessary to “keep the project under wraps?”
So have the Douzaine and people of St Peter Port been presented with a done deal dominated by Le Moignan and members of the Town Centre Partnership –again? It seems like it.
If it is a project by a group of individuals and nothing to do with the Douzaine as Le moignan claims, then how did it get on to the agenda for “Monday’s meeting” of the Douzaine?
And what of the Legacy Team? Besides Le Moignan we have Pat Johnson (Town Centre Partnership) and Douzenier 18 months ago. Joe Mooney, current Douzenier who has recently enjoyed a promotion in status on the floral committee without I am told, appropriate consultation with those affected. Andrew Pouteaux (Town Centre Partnership) close friend of Honeybill and father of Guernsey Press journalist Juliette, and Sue Coryndon. Who is Coryndon? A journalist for BBC Guernsey – the entity which sold the project to the public in the first place.
If as Le Moignan says this is a venture by a private group of individuals who have only got themselves together “in recent times”, who were the original movers and permission seekers eighteen months ago? The opening paragraph of his statement implies (to me at least) that they were not the same people.
True to form, the chocolate fireguards on the Douzaine did not support Burtenshaw and Tasker’s position, so it is no wonder Burtenshaw resigned, and somewhat surprising that Tasker didn’t too.
Such matters may be of no concern to Barry Brehaut but they should be to everyone else in St Peter Port. If the Deputies aren’t running the town, and the Douzaine isn’t, then who is?
There is still no answer forthcoming from the Douzaine, Town Centre Partnership or Ana Leaf Foundation to the question of why the latter , a Jersey Health Charity, funds the Town Centre Partnership, a Guernsey entertainments and amenities charity, and to what extent AnaLeaf is connected to the scandal and conflict of interest ridden UK MP Andrea Leadsom.
Why did they choose the name “Legacy”? It’s been tainted by recent events in the UK, and in any case, “legacy” means what one leaves behind – ie your initiatives become part of history when you are gone. It doesn’t mean you take the past and put it into the present. So in the UK, Legacy Development Corporations name is appropriate.
Why is it tainted? Like the Town Centre Partnership it is secretive: