Herm clause needs more explanation
Tuesday 8th October 2013, 4:00PM BST.
HAVING been caught out over its handling of the Herm lease renewal and coming in for significant criticism through this newspaper’s sister website forum, Treasury and Resources has one thought.
That is to ‘brief’ States members so that they know the full facts and can come to the ‘correct’ conclusion, which is to say that they back T&R.
What that ignores, however, is the tenant, who has spent five years trying to get the department to see it his way, is denied a similar forum.
It may be, of course, that his attempts have taken so long and ultimately been unsuccessful because they are misguided.
However, two independent assessors have –
independently – looked at his case and agreed within £20,000 of each other that an extension is worth less than £500,000.
The subtext to this is that the current political board felt, rightly, that they had more pressing matters to deal with and that a simple lease
extension shouldn’t claim its time.
That is why a local firm of estate agents were asked, in effect, to adjudicate.
Having done so, the department then effectively reneges on that tacit agreement to let a third party decide by introducing a new clause: that more than commercial considerations should be taken into account.
Sorry, what would those be? And how are they valued? And by whom?
This actually smacks of someone making it up as they go along. And is that the politicians or the officials? Since this peculiarly dog-in-a-manger attitude spans two political boards, the smart money must be on Frossard House bias.
In the scheme of things, the lease is hardly top priority, other than to Herm’s tenant and for the long term stewardship of the island.
Yet if the department can make up the rules as it goes in this case, what other questionable things are happening behind the scenes?
Islanders must have confidence that government plays fair and that it can justify each and every action and decision.
That is not the case here.
If the care of Herm is to be measured in more than commercial terms, the minister must set out what those criteria are and what cash price he puts on them.