The Council of Ministers has been forced to reinstate the funding for the Millennium Town Park by one of their own members pressing the wrong button when it came to the vote. After many hours of debate -which will be available on Hansard (www.statesassembly.gov.je) in a fortnight or so - Deputy Geoff Southern summed up and called for the 'appel'. Senator Alan Maclean, formerly a Deputy for St. Helier No. 2 District in which the promised park and car park are to be built, had previously spoken against the proposition, and, one assumes, fully intended to vote against it, too.
But, he told the Greffier who was in the chair, the papers on his desk meant that the 'pour' button was pressed by mistake. The result, 23 in favour, 22 against. I missed seeing the look on the Treasury Minister's face as the Senator behind him tried in vain to have his vote changed, as I was too busy enjoying this momentous day in the States Assembly; there was even a burst of applause (most unparliamentary behaviour) over the traditional footstamping, and for States Members who have campaigned, argued, and pleaded for this particular promise by the States to be kept, it was an emotional few moments.
The four JDA members all spoke well, especially Deputy Southern, and there were persuasive arguments from the other St. Helier Deputies, apart from Deputy Ben Fox who inexplicably voted against. Daniel Wimberley, Deputy of St. Mary, made the best researched contribution, although Senator Maclean (how he must regret his hubris) chortled as he mocked the length of Daniel's speech. Perhaps the most compelling speech came from Senator Ian Le Marquand early in the debate, when he distanced himself from the Council of Ministers, recognising that the North of St. Helier Masterplan was simply a delaying tactic to avoid delivering the long-awaited preferred Millennium project for Jersey.