The April 2020 meeting was one of the first virtual States sessions and deputies were still getting used to the technology.
A vote on a requete to prevent the removal of 130 metres of the L’Ancresse anti-tank wall came out a tie, at 18 votes apiece.
By States rules that meant the original proposition would stand and the wall would go.
Except, just as the result was announced, it emerged that a technical issue had stopped Deputy John Gollop’s vote getting through.
Another vote was held and the requete passed by a single ballot. The crumbling, badly-sited wall would stay, for at least 10 more years.
On such wafer-thin margins are issues decided in the States.
The cost to taxpayers of that decision is yet to be known. But it is clear that it is a lot more than deputies were told.
Thanks to some confusion about how many panels would need work and the quantity of rock armouring, the requete’s maintenance budget of £200,000 is now considered woefully inadequate for the job.
It is another lesson in the perils of accepting last-minute amendments and requetes based on minimal research and armchair knowledge.
Had the States had all the information from the start, instead of relying on the flawed four-page requete, it is likely at least one vote woul;d have swung the other way.
Instead, the island is left to pick up the bill. And for what? So that more tons of rock armour will line the beach top, making an ugly wall even uglier.
The last States was known for its flip-flopping. The anti-tank wall was one of the worst examples.
This one will not want to change its mind again, especially as 10 members of this Assembly backed the voter-friendly requete. Five – all of whom are now committee presidents – were signatories.
Yet as the costs, the rock armour and the bills continue to pile up, islanders will be justified in asking how big a blank cheque the States signed thanks to a late recount. And when deputies will admit their mistake.