OK. It’s worse than I thought. The totem pole nearest St Helier as shown in the picture (it’s the one on the right!)appears to be a sculpture of a leaf on a stick looking rather incongruous next to a hospital desparately fighting for its existence through lack of funds. The other one is a couple of yards away from a large tree so is barely visible from the road.
Now remember this is your money. (No, it’s landfill tax credits paid by a private company, I’m told.) Yes, but the key is in the title. They are not called tax credits for nothing. This is a way of the private sector spending taxes as directed by the Treasury without HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) having to go through the ungentlemanly process of collecting it first. Still confused? Bear with me for a little longer:-
Fictitious company, Landfill plc dumps enough rubbish in a hole in the ground to generate a landfill tax bill of £400,000. It can pay this directly to HMRC or it can spend it as directed by regulations, reclaiming land, reducing pollution, providing or improving public amenities or parks within 10 miles of a landfill site, delivering biodiversity conservation, restoring or repairing places of worship or architectural interest nearby or funding costs or administration of environmental bodies.
Landfill plc then reduces its tax bill by 90%, in this case leaving it a bill of £40,000. It can then look for an “independent Contributing Third Party” (another company or a charity for example) to reimburse it with the £40,000 that it has just paid in tax. Landfill plc assuages its conscience, the Government points to good environmental work being done and residents get new parkland. All good stuff, but remember that this is money that would have gone to the Treasury so it is your money.
Now, back to totem poles. As I have said before, I applaud the new facilities in Poulter Park, and the skateboard ramps opposite the hospital, although I hope that there may be some landscaping around this in time. But, we are told that the totem poles were a local decision made by residents. I have the original consultation and there is not a single mention of any form of public art. We have asked arond 3,500 residents within a square mile of the totem poles if they were asked if they wanted £23,000 spending on these. Unsurprisingly, not a single person amongst the many that replied said that they had. Every respondent said that they were a waste of money.
At least now we can see them, we can be a little surer that wigwams won’t start appearing next to the totem poles. Not so much ‘How!’ more for goodness sake Why!