Save Our Shoreline Jersey recently carried out a straw poll ‘referendum’ of our active States members about the Finance Centre development. The poll indicated that there was very strong feeing against the impending construction of six five storey office blocks on the Esplanade car park site.
There is considerable uncertainty relating to the location and adequacy of subsequent car parking arrangements as well as some concern as to the financial implications which have yet to be defined and communicated. (Construction is scheduled to commence in Spring 2014.)
We made a commitment to those polled that we would contact their elected States Members on this matter and are now fulfilling that promise, so we asked each States Member the following question:
“Do you agree with the following statement? ‘The Masterplan for the development of the Waterfront, discussed and agreed by the States in 2008, is now in need of urgent review by the States?
A simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ reply by 16th October will suffice. If we receive no answer we shall assume that you yourself are insufficiently informed to be able to answer or that you are just not interested. As promised, we will then inform those polled and yourself of the responses before 20th October. ”
The responses that we received, were as follows:
17 responded in a clear and unequivocable manner for which we thank them and respect their views.
- 8 of these were ‘Yes’
- Senators: Ferguson, Breckon.
- Deputies: Labey, Le Fondré, Tadier, Southern, Le Herissier.
- Connetables: Crowcroft.
7 were ‘No’
- Senators: Routier.
- Deputies: Luce, Moore, Noel.
- Connetables: Norman, Pallett, Rennard.
Deputy Young wishes that, rather than a ‘review’, a Planning Enquiry be held, now, in advance of the development, in order to decide whether SoJDC’s piecemeal approach to the development is consistent with the 2008 Masterplan and will enable it ever to be achieved.
10 thoughtful, but non-commital replies were received from Senators:
- Farnham (needed more information)
- Le Gresley (would accept minister’s decision either way / has insufficient information)
- Le Marquand (supports in-house development, not happy with original plan, suggests review after election)
Replies from Deputies:
- Baker, ( ‘has concerns’)
- Martin (discussing with other St. Helier Deputies)
- Pinel (tending towards ‘yes’ but is seeking more information)
- Pitman (T), (extremely opposed to the whole FSI project – didn’t say ‘yes’ but we assume that is his position)
Replies from Connetables
- Le Troquer (has reservations needing clarification but generally supportive of SoJDC’s proposals)
- Refault: (wants holistic plan but abstains, believes ‘decision is for our entrusted Ministers.’)
- Rondel (P) has ‘great concerns at what is happening, we have an unelected body (Quango) spending Tax payers’ money responsible to one Member – the Treasury Minister.’ (SOS Note: We think that counts as a ‘yes’).
It was apparent from most of the above responses, that many respondees were not able to formulate a definitive position due to lack of information and this, in our opinion, would support our case for a review.
Certain States Members could, understandably, not commit due to their direct involvement in the project: Deputies Duhamel, Vallois. Connetable J. Gallichan was given insufficient time by us to consider and respond. Deputy Duhamel, however, wrote a letter to out Chairman on the subject, and we infer that he could be a ‘no’, but if there was a debate, could abstain, saying he was conflicted.
2 Members acknowledged receipt of our request but provided no answer either to our initial or follow up reminder: Deputies Hilton and Power.
19 Members chose not to acknowledge receipt and ignored both our initial request and follow up reminder. They were: Senators: Bailhache, Gorst, Maclean, Ozouf. Deputies: Baudains, Bryans, Green, Higgins, Le Bailly, Lewis, Macon, Pitman (S), Pryke, Reed, Rondel (R), Ryan, Connetables: Le S. Gallichan, Mazbourian, Paddock.
Our position to call for an urgent review of the Masterplan for the Waterfront remains unaltered for two reasons: Treasury’s unilateral un-debated development changes the seamless ‘one town’ Masterplan 2008 project back to the previous discredited split ‘two town’ project of 2005.
Treasury’s case appears suspect because it has supported neither the Masterplan 2008 nor their latest plans with financial data and accompanying rationale for the project. No States member we have approached to date is able to tell us: The planned total cost of the Esplanade site start up and construction in £m.? The Year in which accumulated rentals will cover accumulated interest and other expenditure? The planned total annual rents less maintenance costs thereafter accruing to the Treasury?
We believe in any case that a project of such magnitude should be subject to States and public scrutiny before proceeding.