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Public support growing, says activity centre firm

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THERE has been a groundswell of public support for a business based at Haut de la Garenne, the owner has said, after inviting Islanders to see for themselves how the building is currently being used.

The Jersey Accommodation Activity Centre based at Haut de la Garenne was open over the weekend for the public to have a guided tour by the Centre's co-director, Jon Fox

A States consultation is under way on whether Haut de la Garenne – seen by many as a symbol of Jersey’s history of child abuse – should be demolished following recommendations made in the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry last year.

If the States decide to press ahead with the demolition, the move would have a major impact on the Jersey Accommodation and Activity Centre, which would either have to find new premises to run from or risk closing down completely.

The 110-bed hostel is regularly used by families and visiting sports teams but the business is facing uncertainty while the Council of Ministers decide on the future of Haut de la Garenne.

Two special open days were held over the weekend to show Islanders around the site and John Fox, JAAC co-owner, has said there has been a wave of public support for the business. He said: ‘The open days went very well and we were able to get the message out there about what we do. Ultimately, the public will decide what happens but I think people are seeing the benefits of what we do here.’

The ten-week consultation was launched after the inquiry recommended that consideration should be given to demolishing the former residential home, saying the building acts as a ‘reminder of an unhappy past or shameful history’.

It is estimated it would cost about £750,000 to demolish Haut de la Garenne, which was built in the 19th century, and return the site to a field.

Mr Fox said that around 70 people attended the open days and added that while there were no further sessions planned, anyone who wanted to be shown around the site could call the JAAC and visit the building.

‘We are happy to show people around,’ he said. ‘Obviously during our busier season that is more difficult but if people want to come up then they are more than welcome to and if they give us a call beforehand we are happy to show them round and tell them what goes on here. If there are people who missed the open days and want to come up and see it then they can give us a call.’

The consultation on Haut de la Garenne closes on Sunday 22 April. Questionnaires can be completed online via gov.je/consultations or printed and sent to Former Haut de la Garenne Site Public Consultation, Community and Constitutional Affairs Department, 5th Floor, Cyril Le Marquand House, PO Box 140, St Helier, Jersey, JE4 8Q.

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