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Fort events cancelled over safety concerns

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FORT Regent’s future as the Island’s flagship events centre has been thrown into doubt after fire-safety issues were uncovered – forcing the venue to cancel all major events for the foreseeable future.

(24203923)

Organisers of five high-capacity events due to be held in the coming weeks have been told they must find alternative sites or face the prospect of cancelling at a cost of thousands of pounds.

The announcement has left organisers furious and scrambling to make alternative plans.

Following a risk assessment, the number of people using the Fort at any one time has been capped at 1,170.

It is understood that ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’ of public money will need to be spent correcting health and safety issues which include, among a host of issues, inadequate emergency exits. Even then, politicians fear that the Fort will never be able to host events for more than 1,170 people. Previously the Fort’s Gloucester Hall alone, one of two major event rooms, had a capacity of 1,970.

The development is likely to affect thousands of Islanders and visitors who have bought tickets to the major events which include mixed martial-arts event The Rumble on the Rock, a JMS Gala Concert, Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s spring concert, electronic music night BLKOUT and a Human League gig.

Ticket holders are advised to contact organisers for more information.

Organisers of the Rumble on the Rock event, which was due to be held tomorrow, were left reeling after discovering by email that their booking at Fort Regent had been cancelled just 72 hours before it was due to go ahead. Fighters are due to arrive from England to compete and competitors had raised thousands of pounds for various charities.

Michael Canas, the event’s organiser, has confirmed that the event will now be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

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A spokeswoman for the JMS said that it was still their intention to hold their gala concert on 30 March but at a different venue.

Jersey Property Holdings are the landlords of the Fort Regent site and the States-run service falls under the remit of the Infrastructure Department.

Deputy Hugh Raymond, Assistant Infrastructure Minister who has recently been appointed to a Fort Regent steering-group board, described the situation as a ‘nightmare’.

‘This is a nightmare but it is a nightmare we did not see coming. You cannot blame civil servants or politicians,’ he said.

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Deputy Raymond added: ‘I would like to stress that the Fort at the moment is safe. This relates to major events over and up to the capacity of 1,170 that is the problem. What it means is the Fort is no longer a place where we can host big events and that means that, as an Island, we are struggling to host big events anywhere.’

Anne Eastham, orchestra administrator for the Jersey Symphony Orchestra, said she found out at noon on Thursday – less than three weeks ahead of the charity’s spring concert.

‘It is terribly short notice and terribly frustrating,’ she said.

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