The surveying company undertaking the work to dig ‘trial’ holes to see what lay beneath the surface along Westmount Road has now issued an apology. Mr Crowcroft said that the company had agreed to pay for any reinstatement work that might be necessary.
This latest twist in the long-running hospital saga has further fuelled fears that the project is being driven through in spite of residents’ concerns and that due process is not being followed.
Meanwhile, further concerns about access to the Overdale site – the preferred option for the new hospital – have been raised by Stephen Regal, the former managing director of a Jersey construction company.
Last year, the team behind the Our Hospital project faced criticism for beginning the process of purchasing certain properties needed for the completion of the project before a final decision had been made on access to the site. The land and properties that have been identified as being required include a corporate office and service yard, four fields in separate ownership, three homes and one residential development currently under construction.
Mr Crowcroft said it was concerning that work had begun without the parish having been informed. He said: ‘They [the company] apparently had permission to dig on States roads and just went onto parish land and started digging.
‘It flags up real concerns about how much collateral damage there will be in creating the access for Overdale. The contractors have promised to keep the parish informed so I am expecting that it will not happen again.’
Mr Regal – who has retired from his business in the construction sector – said that there was a lack of published information justifying the selection of Overdale as the preferred site and the proposals surrounding access to the facility [Letters to the Editor: Page 12].
Meanwhile, it was announced yesterday that health facilities operating at Overdale are to be relocated to the former Les Quennevais School, in St Brelade, in order for the new hospital to be built.
An internal refit and upgrade of the former school will begin this summer with the relocation to be completed by January 2022, the cost of which will be included within the existing budget for the new hospital.
The clinical director for the new hospital project, Professor Ashok Handa, said that health staff at Overdale were told they would be consulted throughout the relocation process and would be given accommodation ‘at least as good as the current accommodation’ if not better.
‘For many of the services at Overdale this is a relatively easy promise as a lot of that estate is tired and old,’ he said.
‘I think I can say that the staff have been overwhelmingly supporting of the move, in fact many of them said to me in early December, “We’ve been waiting to hear from you because after the announcement on 17 November we wanted to start talking to you about where we’ll be going”.
‘It is a big change but it is a very important step to make sure we meet the timeline to get the new hospital that the people of Jersey want and deserve, built and commissioned on time.’
Senator Farnham added: ‘It is important that we deliver the new hospital on time and it is fully operational by the end of 2026. Even with the short delay in confirming access, those timelines are still within reach, which is why we must keep moving ahead with the project.
‘As part of this temporary move, and the wider project, we will be engaging with the community throughout, who will help shape the delivery of the hospital. Moving the current facilities from Overdale is a key stage in the project, and the former Les Quennevais School offers the best solution.’
The health facilities will be moved back to the new hospital once it opens, leaving the former Les Quennevais School available for future developments or uses.
The States Assembly is due to debate approving Westmount as the main access route for the new hospital next month.