Politicians have criticised ministers for failing to provide detailed plans of the hospital proposals before they asked States Members to approve Westmount Road as the main access route at a special sitting last week. During the debate, Members agreed, by 34 votes to 11, that Westmount Road should be used.
However, two days after this debate, detailed plans of a proposed new skatepark – which covered two prospective sites at Les Quennavais and South Hill – were unveiled by the government, which prompted some to question why similar visuals were not available for the access route.
Responding to the questions, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham said that ministers had not wanted to start designing an access road for Overdale before Members had agreed the principle of the route’s location, whereas the designs for the skatepark were already ‘largely complete’.
He said: ‘The difference is that a lot of design work has already been done for both skateparks, so they had some design to put the drawings on.
‘We haven’t got that design work [for the access road] yet. The States gave the go-ahead for that design work to start on Monday and now we’ve started it. I hope that, as the designs take place, we will be issuing some more detailed schematics and drawings. That’s the difference. The skatepark has been designed for some time now.’
Senator Kristina Moore, who chairs the Future Hospital Scrutiny Review Panel, had called for a preliminary design of the Westmount Road access route to be provided before any work was undertaken. Her proposal was defeated by 27 votes to 21.
‘The irony, I think, has been striking to a number of people,’ said Senator Moore, when asked whether she thought similar graphics could have been produced for the access road.
‘I guess that what we can conclude is that the government is intent on pursuing their goal and the matter of public engagement, or even receiving public support for their project, seems to be a secondary matter.’
She added that she believed the entire project was being driven by ‘the profit-making partners’ and that they were ‘not putting Islanders’ desires first within the project’.
A States debate about the planned skatepark is due to take place this week.