It also said that it was ‘extremely frustrated by the inconsistency of explanations as to the cause of the delays’. Announcing an updated review of States-owned land and buildings, Public Accounts Committee chair Deputy Inna Gardiner said that they wanted to ensure that everything was being done to maximise the benefits of an estate of more than 500 properties valued at over £1 billion, and reduce risks to Islanders.
‘Although a public estate strategy will hopefully be published soon, we still don’t know how and when it will be implemented. The PAC has never seen a comprehensive list of all the properties owned, a joined-up approach to how to dispose of, reutilise or maintain these properties and, most importantly, evidence of a thorough consultation process with Islanders on the way forward.
‘We will be interested to see if, when and how, the chief executive officer, Infrastructure Housing and Environment Department and the property division work together with other groups such as the corporate asset management board and the States of Jersey Development Company to address those fundamental issues,’ Deputy Gardiner said.
The PAC published its first estate management report in February 2019, noting then that the government had not managed its property estate effectively for many years and urging it to produce a strategy setting out which buildings and land could be better used and which should be sold.
According to the PAC, the Council of Ministers approved a strategy on 9 December last year, nine months after the PAC had seen a draft, but other States Members have yet to receive it.
In February and June 2020 the PAC says it was assured that a corporate asset management group – which is responsible for all estate decisions and funding across the government – had been established and working since November 2019.
However, at the PAC’s most recent public hearing with the chief executive earlier this month, it was told that the board had previously been operating in ‘shadow’ form, and had only held its first formal meeting in October 2020. The PAC says it is eager to understand how meaningful decisions can be made about any aspect of the estate, when a joined-up approach is apparently lacking.
The PAC is now seeking views from all interested parties on any aspect of its review and said it wanted to reassure those who have already made submissions that their views will be incorporated.
It will gather evidence from government departments, charities, arms-length organisations such as Ports of Jersey, and other relevant organisations including the company which operates the States-owned Jersey Opera House as to how successful the government has been in its efforts to produce a comprehensive and coherent public estate strategy.
The PAC is inviting Islanders to submit their views by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, completing the ‘get involved’ form on the States Assembly website, or by messaging the States Assembly social media pages.