Fund gives £22.8m to ‘stimulate economy’

MONEY has been given to those most in need to help them to rebuild as the Island transitions out of the pandemic, the Treasury Minister has said, after £22.8 million was granted to 30 organisations.

£568,500 will be used to demolish the cricket pavilion at the FB Fields and build an improved facility. Groundsman Callum Kelly mows the grass on the cricket wickets in front of the pavilion in preparation for the first games of the year on Saturday. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30649950)
£568,500 will be used to demolish the cricket pavilion at the FB Fields and build an improved facility. Groundsman Callum Kelly mows the grass on the cricket wickets in front of the pavilion in preparation for the first games of the year on Saturday. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30649950)

Deputy Susie Pinel said the money, which had been allocated from the Fiscal Stimulus Fund, had gone to a ‘hugely diverse range’ of organisations who had suffered throughout the pandemic.

In total, the fund received 93 expressions of interest for a combined total of £102.4 million.

Of the applications, 30 were deemed to meet the criteria which required organisations to provide a temporary, targeted and timely project for a budget of up to £5 million, which should be completed by the end of the year.

A second tranche of money is due to be distributed later in the year and those organisations which did not secure funding this time can submit a revised application.

Among those benefitting from the first set of grants will be the Jersey Opera House and the Jersey Arts Centre who will receive more than £2 million each to refurbish and maintain their venues.

Just over £5 million will be spent on Springfield and Oakfield sports centres to fund improvements and support the relocation of sport from Fort Regent. Meanwhile, £568,500 will be used to demolish the cricket pavilion at the FB Fields and build an improved facility. Full story: Page 58.

Deputy Pinel said the grants would positively influence the organisations and provide benefits to the public.

‘The money has been given to a hugely diverse range of organisations and has been put to those most in need in order to rebuild as we transition out of the pandemic,’ she said.

More than half of the successful applications involve redeveloping, refurbishing or maintaining a facility, meaning that the majority of the money will be spent in the construction industry.

‘While it is a concern that the majority of the money will go to construction companies, these refurbishments are only short term and have to be completed by the end of the year. Places like the Opera House and the sports facilities have been closed and suffered massively so this money will act as a timely boost to get them up and running again,’ Deputy Pinel said.

Pierre Horsfall, chairman of the Jersey Opera House, said the facility’s £2.2 million grant would make the difference between the theatre reopening and closing down forever.

A file image of the Opera House from 2017. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30653997)

He said the money would be used to return the Opera House to a functional state and enable it to reopen once Covid restrictions allowed.

‘Without the money, we would not survive. A lot of work needs doing to the exterior of the building and a survey showed that safety measures within the venue needed improving so these will all be in place before we reopen,’ he said,

Mr Horsfall said the venue would not be ready to reopen until the end of the year at the earliest.

‘We are extremely grateful for the grant which will help get the Opera House open and thriving again,’ he added. ‘The venue is a mainstay of the Jersey community and culture. It benefits so many people from the audience to the actors and this money will benefit all our visitors.’

Meanwhile, Jersey Heritage will be given £1,308,114 to create an agricultural museum at Hamptonne, while the organisation is also due to spend £271,302 on upgrades at La Hougue Bie.

Syvret House, Hamptonne. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30654005)

Jon Carter, director of Jersey Heritage, said the pandemic had shown the importance of heritage sites to Islanders.

‘Jersey Heritage sites are the most-visited tourist attractions in Jersey as well as being an essential part of the Island brand. Together these very important investments support economic recovery both in terms of delivering shovel-ready opportunities to the local market, benefitting local trades in helping to maintain skills and in terms of preparation for the return of tourist visitors to the Island,’ he said.

The government has also allocated £50,000 to Citizens Advice Jersey to allow the organisation to overhaul its website, something its chief executive Malcolm Ferey said would benefit their clients.

‘The pandemic has shown the importance of digital access for all and made us realise we need to take our website offering to the next stage,’ he said. ‘This money will enhance our digital strategy and give clients smoother access to our website.’

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