Parish objections ‘won’t hold up progress of the hospital project’

WORK on the new hospital at Overdale ‘will not be held up’ despite a St Helier Parish Assembly refusing to back the construction of the scheme’s planned access road, the project’s political leader has insisted.

Senator Lyndon Farnham
Senator Lyndon Farnham

Senator Lyndon Farnham said that his team was still working towards having a planning application in place by early November for the new facility and added that he had taken into account ‘feedback’ from dissatisfied St Helier residents over the reconstruction of Westmount Road.

In February, St Helier residents at a parish assembly heavily backed a requête lodged by Advocate Olaf Blakeley calling for the parish to block works and the acquisition of land to support the redevelopment of the road.

Concerns were raised over the lack of clarity in relation to the compulsory purchase of properties in the area, the number of trees that might be lost and the relevelling of the road to make it a smoother climb.

On Wednesday night the parish assembly doubled down on its earlier decision, voting by a large margin against motions to confirm they had received enough information about the project and were ‘satisfied with the merits of its construction’.

Speaking yesterday after the meeting, Advocate Blakeley said that this meant the February decision still stood and the parish would block the construction of the road, through measures such as denying permission for measurements to be taken or drilling to take place, as well as refusing to voluntarily sell land for the project.

He added that he felt that no substantial further information had been provided on the road construction scheme at the latest assembly.

‘It was so obvious that the information that was provided hadn’t changed. There was hardly anything extra and we still don’t know what the road is going to look like,’ he said.

The advocate also said that he believed Senator Farnham had ‘mis-sold’ the project to the States in order to gain their consent for the compulsory purchase orders last November and called for his resignation as political lead for the project.

He said: ‘If we go back to Senator Farnham’s proposition to the States for the compulsory purchase of properties for the road I would say that he mis-sold the proposition to the States because he didn’t tell them what the road would end up looking like. For example, at the time he said that only three properties would need to be purchased and that list has grown.

‘He has got to go. He contradicts things, he makes things up. It’s like a form of Trumpism. And why come to the parish of St Helier and ask what they think if they are just going to go ahead and do it anyway? What’s the point of that? It’s disingenuous.’

Senator Farnham said that he had no intention of resigning and hit back at Advocate Blakeley’s remarks and continued criticism of the project.

‘I’m disappointed that from the outset Olaf Blakeley has made personal attacks on me and had constantly tried to undermine and discredit the project,’ he said. ‘We have made more progress in the last 18 months on this project than has been made in the last ten years. Advocate Blakeley speaks for himself and a group of parishioners, not Islanders in general who want to see this progressed. This makes us all the more determined to deliver the hospital.’

He added that further public engagement with the project should now take place through the planning process and consultation that will be launched.

Senator Farnham said: ‘We responded to the request of the parish assembly, which asked for further information. We gave them all the information we had and will publicly provide all the information we have as it becomes available.

‘This won’t hold up the progress of the project. The idea was to get feedback and suggestions from parishioners and that will feed into our work. The best of course of action going forward will be engagement with the planning process and we are still looking to have the planning application ready by early November.

‘Parishioners have made it clear that they are not happy about the road and we have taken that on board.’

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