Hospital land purchase ‘must be put on pause’

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A DECISION to pursue a compulsory purchase of land for the hospital project should be ‘paused’ until the new government is fully-formed, a former Assistant Chief Minister has said.

Deputy Philip Ozouf spoke out after the Parish of St Helier received a ‘series of compulsory purchase notices’ last Tuesday – during the ‘purdah’ period which restricts government activity during an election – from the States Greffe, acting on the instructions of outgoing Assistant Environment Minister Gregory Guida.

Jason Turner, chief executive of the parish, said the 11 notices related to land needed for the planned hospital at Overdale.

Last year a parish assembly rejected a £6.5 million offer from the government for the land, which includes a parish car park, car parking along the edge of the People’s Park, the Jersey Bowling Club site at Westmount, and various areas adjacent to Westmount Road.

Deputy Guida, who was among the 11 States Members who lost their seats last week, said the process had begun around six months ago – well before the start of the ‘purdah’ period.

However, Deputy Ozouf said that the compulsory purchase was ‘inappropriate’ and ‘must be put on pause’ until the new Council of Ministers was established and could make a decision.

‘Everybody wants the new hospital to be built – I do not want it to be delayed,’ he said.

‘But these are important decisions made by an Alliance-led government that has been demolished [during the election] and it is extremely discourteous to the public of Jersey that they would expect the newly-elected Assembly to continue with their version of the hospital project.’

Deputy Guida said the notice was ‘not something done at the last minute’ and that there were ‘no technical issues’ with the parish receiving it just before the election.

‘There is an administrative and legal process that you have to follow,’ he said.

‘The next step is the actual acquisition but negotiations can still take place.’

Outgoing Environment Minister John Young gave conditional approval for the £800 million hospital project earlier this year.

‘He [Deputy Young] didn’t want to touch any physical action in relation to the hospital project, which makes a lot of sense,’ said Deputy Guida, explaining why the Greffe had been acting on his instructions.

‘This was a long time coming,’ he added.

Although he did not give an exact figure, Mr Turner said the order was ‘more than a million pounds’ below the £6.5 million previously rejected by the parish.

‘These notices have an eight-day notice period,’ he said.

‘The government would have to issue a further notice to take possession of the land.’

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