St Helier Constable requests compulsory-purchase pause

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A REQUEST to pause the ‘controversial’ compulsory purchase of land for the hospital project has been made by the Constable of St Helier.

Simon Crowcroft has written to outgoing Chief Minister John Le Fondré after the parish received a series of compulsory-purchase notices last Tuesday – during the ‘purdah’ period which is designed to halt government activity during an election.

The orders were issued by the States Greffe, acting on the instructions of outgoing Assistant Environment Minister Gregory Guida.

The 11 notices relate to the parish car park near West Park Apartments, car parking along the edge of the People’s Park, the Jersey Bowling Club site at Westmount, and areas adjacent to Westmount Road.

The sum being offered by the government in the compulsory purchase is more than £1 million less than the £6.5 million rejected by the parish assembly last year.

It also does not include a land swap, which was part of the previous offer and would have seen the Jersey Bowling Club be moved to Warwick Farm.

Mr Crowcroft has asked for the compulsory purchase to be paused ‘so that parishioners have an opportunity to properly consider the offer being put to them’ and allow the new government time to decide whether it is necessary to continue.

‘Not only is the offer more than £1 million less than the offer previously received and rejected by a parish assembly, the government have also withdrawn their offer of a land swap for the land currently occupied by Jersey Bowling Club,’ he said.

‘They are now simply offering a relatively small financial sum of compensation for the land. This would effectively end the 100-plus-year-old relationship between the parish and Jersey Bowling Club, which is entirely unacceptable.’

The parish’s chief executive, Jason Turner, said the order had ‘an eight-day notice period’.

Mr Crowcroft said: ‘I have asked the outgoing Chief Minister not to take any further action over the next few days but to allow the new government and its ministers to decide whether or not to [continue] with the compulsory purchase of our land under what can only be described as very controversial circumstances.’

He added: ‘I am aware that many newly elected Members, while supportive of the need for a new hospital, are not supportive of the development of Westmount Road into a “super-highway”. It is only right and proper that we pause for a few days while the transition to the new government is completed.’

Deputy Philip Ozouf yesterday 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. He also questioned whether it was ‘correct’ for the notices to have been issued a day before the election – although Deputy Guida maintained that the process had begun several months ago.

Mr Crowcroft said: ‘It may have been conforming to the letter of the law [for the notices to have arrived last week] but it certainly wasn’t in the spirit of the law.’ He added that the parish ‘simply cannot hold an assembly in that time’.

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