A ROW over catering facilities operating in St Peter could soon be reignited amid fears that a central site might also be used to prepare school meals.
Parishioners first raised concerns over noise, smells and traffic at St Peter’s Technical Park in 2017 when it emerged that the hospital’s catering unit was being moved to the area – with nearby residents later demanding action from then-Environment Minister John Young to tackle the ‘foul odours’ allegedly being produced.
The unit started operating in 2020 – despite a proposition from former Senator Sarah Ferguson calling for the move to be blocked – with 40 people making the meals between 8am and 5pm.
Resident Sally Wood, who led a campaign against transferring the catering facilities to the park, claimed carbon filters that had since been fitted by the government to mitigate the smells had failed to make a difference.
‘They don’t work in any shape or form,’ she said, adding that she had ‘given up’ on seeking assistance from the Environmental Health department.
In July, Children’s and Education Minister Inna Gardiner revealed that an initiative operated by the government in collaboration with local charity Caring Cooks – helping to provide lunches at Janvrin, Samarès, St Luke’s, St Martin’s and St Peter’s schools – was being expanded.
Commenting on whether the technical park would also be used to prepare school meals, Deputy Gardiner said: ‘Discussions are ongoing and a range of sites are still under consideration.
‘Due to commercial sensitivity we are unable to comment further on any options being considered.
‘I will provide further details in quarter one of 2023.’
However, the JEP understands that the existing operation at the St Peter site is among the primary options being considered.
Ms Wood, who has lived on the Ville du Bocage estate next to the technical park for over two decades, said the news was ‘very concerning’.
‘For us, it would mean we are going to have even more smells – we are [already] plagued by flies and seagulls.
‘It would also mean more produce will have to be brought up, which would mean more vehicle movements and noise throughout the day. I am also concerned that they won’t have enough bins for the extra waste.’
She added: ‘How many more staff will need to move in? I don’t quite know where they would park.’
In 2020, former Deputy John Young concluded that the impact of the unit was ‘not unreasonable, bearing in mind the context’ and that officers had taken steps to reduce the noise and smell.
He said: ‘Environmental Health looked at it and recommended certain changes which I believe were done.’
He added: ‘If the issues haven’t been addressed, then of course they need to be, because there are planning conditions to mitigate the impact of the unit.’
He noted that the previous government had indicated the catering facilities could be removed from St Peter’s Technical Park, when the new hospital at Overdale was built.
‘We have no idea [at the moment] what is going where under the current plans,’ he said, adding that the continued debate over the £804 million scheme had brought this into question.