Town schools review amid housing plans

A REVIEW of education facilities in St Helier is being carried out in light of proposed new housing developments in the parish, the Chief Minister has said.

 Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30820806)
Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30820806)

Several politicians had raised concerns that major developments at sites including South Hill, Ann Street and Green Street would put further pressure on town schools.

During yesterday’s States sitting, Senator Sam Mézec, a former Children’s and Housing Minister, asked the Chief Minister what action he would take to ensure ‘adequate educational facilities to cater for the growth’ in St Helier’s population.

Senator John Le Fondré, who is acting Children’s and Education Minister, said the government had pledged to ‘put children first and the education service is being significantly invested in under this government’.

He said a Jersey Property Holdings review was taking place regarding the St Helier primary school estate.

This includes examining the future use of the former police station, which some have suggested could form part of expansion plans for the adjacent Rouge Bouillon School.

Last year, Rouge Bouillon School headteacher Russell Price wrote to the Public Accounts Committee raising concerns over the state of the primary and its lack of adequate space.

However, Julian Blazeby, director-general for the Justice and Home Affairs Department, said during a Scrutiny panel hearing last month that the site could be used to accommodate additional emergency services instead. In the States, Senator Le Fondré said the review was expected to be completed in four to six weeks, and Members should wait for the outcome of that.

He said they were ‘not going to magic up a solution in the next few months’.

St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft called the government review an ‘excuse for inaction’.

Mr Crowcroft said last month he supported building the majority of Jersey’s new homes in town but stressed these homes needed facilities and access to green spaces.

Members also said the problem extended outside of St Helier.

St Saviour Constable Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard said her parish was ‘over-run’ and the school was ‘full to capacity’.

She added that there was no mention of schools or playing areas in proposals for housing in the recently released bridging Island Plan.

‘How on earth are we going to have these people living in a parish with no schools for their children and no areas for them to play?’ she added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Inna Gardiner said catchment areas had not been updated for 15 years, and St Helier had changed a lot since then.

Senator Le Fondré said he could not provide an update on when catchment areas would be updated.

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