Deputy Hugh Raymond says he is now playing ‘catch up’ after discovering that the government’s sports facilities division are conducting feasibility studies for potential new sites nearer town, despite advanced plans being in place to open a park at the St Brelade complex in 2021. The U-turn – unveiled to Raymond just hours before a live Scrutiny hearing – opposes the results of a public consultation held in 2019, which suggested Les Quennevais as the most-favoured venue.
It is understood that Raymond’s predecessor, Senator Steve Pallett, asked sports officers to look elsewhere due to a long-term vision to redevelop Les Quennevais through the government’s soon-to-be-released Sports Facilities Strategy.
‘I have obviously only just taken over but I was very surprised to hear that the skate park is not going ahead at Les Quennevais,’ said Raymond, who picked up the States’ sporting reins last month, following Senator Pallett’s resignation.
‘I’m trying to catch up and it surprised me even more that feasibility studies are being undertaken with regards to sites in St Helier. This week I want to know a lot more about where we stand with it.
‘I can defend the civil servants and say that had they caught up with me they would probably have told me, but I am the Assistant Minister for sport now and I didn’t know. There has to be more openness between a lot of people because it affects so many people. I want to make sure everyone in Jersey with an interest in sport knows what’s going on.
'It does look like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.'
Raymond says the latest feasibility study should be completed within weeks – and that the intention remains to open a park in 2021.