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It's my way for the (super) highway - Senator rejects resignation call

It's my way for the (super) highway - Senator rejects resignation call

Thursday 10 June 2021

It's my way for the (super) highway - Senator rejects resignation call

Thursday 10 June 2021

Senator Lyndon Farnham has been told he should resign as head of the new hospital project after St. Helier parishioners overwhelmingly rejected a second attempt to win their support for a 'super highway' access route.

Four months after a parish assembly halted survey work on Westmount Road until it had received adequate information on its proposed design, the Our Hospital team went back to the parish to ask if it now had the information it needed to back the proposal.

The resounding answer was ‘no’.

165 parishioners told planners and politicians to go back to the drawing board while those happy with the proposals barely reached double figures.

This has prompted the man whose 'requête' prompted the initial assembly, Advocate Olaf Blakeley, to call for Senator Farnham to step aside.

Speaking after the vote, he said: “This result is a very clear vote of no confidence by the public in Senator Farnham and the hospital project team generally. 

“Senator Farnham requested this assembly; he clearly thought there was sufficient information for the public to agree to the road development and this demonstrates he has lost his way. 


Advocate Olaf Blakeley: "The meeting was a vote of no confidence in Senator Farnham".

He continued: “The information was severely lacking and that should have been obvious to him but was not. It should have also been obvious to the professional advisors but was not. 

“It is hard to believe that so much public money is spent on advisers and PR consultants and marketing by the hospital project and yet the result is the shambolic presentation witnessed at the Town Hall. 

“It’s time for Senator Farnham to be replaced by someone else. The whole hospital project needs rethinking and that requires a fresh leader. 

“He is too entrenched now to view matters objectively and that could not have been seen more clearly than by the example of his misguided decision to call the assembly and put such misplaced propositions to the public."

Westmount Road realignment.jpeg

Pictured: A plan showing the current road on the left (in grey) and how the new road will look. It will be 10.7m wide, which includes a 2m pedestrian lane and a 2m cycle path.

In response, Senator Farnham said he would not resign. 

"It is regrettable that Advocate Blakeley has chosen to criticise the process from the outset and not provide any meaningful proposals or suggestions to assist with the project," he said.

"We called the assembly in response to the earlier parish meeting which asked us to come back with more information. As we have reached the final concept design, we thought this was an opportune time to return.

"This is the mid-way stage and a lot more detailed information is yet to be produced. It was clear from last night that parishioners need to see more and we will return when we have it. From the outset, we have shared all the information when it arrives, and that will continue."

During the assembly, which began with presentations by members of the Our Hospital team, not one parishioner who spoke said they had enough information to support the plan.

Some, like Westmount resident Steve Beddoe, asked why a one-way system up Westmount Road had been dismissed, while others, including Norman de la Haye, argued that the new hospital was simply in the wrong place.

Concerning the controversial loss of trees around the park, the assembly was told by the project team that more trees will be planted than those lost.

Advocate Graham Boxall said: “I would like to see a clearer picture of the effect of the new highway on the People’s Park and specifically the proportion - including the play area, bowling green and Gallows area - that will be lost.

“The new hospital will be an unacceptable intrusion on the skyline; and besides confiscation of land, it will lead to a new highway with concrete pillars and arches that will be an ugly addition into the natural backdrop of the People’s Park.

“It is clear that Westmount Road has quite a long way to go in terms of design and Senator Farnham himself has said we are not seeing the full picture yet.

“Is that not an admission that the call for this vote is premature?”

Asked before the vote what would happen if St. Helier - which owns most of the land on which Westmount Road runs - failed to support the access plans, the Government said the project team would continue with its plans.

Director General of the Infrastructure, Housing and Environment Department Andy Scate told the assembly that the appropriate time for people to air their views would be during the public inquiry that will accompany the formal planning application to realign the road. 

By then, he said, parishioners would have all the details they needed, including a green travel plan, which a number had asked for during the meeting. 

St. Helier's refusal to support the realignment of the road, based on current plans, means that - in theory - an earlier assembly decision that no member of the Our Hospital team can access parish land still stands. 

However, the parish has since allowed engineers to carry out preliminary work by issuing permits under events and public parks' legislation. 

Senator Farnham said that the project team had the permits they needed so last night's decision would not have an impact.

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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by Sarah Ferguson on
P.S.. I would like to see some refinement of the design of the hospital - currently it looks like a cowpat plonked on top of the hill.
Posted by Sarah Ferguson on
Why do the opponents of the road not come up with a constructive alternative? Also, I am led to understand that much of the woods being fought over have grown up due to self seeding since the closure of the TB units at Overdale in 1960 or thereabouts. Also, what are the vested interests of the opponents of the road?
Posted by Dave Mathews on
165 out of how many people who live in St Helier, 40,000? Probably more now.
Hardly a resounding message.
Posted by Paul Troalic on
I am pleased to see that common sense has prevailed once again but the nerve of Farnham suggesting that the necessary permits have been received and they will go ahead defies belief.
So this is democracy is it?
I am sorry Senator Farnham but you had better wake up and start listening to the public instead of those external idiot professionals that are looking to make a big wad out of this project.
Overdale is the wrong location so please get this into your thick skull. The days if politicians know best are over, if you want to stand a chance of getting re-elected next year then change your attitude..
There are better and easier sites to develop than Overdale and everybody knows this so find one and use all the plans and expertise you've gathered together to build somewhere else,
I am appalled at the attitude of this current bunch of politicians. This is not Syria where a dictator rules this is Jersey where everything is done in the interests of Jersey people new and old.
Posted by Martin Clarke on
Sarah Ferguson is absolutely correct but sadly, "cowpats" are States of Jersey's favoured design: Fort Regent?
Posted by Martin on
AGREED - It seems WE the general public are no longer in a democracy?

Freedom of information requests re Parker are refused? Is this contrary to law - if not then why have FOI?

Parish Assemblies being ignored is NOT a new thing and the poor turnout is likely due to apathy induced by decades of poor Government & the FACT that these Politicians spend a few years doing a job they - in most cases have no qualifications related to the task & no accountability once they waft out of service!
Posted by John Sheen on
It would be helpful if some of the commentors above checked their facts before posting inaccurate comments. The Parish of St Helier - yes, the officials at the parish in the town hall - gave the hospital team the permits to press ahead and do their investigations. The parish's own permit scheme trumps a requete. Get your facts straight please.
Posted by Denise Shrives on
So he should resign and La Fondre also ! Never in my life have I regretted an action I took like voting for them in last Election. They have turned into Dictators and be got rid of, so should the plans for the God awful plans for the Hospital at Overdale. It's madness to want to destroy so much of People's Park and Westmount. Can they onestly believe that folk will walk or cycle up to Overdale ? how stupid! Can you imagine the noise of traffic outside the new flats which have recently been built. If there was the will the new hospital could be built at Warwick Farm, the options for buildings there are numerous. States members seem to have forgotten who pay their salaries, it's about time they started listening to the folk of Jersey, PLEASE !
Posted by Christine Dukes on
Even if apparently the unrefined design of the new hospital looks like a cowpat on top of a hill. I can assure you there will be no cowpats at the top of Westmount Rd, as there will be no agricultural land left up there at all, just a multi-storey Carpark for 400 plus cars. As for coming up with suitable alternatives, several have been proposed, but seemingly it is better to demolish several residential properties, historic sites, a bowling green, relocate the Crematorium and spend over £15 million flattening a hill and widening a road with gallons of infill, so that two buses or two Ambulances can pass each other on a bend. Providing smaller more manoeuvrable, timetabled hopper buses would be beyond the realms of comprehension. Westmount will probably look more like Monaco by the time they’ve finished with it, that’s if they don’t destabilise the entire hill and the whole lot doesn’t come down.
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