A man who was forced to pay more than £30,000 plus legal costs to the government when he tried to sell his former home has made a formal complaint to the States.
Islander Alan Luce (60) hopes that the complaint will be the first step towards ending a controversial States policy which has seen islanders fined tens of thousands for property encroachments on public land – even if they are not responsible.
Mr Luce, who lived along the St Clement’s coast, was told to pay a five-figure sum just as he was on the verge of selling his property in 2016 because parts of his it lay on a disputed piece of land known as the ‘Foreshore’ – the zone between high tide and low tide. It used to belong to the Queen, but passed into ownership of the Public of Jersey as a gift from Her Majesty in 2015.
But the property was already situated on the now publicly-owned seaside strip when Mr Luce bought it more than 10 years earlier.
He spoke out about the ordeal for the first time to Express in July, describing “bullying” and “belligerent” letters from Jersey Property Holdings, the part of the Department for Infrastructure responsible for dealing with encroachments on public land.
Pictured: Mr Luce (here with his beloved Newfoundland dog) said that he disliked the tone of the letters from Jersey Property Holdings.
According to Mr Luce, not only did the saga lose him potential buyers and swipe thousands off the value of his home, but also caused him levels of stress that were detrimental to his health.
He also expressed concerns that some of his personal and financial details had been shared with others in correspondence by JPH and that errors were made in the final contract to sell his home.
Following the revelations, Express learned that the States had earned more than £70,000 through the pursuit of islanders with encroaching properties. Numerous States members have since spoken out against the measures and questioned the Minister for Infrastructure about the policy during States sittings.
Heartened by a strong public backlash, which has seen many dub the fine policy as a ‘Backdated Foreshore Infringement Tax’ on social media, Mr Luce has now submitted a formal complaint to the Deputy Greffier.
Pictured: Grouville representatives Deputy Carolyn Labey and Constable John Le Maistre and St Clement Deputy Simon Bree - all of whom represent affected parishes - have asked questions in the States about the controversial 'tax'.
The Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Eddie Noel, will now be asked to compile a report for the Chairman of the States of Jersey Complaints Board, who will determine whether the case justifies a hearing. If so, the Minister and Mr Luce will both be called before a panel to give evidence in the next three months.
Mr Luce isn’t the only person looking to challenge the policy. Grouville Deputy Carolyn Labey, whose parish is largely affected, has previously expressed disappointment over the approach taken against her parishioners. She is hoping to bring a proposition to the States to scrap the encroachment policy this year.
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