A previously approved and funded multi-million project to renovate Elizabeth Castle has been shelved in the latest Government Plan.
The 2020-23 plan, published last year, had earmarked £3.69m, paid in two tranches in 2022 and 2023, to repair the castle’s derelict Victorian Military Hospital, coal store and officers’ quarters, which would be converted into self-catered holiday lets.
But this funding has been pulled from the 2021-24 plan, which was published this week.
A Government spokesperson said: “With the effects of the pandemic, the business case received for Elizabeth Castle needs revisiting. There are challenges with a number of our heritage sites and visitor capability.
“In terms of any repairs and maintenance, Jersey Heritage may have been looking for, we are expecting this to either be part of their normal grant funding or as a request to the Fiscal Stimulus Fund, assuming the Assembly approves this.”
Tim Brown, Chairperson of Jersey Heritage Trust, said: “We are disappointed to hear that our Elizabeth Castle project has been cut from the latest Government Plan but understand how difficult this year has been for the Island as a whole and that spending priorities have to be revisited.
Pictured: Jersey Heritage Chairperson Tim Brown.
“The Castle remains a priority for Jersey Heritage and we will continue to seek funding to address its long-term care and future. The proposed restoration work remains essential if those areas in need of attention are to survive for future generations to enjoy.
“We also still believe there is merit in the proposals to add to the self-catering offered at the Castle. This summer, more than ever, has shown the continuing popularity of our unique heritage lets.
“In these difficult times, we have been greatly reassured by the increase in Islanders visiting our heritage sites and also becoming Jersey Heritage Members, demonstrating that protecting and caring for Jersey’s rich history is important to them and to the fabric of Island life.”
Other projects and beneficiaries of Government funding have seen their money reduce in the new Government Plan.
Commenting on that fall in arts funding, Deputy Montfort Tadier, who as an Assistant Minister for Economic Development has political responsibility for arts and heritage, said: “My proposal to get the Government to commit to increasing to amount spent on the arts each year, which the States agreed last year, comes into force from 2022 so next year’s reduction could be seen as a slightly cynical move, but it is still more than what the arts received this year.
“I will, however, consider seeking to amend the Government Plan to maintain our historic and cultural assets. Now is a perfect time to repair and maintain Elizabeth Castle and although there will be the Fiscal Stimulus Fund, if approved, its selection process seems quite arcane and uncertain. The backstop is the political route, which is to go to the States Assembly.
“I am also going to make sure that there is realistic support for the staff of the organisations we support: Jersey Heritage, the Arts Centre, the Opera House and ArtHouse Jersey. They all have different needs but they could not access the co-funded payroll scheme. They all deserve our support.”
Pictured: Deputy Montfort Tadier.
The Fiscal Stimulus Fund is a £50m pot of borrowed money which the Government plans to allocate to Government-owned bodies and arms length organisations like Jersey Heritage, Digital Jersey or the Opera House.
The official proposal for the fund is due to be debated by States Members next month.
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