The Government is planning to take more than £17m from the budgets of other initiatives to keep the future hospital project running, as it is now three months behind schedule.
The delay means that the Government is no longer on track to decide on and receive States Assembly approval for its preferred strategy for funding the £800m new health facility at Overdale next month as planned.
This crucial element in the process now may not go ahead until later than anticipated, leaving the project with a funding gap for the remainder of this year, having eaten through its £20m budget for January to July 2021 set out in the Government Plan, and an additional £11m drawn from central coffers to help fund property purchases.
As a result, the Treasury has had to raid other capital projects’ budgets to urgently pull together just under £18m to tide the project over.
£14.5m has come from projects deferred until 2022 – including work to decide the future of Rouge Bouillon (£1.5m), school improvements (£1.6m), refurbishment of the island’s sports centres (£500,000), setting up a Vehicle Testing Centre (£1.8m).
£1.1m has come from project underspends, including the refit of the Norman Le Brocq patrol vessel (£100,000).
Meanwhile, the Attorney General has consented to funding a courtroom modernisation project and work on the island’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre out of the Criminal Offences Confiscation Fund, allowing the Government to free up £2.2m of its own cash.
Express understands the emergency funding plan was discussed by the Executive Leadership Team - the island's most senior civil servants - on 27 May, before the Treasury Minister officially signed off on it the following day. It only became public last week.
The money movement isn’t yet set in stone – by law, the Treasury Minister must give States Members four weeks’ notice.
However, in presenting her plan, Deputy Susie Pinel warned States Members that opposing it would effectively freeze progress on the new hospital, as “the budget required to fund the Government of Jersey team and Pre-Construction Services Agreement costs from July onwards would not be available.”
The Government says the three-month delay was due to the “unplanned States Assembly debate on the preferred access route” to Overdale, which has “meant that design activity could not progress as quickly as anticipated”, which will factor into the final funding plan.
Several States Members told Express they were furious at being blamed for what they instead saw as “poor” project planning.
The Government is yet to respond to questions from Express on whether many of the projects making up the funding had already been deferred to 2022 or if they were purposefully pushed back so that their funds could be spent on the hospital project instead.
Either way, the Government will still now be forced to find a new source of cash to ensure the delayed projects can go ahead in 2022.
In addition to the delay, the strategy is understood to have raised eyebrows among Scrutineers, who are looking to raise questions on the matter.
The Government is also yet to reply to questions from Express on the estimated date its £800m hospital funding plan will finally be released. It’s expected that, rather than the Rainy Day Fund, a loan or bond will be used.
Despite Treasury's report clearly stating that "the project has been delayed by approximately three months", Senator Farnham this morning tweeted in response to this story that the headline was "misleading".
"We will be lodging the proposition for the hospital financing in July for States debate in early September. The project remains within budget," he added.
Regrettably more misleading headlines. We will be lodging the proposition for the hospital financing in July for States debate in early September. The project remains within budget.— Sen. Lyndon Farnham (@lyndonfarnham) June 14, 2021
Even before the delay, the Government was already on a tight schedule to put together a planning application and get the green light for construction to go ahead before next year’s elections.
Both the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, who has political responsibility for the project, have pledged that the planning process will be finished before the end of their terms.
Senator Farnham added in a separate tweet that he believed the project to be "on schedule for planning determination by summer 2022", noting that the budget needed to bring it to this point was "circa £29m."
According to the official project timeline, a planning application to demolish existing buildings at Overdale should be submitted next month, with a decision made by October.
Also in October, the final hospital and road designs should be completed, with a single 'all or nothing' planning application for the hospital and road submitted the following month. Following a full public planning inquiry, a final decision should be made in June 2022 – the same month as elections. Originally, this was due to
This will concentrate on the vacant buildings on the Overdale site, though some will remain operational while the former Les Quennevais School is prepared to temporarily accommodate some healthcare services.
The early demolition of the existing buildings will also allow the excavation of foundations to commence “shortly after” planning permission has been granted for the main hospital, according to the Our Hospital project team.
In a move expected to cost around £15m, Overdale’s existing health services will be relocated to the St. Brelade-based former school building to ensure that users can continue receiving care while the new hospital is being built.
“Our intention is to... receive planning permission in winter 2021 and commence the reprovision works (estimated to last for nine months) in the first quarter of 2022,” the team say.
This will be a combined application, seeking approval for the future hospital design, works to widen Westmount Road and demolish the remaining properties located outside of the overdale site, such as Jersey Bowling Club, Jersey Water and some private properties. As Express reported last week, negotiations to buy Jersey Water to make way for a 'Knowledge Centre' are currently underway.
“Our intention is to submit Application 3 in winter 2021, await the Public Inquiry (expected to take place in spring 2022), receive the planning permission in summer 2022, then commence construction immediately after. Our focus and priority will be on the upgrade and realignment of Westmount Road, which enables the wider project.”
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