The hospital funding debate appears finely poised after a day of discussion on a plan to slash the overall cost of the project to £550m.
After taking on board the views of their own team of construction consultants, a Scrutiny Panel concluded that the Government’s proposed £804.5m budget is too high and this should be reduced by 31%.
Consequently, they have also cut the £756m of borrowing called for by Ministers to £400m.
23 Members from both sides of the argument spoke on Wednesday. Although some politicians kept their cards close to their chests, it appeared that the Government was ahead by a slim margin after Day One – by one or two votes.
If the ‘pour’ and ‘contre’ votes are the same, the status quo will remain and the amendment by Scrutiny will fail.
Pictured: An artist's impression of the new hospital at Overdale.
Contributors yesterday included the Chief Minister, who said: “To get the rubber out and start redesigning it in six weeks [if the amendment passes] ain’t gonna happen.”
This was after revealing that Our Hospital planning application is due to be submitted by 15 November.
He added that borrowing close to £800m would allow the Government to avoid touching its Rainy Day Fund – allowing it to grow £1.7bn over the hospital’s lifetime.
Supporting the amendment, along with his Reform Jersey colleagues, Senator Sam Mézec said that there was not enough information in the Government’s Outline Business Case - in other words, its funding proposal document - to allow him to back the £804.5m budget and £756m of borrowing.
He, along with several supporters of the Scrutiny amendment, said that it would not delay the project, but would give the Assembly greater control of its cost.
Today, the debate on the amendment continues. After that is voted on, the debate will move onto the Government’s funding proposal.
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