The Jersey Hospitality Association is joining the fight to save the former Haut de la Garenne building, which was once a notorious children's home, but now provides low-cost accommodation and activities to thousands of visitors each year.
A 10-week public consultation on the future of the former Haut de La Garenne children’s home was launched last week following recommendations from the Independent Care Inquiry Panel, who suggested that "consideration be given as to how the buildings can be demolished."
But there has been uproar from some, who believe it should be able to remain in its present state - home to the Jersey Accommodation and Activity Centre (JAAC), which has enjoyed success since opening in 2011.
Pictured: Fiona Kerley, JHA President, spoke out in favour of maintaining Haut de la Garenne.
The Jersey Hospitality Association has now added its voice to the campaign to save the building. JHA President Fiona Kerley said: “The Jersey Accommodation and Activity Centre is a valued member of the association and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the directors and their team as they fight for their home. It is now a vibrant centre filled with optimism. Of course, we’re fully aware of the building’s past but the States have already invested over £2m into turning Haut de La Garenne into a modern, fit-for-purpose accommodation centre."
JAAC's Co-Director John Fox added: “We provide low-cost accommodation in a beautiful part of the Island to a wide variety of group and individual visitors. We have hosted Island Games teams, competitors in the Dance World Cup and the French and Italian national sides competing in the European Touch Rugby Championships. They only see a well-equipped and lively centre; not an old children’s home.
“Taxpayers have already invested wisely to provide hostel accommodation in Jersey. Why spend even more money demolishing a building whose past should not dictate its future. Today, it is busy, vibrant and active, and that should be how it is regarded.”
In 2007, Haut de la Garenne was publicly identified as a site of significant interest during Operation Rectangle, the initial police inquiry into historic abuse. By the end of 2010, more than 300 offences had been reported as having been committed at the former children’s home.
Today, the JAAC offers hostel accommodation, camping, outdoor activities and room hire for events and meetings at the site. With room for 104 guests in 23 rooms and a further 40 in a camping site, the JAAC has recorded more than 35,500 bed-nights, including many school groups of up to 100 teachers and children from France. A night stay at the JAAC costs an individual just £31, including breakfast. For school groups, it is £25 per person.
The island-wide consultation, which will run until 22 April, invites Islanders to have their say about the future of the building. Representatives of survivors of abuse and care leavers were contacted before the consultation to inform them of the process.
A public consultation on the future of Haut de la Garenne, former children's home, has been launched. https://t.co/Lk9mn3U6Od pic.twitter.com/gA3yOL6kWX— States of Jersey (@StatesofJersey) February 8, 2018
Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst said that the Care Inquiry's recommendation challenged Ministers to consider how the former site of abuse could be "redeemed", adding: "I fully acknowledge and apologise for the history of abuse and neglect perpetrated against children living at the home. This should never happen again."
The consultation will involve several drop-in sessions at public venues across the Island, as well as two open afternoons at the Haut de la Garenne site in St Martin.
The Chief Minister said that a report on the consultation will be presented to the new Council of Ministers following May's General Election so that a final decision can be reached later this year. Any future planning application to demolish the former Haut de la Garenne building will need to be considered by the Environment Minister in the context of both the Island Plan 2011 and the building’s listing as a site of historic and architectural interest.
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