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“The parish are better placed to conduct consultations with parishioners”

“The parish are better placed to conduct consultations with parishioners”

Thursday 04 March 2021

“The parish are better placed to conduct consultations with parishioners”


St. Brelade’s Constable has expressed frustration that Parish representatives were not contacted by the UK firm responsible for running 'Our Hospital' consultations about the decision to move Overdale's services to the old Les Quennevais School.

The fact that the Parish Constable, Deputies and Roads Committee were left out of the consultation process emerged on Tuesday during States Members' questions of the Deputy Chief Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, who is politically responsible for the Our Hospital project.

The Government announced in January that Les Quennevais School would be used to provide some medical services,  while construction begins on the new hospital, with a public engagement programme drawn up by UK consultation firm Soundings.

It will be refurbished later this year at a cost of £10m, with services being moved from December 2021 and remaining there while the new hospital is being built.

Ashok Handa, the Clinical Director for the 'Our Hospital' project, said at the time that the Les Quennevais site had been chosen over Westmount, the Parade, Clinique Pinel and St. Saviour’s Hospital as it was the only one big enough.

Overdale_Entrance.JPG

Pictured: Services currently provided at Overdale Hospital will be moved to the former Les Quennevais School building.

During Tuesday's States Assembly meeting, Deputy Montfort Tadier, who represents St. Brelade No 2, queried what consultation the Government had carried out with the residents of the Les Quennevais Park and Clos des Sables area before making the decision. 

Senator Lyndon Farnham, the Deputy Chief Minister, said that after the Political Oversight Group and the Council of Ministers had decided to relocate the Overdale services to the former school, he had spoken to Constable Mike Jackson as well as Deputies Tadier and Graham Truscott “in an informal way to let them know that was the plan."

Later that day, a presentation was given to States Members, and letters delivered to 230 neighbouring properties of the former school to inform them of the upcoming community meeting, and give them the contact information for the design and delivery partners.

Senator Farnham said the first residents’ meeting took place on 18 February with only 16 people attending, which he described as “disappointing."

lyndon-farnham.jpg

Pictured: Senator Lyndon Farnham said letters had been sent to residents after the decision had been made to use the Les Quennevais building.

When Deputy Tadier pressed the Senator to confirm residents had only been contacted “after the fact”, Senator Farnham said the decision had been made “in principle."

“There’s still a process to go through and I am not sure there was any other way to do it,” he said. “I can’t see a consultation before a favoured site, a favourite option has been chosen.”

The Deputy Chief Minister later admitted the decision had indeed been made but that he had used the words “in principle” as issues might arise. 

“During the consultation process or the next phase of work in preparation of this, if something untoward was to come up or if something indicated that it wasn’t possible, then there might have to be a change of plan, but I’m pleased to say that nothing has come up so far,” he explained.

Deputy Tadier also pointed out that he was surprised only 230 letters had been sent when Clos des Sables and Les Quennevais Park, the “immediate neighbours”, have over 500 residents. 

Mike-Jackson-2.jpg

Pictured: St. Brelade's Constable, Mike Jackson, was not consulted ahead of the decision, or after.

During the discussion, it also transpired that neither Deputy nor the Constable had been involved in the consultation either. 

Constable Jackson suggested the consultants speak to the Parish Roads Committee, or the project might run the risk of people not being able to access the facility. 

Senator Farnham later recognised that interaction with the neighbours could be improved, adding that Soundings, the company in charge of the consultation, had learned that “they needed to work harder to engage with parish authorities and the neighbours to get greater attendance”.

“With hindsight, consultants have understood it’s necessary to cast the net further and they have undertaken to do that for the next meeting on 18 March,” he added. 

Contacted by Express, Constable Jackson confirmed that neither the Parish Deputies, the Roads Committee or himself had been consulted yet.

He said it would be difficult for them to contribute “without any detail whatsoever."

“Given the Parish Roads Committee are the ‘highway authority’ for the surrounding network of a parish roads, they will be aware of the parking and bottleneck issues which occurred in the area,” he added. 

“The Parish are better placed to conduct consultations with parishioners.”

The Constable also said that the absence of consultation with Parish authorities or with an appropriate sample of residents might not have been an issue had a local company been involved.

“I take the view that these UK-based ‘Soundings’ people are not suited to be employed for this sort of work and that a Jersey-based organisation would be far more effective,” he said, “but that’s my personal opinion.”

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Comments

Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by john garner on
I could agree to all of the above if Jackson "consulted" the Parish other than at election time
Posted by David Moon on
I endorse Constable Jackson's comments and it would be better if local companies were used in these consultation exercises.
Posted by Private Individual on
And if you believe that you will believe anything!

They might consult, but they won't listen anyway.
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