Warwick Farm, Bellozanne, the Limes and La Collette are among the sites that have been considered for a new Emergency Services HQ - but the Infrastructure Minister has warned moving from their current spot in town could pose a "risk to life".
Deputy Kevin Lewis said a review due to be published soon had revealed a “clear disadvantage” in moving the Ambulance Service and Jersey Fire and Rescue Service away from the former Police HQ at Rouge Bouillon, where they are currently.
The news came during yesterday’s States Assembly meeting, following a question from St. Helier Constable, Simon Crowcroft, who queried about the progress made on the review of the future of the Rouge Bouillon station, which has been eyed up for both expansion of a town school and housing.
Deputy Lewis reminded him that the site is the current location of “the operational headquarters, central base, training centre and emergency response equipment store for the Jersey Fire and Emergency Service”.
Pictured: Deputy Kevin Lewis, the Minister for Infrastructure, said a decision will be made once the two reviews have been brought together.
He added that, although a number of alternative uses of the site had been discussed, none of then were feasible without relocating the “vital facilities”. As a result, the Justice and Home Affairs Department started a “thorough review” to determine the “optimum location” for the Emergency Services with “the imperative to save lives and the response time” as a key criteria.
“The distribution of the island dictates that the facilities should be in St. Helier and a number of alternative sites were considered within or close to town, including Warwick Farm, Bellozanne, the Limes and La Collette,” the Minister said.
“However, the review, which has been validated by an external consultant, shows there to be a clear disadvantage and risk to life if the station were to be moved away from its current location.
“Notwithstanding that, and recognising this Government’s commitment to young people, my team are working with Education to determine the optimum location or educational establishment in St. Helier.”
The Minister said the review will be completed in the “near future” after which the two will be compared and a decision made.
Pictured: Senator Sam Mézec asked about the future of Rouge Bouillon School whose facilities have been described as "poor" by the Head.
Constable Crowcroft voiced his frustration that the “father of the Parish” had not been told about the review, or even consulted about it, despite Deputy Lewis promising he would do so.
“Several reviews are converging and it will be discussed with the Constable and the Regeneration Steering Group,” Deputy Lewis replied.
Senator Sam Mézec asked what would happen to Rouge Bouillon school, voicing concern that not using the site to help it expand or provided better facilities struck him as “a lost opportunity that could leave the school in a position of years of not knowing what its future is going to be”.
Last year, Rouge Bouillon Head, Russell Price, voiced his frustration at the poor facilities and the apparent inaction in fixing them in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a panel of politicians carrying out a review into the way the Government manages its £1bn property portfolio.
Mr Price said that that an obvious answer to a lack of space at the school would be to expand into the Rouge Bouillon HQ.
Deputy Lewis said it was not his decision to make and that the future of the school will be discussed in the review.
When pressed to say how long it would take, the Minister said he didn’t have an exact timetable.
“It’s also our intention to deliver the best possible solution for the public good and surely both the school strategy and the fire and emergency service,” he said, later adding: “We are putting the safety of the public first, which also includes children. Whether that’s the correct place for a school, not my decision, it will come to fruition in the report.”
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