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Gov "putting a gun to politicians' heads" over hospital decision

Gov

Monday 25 January 2021

Gov "putting a gun to politicians' heads" over hospital decision

Monday 25 January 2021


Politicians are feeling "threatened" and “browbeaten” into making decisions about the future hospital without having all the necessary information, a former Assistant Health Minister has claimed.

Senator Steve Pallett says States Members are being told they will jeopardise the future hospital project if they ask too many questions, and feel as if the Government is putting a "gun to their heads" to avoid any delays.

His comments came after Deputy Chief Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham said he wasn’t able to share any “meaningful visuals” of what the Westmount access route will look like, as none have been created.

The Senator said that those would only come if the States Assembly approve the ‘Our Hospital: Preferred Access Route’ proposals, which are scheduled for debate on 9 February.

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Pictured: The Government has so far refused to provide any detailed drawing of what the proposed access route will look like.

Senator Pallett said in the absence of any visuals, he won’t be able to support the proposition.

“They are not giving us the information to make a decision or support them,” he said. 

“We need to be kept up to date and it is not happening. Unless somebody provides me with some detail about the damage to People’s Park, I am not going to vote for that access road. I need to know what is going to happen, because what I don’t want to see is People’s Park halved in size or damaged to a degree it is not the amenity it is now

“The Government is saying they cannot provide the detail drawing, but we do not want the detailed drawing. Just show us the area you are going to take to provide the access road. We’ve heard rumours but we need to know, that’s not too much to ask when you are asking us to vote on a £30 million to £40 million access road. 

“It’s a huge amount of money for a road, never mind the £800 million for the hospital, which we hear is going up every day.”

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Pictured: Some States Members are becoming suspicious due to the lack of transparency around the plans.

The lack of transparency over the plans has led to suspicions among some States Members, who fear that area affected could actually be worse than what the Government has so far said. 

“Put their minds at rest, be clear about the land you use and the damage you are going to cause,” Senator Pallett said. 

Senator Pallett said the access road issue is one of many challenges resulting from the decision to build the new hospital at Overdale.

He said he had been surprised to hear Les Quennevais School was being considered as a short-term replacement for Overdale. The former school will be refurbished this year, if plans are approved, at a cost of £10million with services moving there in early 2022 so that work can start at Overdale.

“We have known the concerns around that building for years,” he said. “We know it had asbestos, there are lots of narrow corridors and narrow staircases. It’s also in poor condition although the main building is in worst condition than the low-rise part.  

“I live there, I was the Constable for St. Brelade, so I know the issues around parking and traffic around the area. I am not saying Les Quennevais is not the right place but it’s a bit like the access road, provide us with all the correct information and then we can make a decision.” 

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Pictured: The former Les Quennevais School will act as a short-term replacement for Overdale during the building work.

“We really do need to have some information about whether that site can cope with the level of parking and traffic before any planning application is being made.” 

Contacted by Express, the Government said they would intend to make a planning application which “complies, as far as possible, with the Island Plan, so that there are no reasonable grounds to refuse the application”. Senator Pallett however says a planning application shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“I find that comment quite strange, why say that because something complies with the Island Plan it will be approved? People can object and people will object to whatever Planning application goes on that site. 

“The residents in that area have been blighted by parking issues, they thought they had gotten rid of them and now they are finding out it’s going to haunt them for another five years.”

However, he says this is not the only thing the Government is taking for granted when it comes to the future hospital project. 

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Pictured: “They have got a day for a spade to go in the ground and they are working backwards from it, that’s not the process," Senator Pallett said.

“We are being told it’s all about the timeline,” he said. “No, it is about getting it right and making sure we are following the process. We all want to see a new hospital, but it should not be at any cost and it is beginning to look a lot like this. It’s not the way to go about things.

“The time frame is being put ahead of everything else and it’s starting to stretch the patience of States Members because we are being told what is going to happen rather than making a decision about what is going to happen. This is not the way to get support, to get support you need to work collaboratively with people and stop surprising or ambushing them with whatever your next decision is.  

“Do not just presume that because we need a new hospital, anything goes. Some States Members feel the Government is putting a gun to our heads, and it’s beginning to feel like it. We are being browbeaten into making decisions.  

“They have got a day for a spade to go in the ground and they are working backwards from it, that’s not the process. They say that at the moment, one little hiccup and it goes down the drain, I am afraid that with this kind of projects, hiccups happen and you have to deal with them.

“We are being threatened that if we ask questions, we are jeopardising the hospital. No, we are trying to protect the taxpayer and make sure they get the right hospital, in the right place, knowing all the information. I don’t think it’s unreasonable?

“I want a hospital for the public - we all want to have a hospital that is ready and in place for any future emergencies, but it’s got to be done in the right way.”

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Posted by Patricia Le Ruez on
Just who is We and Them ? For me, ALL States members form our Government otherwise what is the point of voting. This whole Saga is just so ridiculous and we, the residents, would also like this information !!
re Les Quannevais for clinics etc. also ridiculous, but that is something else and not for this posting.
Posted by The old git Git on
Well has any of our politicians read the opinion of Steven Regal that was posted last week.
He has made various comments about he Overdale site and re-siting the patients to Les Quennevais school and I totally agree with him on all points mentioned. In the past people are saying the hospital must be accessible for everyone so Les Quennevais is on everyones doorstep?
The Overdale site is the second most stupid site apart from building on the existing hospital.
Posted by IanSmith97 on
I love life but am slowly losing the will to live by this ongoing hospital farce. Look, we elect a government and, for good or ill, they voted to build the hospital ay Overdale which er, was a hospital and is still a large medical facility. Then the
amateur experts and those who didn’t vote for it start the rearguard action to get the whole sorry mess and it’s decision overturned and re-run. They remind me of the Remain voters, the SNP and Trump who, on losing referenda and an election, start the process of trying to have them overturned. Enough, it is over. One can understand the amateur experts moaning but professional politicians should get over it and accept they lost. Just get the thing built. Anyway, what is wrong with the current roads? I live near Overdale and apart from a narrow bit near the cemetery and Waterworks at Tower Road the roads are all 2 marked lanes.
Posted by Denise Shrives on
Surely our Ministers must now know that Overdale is NOT the good option for the new hospital. Now that folk have been made aware of the destruction it would cause just to get a Road up to it many folk realise the current plans SHOULD NOT go ahead. Why not Warwick Farm ? If folk check it out on Google Aerial Maps they will see that apart from being a very large plot it has fields around it and a lane leading up to the rear which could be made bigger without having to destroy people's homes. Why of why don't they reconsider renovating our original hospital building to use as A & E with a EAU (Emergency Assessment Unit) ward and emergency theatre with all other departments and communications centre at Overdale. A previous Health Minister , Ann Prike, had the right idea of split sites but at the time it was not considered, maybe it should now be reconsidered. It worked when I was a child in the 50's.! Please get this mass destruction of a lovely area of St. Helier stopped, everyone lobby your States of Jersey representatives NOW.
Posted by Mike Pitman on
Well said Sen Pallett. Now instead of waiting for visuals, please go at 1100 any day until the 5th of February, and take the escorted and explanatory walk (starts at the charming soon-to-be-destroyed Bowls Club) and see for yourself the sheer devastation that is likely to happen. Take a couple of like-minded members with you too. I can't believe that none of you have ever been to the Crem or to Overdale in your lives and are so unaware of the lack of suitable infrastructure for a "world class" hospital!
Posted by nigel pearce on
What are the chances that the hospital will be built on its present Gloucester Street site with possibly a new supplementary facility at Cyril Le Marquand house?
Posted by Jon Jon on
Anyone with a bit of intelligence knows Overdale is wrong,and the costliest site also.Theres many a blank site around St Helier where this hospital could go,and yes green fields would have to be given up,There are plenty around St Helier.A billion pounds nearly for Overdale pure madness!
Posted by Keith Marsh on
It is NOT up for discussion if Overdale is the correct site for our new hospital. But Senator Pallett is correct, that it is not correct, fair or reasonable that Ministers should expect States Members to vote for the road works without having full and detailed information.
In these days of 3D animation a video of the road journey could easily be made, given basic plans, measurements etc.
This is the problem with Ministerial Government, those who hold power, can't see further than the end of their wallet. [ nose ]
Posted by Donal Dolo on
just get on with it
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