The Treasury Minister has revealed she does not support the idea of building a new single-site hospital at Overdale – but thinks that the £800m plan is too far down the line not to see it through.
Speaking on the Politics Disassembled Podcast, Deputy Susie Pinel said that she had “put forward time and time again” to her Ministerial colleagues that her preference would be to have an acute hospital on People’s Park, with a “longer-term unit” at Overdale.
“You’ve then got a quarry behind you, a quarryface which would negate the height of building there. The access is fantastic and then to build an access cable car lift up to Overdale... That’s the way I felt it would have worked better," she explained.
However, she added that she felt the Government had “got to the point now where we really have to see this through”, even though “I totally understand that it’s not ideal.”
Deputy Pinel explained that her main reason for supporting the current project was because, as Treasury Minister, she was acutely aware of how much it’s costing to keep the current General Hospital going.
“It’s just ridiculous trying to maintain a building that's completely not sufficient for action and we’re also not getting the staff over because of that,” she said.
Following a planning inquiry, the Overdale proposals are currently before independent planning inspector Philip Staddon, who will make a recommendation to the Environment Minister, who has the final say.
If approved, the new hospital, which will be Jersey’s largest ever capital project, is due to be financed by two bonds to be paid off over 30 to 40 years.
Asked if she was concerned about leaving a significant legacy of borrowing, the Treasury Minister responded that she “wouldn’t be doing it if I was.”
Her comments came days after she revealed that she would be leaving politics after more than 10 years.
The Minister explained that she felt party politics was the way forward, having become a member of the Jersey Alliance.
Deputy Pinel told the podcast that she had previously sought to start a party with a group of six politicians elected at the same time in 2011, and then again in 2014, but that the plans didn’t end up coming to fruition.
Leaving politics, she said, was mostly due to “persuasion from family and friends”.
Deputy Pinel said she would be leaving following “quite a large contribution to Jersey”, adding: “I’m a Jersey girl, I love Jersey and been very happy to do it all, but the time it takes plus the criticism does get a little hard to take sometimes.”
Elsewhere in the Politics Disassembled Podcast, she discussed the levers available – and not available – to Government for dealing with the rising cost of living, and why she is uncomfortable talking about the island’s housing situation as a “crisis”.
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