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Fresh legal challenge to Westmount hospital highway

Fresh legal challenge to Westmount hospital highway

Wednesday 03 February 2021

Fresh legal challenge to Westmount hospital highway


Westmount residents are threatening to take legal action to force the Government to rethink its plans for Overdale.

It is understood that the Royal Court could be asked to decide if the Government broke the law when it asked Members to give the Assembly power to buy land by compulsory purchase around the new hospital site last November.

The legal action was referred to in the requisitioned States debate on Monday, when St. Ouen Constable Richard Buchanan asked the Attorney General for his advice on it.

“I forwarded a letter to the Attorney General that we all received about legal action threatened against the Hospital Oversight Board if this proposition is passed and I wonder if he felt it was appropriate and was he able to comment on it?” said the Constable.

Attorney General Mark Temple replied that he had only seen the letter that morning and he questioned whether it was appropriate to speak about it openly if it had been sent to every Member.

However, the Constable of St. Ouen said he would ask about it in the form of a written question at the next sitting. 

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Pictured: The potential legal challenge was raised in the States Assembly on Monday.

Express understands that the residents claim that when a compulsory purchase order is made, the States Assembly has to draw up a specific law for each property. The process means the Government has to give due consideration to whether or not buying the property is absolutely necessary. 

It is understood that the challenge not only argues that States Members did not have the full facts before them when they agreed that land could be acquired by compulsory purchase, but also, by the Government not producing detailed plans on how the properties would be affected, they breached the owners’ human rights.

In the aftermath of Monday’s hastily scheduled debate, when Members agreed that Westmount Road will be the principal access route to and from the new hospital, campaigners against the Government’s plans have vowed to continue their fight. 

One of them, Advocate Olaf Blakeley, who lives in the Westmount area, said he was disappointed by the result.

He said: “I am disappointed for two reasons: firstly, I really wanted to understand what the road would look like, even in the most basic terms, but after the debate I am none the wiser. If it has no impact, then we are all complaining about nothing, but I will need to see a simple drawing to be convinced. I don’t think it is too much to ask.

“My fear is that, in not providing it, the Government know that we will not like it.

“Secondly, I am bitterly disappointed that the possibility of areas of Westmount being destroyed has disclosed a wider, Island-wide problem, which is contemptuous attitude of the Government to Scrutiny and the wider electorate and its capricious decision making.

“I am not an architect or engineer but I just don’t know how they are going to achieve what they want without mass destruction. You cannot go through the Bowling Club without taking out trees; it is impossible.

“For me, the obvious answer is to leave the road as it is: it would cause no delay to the project, there would be no need for a planning application, trees would not be lost, and it would save a considerable sum of money.

“And in the contractor's own points-based analysis on access, keeping the road, 'Option 6', was just a single point behind ‘Option 7’ - to widen and flatten it at a cost of over £15m.”

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Pictured: Advocate Olaf Blakeley, who last week posted a video questioning claims that no trees would be impacted by the new road, also helped to organise a requête calling for a parish meeting on the matter.

A requête organised by residents, including Advocate Blakeley, was served on the parish of St. Helier by the Viscount on Monday. The ancient method for parishioners to call an assembly is now being considered by the Constable, who said he was seeking legal advice on the matter. 

Although Constable Simon Crowcroft voted against making Westmount Road the main access to the new hospital, his amendment requiring the Government to minimise the impact on the environment, and to replace any of the parish's green space, trees, community facilities or parking spaces affected by the road was agreed.

On the issue of the Government buying parish land to build it, he said: “I am currently seeking legal advice about how a decision on such a matter can be put to the Parish Assembly in practical terms, not only because of the current Covid restrictions but because there are around 18,000 people entitled to vote. 

“A mechanism needs to be found to allow a greater number of people to influence Parish decision making on key matters such as this than is possible under the constraints of the law governing the holding of Parish Assemblies.

“With respect to the potential heritage losses involved in the roadworks I expect these to be a major issue in the planning application and appeal process.”  

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Pictured: St. Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft is seeking legal advice on the requête.

Tamara Vanmeggelen, who is a Westmount resident and a member of the Guardians of Westmount Road & People’s Park, whose Facebook page now has more than 2,100 followers, said that the group would continue to argue that creating a new access road was unnecessary.

“We have certainly raised the level of awareness among the public and States Members on this issue,” she said. “Before, it just felt like the Government wanted to steamroller this through, but I hope that any future decisions it makes will be looked at a lot more carefully.

“There seems to have been a total change in tone from Senator Farnham [who has political responsibility for the new hospital] to one that is far more conciliatory, so credit where credit is due.

“But residents remain convinced that there is no need for a new road. The Government could score a quick victory by committing to the existing road. This isn’t about us; it is about the history, heritage, ecology and landscaping of Westmount Hill.”

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Posted by Peter Huntingdon Bewers on
The worry and concern of The West Mount Residents is completely understandable , The Peace and Enjoyment , not to mention loss of value of their properties has not been taken into account or been even mentioned . We have heard about the planned removal of the St Helier Bowling Club plus the needed purchase of Three newly built Houses plus Land for Car Parking . But a complete lack of Drawings , Costings, or an Artist impression is all sadly lacking .and on a huge and expensive project such as The New Hospital it is not good enough , several States Members in the debate stated that they felt as if they had their heads in the Sand and were being asked to vote with insufficient information. A New Road to the Hospital which has been studied may still have to be built if the New Hospital at Overdale is to be the success the People of Jersey wish it to be.
Posted by IanSmith97 on
The sad fact is no matter where the new hospital is built - if it ever is - some people were always going to be affected. This is unfortunate but we need a new hospital. Of course those who are affected must be duly, even overly compensated for the loss of their homes. I use this road regularly. To me it seems wide enough for two lanes of traffic. OK on the way down near the club it is a bit bendy but it is suitable as is. Don’t forget there was a hospital there before.
Posted by Donal Dolo on
peoples park lets vote on it
Posted by Paul Troalic on
Sorry but it looks like Connetable Crowcroft is happy to sell the Island's heritage for 5 pieces of silver! This is awful.
What part of our Islands history is not for sale does the Connetable not understand. IT IS NOT FOR SALE OR EXCHANGE thank you.
Thank goodness Olaf Blakeley has gotten involved. He is just what the residents and the Island need. Thank you.
Something is fishy here and as Mr Blakeley says they cannot supply any diagram or plan because we won't accept it. Hopefully not will Planning.
Let's get this idiocy stopped.
Posted by Denise Shrives on
Are the people of Jersey to be paid for their "slice" of People's Park, as it was originally given to the people to enjoy and to promenade!
Posted by Jon Jon on
Really do think certain states members are keeping an eye on elections next year....rail this through before Spring next year and it’s browny points to their name.Where ever a hospital goes there will be problems with neighbouring properties,what makes Overdale wrong ,is the road structure and how much extra in millions it will cost us all,and that’s before a drop of concrete has been laid.
Posted by Christine Dukes on
How does a £15.5 million super highway fit into Jersey’s sustainable Transport Plan and reducing carbon emissions by directing traffic away from the St Helier area by 2030? How does the compulsory purchase of two fields at the top of Westmount Rd to harbour parking for 700 + vehicles fit in with the Jersey sustainable Transport plan? Westmount Rd could be improved without enormous expenditure on the Road. How does this new Road scheme fit in with Jerseys vision for a Carbon neutral Island by 2030, only four years on from the expected completion of the new hospital at Overdale. It seems we are going backwards and doing things the wrong way round. This money could be better spent on less expensive road improvements and by offering really good affordable public transport systems to get people to the new hospital without focusing on encouraging yet more vehicles to the area. Good Disabled Parking options, Park and ride facilities, electric cycle paths to get up the hill, a regular electric or hydrogen shuttle bus with strategic drop off points, hospital transport, the list goes on. Jersey is already chocked with cars, now we want to build yet another major road which will no doubt destroy most of Westmount Rd as we know it. Taking out trees, ancient sites, People’s homes and probably destabilising the hill. Is it really worth it? It will be nice to see the plans for this new Road, hopefully with some transparency and proper debate this time as to if it’s really needed.
Posted by Michael Tostevin on
Has anyone thought about the actual steepness of the West Mount Road and carried out a risk assessment, even a new road would surely still have to be very steep. I am just thinking about ambulances with emergency patients in the back and are there any medical risks that should be taken into consideration. I know from talking to taxi drivers who have wheel chair access vehicles that they avoid West Mount Road as it is not safe when carrying a wheel chair passenger.
Posted by Donna Le Marrec on
I totally agree with Christine Dukes’ comments. With one of the lowest tree coverages in Europe (we are right at the bottom of the league table along with Guernsey and Malta) we need to preserve all the trees we have! It seems that access to Overdale has not been thought through and appears to be a bit of an afterthought - certainly this is the impression that the public are getting from the behaviour and actions of our elected representatives. No transparency, limited evidence of proper planning, rushing through decisions....
Posted by Keith Marsh on
New roads are always a "fire-starter" , and quite rightly everyone has their own opinion. I believe I read that the new road was needed solely for construction traffic, and that after the hospital was built ~ it would not really be needed. Well construction traffic copes well enough with very difficult Island roads, and this is just another one ~ the drivers will just have to slow down and take it, like everyone else does, carefully.
We don't need a new road ~ just politicians with large enough ones to say it.
Posted by Scott Mills on
Jon Jon, only person to see all through this red tape. This hospital will be closing in on £100 mill, before the first spade is sunk.
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