A Westmount resident has written to all States Members to urge them not to support Overdale as the preferred site of the future hospital ahead of today’s key vote.
Neville Benbow explains why he thinks politicians should reject the site…
Dear Connétable, Senator and Deputy,
For a number of years, I have watched with incredulity and a sense of disbelief at the manner in which the new Hospital project has been undertaken and the magnitude of the costs that have been wasted as the project has lurched from one inept decision to another.
That a new hospital, or at least an improved primary healthcare provision, is needed, is not in doubt. However, it is evident that little has been learned from the mistakes of the past, as evidenced by the site selection that is now being advanced and the extraordinarily complex and destructive access route for that site that is being proposed.
Pictured: Mr Benbow says there is "no doubt" a new hospital is needed.
As the Future Hospital Review Panel has now confirmed, the selection process for the new hospital was flawed, with a number of highly suitable sites being inexplicably overlooked. This finding alone is of sufficient gravity to stop the project in its tracks, with the site selection going back to the drawing board.
Having discounted potentially suitable locations, which could be delivered quicker and at lower cost, the ‘short list’ was limited to People’s Park and Overdale. However, given that People’s Park had already been discounted by the States Assembly, it was no surprise that Overdale miraculously became the site of choice.
As a consequence, I urge you to vote against P.123 [a proposal to officially select Overdale as the site of the future hospital, ed.].
If P.123 is defeated and Overdale is not selected, P.129 [a proposal to acquire land and buildings for development at Overdale, ed.] consequently falls away.
However, if the States Assembly selects Overdale as the site for the new hospital, further consideration needs to be given to the proposals for the acquisition of land at Overdale, as detailed in P.129.
Pictured: The land that would need to be acquired by compulsory purchase.
As proposed, the proposition spectacularly fails to analyse the impact of the proposed access route on the environment and on local residents.
Before supporting this proposition, States members should understand these impacts, which include the following:
It is abundantly clear, from the review of the five primary access route options for Overdale, that scant regard has been paid to anything other than Option 3a which was quite clearly the project team’s preferred route from the outset. Bizarrely, notwithstanding the above issues, there is no consideration of the ecological, environmental or historical damage that would arise if this option is pursued, nor is there any consideration whatsoever of the impact on the residents in the area of the hospital.
Pictured: Mr Benbow doesn't feel there has been enough consideration of the ecological or environmental implications of building at Overdale.
The only alleged ‘plus’ point of Option 3a is the cost of the road improvement (not including the acquisition and demolition of properties) which is referenced as £15m; given the magnitude of the work involved, for the road alone, it is simply not believable that this is achievable. A figure of £70m (for the road alone) has been suggested as a more realistic figure.
For these reasons, I urge you to vote against each part of P.129.
This is not, I might add, a case of ‘nimbyism’. We already have a sound, functioning hospital on our doorstep at Overdale, but the consequences of transforming that hospital into Jersey’s primary care facility are enormous.
Across the globe, there have been very few successful ‘Hospital on the Hill’ projects and certainly none where the access routes are as inferior as are available in respect of Overdale.
No meaningful consideration has been given to how health users will get to Overdale. How much extra time per patient journey will it take to get to Overdale via the preferred route? By ambulance, when every second counts? By bus, presuming that a (free?) shuttle bus will be provided? By car, for appointments and emergencies? By foot, if you are fit enough to walk up Westmount Road and don’t have to add a heart attack to the ailment you are attending the hospital for?
Hospitals are meant to save lives, not destroy them. Jersey may need a new hospital but that should not be at the cost of everything – and everyone – in its path.
Please reject Overdale as the site for the new hospital – vote Contre to P.123.
Please reject the draconian ‘Acquisition of land’ proposals – vote Contre to all parts of P.129.
Thank you for your consideration.
Westmount Road, St. Helier
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