Senator Steve Pallett said he felt he was not ‘trusted’ to oversee the work and added that it would now be ‘slowed’ by the current Council of Ministers and ‘clumsy’ panels appointed to review or try to progress the matter.
Earlier this year Senator Pallett, who is an assistant minister in the Economic Development Department with responsibility for sport, said that he wanted to champion the Fort’s regeneration or see someone appointed to do so. He had previously said that the facility risked closure in the next few years due to failing infrastructure.
His latest comments come after Islander Alison Taylor complained to him when she received an inadequate response to a 500-word email that she had sent to the Infrastructure Minister outlining her concerns about the ageing facility.
She suggested a number of repairs that were needed and highlighted that the future of clubs and societies based there would be in jeopardy because of safety issues at the Fort.
In response to Mrs Taylor’s email, which called for Senator Pallett to be appointed as the champion for the Fort Regent regeneration project, Deputy Kevin Lewis replied: ‘Thank you for your e mail. Fort Regent is indeed a priority for the States of Jersey.’
Writing back to Mrs Taylor, Senator Pallett said that the response ‘does not surprise but definitely disappoints me’.
‘My opinion is that this Council of Ministers is going to slow up any real progress with Fort Regent, with either unnecessary workshops or the appointment of policy or review boards that will be clumsy and ridiculously slow,’ he said.
‘In reality we need a dynamic approach to finding a long-term solution for Fort Regent based on a clear understanding of how the Fort will link into the future of St Helier and a focused and detailed long-term plan for providing sports facilities in Jersey.
‘I frankly cannot see any progress being made on Fort Regent in the short to medium term and I have made my frustrations known to both my own minister, Senator [Lyndon] Farnham, and the Chief Minister.’
He added: ‘It seems that I am not trusted to lead this work, which I have to accept. What I do not accept is the lethargy around dealing with one of Jersey’s iconic buildings that has been poorly maintained over decades and, whether some believe it or not, is in imminent risk of closure due to its condition.
‘I have given up lobbying for a role on the redevelopment and am just sitting tight in the hope that someone is given the responsibility to move the project forward.’