Use of Le Seelleur legacy is ‘a disgrace’, claims relative

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Sacha Hubbard, great-niece of builder Harold Le Seelleur, also said that the government had not properly used proceeds generated by the sale of his property portfolio to help those her great-uncle most intended to support.

Last year, more than 20 years after Mr Le Seelleur left nine properties to the States of Jersey, the first significant use was made of a fund which is still worth more than £8.5 million.

During 2020 Jersey Hospice Care received £800,000 under a service level agreement for palliative care, while £220,000 was spent to purchase defibrillators. In November a further grant to Age Concern, expected to be around £40,000, was agreed.

Mrs Hubbard wrote to the Health, Treasury and Housing Ministers to complain about the use of the fund for what she described as ‘top-up spending by the health authority equipping the Hospital’.

‘In my view it is completely wrong for any of [Harold Le Seelleur’s] money to be spent on essential hospital equipment such as defibrillators. Nobody would question such equipment is necessary but it should not be funded by a charitable legacy unless such use is specified,’ she wrote.

‘There is a dreadful them and us divide prevailing in Jersey now and it is up to the government to heal that breach and yet it seems never to happen. The proper use of the Le Seelleur fund would go a long way towards that and it must be seen to be being used in that way,’ Mrs Hubbard continued.

She called upon the government to establish an independent board to manage the fund, the bulk of which is held in a Treasury account, following the sale of seven of the nine properties gifted by Mr Le Seelleur.

However, although the government press office announced in January this year that ‘a charitable trust fund committee [was] being established to provide stewardship and effective management of donations to Health and Community Services’, no information has been provided about it, and Mrs Hubbard has received no response to two emails to the Health Minister.

‘That lack of courtesy alone is a sorry reflection on Jersey’s politicians and what appears to be a high-handed attitude,’ she said.

Officials from the Treasury, and Health and Community Services met on 21 January but, when asked for details of the outcomes following the meeting, a spokesperson for the government would say only: ‘There’s now agreement for another meeting to take place to look at the strategy for all HCS gift funds.’

A Health and Community Services spokesperson added: ‘Health and Community Services continues to assist with improving the administration of public interest funds held by the Government of Jersey.

‘Trusteeship of assets is disbursed over a range of departments and ministers, reflecting the patchwork of establishing documents.

‘The Charitable Funds Oversight Board have proposed that any resolution must consider the differing needs across government departments and form a joined-up solution.

‘A proposed operational structure is currently being considered for the future management of funds. This will first run as a pilot, during 2021, to allow for full evaluation before any permanent, government-wide structure is adopted.

‘The government is confident that spending from the bequeathed funds has aligned with the original intentions of donors. Every effort is being made to use the funds most effectively and improve their administration. The past generosity of donors has been greatly appreciated and has benefited so many Islanders in numerous ways.’

In a letter to the JEP published last week[15 April], Mrs Hubbard criticised the government’s decision to sell-off properties which she believes could have been used directly to benefit the ‘aged, infirm and needy residents of the Island’ specified in her great-uncle’s will.

‘The disposal of his properties in the heart of St Helier was a disgrace, in my view, as they were sold for a risible sum of money and have been turned into very high-priced properties, far out of the reach of the infirm and aged of the Island whom he intended should benefit from his legacy,’ Mrs Hubbard said.

One of the best-known properties – the builder’s workshop in Oxford Road, known as the Le Seelleur building – was sold with an adjoining property in Chevalier Road for £425,000 four years ago. It has subsequently been converted into apartments.

Of the remaining eight properties, all but two – Stonecot, Mont Millais, and 1-4 The Denes, Grève d’Azette – have been sold to create the Le Seelleur Fund which was valued at £8.6 million in October last year, including the estimated value of the unsold properties.

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