Moving clubs from the Fort ‘may create barriers’ to staying active

Fort Regent (35539947)

MOVING sports clubs out of Fort Regent is being done in an ‘undemocratic’ way that risks creating barriers for Islanders who wish to remain active and healthy, a pressure group has said.

The Friends of Fort Regent group has criticised an assistant minister over the decision to decant sports organisations to new facilities.

Responding to a petition by the pressure group that has attracted more than 2,400 signatures, Deputy Lucy Stephenson – who has political responsibility for sport – said the move was ‘the right decision for the time being’.

Deputy Stephenson said sports were being moved to more modern, more accessible, facilities in the community to enable Fort Regent, which did not currently meet modern standards, to be redeveloped.

The Friends group has written an open letter to States Members, questioning whether there had been sufficient consideration of the impact on existing tenants and the wider community.

Spokesperson Roy Travert said: ‘It is incomprehensible to think that most users will be forced into unsuitable venues across the Island with a lack of parking – such as Springfield – when Fort Regent has no such issues.

‘One of the most important aspects is the future redevelopment of the site – Fort Regent will be an empty building with no formal application and no defined vision of what will be developed once all clubs have been removed.’

Mr Travert criticised the decision to abandon plans by the previous Council of Ministers to redevelop the Fort as a state-of-the-art sports centre.

‘This decision has once again been reneged upon by a single minister, instead of being voted on by the [States] Asembly,’ he said. ‘This is not a democratic way to make such an important decision on 22 acres of public land.’

The location of Fort Regent provided easy access to a range of sports and activities for people living and working in St Helier or the wider Island, the group added.

Mr Travert said: ‘Moving these facilities to other locations may create barriers for people who relied on the convenience of Fort Regent to stay active and healthy.’

The letter concluded by calling for a more inclusive and collaborative process – including a States debate – to ensure the needs and concerns of existing tenants and the wider community were fully considered.