Senator wants to be Fort Regent’s political champion

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With concerns growing over the future of the ageing facility, Senator Steve Pallett has put himself forward to oversee the restoration of the Fort – a project he has been told ‘no one wants to touch’ – and called for the backing of the Council of Ministers to do so.

Recently Alan Morris, a regular user of the Fort Regent gym, said that use of the facility is declining following health scares involving asbestos and Legionella bacteria.

While the Fort has been declared safe to use, Senator Pallett apologised if users felt that communication regarding the incidents had been poor, after only learning about the Legionella scare himself during a States sitting.

‘I was myself very disappointed that, having responsibility for sport, I was not told about the Legionella bacteria,’ he said.

‘I think that the people there feel let down and it has not been good enough, and I apologise for that.’

Senator Pallett said that he felt that time is running out to revive the Fort and ministers need to back someone to take on what will be a difficult and long-overdue task.

‘We are at a crossroads with the Fort. It is getting to the stage where we don’t have much time left to take action,’ he said.

‘If we don’t, what we could see is part of the Fort having to be closed down because something has gone wrong. The electrics are, for example, very old and it could soon get to the stage where we won’t be able to replace them.

‘What is frustrating for me is that we have been talking about refurbishing the Fort since the 1990s. It was first discussed in 1995 and here we are, almost 25 years later, and we are still discussing it.

‘I don’t want to blame anyone for this; there may have been other political priorities over the years. But it has got to the stage where we can’t delay this any further.’

He added: ‘We need someone to be named as a political champion for this and I have said that I want to do that. We need the Council of Ministers to back someone to do it.

‘People have told me not to go near it. It is going to be a painful and difficult process refurbishing the Fort and we need to get the public on-board.

‘But we are currently spending tens of millions of pounds keeping the Fort as it is and we can’t continue to do that. There are some parts that we might need to shut down because the Fort, which is probably the most iconic building in Jersey, needs to become sustainable.’

The Senator, who is an assistant minister in the Economic Development Department with responsibility for sport, said that a discussion needs to be held about what different uses future Fort Regent should have. He added that even if someone else is named by ministers to champion the project, he would be happier with that then the current situation.

‘I am currently very frustrated in my role with responsibility for sports because we don’t know what’s going on with the Fort,’ he said.

‘Not knowing what is happening with a building that is so important for sport makes it difficult for me to make plans.

‘For example, if we knew what was happening with Fort Regent and perhaps some of the activities needed to be moved out of there, then I could arrange for them to be moved to Les Quennevais.’

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