“Excuse me, Lieutenant Governor. We’ve booked you a couple of nights in the Premier Inn while we find you somewhere to live.”
It’s an unlikely conversation, and one I can’t imagine ever happening, but we do now know the prospect of throwing Sir Stephen and Lady Dalton out of Government House was considered so that Government House could be flattened to make space for Jersey’s new hospital.
Will it ever happen?
But seeing Government House on the newly published long list of hospital sites is fascinating. As is seeing that the former Pontin’s site at Plemont made the medium list. That’s despite years of campaigning and millions of pounds of spending to save the site from construction and return it to nature.
Will it ever happen?
No.But, again, it begs questions about just how authentic the new short list process actually was, given the Pontin’s site made not just the first whittling down of 82 sites to 39, but then even the next round which came up with 17 sites.
It’s only when they were finally reduced to a final five that Pontin’s peeled away.
So just how real is the final short list?
Well, there’s St Andrew’s Park, fields at Five Oaks, Millbrook, Overdale and People’s ParkIt would seem reasonable to discount Five Oaks as not passing the already stated test of wanting the hospital in or near town. Then you can remove People’s Park and St Andrew’s Park on the basis that the fight with both campaigners and the Constable of St Helier, who’d likely lie down in front of diggers than see the green space lost, just won’t be worth it.
So the real choice is between Millbrook and Overdale.
We have two other big clues.
The new political head honcho of ‘Project Find A Hospital‘ this week said he didn’t want to be compulsorily buying up homes. So that would appear to rule out Millbrook.
And last year, an Assistant Chief Minister (whose fingerprints have been all over the hospital plans since the last election) took me on a tour of Overdale to wax lyrical about what a perfect site it would be.
Lo and behold, look where we are now!
So what next?
Well the “design and build partners” who’ve been handed a nice £30million contract to come up with the perfect design for the perfect site, and then get the planning application over the finish line, will now get on with analysing all five sites on the short list.
Expect some of them to fall away in the coming weeks.
For what it’s worth, I reckon we’ll be down to just Millbrook and Overdale by September.
Then it’s politicians who’ll vote for their favourite in November, which, given that choice, means it’ll be Overdale.
Meanwhile, the clock ticks down to the next General Election in 2022 meaning, if building work hasn’t physically started by then, it could be back to square one.
Maybe asking the Lieutenant Governor to up sticks wasn’t so daft after all?!