New pressure group 'implore' politicians to keep sport at Fort Regent
A new group is putting pressure on Jersey politicians to review plans that would see all sport facilities removed from Fort Regent.
Friends of Fort Regent want to see plans put forward by former Deputy Hugh Raymond to remove gym users and sports clubs paused and for the current assembly to look at ways to keep them there.
Those behind the group cited the importance of physical exercise, community and economic benefits and have launched a petition to prove support.
Under the previous Chief Minister, the government wanted to redevelop the historic site into a "cultural hub", saying the current sports facilities at the site are no longer fit for purpose.
Two years later, their successors now say those plans cannot be achieved in the current economic climate and the plans to build a new cinema, casino, 150-bedroom hotel and event venue at Fort Regent have been scrapped.
In February, Jersey's Infrastructure Minister, Deputy Tom Binet, now says ministers are "reassessing what is feasible" and "remain committed to developing an affordable and deliverable proposal for the future of Fort Regent."
Most of the sports clubs and groups which were based at Fort Regent have now left the site. There are currently 21 concessions operating at the Fort, down from 39 in 2019. That is expected to drop further to just five clubs by 2024.
Writing to all States Members, the campaigners made a plea that any redevelopment for the Fort should be fully budgeted and agreed upon before closing the facilities, as "the cost of decommissioning the building and keeping it closed will be substantial."
In their letter, Roger Barons and Ivor Thompson said: "We implore you to reconsider any plans to close or repurpose the sports facilities at Fort Regent.
"We believe that it is essential to continue to invest in these facilities, not only for the benefit of the local community but also for the long-term prosperity of the island as a whole.
"We urge you to listen to the voices of the many individuals and organisations who have spoken out in favour of preserving these important resources."
In response, Assistant Minister with responsibility for Sport, Deputy Lucy Stephenson said: “Ministers remain committed to agreeing a way forward for Fort Regent, but one that is realistic, affordable and sustainable.
"However, we have to acknowledge that Fort Regent as it stands currently is not a fit for purpose sport facility.
"As a result, we continue to invest in purpose-built facilities, rather than expecting sport to occupy outdated units at the Fort."
She added: "I recently wrote to the remaining tenants at Fort Regent and met a number of them at a drop-in session I held at the Fort. I will continue to engage with sports and with users of the Fort on its future, and that includes the Friends of Fort Regent group.“
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