Income Tax office ‘sale’ ruins Victor Hugo plans
PLANS to create a Victor Hugo Centre in Guernsey have seen another setback and the politician who is part of the campaign to establish the tourist attraction has said he is furious about it.
It is understood that the States’ Trading Supervisory Board has agreed a price to sell the former income tax office at 2, Cornet Street, which had been earmarked by the Economic Development committee as a location to develop a centre to celebrate the famous French author.
Economic Development president Charles Parkinson has submitted 10 questions to the STSB to be answered in the States next week.
He wants to know if the STSB considered the wider economic benefits of having a Victor Hugo centre and if there were any other States-owned properties in the vicinity of Hauteville House that would be suitable for the project.
‘I am furious that the STSB, who knew full well of our interest in this site, did not have the courtesy to consult with us before entering into these negotiations,’ he said.
‘Our connection with Victor Hugo, a global literary icon, is one that could be incredibly helpful in putting Guernsey on the map and boosting our tourism industry.
‘It would be extremely important in the French market, but Les Miserables is the world’s most popular musical, and most people have heard of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.’
The building is an attractive site to the proposers of a Victor Hugo centre because it is already owned by the States, the States no longer has a use for it, and it is a short stroll to the French author’s home at Hauteville House.
The Economic Development committee has been working to regenerate the island’s tourism industry with new air routes and improved bed stock and a lack of attractions is seen as the missing link in the Guernsey offering.
A Victor Hugo centre would be marketed at French tourists, yacht crews, cruise liner passengers, literary enthusiasts and devotees of Les Miserables, which has run in London since 1985 and is regarded as one of the world’s biggest and most successful stage musicals.
A centre would give visitors an environment where they could find out about Victor Hugo, his life, works, family, and exile in the island.
Deputy Parkinson has been told that the contracts on the property deal have not been signed yet, but it is unclear whether the situation can be salvaged for the benefit of Victor Hugo fans.
‘It is strategically important that we secure 2 Cornet Street for redevelopment as a Victor Hugo centre.
‘We need to improve the island’s attractions.
‘Quite simply, we need to give visitors more reasons to come here.
‘The Victor Hugo connection can play an important part in diversifying our appeal and raising our profile internationally.’
Earlier this year, a plan to turn the Guernsey Information Centre into a Victor Hugo interpretation centre was rejected by the Seafront Steering Group.