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Alderney States criticised for neglect of listed site

Alderney | Published:

THE States of Alderney was criticised for failing to look after the historic town centre fire house at the May people’s meeting.

Alderney’s former fire station is a listed building and site of architectural significance, but, due to neglect, has trees growing through the roof and vegetation growing out of a window. (Picture by Emma Pinch)

It came as States members outlined plans to take back control of another iconic building and pledged to convert the Old Connaught into a community facility.

The old fire station, in St Martin, has a thicket of trees growing out of its roof and lush vegetation sprouting out of a window.

A rust-spotted sign on the door declares: ‘States of Alderney listed building/site of architectural significance’.

Drawing attention to its condition, one attendee commented: ‘Tourists were looking at the tree growing out of the roof of the fire house and the notice saying it was a States property and they were laughing. Its condition was highlighted to the States seven months ago – and now that tree is in full bloom.’

Convenor Annie Burgess insisted that the States were now going to press ahead with improvements to the building. States member Mike Dean said work would start in a ‘few weeks’.

The discussion came after Mr Dean told attendees that the Old Connaught in Connaught Square was going to be brought back into use as a community facility. The sprawling building was formerly a hotel and later a residential home.

Mr Dean said the public would be consulted over what they wanted the building to be used for. It suffers from damp and is not weather tight.

He said the building’s facade would be redecorated and it would be made rain and windproof over the next two months.

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One resident warned of spiralling costs that were likely to develop from the project.

Another resident asked what was happening with another States property, Telegraph Tower, on the Giffoine.

Miss Burgess said it had been privately leased but it was this year coming back under States control.

Although the leaseholder of 20-plus years had wanted to stay, having renovated it himself, he had neglected to apply to extend the lease 12 months ago.

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Residents brought to the States’ attention that the borehole supplying water to the building was contaminated with PFOS, a fire-fighting foam that entered the water table from the airport. It has meant that the Bonterre reservoir at that end of the island has not been used for many years. The tenant had been using rainwater for washing and drinking.

Miss Burgess said others were interested in taking on the tower and the States would look at possible filtration techniques to remove it from the water supply.

One resident who worked as a tomato grower in Guernsey for many years, commented: ‘The cost of removing a chemical that has found its way into the ground system is exceptionally expensive, running into millions. I would be very cautious of claims that a filter can be put in to extract a chemical.’

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