Why is taxpayers’ money being used for La Vallette vanity project?

AN EXCELLENT letter from Rene Herve in 10 November’s Guernsey Press regarding Vive La Vallette, a charity with ambitious plans for development at the bathing pools, La Vallette.

A development of States property and land that will last for over a year and deny swimmers, divers and other pool users access to a perfectly adequate changing room, which will certainly be needed over the cold winter months.

A dry changing area, hot showers and the facility to make a hot drink is necessary for the large numbers of people now using the area. Many swimmers have trained, and still are training, for Channel and other long distance swims. Vive La Vallette should not deny them these facilities, rather they should applaud their efforts and encourage them. Pool users are well aware of the benefits of sea water swimming. This vanity project of Vive La Vallette was originally put forward by them by suggesting that this new building was important to the Island Games.

No one has, as yet, explained exactly which of the Island Games would be held at La Vallette.

Rene Herve expresses surprise that no one has even questioned the £300,000 donation from the States of Guernsey towards this project. Well, I can assure him that it did not go unnoticed.

Just before the general election I exchanged letters with Policy & Resources on this very subject.

I was concerned that taxpayers’ money should be given over to this group.

By way of an explanation, they told me that in 2018, by a resolution of the States, a fund had been established to enable the partial funding, from the Capital Reserve, for projects being initiated by non-States bodies that would support the delivery of the P&R Plan.

Requests for up to £250,000 could be submitted for any single project.

In principle, agreement was given by P&R to contribute up to £250,000 towards this ‘community enhancement’ proposed by Vive La Vallette, subject to agreement for lease. This amount was in P&R’s authorised spending limit.

However, there was a proviso that Vive La Vallette had to prove that they had already raised one million pounds of the capital. What about the other £50,000? Well, that came from the existing States property budget to underwrite the costs of the next phase of the project (i.e. architects’ and engineers’ fees, planning, etc.). Presumably this is how they produced a scale model of the development as part of their planning application.

I remain convinced – despite this explanation – that all this money, no matter how one looks at it, comes from the taxpayer. I have had no response to my question to P&R that I had always understood that taxpayers’ money cannot be given to a charity, any charity, by any department, committee or any other States body.

Vive La Vallette is a charity and by giving them £300,000 I believe a precedent has been established whereby any charity might also request funding.

Swimmers, especially the elderly swimmers, who swim daily for exercise and enjoy socialising with a great crowd of people down at the pools are very worried that Vive La Vallette will start this project, demolish the kiosk, board up the building and leave our vibrant community without facilities for years.

I hope Deputy Ferbrache, our new chief minister, will look into the way Vive La Vallette was chosen, over and above other interested parties, including the charity Friends of La Vallette who had obtained sponsorship of £500,000 to undertake a general upgrade of the building and kiosk, repairs to the pools, etc., a far less disruptive proposition.

JANINE LE SAUVAGE,

Meadow View,

Les Hubits de Bas,

St Martin’s,

GY4 6NB.

Editor’s footnote: a spokesperson from the Policy & Resources Committee replies:

The decision to support Vive La Vallette’s project to develop the kiosk and facilities at La Vallette is one made by the previous Policy & Resources Committee, but nonetheless the current committee is happy to confirm – as has already been reflected to your reader directly in our correspondence with them – that the decision was made entirely in line with the States’ agreed rules for how such funding is allocated to capital projects that contribute to the community.

In this case, as your reader states, it is funding agreed on the basis that Vive La Vallette secure the vast majority of their necessary funds privately.

The site is a States property and the allocation of £50,000 to underwrite the costs of the next phase of the project comes from existing States property budgets. Meanwhile, as the previous Policy & Resources Committee stated at the time, it also committed to funding additional works to the pools themselves to bring them up to a good standard for the benefit of all pool users. Vive La Vallette have also assured that they intend to provide temporary changing facilities to ensure the pools can still be used while any works take place.

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News