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Lessons from Lyon

At half term we went to Lyon in central France to spend some time with my eldest son and his family who are lucky enough to live next to Le Parc de la Tête d’Or, one of the biggest public parks in France – so big, in fact, that it has a zoo within it as well as a sizeable boating lake and a botanic garden. With its exceptionally wide paths, generous lawns and mature trees it’s an oasis of calm in the busy city, visited by thousands every day, a vital component to the quality of life enjoyed by the Lyonnais. So it was frankly depressing on returning to St Helier to find myself in a meeting with the Council of Ministers having to plead with our Chief Minister and senior civil servants to increase the size of the Millennium Town Park. With the exception of the Environment and Housing Ministers, the Government simply doesn’t understand the importance of extending the Town Park by seizing the unique opportunity offered by Andium Homes: that organisation has the vision and foresight to realise that a thousand more homes in the North of St Helier requires more green space in a single, central location if we are to avoid the charge of ‘town cramming’ in future years.

Walking around the city with my family I was also struck by the fact that the city has introduced pedestrian crossings at every junction, while there are clearly-designated cycle routes along practically every street. Lyon has thus succeeded in getting bicycles, and, indeed, the electric scooters, off the pavements onto safe, convenient routes, delivering the ‘active travel’ strategy which has so far eluded the Government of Jersey.

Simon Crowcroft, Constable of St Helier