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Protecting our parks

Parishioners will have been relieved to learn earlier this month that the Council of Ministers has decided to recommend to the States that the new hospital is built at Overdale and not on their other shortlisted site, People's Park. So subject to the debate on the matter scheduled for next month the sword of Damocles hanging over our precious greenspace will have been removed. But for how long? The Parish needs to explore ways of giving its open spaces extra protection from the threat of development in future, especially as the requirement for more homes in the Island's capital increases. Some critics of the Parish's opposition to the States building on our parks (in the main, correspondents in the JEP letters page from the far-flung and more peaceful reaches of our Island) have suggested that alternative parkland could be created once old buildings have been demolished, but where would our children play in the several years such development takes? And would a park in Gloucester Street offer anything like the same facilities as People's Park, where the first pop festival of next year, recently announced, will take place subject to Covid-19 restrictions being lifted. It's hard to imagine the Portuguese Food Festival being acceptable there either, surrounded by tall housing instead of by grass and trees. Meanwhile, it is also good news that the Parish's wooded area to the west of People's Park, including Val André, highlighted in last month's Town Crier, will also be spared when the new hospital is constructed. I will continue to do all that I can to protect St Helier's greenspace and to increase its quantity as well as its quality, as parks are a necessity not a luxury; we need them to ensure that as town dwellers we enjoy the same quality of life as Islanders who live in the countryside.

Simon Crowcroft, Constable of St Helier