Tuesday, 30 July 2013

St Martin's School Field--- Rape or Progress???

In March last year the Planning Department published its plans for a new St Martin’s School to be built on its 7 vergee field which for over 60 years had not only been part and parcel of school life but also of the Parish and in particular its football club and the school’s cricket team.

On 16th March I published what was to be first of 8 further Blogs I published in an attempt to save the School field. Click HERE

It was never disputed that the current school which sits on a 3 vergee site had reached its sell by date. Although the school had been put on the Site of Local Interest Register the listing was only done in late 2009 as a ploy to build on the school field which it itself was listed. I was always of the view that the existing school and head teacher's house which has not been occupied by a head teacher for over 45 years could either be demolished or refurbished or  rebuilt on the existing site. This would save the field.

One of the concerns expressed by supporters for building on the school field was the disruption which would be caused to pupils who would have to be housed in port-a- cabins whilst the existing school was being refurbished or rebuilt. Other pupils had been educated in similar buildings when major work had been undertaken at their schools but that fact was conveniently ignored. What was also conveniently ignored was the fact that school life would be disrupted even if it was built on the field, and that is certainly the case.

Formal planning approval was given last November and although requests were made for the parish football team to continue playing on the field until work on it began, the request was refused. Since Easter there has been some activity on the field with white fencing being erected, tracks being laid and large amounts of machinery being left on the field. Sadly the school has been out of bounds for pupils, parents and other members of the public, who normally took their children to enjoy the play area, kick a ball, play cricket or for some other social or sporting activity.

Apart from the disruption on the field as the main services had to be extended to it; this has led to the main road being closed and hedges and trees removed to allow for more car parking and greater access onto the field.

None of this inconvenience both financial and environmental would have been required had the existing site been utilised but who cares, because in the land of the blind the one eyed are kings. Those chosen to lead have failed, where have the environmentalist and the sports leaders been hiding?

The loss of the field to the Parish football Club was always going to be a bitter pill to swallow. Last season with no home pitch it had a nomadic and demoralising existence. Promises to find an alternative pitch in the parish have been as hollow as the Church of England’s apology to HG. A further major blow is the recent loss of the Club’s team coach Darryl Parker who gallantly assisted me and others in opposing the application to build on the School field. Darryl has understandably moved to fresh pastures where his talents will be appreciated and valued.

Last year we celebrated Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee and the Queen Elizabeth 11 Fields Trust was established with local communities being asked to nominate 2012 playing fields which would protect them from being built on. A Body headed by the Island’s Bailiff, Lt Governor and Chief Minister was established to oversee the scheme. I nominated the St Martin’s field which clearly embarrassed the Jersey Body as it (contrary to the rules of the scheme) had nominated the Grainville School field.

It conveniently chose to ignore my request but following a few broadsides the clearly embarrassed Body quickly folded and transferred responsibility to the Connetable’s Committee. Needless to say that was as good as the kiss of death because the School field has been lost for ever and I am informed that no other fields have been nominated and the closing date has been reached.

On the last day of this summer's term there was a short ceremony on the field to “dig the first sod.” No doubt there was much breast beating and hearty cheers from those instrumental in destroying a much loved field. Some will say its progress; others will say it was rape. Unfortunately the real winner is apathy from the great majority of Islanders and Parishioners who at a time of crisis chose to do nothing.

27 comments:

  1. You might be right, but describing it as "rape" demeans you.

    I'm sure if you asked a real rape victim, they wouldn't give a monkey's about your school field.

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    1. You are entitled to comment, but I think you are taking the word Rape out of context. I don't know whether you have read any of the previous "field" blogs but if you have not I will tell you that the loss of the field has upset a great number of people, particularly as it was possible to rebuild/refurbish on the existing site.

      I don't know why you think the field is mine, it certainly is not and ask why you think it is?

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    2. I hope you don't mind me saying Mr. Hill I think raped is not a strong enough word for waht has taken place here Gang bummed would be a closer description. I feel very strongly about this so sorry if I offend anybody.

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  2. Bob, I can feel your despair at this rape and apathy. People don't seem to care, words are hollow. This Body was meaningless and it failed miserably. You were brave to stand up for the field. As you did, The Jersey Way stepped in. 'Bystander effect' was the reaction to your wise and valid stance.
    Ironically, the history books will show you favourably while the Body will be shown up for what it was; time, money and an opportunity wasted by a body of do-gooders who did no good. I would be interested to know who they were.

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    1. Thanks for your comment and understanding.There were a number of people who did their best to save the field but it appears that it was a "done deal."

      Given the support given to the application by the head teacher and staff one wonders what sort of environment lessons are given to their pupils.

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  3. It's heartbreaking and makes me wince every time I go past the place :(

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    1. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe the field was a gift for recreational purposes, so that person must be turning in his grave. Developers with big ideas - find an opportunity like the playing field to dump concrete - done deal. Like Mr.Hill I went to that School. To use existing site for new school is too difficult for planners who prefer the easy way. What a site the whole thing will look like when they start. Apathy by some in St.Martins has led to this. You don't know may be the school house could become a block of flats. In the UK school playing fields have often been sold off.

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  4. It has always been my understanding that the Amy family who farmed at La Maison Croix au Maitre gifted the field in 1947 when they sold up and gave up farming. It was also believed that there was a covenant that prohibited building on it and that was the reason given by Planning and Education some 10 year ago when the football club applied to erect the port a cabin dressing room on it. Permission was given for it to be erected on the corner of the field next to the field and school. No doubt the donors would be most distressed to see that there generosity has been abused.

    It is understood that the Parish will become responsible for the school when the new one is built. I hope that the Parish will ensure that it is wind and water tight.

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    1. Unfortunately, Restrictive covenants are only of benefit to the person who requested it. Re other comments "there are no people more generous than the ones using others peoples money" tax payers money. For example an area called Jericho just outside Oxford Uni. 2up 2 down houses, Council wanted to pull all down. After local residents raised cane the whole area was renovated & turned into social housing Later as residents bought them it became gentrified. To-day, 30yrs on these houses are worth up to £550.

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    2. I like the quote and it certainly was the case with the field because building on the field was the most expensive option.

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  5. Ill health, Cancer, and the f***ing lies of Government & Big Pharma!!!

    Can you cure yourself of every ailment?

    HERE'S HOW

    Introducing the "Suppa Duppa" machine, "Hemp oil", and a healthy "Gerson" diet....

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  6. Dear Bob,

    I have only just had a chance to read your blog. If the field was 'gifted' then why 'o' why has it been allowed to be sold for development? how did this happen, why did this happen? can we get access to the covenant that prohibited building on it and if not why not? Is there a family member in the UK we can go to? and see if they can put some pressure on Jersey? I do know with Howard Davis something similar was going to happen with a piece of land that the States wanted to build, the family intervened and as far as I remember the piece of land was left, sorry Bob if I am stating the obvious. Let me know, I am in London, happy to help with your guidance. Funny, Plemont was hugely supported from Development and this field is obviously not important enough for Politicians to fight for it, for the family who gifted it means tragedy as far as I am concerned.
    A very honoured member of the public who holds huge respect for you Bob x

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    1. Thanks for your comment and offer of help. There was a lot of behind the scenes activity by a small number of States Members to ensure that the field's "protected open space" status was not made known to other Members during the Island Plan debate in 2011. As a result the field's status was removed by stealth. Although that fact was made known to the Planning Minister it was ignored.

      I did check to see whether one could appeal against the decision but the Complaints Board Law does not allow for third party appeals. Regretfully there is nothing more that can be done.

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    2. Whether or not the law was on your side, they would have just ignored it anyway, just as they do all their other laws.

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    3. Yes there are times when it appears that laws are ignored to the detriment of the public.

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  7. Dear Bob,

    That is rather worrying, as I want to leave Jersey something in the future. And I won't want it to be developed or built on. It will be legacy for young people. What you are saying is that that does not matter when the States decide on something they do not take the honour of the person who has left a gift as worth anything. This does send out a bad taste in the mouth to those who want to leave something for the Jersey people. Don't bother, it won't be honoured. Please confirm this is the case and I will think of something else to do with my money. x

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    1. Sadly there have been occasions when covenants have been ignored when deemed to be "in the public's interest."

      Often people in good faith leave property for public use. In the St Martin School’s case the field was left for educational use and it has been used as a sports field for educational purposes. Now a school is being built on it there are people who claim that it is in order because the field is still being used for educational use.

      They may be right but it leaves a nasty smell particularly when the existing site could be utilised with the field being saved intact.

      Think carefully before you part with any money, particularly if you are giving it to the States.

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  8. Never say never, if this field was gifted to the people of the Island then that is exactly what must happen. Time to fight for this.

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    1. Unfortunately the battle was lost almost as soon as it was muted to build on the field, the consultation process was a complete charade and a waste of time and money.

      The development is well underway and regretfully there is no way it can be stopped.

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  9. So why can't they build the new school on the field and turn the old school into a sports field?

    Problem solved :)

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    1. If only it was that simple. The school is on a 3 vergee site which is too small to allow for a cricket or football pitch. Both were achievable on the school field which is just over twice the size.

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  10. Didn't a similar thing happen with Maison Le Pape (now occupied by Social Services as offices), which was gifted to the States. I was told the benefactor requested it to be used to home vulnerable men. I'm not sure if the States purchased another property specifically for vulnerable men in-lieu of M-le-P or not? Even if this was the case, surely there were office blocks in the hospital vicinity that could have been purchased for the purpose of housing the Social Services Dept? Or perhaps Property Holdings simply did a swap with some back road property, thinking that was 'good enough' in order to honour the benefactor's will? Presuambly there are a number of similar gifted cases? Robbing the field and replacing it with an American style school building when a good conversion would have retained both the field and the historical features of the school building at less cost, seems to be a very bad decision. Who was steering it?

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    1. I am afraid that like God, the States also moves in a mysterious way and there are a number of wonders to behold. We have seen that with the building of a school on its sports field.

      Unfortunately there have been other strange and mysterious decisions taken about property left to the States and Maison Le Pape could be one of those.

      Re who was steering the farce, you have to look to a small group which includes the Planning and Education Ministers aided and abetted by teachers and current Parish Deputy.

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  11. I have received a Comment from a reader relating to the Trinity Development. I would be happy to publish it and have forwarded it to the Parish Connetable and Deputy for clarification. In the meantime please could you re-submit but deleting the name of the person who is an alleged beneficiary until your allegation is confirmed.

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