An overwhelming majority of deputies voted through a last minute amendment from the new P&R which will at last see Les Ozouets turned into a further education campus.
The new president and vice president of P&R, Lyndon Trott and Heidi Soulsby, only laid the amendment to the Government Work Plan this week (23 January).
But despite it being in circulation for just two days, deputies voted it through overwhelmingly, 35 to 3, and then passed the Government Work Plan. It ends years of frustration for the Education Committee, who saw their plans accepted, but defunded, in December 2023.
It may also signal a fresh approach to politics in the Assembly.
Getting Les Ozouets demolished and the Guernsey Institute built relies on borrowing £55M and using £33M from States reserves.
Deputy David de LIsle questioned both the wisodom and costs involved:
"Will the borrowing just be for £55M or will it be for more? So I'm questioning the bond set up costs and whether we can commit the next Assembly to the £55M of borrowing."
The States say they will be able to afford the additional borrowing through the 'substantial increase' in revenue expected to come from the OECD’s 'Pillar 2 initiative'.
This is a 15% tax rate for multinationals that will be effective from 2025.
The plan is that once Les Ozouets is built, the old College of FE site at Les Coutanchez can be used for housing, a top priority of this States.
P&R Vice-President took to social media to express her delight at the States' decision:
Pleased that our amendment to get funding for @GsyInstitute was passed overwhelmingly today. It was great to see assembly supporting a consensus solution that will finally take things forward after several false dawns.— Deputy Heidi Soulsby MBE (@HeidiSoulsby) January 24, 2024
Teaching unions supported the proposal as a way of getting work started on the Post-16 campus, but say they hope the remaining investment that is required for the new Sixth Form Centre is found soon:
"Whilst we regret the further delay to the building of the Sixth Form Centre we recognise the vital importance of starting to develop Les Ozouets Campus for the Guernsey Institute as soon as possible. We understand the concerns the public has about borrowing for projects such as this but we would argue that investing in education is investing in our future." - NEU
“NASUWT remains disappointed that full funding for the completion of the entire transformation project has not been found, and urges the States to ensure full funding is made available at the earliest opportunity to ensure that all teachers and students are learning in well-maintained buildings fit for a 21st century education.” -NASUWT.