Sports Minister Hits Back At Fort Campaginers

The Sports Minister has hit back at campaigners 'Friends of Fort Regent' following an open letter sent to the island's politicians.

The group say that 'all sports facilities face imminent removal' from the centre, a statement Deputy Lucy Stephenson disputes.

"Not once during my meeting with you and your group in person, in any correspondence, media interview or in the recent formal response to the petition do I say that all sports face imminent removal from the Fort.

I do not even suggest this, in fact quite the opposite, I have stated numerous times that the remaining sport tenants at the Fort have a home there until their replacement facilities are ready."

The letter was sent following Deputy Stephenson's response to an online petition which called for a stop to the removal of sports provision from the centre.

In it, she says that the government's 'Inspiring Active Places strategy' recognises that the Fort is 'beyond the end of its useful life'.

"The building is outdated and uneconomic to run.

It is also acknowledged that, from a health and fitness perspective, Fort Regent’s location at which to improve the level of health and fitness activities of people living and working in St Helier or the wider island is a challenge.

In addition, none of the spaces are designed specifically for fitness or health activities."

The campaign group wants ministers to stop relocating clubs until a fully costed plan for the centre's future is drawn up.

"It is imperative that the government has a clear plan for the future use of the building before deciding to relocate sports facilities at a substantial cost to Jersey taxpayers elsewhere.

It was already agreed with the previous government that sport in all its forms would remain at Fort Regent with the venue redeveloped as a state-of-the-art sports centre.

This decision has once again been reneged upon by a single minister, instead of being voted on by all government members in the assembly."

But, the Sports Minister says the decision was made way before she came to office.

"I would also remind you that, as the petition response makes very clear, the decant of sport from the Fort has been underway for a number of years - it is not, contrary to your letter, a decision which I have just taken.

In fact, it was not my decision to take at all as it was made long before my time in office. "

Active Gym at the Fort will close on 15 May following the opening of facilities at Springfield, with the government saying that it is 'unattainable' to staff both venues. 

Friends of Fort Regent's petition has been signed nearly 2,500 times.

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