If you are short of time, just read these two articles:
If you want more detail, here’s a timeline of how the States property story developed, including Scrutiny’s questioning of Deputy Mahoney:
Deputy Dave Mahoney joined the States in October 2020 and was subsequently elected to the States most senior committee, Policy and Resources. He is the P&R lead for property.
On Monday 10 January 2022, the Guernsey Press published an open letter from Deputy Mahoney which he hoped would ‘shed some light on the behind the scenes work that is happening across the States’.
Click on each column below to read the contents. Or read the online version.
The Guernsey Press shone a spotlight on the letter with a front page story headlined ‘Plans for 90 new homes at Castel Hospital site‘, a video interview with Deputy Mahoney and a Comment column ‘A case for P&R to go it alone on property?’.
On Tuesday 11 January, the Guernsey Press comment column reflected on the initial public response: ‘States role in building homes needs clarity. Reaction to the plans was led by Deputy Peter Roffey in a Guernsey Press interview (Jan 11) and a letter to the Press (Jan 12).
On Wednesday 12 January, States property was again the topic for the Guernsey Press comment column: P&R losing out on the credit for KE VII plans (Jan 12) and the paper also featured a detailed interview with Deputy Victoria Oliver, President of the Development and Planning Authority. Bailiwick Express picked up on the story with interviews with Deputies Mahoney and Roffey in their ‘Fields around Castel Hospital are key to P&R’s scheme for new homes‘ piece.
As those stories were being read across the island that morning, members of the Scrutiny Management Committee (SMC) were settling into their seats for a public hearing with P&R to discuss progress on the Government Work Plan. In the course of the hearing (video below), Deputy Yvonne Burford, President of the SMC, took the opportunity to ask Deputy Mahoney:
- Is it a new policy of P&R to give exclusive interviews and announcements on a major policy issue to just one arm of the media? And if so, why did you choose the Press? (1:29:30)
- What analysis did you rely on to decide that three, four and five bedroom homes were a priority on the Castel Hospital site? (1:32:37)
- In his statement to the media, Deputy Roffey claimed that P&R has made the decision to sell off two other States-owned properties which ESS proposed for much-needed key worker housing. Which two properties were these? What is the point of the States Housing Action Group if P&R are going to ride over the unanimous recommendations of it? (1:35:41).
- In your video interview with the Press, you said that P&R have plans to build on the green fields around the Castel Hospital. Do you not consider it would be much more appropriate to develop on brownfield sites before losing more greenfield sites and, particularly, the biodiversity that goes with them? (1:38:23)
- Some of the fields are not zoned as agricultural priority area and some are. The fields that you refer to, do they fall into the agricultural priority area? (1:43:53)
- In your Press piece, you said you were working very closely with Deputy Victoria Oliver at the DPA. Do you not think your approach risks seriously compromising the independent and quasi-judicial role of the political DPA committee in determining that planning application and could open it up to judicial review? (1:44:25)
In total, the property section of the hearing lasts from 1:29:30 to 1:47:27.
Reaction to the Scrutiny hearing came in a Guernsey Press Comment column on Friday 14 January, ‘The dawn of a new politics of action‘.
Along the way there was some reaction from other parties:
P&R is out of touch with our housing problems (RS Mauger letter, Jan 14)
Politics Podcast: Deputy Sasha Kazanteva-Miller and estate agent Andre Austin (Guernsey Press, Jan 16)
Building large homes helps reduce prices (M Spencer letter, Jan 18)
‘Development in fields must stop‘ (La Societe Guernesiaise interview, Jan 21)