Review of Estate Management revised
24th February 2021
A review of the management of States-owned land and buildings has been revised and updated by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The Committee will scrutinise the Chief Executive’s and the Property Division’s progress in developing a comprehensive Estate Management Strategy and Property Maintenance Programme since the PAC published its first Estate Management report in February 2019. At that time, the PAC noted that the Government had not managed its Estate effectively for many years and urged senior officers to produce a strategy that would set out which land and buildings could be put to better use, which should be sold, and which repurposed.
The draft Public Estate Strategy, first seen by the PAC in January 2020, was approved by the Council of Ministers almost a year later, on 9 December 2020. Despite receiving assurances that the Strategy would be circulated to States Members by last week, there is still no sign of it. The PAC is extremely frustrated by the lack of progress and the inconsistency of explanations as to the cause of these delays.
In February and June 2020, the PAC was assured that the Corporate Asset Management Group (responsible for all decisions and funding across the Government related to the Estate) had been established and working since November 2019. However, at the PAC’s most recent public hearing with the Chief Executive in February 2021, it was told that the Board had previously been operating in ‘shadow’ form and had in fact only held its first formal meeting in October 2020. The PAC is eager to understand how meaningful decisions can be made about any aspect of the Estate, when a joined-up approach is apparently lacking.
The Committee is seeking views from all interested parties on any aspect of its review and reassures those who have already made submissions that their views will be incorporated. The Committee will gather evidence from Government departments, Charities, Arms-Length Organisations such as Ports of Jersey, and States owned organisations such as Jersey Opera House as well as other building users, to determine the success or otherwise of the Government’s efforts to:
- Produce and implement a comprehensive and coherent Public Estate Strategy
- Engage with public and key user groups such as the elderly and disabled, to develop the strategy
- Maximise the property portfolio to provide value for money for Islanders
- Ensure States’ property complies with disability legislation
- Develop a co-ordinated approach to property maintenance including a plan to reduce risks and liability
Deputy Inna Gardiner, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “The States have a portfolio of over 500 operational properties valued at over £1 billion. The estimated annual maintenance budget is over £12 million. The PAC is conscious that the States own this huge estate for the benefit of Jersey people and that taxpayers’ money is spent on its upkeep. We want to make sure everything is being done to maximise the benefits and reduce the risks to Islanders in owning this vast estate.
“Although a Public Estate Strategy will hopefully be published soon, we still don’t know how and when it will be implemented. The PAC has never seen a comprehensive list of all the properties owned, a joined-up approach to how to dispose of, re-utilise or maintain these properties and, most importantly, evidence of a thorough consultation process with Islanders on the way forward. We will be interested to see if, when and how, the Chief Executive Officer, Infrastructure Housing and Environment Department and the Property Division work together with other groups such as the Corporate Asset Management Board and the States of Jersey Development Company to address those fundamental issues.”
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