Ozouf criticises Property Dept on Police HQ miss
Jersey's Treasury Minister has sharply criticised the island's property department in defending his actions in the failed move to buy an empty office block for a new Police headquarters.
He has told a scrutiny panel that the original business case to purchase Lime Grove was at best poorly drafted and could not be implemented.
Today, Property Holdings will have their say at the Scrutiny meeting.
The minister also says he has evidence leading him to have concerns about the independence of the States of Jersey negotiation team.
The Island's police force was due to move into Lime Grove House, but in an attempt to save money Senator Philip Ozouf delayed the sale. In that time a private finance company leased the building.
The current headquarters on Rouge Bouillon, St Helier, been the home of Jersey Police since 1952. But after 59 years and numerous extensions, the building is no longer fit for purpose and time had come for the police to move on.
After years of searching, Lime Grove House in St Helier was identified. Property Holdings made an offer of £8.75 million, but then the Treasury Minister stepped in with proposals to shave £500,000 off the price.
While the States attempted to re-negotiate, a finance company leased the building for 21 years and the police lost out.
In an interview with Channel Television Senator Ozouf said: "This was a decision which was the Treasury Minister's decision. This wasn't one of those decisions that goes before the States, so I had to be very satisfied; I had to ask all the tough questions - and I've asked all the tough questions and some of the answers that I had about this project were not satisfactory".
He added: "There were issues in relation to property holdings and performance issues relating to property holdings at the time and I'm dealing with those issues".
Senator Ozouf and Home Affairs Minister Senator Ian Le Marquand appeared live on Channel Report on Thursday night.
Senator Le Marquand said the £8.75 million price tag for the new headquarters was a fair price, while Senator Ozouf said it was overpriced, which is why he had sought a better deal.