Prison plans in hand as Castle sets out vital projects

Basic designs are being drawn up for moving St Helena’s “unfit” prison out of Jamestown. Planning advice is being sought, according to a spokesman for St Helena Government (SHG).

First, a new unit for young people with challenging behaviour must be built at Half Tree Hollow to make way for the prison to move into the unit’s current home at Sundale.

The prison building is to be taken over – aptly – by SHG’s legal department. The move is not expected before 2015.

The information was provided in response to a question by John Turner of the St Helena Campaign for Freedom of Information, after the government published an outline of various projects that are vital to island life.

The Infrastructure, Utilities and Construction Programme was drawn up with the help of UK advisers after SHG was rebuked for falling behind with maintenance and large-scale projects – partly because of problems finding contractors.

Executive councillors were given a confidential report on progress in early July, but said they wanted the public to be given more information on important works.

Three projects involve energy supplies.

Replacements for ageing equipment at the power station is now being tested, and a trial of photo voltaic cells – to harness the energy of the sun, and reduce the use of diesel – is being evaluated. Approval has been given for six extra wind turbines, and work has begun to appoint a contractor to manage renewable energy projects.

Several projects tackle housing issues:

  • encouraging owners to rent-out empty homes
  • finding sites to build homes for low earners
  • raising living standards in SHG housing
  • improving welfare facilities, and moving Barn View social care residents to the Community Care Complex
  • refurbishing sheltered housing at Longwood and building six new units at Plantation Cape Villa

The first year of the rental project involves identifying the reasons people are reluctant to rent out empty homes, and find ways to overcome them.

Work on government-owned housing involves clearing a backlog of maintenance, as well as converting properties and building new homes.

Infrastructure projects include work on electricity supply, including for the airport, and on developing a sustainable water supply – which includes providing treated water to all island communities.

Upgrades and renovations of the government’s property estate includes work to:

  • clear a backlog of maintenance of government buildings
  • build a new fire station
  • move government departments to free up buildings for the private sector.

No buildings have been let as a result of the government reorganisation in Jamestown, but a spokesman pointed out that the programme was at an early stage.

Another project involves setting up a sustainable system for waste, including recycling, prompted in part by a need to move the existing landfill site near Longwood to avoid causing a hazard to aircraft.

An adviser is currently on the island and a consultation is due soon.

The government is also redeveloping hospital facilities to cope with more residents and visitors, expected once the airport is built.

This includes providing better laboratory facilities for diagnosing medical conditions, and for carrying out tests needed to export processed food.

SEE ALSO:
‘Unfit’ prison to close by 2015 amid human rights failings
£48,000 a year for someone to solve island housing shortage
Government property for sale ‘effectively, now’
Jobs for island contractors after years of under-spending

LINK:
Update on the Infrastructure, Utilities and Construction Programme

Development Assistance Planning Mission
– UK report on SHG infrastructure delays

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