The facts about the Alderney Swimming Pool project difficulties
The support of the people and businesses of Alderney for an indoorpool and gym on our island enabled over £300,000 to be raised locally. This was supplemented by £250,000 matched funding from the States of Alderney, sufficient for the project provided that we used voluntary labour.
I was a Trustee of ACSC (Alderney Community Sports Centre) and my function was joint manager of the construction phase. You can see details of my past experience in this capacity here
I have personally donated over £7,000 and worked more than 3,000 hours on the project without charge.
I was one of the team of three fundraisers that secured over £300,000 from local businesses and individuals, and £250,000 matched funding from the States of Alderney.
I wrote the feasibility study and business plan, and negotiated the agreement with the States of Alderney, the school and Guernsey Department of Education for this joint venture
Work was started in late 2014 and a gabion retaining wall built in accordance with the drawings supplied by the architect and structural engineer. The wall construction was inspected by the States Engineer, the architect,the structural engineer and experienced builders. At no time did anyone question the quality of build or conformity to the drawings and specification.
It was not my position to question the design or structural strength of this wall which had been professionally designed, but simply to build it in strict accordance with the specification and drawing.
Excellent progress was being made, the project was running on budget and due for opening in the late summer 2015. The volunteers were all working enthusiastically and competently, the build quality was excellent.
On the 12th February 2015 (while I was off island) a section of the retaining wall collapsed.
Mr. Robert McDowall, (Alderney States Member and Chairman of the Finance Committee) immediately and without investigating any evidence of wrongdoing or incompetence, wrote an email to the Chairman of ACSC demanding that "Rod Paris must be removed from the project" or the States of Alderney would withdraw all funding.
On March 12th 2015 Mr. McDowall sent anotheremail confirming that no States money would be forthcoming unless I resigned. He insisted that the project would only be run by professional paid staff and consultants (no volunteers).
I resigned from the Trust rather than put this much needed project for our island in jeopardy.
In an attempt to get a fair hearing I made aformal complaint to the Alderney States President that Mr. McDowall had clearly contravened the Code of Conduct for States Members and asked him to refer the matter to the Scrutiny Panel which has been appointed to judge such behaviour.
The President wrote back refusing to allow the Scrutiny Panel to consider my complaint. I wrote to him again pointing out that I was not asking him to judge the case, simply to allow the Scrutiny Panel to do their job. The President still refused to refer the matter to the Panel and allow due process, on the grounds of "insufficient evidence".
An engineer's report has been produced for the States on the cause of the gabion wall collapse. I have not been allowed to see the report but I understand that no blame is attached to me. I have now moved on to manage another project.
The gabion retaining wall was completed
Retaining wall shown coloured for clarity
No-one is indispensable and doubtless ACSC will eventually be able to resurrect the project, but it will take a long time and cost much more than the original plan which was working so well.
The fact is that nothing material happened for the three years before I came on board, nor for the 8 months after I was forced to leave.
The result of this unwarranted meddling by Mr. McDowall is that instead of being well on the way to having this much needed facility for our island completed for summer 2015, there is little chance of completion in 2016 and very much more funds need to be raised. Our children, residents and visitors are being made to suffer because of one States Member's unchecked interference.
We were on target for completion in late summer of 2015
In the interest of balance and fairness I have asked Mr. McDowall to comment and give his explanation for his behaviour. He offers the following reply and says he will make no other comment to the public
" I asked a QC on an anonymous and highly informal basis for his view of the responses . He sits as a deputy high court judge of the Queens Bench Division and socialises (sic) in Administrative Law. He concluded that the responses were correct based on the correspondence which was available to him. His key comment was that I could not be subject to a conduct (sic) of complaint (sic) of a power I do not have."
Perhaps you can make sense of that statement.
Mr. Robert McDowall
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If you want to contact Mr. McDowall to say how you feel about his intervention in the pool project, you can send an email to him with a copy to other States Members by clicking here