20 May 2019
This year, I watched with pride how Jersey, across the generations, came together to remember the liberation of our Island. May 9 remains our special, national day, when we remember our distinctive history, our culture and our identity.
However, it is not just about looking back. It is more than that. It is about looking to the future. Building on Jersey’s creative reinvention, passion and resilience, it is about creating a lasting commitment and a celebratory beacon for future generations.
Next year will be an iconic year to mark our 75th anniversary of Liberation. The challenge is not only about how we commemorate and celebrate this significant milestone: it is about how we leave a lasting legacy that benefits all citizens and visitors, not just next year, but long into the future. One that creates a distinctive sense of place that is grounded in local context, and builds on Jersey’s unique identity and rich heritage.
Plans for the joining of Liberation Square and Weighbridge Place were proposed under the previous Government.
When originally designed to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our Liberation, the design of Liberation Square followed three themes – Liberation, Freedom, and Peace. The latter being symbolised by a compass rose in a mini amphitheatre. ‘Peace’ is now buried under a couple of feet of gravel, due to its poor condition. In comparison to Weighbridge Place, Liberation Square needs some attention in order to bring it, and the surrounding area, back up to a standard of which we can be proud.
For the reasons of improvement outlined above, I was committed to progress this project so that Islanders had a focal point for remembrance of those five years of occupation.
I still believe that this project has merit. Well-designed public realm and open spaces play a vital role in creating better places that enrich the local community.
Nonetheless, both myself and Deputy Kevin Lewis, as Minister for Infrastructure, have listened to the feedback we have received from the public about the existing proposed scheme, and in particular about perceptions of both the cost and the traffic impact of the proposals, and we have decided to revisit the scheme to address public concerns.
I have also asked that any improvements to Liberation Square be developed in the context of the wider vision for improving the quality of place and connectivity in St Helier.
Therefore, we will still be seeking some improvements to the square, but ensuring that traffic flow, particularly at peak times, is not impeded, and that costs are significantly lower. We believe that creating a space that can be better used for significant events, or during particular times in holiday periods, will have a very real and long term benefit to the urban area.
The 75th Anniversary of our freedom from German occupation is in itself a significant event. But, in addition, it should be about remembering the lessons of the past, and about looking ahead.
Liberation 75 should also be a launch pad for all that is good about our Island. It should be about our economy – whether it is finance, digital, tourism, agriculture, or any other area, and it should be about our culture, our Overseas Aid and our Island identity too. It presents an opportunity to show others who we are and how we reach out beyond our shores, which, in turn, benefits and supports our local community here in Jersey.