4th December 1990

The States receives bad news about Queen’s Valley reservoir plan

The project to flood Queen’s Valley, site of Bergerac’s house in the television series of the same name, and turn it into a reservoir took decades to work its way through the States and finally come to fruition. The States voted in its favour in 1980 but the plans were almost scuppered by a surprise acquisition the following year. By the end of the 1980s it looked like everything was ready but, late in 1990, the States received some bad news.

Minutes from the States Assembly meeting of 4 December 1990 include a statement from Senator John Ellis, States Director and Deputy Chairman of the Jersey New Waterworks Company. He explained that, around a week earlier, the Company had been informed that Barclays Bank had appointed a receiver for Shephard Hill and Company Limited, which had been chosen by the States to work on the reservoir’s construction.

While the waterworks company would have preferred for Shephard Hill to complete the works itself, it was now seeing other contractors who could take over should that prove impossible. Three days later, Shephard Hill served notice on its staff.

The States looks elsewhere

Shephard Hill was already known to the States as it had previously completed a £13m harbour construction project at St Helier, opened by the Queen the year before, and it had submitted the lowest price tender for work on the reservoir. Now, finding itself without a contractor to continue the work, the States approached the second lowest bidder, MJ Gleeson Group, whose executives flew to Jersey to discuss taking over the project.

Gleeson agreed to take on the work until the end of the year to give the States time to negotiate a new contract to come into force at the start of 1991, thus allowing construction to continue almost uninterrupted.

However, an additional complication soon arose in that while the waterworks now had a new contractor in place it risked losing some of its suppliers, who were out of pocket to Shephard Hill and demanding payment from the waterworks before they would ship any further materials to the site. These costs, explained Ellis, would have to be borne by the water consumers if the waterworks agreed to meet them, “which cannot be contemplated”.


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