Members of the National Council were unanimous in objecting – strongly – to Government plans to reduce the scope of the ambitious rebuilding of the Fontvieille Commercial Centre when the executive’s change of mind was announced to a budget session on Monday evening.

The original 300 million-euro project involved a rebuild of the retail space, a four-screen multiplex cinema, a park of two hectares, more parking space and 40 state housing units. The plan was for the reconstruction to take place while existing facilities were still in use.

Newly-appointed Minister of Finance Marco Piccinini had the unenviable task of telling elected members that the Government wishes to follow “budgetary prudence.” The State’s resources are not infinite, he said. He added the new formula would be more suited to the times, a possible reference to people shopping online and not going to the cinema as they used to.

Council President Brigitte Boccone-Pagès accused the Government of wanting to scale back the project to little more than a renovation of the existing structure, which opened in 1992.

Minister of State Pierre Dartout made an attempt to calm Members, promising that the project would be re-presented during initial debates on the 2024 budget, due to take place next month.

In the meantime, Members all raised their hands to object to the amended plans – not yet announced in detail.

FILE PHOTO: The original ambitious project. Socri Reim