Submitted by DAVID COMISSIONG, Citizen of Barbados
So, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart chose an exclusive luncheon of the elite Barbados Chamber of Commerce to announce to an audience of business executives that he will be granting permission for Mr Mark Maloney to construct his proposed 15 storey hotel on Browne’s Beach!
Well, the fundamental questions I have for Mr Stuart are as follows:-
(1) When were the people – the ordinary Barbadian Citizens and residents – of the affected communities consulted by you or by the Town Planning Department that you have ministerial responsibility for, prior to your coming to this decision? (And I am referring here to the thousands of ordinary black working class Barbadians who reside in Wellington Street, Pondside, London Bourne Towers, and other surrounding residential areas, as well as to the thousands of Barbadians who religiously avail themselves of Browne’s Beach.)
(2) When did you or the applicant company, Visions Development Inc., hold even ONE Town Hall Meeting with the ordinary citizens of Barbados – particularly with residents of the nearby communities – so that you could be informed about their views, prior to your making this decision?
(3) Why is there such a record of your Administration time after time bending over backwards to confer all sorts of outrageously privileged contractual arrangements on Mr Mark Maloney or on companies that are controlled by the said Mark Maloney – Storage Solutions Limited (payment of rental fees in the sum of $2,150,000.00 per year over 20 years for the rental of 3 molasses storage tanks); Housing Concepts SRL (an agreement to purchase any of the houses constructed at Coverley that Maloney is not able to sell to the public); Bushy Park Circuit Inc (appropriating Bushy Park from its lawful owner and virtually placing it in the hands of Maloney’s company); and the list goes on.
(4) Are you aware that this is the Barbados of 2017 and not the old colonialist and elitist Barbados of 1917, and that in today’s Barbados the masses of black working-class Citizens have a right to be consulted on major decisions that have the potential to significantly impact on them and their country?
(5) Are you aware that Barbados’ Town Planning Department as well as the major international environmental institutions such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) require the carrying out of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) as part of the procedure for processing applications of the magnitude of a 15 storey beach hotel, and that central to such EIAs is consultation with the people? Are you aware that Town Hall Meetings are routinely held in Barbados as part of the procedure for processing applications for major projects? Why is Mr Maloney’s application for a 15 storey beach hotel being treated so differently?
In light of the fact that Prime Minister Stuart has not consulted the people of the affected communities, the decision that he announced yesterday is WRONG! It is politically wrong; sociologically wrong; procedurally wrong; ethically wrong; and in all likelihood legally wrong as well!
On the 24th of August 2016 I wrote to Mr Stuart and urged him as follows:-
“….please do the right thing by subjecting the proposal to construct a 15 storey hotel in Bridgetown to a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment, with the people of Barbados (and Bridgetown) being suitably notified and permitted to participate and make inputs.”
I also ended the letter by informing our Prime Minister that “I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.”
In the five (5) months that have elapsed since I hand-delivered that letter to Mr. Stuart’s office I have NEVER received even an acknowledgement from Mr Stuart, much less a substantive response. Yet, Mr Stuart– the Prime Minister of Barbados– is pictured on the front page of the Nation Newspaper gleefully shaking Maloney’s hand and “skinning and grinning” in his face. What a national embarrassment !
Mr. Stuart would do well to remember the old Bajan adage that–“if yuh start wrong yuh bound to end wrong.”
Mr Stuart was required to start with a consultation with the people of the relevant Bridgetown communities, and he has neglected or refused to do so.
I therefore believe that Mr Stuart has started wrong!