Mac Fingall and St. Philip Residents ‘Fighting Back’ to Protect their Way of Life at Skeete’s Bay
The Late Prime Minister David Thompson promised Barbadians before he died that his government would not allow the East Coast of Barbados to mirror its West Coast. In the Barbados Physical Development Plan the Eastern corridor of Barbados cannot be commercially developed. Now that the West Coast has been dotted with concrete structures with few windows to the sea and limited access to beachfront for locals, attention has turned to the South East of Barbados. There is a ‘catfight’ which is currently playing out to develop the South Eastern area of Barbados which includes Ragged Point, Eastbourne and Skeetes Bay.
Paul Doyle, the owner of the Crane Hotel, finds himself at logger heads with residents of Bayfield and the surrounding communities. He proposes to develop 88 beach houses on 44 acres of land (each equipped with a swimming pool) he bought four years ago at Skeetes Bay and Culpepper in St. Philip. He unveiled his plans to residents of the area at a town hall meeting at the St. Catherine’s Sports Club where there was standing room only. Residents of the area are concerned that the way of life they know and love will be interrupted by the proposed Culpepper Beach Houses Development.
The opportunity for residents to vent concerns about the project was made possible by well known Barbadian Mac Fingall who lives in the area. Fuelling concerns for the residents of the close-knit Bayfield area is the proposal by Doyle to develop Skeetes Bay by adding a restaurant to provide alternate dining for guests staying at the Crane Hotel. Despite his many reassurances that locals would be encouraged to continue fishing, exercising and all the other activities they currently are involved, locals remained apprehensive. What makes the proposal by Doyle interesting is that Skeetes Bay is currently owned by the government of Barbados. No wonder the residents smell a rat!
The issue which Doyle faces if he wants to move forward with the development is that he needs to persuade Mac Fingall or one other local to sell their property which he needs to access his development. Both have flatly refused to sell. Fingall in an emotional delivery stated some things simply can’t be bought meaning that way of life the community as enjoyed since Adam was a lad. His plea was supported by another local Red Plastic Bag. The fact that the developer started to prepare access to the property and encroached on Finagal’s property has not helped Doyle Fingal Bayfield residents relations. It is evident Mac Fingall is accepted as a leader in the community and Doyle will have his work cut out to get this project off the ground.. Coming out of the exchanges, if Doyle is not able to persuade Fingall or one other to sell to get the required access to satisfy Town Planning that leaves Skeetes Bay.
BU congratulates Mac Fingall’s ;leadership and the residents of Bayfield and the surrounding area. Usually developers will schedule the mandatory two public meeting to discuss the Environmental Impact Study. The St. Philip residents led by Fingall have forced Doyle to come to them even before a submission has been made to Town Planning.
Minister of Housing Michael Lashley – who is a local boy – attended the stormy meeting and informed that his ministry has received proposals to support developments at Eastbourne and Ragged Point. Given the track record of politicians in Barbados when it comes to physical development and a land use policy, it is hard to imagine some of the proposals will not be approved. Is the selling of our finite resource worth it?