Tell Duguid to wheel and come again

What does Senior Minister William Duguid mean when he declared this week that Barbados “has experienced significant and disconnected suburban growth…combined with the doubling number of cars, has resulted in peak hour gridlock and increasing levels of congestion almost everywhere on the island”. He went on to PROMISE that the government “expect to develop a national transportation mobility plan that will guide future investment. We will propose transportation strategies at the island scale”.

What the hell!

What immediately came to mind after reading was – cart before the horse and the chant Mini Bus Hustle by Winston Farrell.

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The Grenville Phillips Column – The Curse of Special Magic

The historical record of Barbados shows that Barbados welcomes responsible development.  To ensure that developments are built in an orderly manner, the Town and Country Development Planning office has published, and maintains a Physical Development Plan to guide developers.

Every developer who wants to build something in Barbados, whether a house or commercial building, must apply to the Planning office for permission.  If the development is found to be within Planning’s guidelines, then it is normally approved.

Sometimes, a developer may wish to build something that is outside of the Planning guidelines.  The developer may still submit an application, and the Planning office would inform them of any additional regulations for the application to be approved.

That is the normal method of obtaining approval to build.  But our political leaders have allowed a special way of getting building approval – just go and see the Minister.  At these meetings, our Ministers, who are normally woefully inexperienced in construction, are supposed to magically transform into development planning experts.

Tragically for us, the magic on which our politicians rely, by writing such loopholes in our laws, does not appear to work very well – for us.  Special developers tend to out-smart, or out-magic, our Ministers.  It is quite mysterious.  They not only get our Ministers to approve their developments, but they also get very favourable concessions, like not having to pay the normal.  Thanks Ministers.

Since the Government must still pay for public education, health, transportation and infrastructure, the taxes that the specials avoid paying, must be added to the taxes that the rest of us already pay.  Sometimes those taxes are hidden in higher costs to obtain public services, like higher bus fares and water rates.  However, a convenient way for the Government to make us pay their costs is to increase land taxes.  Thanks specials.

Specials tend to rebuke the public if they dare question their Minister-approved developments.  We tend to get rebuked for not seeing the blessings to Barbados from their developments.  Perhaps in their rebukes, they can explain these benefits to Barbadians?  I have tried to find the benefits, but I mostly find curses.  Let me try to inform them.

There is the curse of discriminatory business practises, where you can build what you want because you are special, while we cannot.

There is the curse of an unfair market-place, where you do not pay taxes that the rest of us must pay.  You do not do this by legal tax avoidance, or illegal tax evasion.  Rather, you do not pay these taxes just because you are special.

There is the curse of a corrupt market-place, where Ministers decide who wins and who loses in Barbados’ economy.

Perhaps the most damaging curse of all is that of mendicancy, where the next generation stops trying.  They give-up because they can easily see that a person’s effort in Barbados does not matter.  They can see that prosperity in Barbados does not depend on merit of your efforts, but on whether you are special.  We have gone backwards as a nation.

The problem with the curses of the specials, is that the curse only falls on those who are not special.  Perhaps the next time that they plan to rebuke us, they can explain their superior magic of getting our Ministers to both approve their developments, and lay their massive burden of tax obligations onto the rest of us.

[Author’s note: We seem to have been banned from the traditional media in Barbados, so Social Media is all that we currently have. If you like the article and are willing, then we would appreciate it if you would share it.]

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Planning Unplugged

On Tuesday 22, 2019 the government continued with the review of the the Planning and Development Bill 2018. All agree that modern and relevant town planning laws are necessary to effectively and efficiently develop land space and related activity.

The average Barbadian can list any number of examples to show a lack of ‘planning’ because the system has been compromised due to political interference and corrupt practices. The blogmaster recalls the change in land use for a property in St. James under an Owen Arthur administration which benefited in the millions David Shorey and a few others. Let it be said the draft Bill addresses many other aspects of town planning.

The focus of this submission is the more visible signs that there is a lack of town planning being executed in Barbados.

Example 1

Traffic flow between the Graeme Hall and Kendall Roundabout has been effected by commercial development with the establishment of Popular Supermarket and other businesses in the area. Massy Supermarket is to be established in the area soon. The result is that on our major highway traffic is restricted to a crawl during business hours. Anyone intending to catch a flight at GAIA must avoid using that stretch of the highway if they want to be ontime.

Example 2

Traffic flow through the ‘Bussa’ roundabout is severely affected during business hours because of activity at the Sky Mall and other commercial businesses established in the area.

Example 3

Clearly the Warrens roundabout was redesigned as an afterthought given the explosion of commercial activity in the area in recent years. We know Warrens is a large residential area.

There are several other examples we could have cited to prove the point that our planners do not know what they are doing and or they are not being allowed to do the job.

If it is the latter we are perplexed why the professional associations they are members would not have voiced a public concern.

 

 

 

Step up or Shut up: Barbadians Invited to Participate in Law Reform

Go to the Town Planning website and make a contribution to the DRAFT Green Paper.

At the risk of being accused by some on BU that the blogmaster has become a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the government, let us be clear – Barbadians have to accept a reality – we are in the deep South coast stuff, it behooves all patriotic Barbadians at home and abroad to become part of the solution or get of the way!

If as a people we are not able to come together on a 2×3 island in the interest of the country, we are going to fail our children in this and the next generation. We have steadily declined as a nation straddling political administrations. The minibus culture has been festering for nearly 40 years to cite one example of ineptitude.  We always blame the politicians for our woes but imagine if 20% of ordinary Barbadians were to become activists for change, become advocates for causes, become involved by accessing the several avenues that permit engagement in a democratic society. Why have we spent billions to educate ourselves to be sheep happy to just ‘exist’. Get up of from your lazy asses to do your civic duty!

Here is another initiative of the government the blogmaster entreats all to get familiar and participate. In quick time the government has deposited a draft green paper on reform of the town planning legislation, a first since 1965.  For the last 10 years many of us in this forum have railed against the lack of modern and relevant legislation, a dysfunctional public and private sector, the lack of productivity of our people and the list goes on. Here is an opportunity for some of you bright sparks to read the Green Paper on Planning Reform and make a contribution. How do we expect to attract foreign investment if our planning laws are from the buggy era. While following some of the planning sessions a few weeks ago the blogmaster was struck by the comment that Barbados lags the region as far as planning legislation is concerned. How the mighty Barbados has fallen.
Read the green paper and share your comments, be a difference maker!

 

Discontinue the Criminal Proceedings Against Felisha Holder

DAVID A. COMISSIONG, President, Clement Payne Movement, Citizen Advocate

In light of the revelations contained in the newspaper article titled Long-time concerns about Coverley junction design and published in the Sunday Sun of 25th March 2018, I would like to make a public request to Director of Public Prosecutions— Ms Donna Babb — to utilize the power granted to her under Section 79 (2) (c) of the Constitution of Barbados to immediately discontinue the criminal charge of causing death by dangerous driving that was recently preferred against Ms Felisha Holder in relation to the death of her son, Abijah Holder-Phillips, in a tragic motor-vehicle accident three years ago.

The Sunday Sun article revealed the existence of no less than three official Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) documents that unequivocally testified to the fact that the manner in which Mr Mark Maloney’s company had designed and constructed the entrance (unto the ABC Highway) of The Villages housing project at Coverley in Christ Church was inappropriate, deficient, and challenging or dangerous for motorists.

These documents are as follows:-

(1) A Ministry of Transport and Works  file No 32211 Vol 4 (a file that pre-dated 2012-03-07) in which it was recorded at Minute 161 that “the entrance is not well designed, and it utilizes the hard shoulder which as designed creates a challenge for motorists” ;

(2) A Memorandum dated 7th March 2012 from Mr Frank Thornhill, the then Chief Technical Officer of MTW to the Chief Town Planner of Barbados, in which Mr Thornhill not only apprises the Chief Town Planner of the above-mentioned negative assessment of the design, but also goes on to reassert that the design “encroaches on the road shoulder“; and

(3) A July 2015 letter of Mrs. Cheryl Bennett-Inniss, written in her capacity as the then Deputy Chief Technical Officer of MTW, to the Permanent Secretary of MTW, refuting Mr Mark Maloney’s untruthful claim that it was the MTW that had designed the controversial junction, and also making the point that the design of the junction was “deficient”.

In light of the foregoing, it would seem to be the case that Ms Felisha Holder was- in the words of William Shakespeare- “more sinned against than sinning”.

Indeed, it would appear that Ms Holder and her precious eleven year old child– Abijah — were victims of a deficient and dangerous stretch of roadway.

Furthermore, how heartless is it for a supposed “Justice” system (and those human beings who operate it and make the decisions) to bring such a charge against a mother some three years after the tragic and traumatic incident.

Ms Holder would have spent the last three years trying to process and come to terms with the profound feelings of grief generated by the tragic death of her child. And now here comes “the system”– three years later — opening up all the old wounds again!

Well, Section 79 (2) (c) of our national Constitution provides that “the Director of Public Prosecutions shall ….. have power in any case in which he considers it desirable so to do —

(c) to discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered any such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by himself or any other person or authority.”

Now, I am not aware as to who was responsible for instituting these criminal proceedings against Felisha Holder — whether it was the Commissioner of Police, the DPP herself, or some private individual. But what I do know is that Ms Donna Babb, our newly appointed DPP, has the power to bring the said proceedings to a halt.

And in the name of justice, decency, and humanity I call upon Ms Babb to do precisely that! Discontinue these heartless criminal proceedings against this young mother of our nation!

St. Patrick’s Town Hall Meeting (St. David’s to St. Patricks): Barbadians Speak out

“chairperson and consultant Dr. Yolanda Alleyne tried her best to steer attendees to give feedback during a Q&A session under three  categories”:

“…chairperson and consultant Dr. Yolanda Alleyne tried her best to steer attendees to give feedback during a Q&A session under three  categories…”

It has become evident of late more Barbadians are beginning to wake up to the possibility of Barbados sinking under the weight of concrete. The  unplanned development allowed in Barbados under the eye of the Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart  – who has responsibility for Town Planning – is an abomination to right thinking Bajans.  History may record that the Lower Greys development maybe the catalyst that forced otherwise uncaring Barbadians to wake up and take back what is left of our little island from the greedy and the rich.

Government must be commended for commissioning a land use plan for the large swath of land from St. David’s to St. Patricks.  It is a part of Barbados which remains in a relatively pristine condition and future development should be informed by mistakes made of the last 20 years. The idea that land on a 21×14 island must be sold to fetch its highest economic cost betrays the national cry ‘these hills and fields beyond recall. Are now our very own’  in a country which does not have alien land holding laws.

It has taken too long for Barbadians to come to the realization that we need to change course regarding how limited land resources must be employed. The feedback given at a meeting held this week at the St. Patrick’s Hall was a clear signal to government current policy must change or expect a revolt. The chairperson and consultant Dr. Yolanda Alleyne tried her best to steer attendees to give feedback during a Q&A session under three  categories:

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A Case Of The Fatted Calf Being Slaughtered?

arable-landBloggers around the world are being asked  to take action to combat the poverty and hunger affecting more than 500 million people worldwide and responsible for the deaths of over 15 million children each year through a campaign Blogger Unite For Hunger and Hope. BU although concerned about people everywhere the campaign (blogging)  has served to bring to the fore again the little regard Barbadians have for agriculture and by extension food security.

BU commenter Nostradamus reminded us recently that there is an application in Town Planning to change 136 acres of agricultural land, representing 30% of Staple Grove Plantation, from agricultural to residentialthere will be a Consultation at the Meeting Hall of St. David’s Anglican Church on Monday April 27, 2009 at 6:00pm. The meeting will allow for comment and discussion on the proposed plans for the subdivision of lands at St. David’s Village, Ch. Ch and Staple grove Ch. Ch. Into lots for residential purposes.

The government led by Minister Michael Lashley has been on a quest to generate housing solutions to deliver on a Democratic Labour Party campaign promise. The government led by Minister Haynesley Benn has also been on a quest to move agriculture back to the centre of our economy. The two Ministers maybe on a collision course given all that has happened during the previous government when there were many accusations levelled that prime agricultural land was being sub-divided willy-nilly for residential and other purposes.

In light of the above BU’s interest was peeked when commenter Nostradamus made his intervention.  Luckily we were able to persuade a BU family member to attend the Consultation on the sub-division of lands at Staple Grove, St. Davids for residential purposes and report back her findings.

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Is The Town Planning Office Of Barbados Delivering Its Mandate?

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It should be obvious to BU readers that there are some pillar issues which we write about repeatedly. We believe that our continued focus might just be enough to create much needed change. One of the pillar issues is the role of Town Planning department to ensure that Barbados efficiently develops its physical infrastructure to the benefit of current and future generations. As we move around Barbados, our layman’s observation  suggests that Barbados is being developed in a very ad hoc manner.  For example, our view of the sea is being suffocated; chemical plants are being built in large residential districts; office buildings are being built in congested areas; land use is being changed based on economic and political considerations with environmental factors lagging far behind. Check it out with a critical eye the next time you move around Barbados.  The lack of planning is more apparent if you have traveled to developed countries.   We make the point about developed countries, because it appears to be the latest political buzz with a general election imminent, and we hear our government politicos trying to attain developed nation status in quick order.

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