Can't shake political stigma
The Israel Lovell Foundation wants to know why DLP Member of Parliament Kenny Best is present at “every” presentation made by the St. Michael East Constituency Council.
Foundation director, Cheryl Hunte, raised the question earlier this week when the council held a town hall meeting at the St. Giles Primary School, but chairman Craig Archer countered that the St. Michael East MP had only attended a few presentations.
Additionally, while stressing that the council was non partisan, Project Coordinator in the Department of Constituency Empowerment, Melissa Browne, noted that there were 15 members on each council and that the sitting member for each constituency was an ex-officio member of the council.
Browne said this was the case whether the MP was a member of the Democratic Labour Party or the Barbados Labour Party.
She said: “You still have to include the parliamentary representative for the area in any event.”
Hunte further charged that while the constituency council was applauding its action in renting weed whackers for the youth, the DLP had condemned Project Oasis of the former administration, which had provided similar equipment for free to the youth in an attempt to assist them as entrepreneurs.
In his contribution from the floor, former parliamentary representative for the area, Trevor Prescod, sought an explanation for the low turnout at the meeting in a constituency of more than 19,000 residents. Prescod charged that the members of the council had to face the stigma of being political even though they might mean well and be people of impeccable character.
The former parliamentarian said: “You cannot escape the politics of the constituency council — the councils were formed undemocratically. One minister was responsible for choosing 450 council members.”
Prescod questioned the use of the word reciprocity as it related to the participation of youth in sporting activities. In response, Archer stressed that this was not a case of “I scratch your back and you scratch my back”, but one of giving back to the community.
In a brief presentation, MP Best noted in jest that Prescod had “broken ranks” with his party in attending Monday night’s meeting, but maintained that councils were governed by the Laws of Barbados. He stressed that the councils did not belong to the politicians and denied that they were incestuous.
Former chairman of the St. Michael East Constituency Council, Lennox Chandler, said he saw a need for another tier of governance in Barbados. He argued that the image of the constituency councils was sullied by the actions of the local government system of an earlier period.
Chandler recalled that when he was chosen to be chairman of the council he developed a plan to establish community gardens across the constituency.
“We have a food import bill of $600 million, yet there is a lot of uncultivated land in every constituency. If you go to Cuba and other countries, you will notice that every square inch of land is used to grow food to eat or the cultivation of flowering plants,” Chandler pointed out.
Responding to charges made by Wayne Harewood of the Israel Lovell Foundation that there were no provisions for youth in constituency councils, Archer said young people could serve on sub-committees or present their programmes to the council for execution. (NC)