Scotland revival coming
Barbadians got a peek at the Barbados Labour Party’s manifesto last night when Leader Owen Arthur revealed his plans for the Scotland District ahead of Thursday’s scheduled unveiling of the full document.
Telling north residents and in particular those from St. Andrew, St. Joseph, St. Thomas and St. Peter that he did not think they should have to wait until after Ash Wednesday to hear what was in the plans for them, Arthur promised a restoration and revival of the Scotland District.
He was addressing a national meeting of the party in Buccaneer, St. James, part of the St. Andrew riding, when he challenged the record of the ruling Democratic Labour Party on issues of the cost of living, housing, health care, transportation, agriculture, among others.
“There must be a bond of trust between the governed and those who govern. The Dems have failed Barbados. It has failed the north, St. Andrew. Because you voted BLP, a special kind of spite has been brought to bear in dealing with the needs of the people of constituencies like yours.
Arthur charged that when his party left office in 2008, it was with a Scotland District Authority already in place and charged with ensuring infrastructure, the restoration of agriculture and “decent husbandry”, and with incentives available to farmers.
“For five years the Democratic Labour Party has done nothing with the Scotland District of Barbados,” he said, noting that the manifesto would speak to this lack.
He said in consultation with St. Joseph incumbent Dale Marshall and others, they had put together a comprehensive manifesto that would speak to the Scotland District’s future development on page 34.
“You have helped us …, we will not let you down,” he promised. “This is what our manifesto says and when get a document in your hands on Thursday, go check to see if what we tell you is true or not.”
Quoting the document, which he said should “not remain a secret any longer”, the BLP Leader read: “The Barbados Labour Party was committed to spending $35 million on stabilising the Scotland District, and established a new Scotland District Authority in 2007. The plan has been abandoned by this Democratic Labour Party administration.
“There are a number of irresistible arguments for stabilisation of the Scotland District. First, it constitutes one-seventh of Barbados’ landmass. It is an area that is ripe for sensible and innovative agriculture given its high annual rainfall. It is also a vital pillar in Barbados’ tourism product. Stabilisation of the Scotland District will therefore allow us to maximise the use of our scarce resources.
“Secondly, such stabilisation will permit existing residents and landowners, to continue to reside in the Scotland District thereby reducing the pressure for even more housing in other areas of Barbados that are already heavily populated.
“Thirdly, not to stabilise the Scotland District will see residents of this area moving to other parts of Barbados; any such abandonment of the District will result in the death of these rural communities with the resulting demise of churches, schools, jobs and even our rural schools,” he stated.
He continued: “Fourth, if the Scotland District is not stabilised, the property values in the area will plummet while the cost of property insurance will rise. This will be a disincentive to individuals who would otherwise choose to build and live in area as they would not realise the full value of their real estate.
“Our rural network of roads and bridges is also under serious threat as the result of slippage. If this is not quickly addressed access to this most picturesque part by Barbadians and visitors will become problematic. We can ill afford to lose out on the opportunity of enjoying our greatest national resource, our scenic vistas and our wonderful rural living.
“We will bring into force the Scotland District Authority Act of 2007; invest $35 million over five years in stabilising the Scotland District; provide incentives and support to persons engaging in sustainable agriculture in the Scotland District; provide technical assistance, and establish a soft loan facility to homeowners in the Scotland District for the purpose of mitigating the effects of slippage by the installation of proper drainage, stabilisation or retention works and give the Scotland District Authority the remit and the resources to fully rehabilitate the road and the bridge network in the Scotland District,” he said as the above average crowd applauded.
Telling the residents he was grateful for their support over the years, Arthur said the manifesto would show a clear section for the residents of St. Andrew, St. Joseph and parts of St. Thomas who had to contend with the issues of the Scotland District, advising them to: “Hold us to this commitment. This is bankable.” (LB)