Sealy should shut up on Hyatt issue – Comissiong

Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy should stop “shooting off his mouth” on the Hyatt Hotel issue, social activist David Comissiong is warning.

In a damning letter to the media Monday afternoon, Comissiong advised Sealy to “keep his mouth shut” on the application by developers Mark Maloney and James Edgehill to construct the $100 million Hyatt Centric Resort on Browne’s Beach, The City.

It was a stinging response to Sealy, who has said it was only a matter of time before permission was granted for work to begin on the 15-story property in Carlisle Bay.

“Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy would be well advised to keep his mouth shut on the issue of the application by Visions Development Inc [Mr Mark Maloney’s company] to construct a 15-storey Hyatt hotel on Browne’s Beach,” Comissiong wrote.

“It is  . . . highly irregular and improper for Mr Sealy, a senior minister in Mr Stuart’s administration, to be shooting off his mouth and speaking out of turn by publicly declaring that Mr Maloney’s company will be given permission to construct the hotel in question.”

The minister had told Barbados TODAY at the international tourism trade show World Travel Market in London, England last month the permit was being processed and “we look forward to that permit being issued and work being started”.

More recently, he was quoted in the media here at the weekend as saying the controversy surrounding the project would be resolved and Government would eventually grant the permit, although he could not say when.

Sealy was also quoted as saying there was a “thorough exercise of granting planning permission” to applications of this kind and “the planning process needs to be done”.

Comissiong made reference to the planning process in his letter, insisting that it was Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as the person responsible for Town and Country Planning, who had the responsibility of dealing with the application.

He also said the Town & Country Planning Act made it clear that there must be “an objective and impartial processing procedure that must take into account the provisions of the country’s Physical Development Plan and other material considerations”.

The social activist and attorney-at-law repeated his previously stated position that there must be an environmental impact assessment exercise, which must include a public meeting with residents of the area.

Only after the application goes through this process can the Prime Minister “make a reasoned and informed decision”, Comissiong stated, adding that by assuring that the application would be approved, the minister was indicating that the process would not be conducted in an independent and impartial manner.

“If the procedure that is being applied to the processing of the application is an independent and impartial one, and if this procedure is still on-going, then how could Mr Sealy be in a position to assert that Maloney’s company will get the permission?

“Mr Sealy’s public pronouncements are only serving to cast doubt on the independence, objectiveness and impartiality of the manner in which the processing of this application by Mr Maloney’s company is being conducted,” he wrote.

Comissiong has threatened to take legal action to stop construction of the hotel if is not subjected to a comprehensive environmental impact assessment.

He, along with the Barbados National Trust, is contending that the hotel will have negative implications for the environmental well-being of the City of Bridgetown and its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Comissiong today left little doubt that he would carry out his threat of court action if he were dissatisfied with the handling of the application process and its outcome.

“If at some point in the future this matter becomes the subject of a Judicial Review application in the Supreme Court of Barbados, Mr Sealy could rest assured that his out-of-turn public pronouncements and the doubt that they cast on the impartiality and legitimacy of the process applied to Maloney’s application, will feature prominently,” he warned

Source: (PR)

4 Responses to Sealy should shut up on Hyatt issue – Comissiong

  1. Frank White December 20, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Keep on keeping on Brother Comissiong… We appreciate strong brothers like you…

    Reply
  2. Tony Waterman December 20, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Not a big Fan of Mr.Comissiong, BUT!!!! Minister Sealy is a LOOSE CANNON, and MUST/SHOULD be Reigned in by the “SLEEPING GIANT”.
    What he did Last week, by Removing those Signs from the Beach at Worthing was also ILLEAL as it was a LEGITIMATE deciscion made by a Government Ministry, and he was NOT AUTHORISED by that Ministry to remove them. what’s he going to remove next, some Street Signs that he does not like????

    Reply
  3. jrsmith December 20, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    If every one had shared the same talk talk rubbish as they doing over this hotel we might have saved our sugar cane industry…
    Question , if this hotel is going to definite built , why the government is spending 290 millions dollars building another hotel.
    As a certain business man said ,the people who shout the loudness in Barbados, are the ones who have never contributed anything to the economy of Barbados….
    Barbados’s business is hotels and people filling them, like to know what environmental impact that would have on barbados …..

    Our real problem in barbados ,the politicians failure to add , renew and service our infrastructure of everything……

    Reply
  4. Alphonse Duncan December 20, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    The concerns raised by social activist Mr. David Comissiong in his letter and highlighted in the article, bring to the foreground fundamental issues with the lack of transparency in our planning system and its processes. While public access to information remains an ideal, the planning system and its processes, as much if not all of the public service, continue to be bastions of tradition with little or no effort to involve the public effectively in decision-making.

    As Mr. Comissiong indicates, this decision is the duty of the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Minister responsible for town and country planning matters. This decision, like all others involving beachfront lands as well as agricultural land over a certain size, is “called-in” by law for a decision by the Minister. As such, the Minister makes these decisions in the first and final instance unlike other planning application decisions. There is therefore no process of appeal against the Minister’s decision expect on a point of law to which Mr. Comissiong refers.

    Under the current system, the applicant, if he/she so desires may request a hearing to make representations in his/her interest before the Minister makes his decision.

    Except for a token opportunity provided through a “public hearing” in cases when the Chief Town Planner mandates the submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or in other very limited cases of ” adjoining neighbour notification” identified by the Chief Town Planner, there is no opportunity for the public to comment on planning applications. In this instance, an EIA was not requested and therefore, the vehicle of the public hearing seems unavailable to the public. In this regard, Mr. Comissiong’s representation can be regarded as that of the proverbial “voice in the wilderness” but regrettably, under the current planning regimen, he may very well be considered as having “no standing” to make either formal or informal representations on the application, notwithstanding that that representation may be in the public interest.

    An even more significant defect in the system, especially for these “called-in” applications, is the lack of transparency in the Minister’s decision. Indeed, one only needs to scrutinise the decision letters issued on behalf of the Minister. The decision letters do not refer to the matters that the Minister has taken into account in his decision-making. Significantly, it may well be the case that decisions made by the Minister are contrary to not only the Physical Development Plan but also the recommendations of both the Chief Town Planner and the Panel. While the Minister is entitled to do so, a fundamental construct of administrative decision-making is that such decisions should be rational and reasonable. Yet the decision letter does not provide a rationale for the minister’s decision, a fundamental requirement for proper administration. If challenged, it is unlikely that such decisions, based on the decision letters issued, could survive the basic “reasonableness” test applied to administrative decisions. Furthermore, the lack of transparency will continue to fuel speculation about decision-making.

    The prominence of this case highlights the dire need to modernise the planning system in a tangible way to provide meaningful public participation and input into decision-making as well as transparency in the Minister’s decision. We pride ourselves on our educational system and the apparent literacy that it engenders yet most public institutions continue to serve the public paternalistically. Perhaps, it would have been a useful exercise, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, to reflect on the “progress” of key state institutions and in particular, the manner in which they serve us. Alas, it may not be too late!

    Reply

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