CONSTITUENCY COUNCILS TO BRING GOVERNMENT CLOSER TO THE PEOPLE

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Prime Minister David Thompson (right) sitting with (from left) political scientists Dr. Neville Duncan and Dr. George Belle at the opening ceremony of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies’ tenth annual conference.

The Constituency Councils are a “timely method of intervention to allow discussion, to give vent to concerns, to seek innovative solutions and to forestall a total social disconnect”. 

Prime Minister David Thompson made this observation recently, as he delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies’ tenth annual conference, at the Cave Hill Campus.    

Mr. Thompson said that he believed when all was said and done, it was at the local, community level that the battle was lost or won.  He pointed out that ordinary people needed a forum to discuss issues, seek solutions and reach consensus on the way forward. He further said that he believed that “people living in communities of all shapes, sizes, communalities and degrees of organisation, still play an important role in raising children and informing adult opinion”.

The Prime Minister explained that the 30 Constituency Councils were therefore being established to group communities and neighbourhoods together and to give them a voice and the opportunity to participate in the decision processes that affected their lives.  

He added that the “modern form of local governance” was intended to address the residual problems of social isolation in dormitory neighbourhoods where people did not interact with their neighbours. The Prime Minister said it was also desired to tackle pockets of poverty, especially in old neighbourhoods, despite the obvious affluence elsewhere; and the marginalisation of young people from the mainstream economic and political institutions. 

According to Mr. Thompson, among the other issues that the Constituency Councils were expected to address, were the disconnect between political leaders and
voters; the poor delivery of services within the culture of “doing recipients a favour”; and the failure to identify and address new and emerging needs, for example the requirements of an ageing population.

gapplewhaite@barbados.gov.bb

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