Government is not going to definitively state a position on relocating the Lord Nelson Statue without appropriate consultation.
That is the word from Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who made the comment in response to a question posed over the weekend, when she addressed the diaspora during the We Gatherin’ 2020 – The Online Edition forum.
Ms. Mottley said nearly 20 years ago, when she was Minister of Culture, the then Prime Minister required a committee to conduct a study, which looked at the possibility of moving the statue to the Screw Dock, in Bridgetown.
“The Screw Dock at the time was one of the last remaining functioning screw docks in the entire world, and therefore the notion of a … maritime museum, was very much on the cards. I think that is where we are likely to go back, after consultation, but this is a Government that works with people and consults people.
“I have told you my personal position, but my personal position is not foisted on people …. I would strongly encourage Barbadians to follow me on this particular issue when we have the conversation,” she stated.
The Prime Minister said she, like some other Barbadians, believed that National Heroes Square should be the home of a National Hero of Barbados. She added that significant development work would be done by the Screw Dock.
She pointed out that several things would have to be investigated as part of the removal conversation. Ms. Mottley stressed that Government was doing a number of things to reinforce the Barbadian identity.
She noted that Government had introduced the Freedom of Barbados Awards, which now sit alongside the knighthood, as the highest award of this island.
“There are some who still want a knighthood, but the highest award of this country must be something that is created by Bajans, to reflect the freedom battles of Barbadians,” the Prime Minister explained.
The Freedom of Barbados Award was conferred on the Principal of Cave Hill Campus, the Most Honourable Eudine Barriteau and on the Most Honourable Anthony “Gabby” Carter.
Meanwhile, Ms. Mottley told her audience that the building which once housed the Carnegie Library in Bridgetown, would be restored. She noted, however, that it required certain skills because of the special architectural work on the inside.
She noted that Government had been put in a good position to begin tackling some of the difficult issues in the country, but the COVID-19 pandemic had dealt a blow to the economy. She indicated that revenue in April and May was down 31 per cent, and expenditure was up 21 per cent.
“So that the dislocation to the country is real and that is why I keep saying fasten your seatbelts, it is going to be rough. Your grandparents and your great grandparents got through this 100 years ago, and we are going to get through this too. But by the same token, it means that we have to prioritize and prioritize means … needs come before wants. When we sort out the needs, we then go to the wants,” Ms. Mottley stated.
Minister of Culture, John King, added that the restoration of the Carnegie building presented the diaspora with a perfect opportunity to contribute.
“We have a million dollars to do what is primarily valued as a 11 or 12-million-dollar project, to get it back to where it should be, and that has been kindly donated, but we need a lot more help …. Architects have been in; structural engineers have been in; we have plans and a brand new layout for it, but again, the problem is, as Prime Minister quite rightly pointed out, you have to deal with those needs first, before you could get to the wants,” Mr. King stated.