A section of the crowd at the first town hall meeting on Constituency Councils
Barbadians came out in their numbers last Sunday to get a first-hand account of what Government’s proposed Constituency Councils would look like.
An audience, estimated at well over some 600 persons, packed the hall of the Lodge School, in St. John, spilling over to the surrounding grounds, in their quest to gain information about the Councils, their composition and the work they would undertake.
Prime Minister, David Thompson, speaking at the inaugural town hall meeting, described the initiative “as being the most revolutionary… as well as progressive policy that any Government in Barbados could introduce”.
Advancing the need for the Councils, Mr. Thompson said their establishment would not only bridge the gap between the people and their representatives but they should also foster relationships within communities. He opined that the people of Barbados deserved to have a say in the decision-making process of the country.
“We do not think that as politicians we alone should make those decisions anymore. In other words, whether you get something from the taxpayers, resources in this country should not be dependent on whether David Thompson likes you or does not like you. It is your money and that is what this is about,” he said.
Calling on persons to play their part in the Councils, the Prime Minister remarked: “We want some people of integrity, independence and ability who are respected in communities to help advise us on how a budget can be spent annually to improve the lives of people living in constituencies. We are hoping that independent, well-seasoned community workers, and persons involved in the church and a range of other activities, youth organisations and so on, would come forward and help us. ”
Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Urban Development, Dr. Denis Lowe, under whose portfolio the Councils fall, said once they were established they would give persons in their communities “the opportunity to help identify needs, make recommendations for solutions, and advance the final request for the distribution of resources to ensure that those needs are met”.
While encouraging members of the public to make their contributions and suggestions at the town hall meetings scheduled to run until June 29, Dr. Lowe gave the commitment that with these Councils, Government would ensure “that all of the avenues are created where the people of Barbados can have a fair share of living a high quality of life, regardless of where their community may be on this great island”.
He added that after the suggestions were made about the expectations of the Councils, “the final product would be the unfolding of 30 Constituency Councils which will be allowed to become part of the management process of government”.
Head of the Project Advisory Team for the establishment of the Constituency Councils, Dr. Ivan Henry, disclosed that by September this year, six Constituency Councils would have been formed, with the remaining 24 following soon after.
In giving an idea about the composition of the Councils, he said that there should be at least 12 to 15 persons, comprising representatives from the church, civil society and political parties. He explained that the Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Urban Development would be responsible for ratifying the appointment of the Council members.