Consultants being paid $800,000 to reform the Island's municipalities appear to know little about how they run, according to the Mayor of Hamilton. In a Hamilton Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday, Charles Gosling claimed the consultants, who he characterised as "alien to our laws", were out of touch with what the Corporations of Hamilton and St. George's actually do.
"Apart from two letters from the local law firm assisting the overseas consultants requesting financial information regarding our assets, most current values, how our planning authority ties into Government's and other questions implying a total lack of knowledge of our operations, we have not been allowed or invited to be a part of the process to answer, redress or support the concerns of our constituents," he said. In his remarks Mr. Gosling discussed the lack of public support for a Government reform of the Corporations, the importance of local Government, and the Corporation's efforts to expand voters' rights. "What is it about either Corporation that inspires us to devote literally days, weeks and months of our time to ensure the continuance of local, city or town Government?" asked Mr. Gosling. "Because we believe we all believe that local decisions are best made locally." Citing a recent survey Mr. Gosling highlighted that 88 percent of Bermudians support a continuation of local city elections. The same survey, said Mr. Gosling, showed that the public supports the new Hamilton leadership team by two to one. He claimed that Government is wasting time and resources hiring consultants to "reform" the municipalities. "The public understands that their local elected officials are the ones who are best equipped to react quickly and appropriately to local issues," he said. "It is a shame that, as a nation, we are wasting the time and resources to go through this unsupported initiative of repeal. "Someone had a choice to gather Bermudians around a table to review and reform two of our cherished institutions or spend $800,000 to bring in a group, alien to our laws and abolish both bodies. The wrong choice was made." Mr. Gosling also spoke on the Corporation's efforts to expand the municipal vote to all residents of the municipality who are on the Parliamentary Register. He said the expansion of voter's rights has been an underlying issue for "more than a generation" and one that has not been addressed by Government. "This would democratise the vote and give a voice to many who have felt under-represented as well as present the ability to seek public office. There is no sense democratising the municipalities allowing votes to those who had no vote before, if you do not afford them the ability to serve." he said. "The Corporations have identified this issue, requested change and yet this current Government has allowed two municipal elections to be held without this fracture having been healed." Mr. Gosling acknowledged the Corporations' willingness and need to work with Government in the future. "The day we win is the same day we will have to go to Government and ask for their help and support on a number of initiatives. I have said a number of times, we are not an opposition party, we are here to be a productive partner with Government that can work in alliance on all issues the Corporation feels will be for the betterment of the city." From an article by Chris Spencer - The Royal Gazette