St Andrew MP George Payne (right) makes a point while Opposition Leader Mia Mottley (second right) looks on yesterday in White Hill, St. Andrew.

Payne raises red flag

MP cries foul about lands acquired for residents

IT has been three years since the lives of residents in White Hill, St. Andrew were drastically affected by major land slippage, which left the road impassable and a small community fearing for its safety.

Member of Parliament for St. Andrew, George Payne, along with Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and other party supporters, were on site yesterday expressing concern about the slow pace of the Government to relocate residents from the precariously sloping lands.

However, in addition to calls for better treatment for the homeowners, Payne raised a red flag on lands which he says were earmarked for residents to be relocated, but allegedly have been sold to persons to be used later for commercial purposes.

With regard to the acquisition of lands, Payne said: “When I was Minister of Housing, we recognised the type of problems that we had in these types of areas
that are prone to land slippage. We acquired lands all over Barbados, especially in the immediate vicinity of White Hill. Lands at Farmer’s, lands at Lancaster. Lands at Farmer’s were supposed to go to the people at White Hill. They have sold at commercial rates to other people,” he charged.

So serious is Payne about the land situation, that he says he plans to make the conveyance of the lands in question a document of the House of Assembly.

“I hope that I have the next Prime Minister’s blessing on this. Those lands we will acquire, and they will go to the rightful owners. Because we acquired those lands for the people affected by land slippage and those lands will go to those persons. There is no provision with respect to the acquisition of lands having to go to Parliament. There is no similar provision whereby when you acquire those lands and they go to the Ministry of Housing for that land to go back to Parliament to vest in NHC.”

As such, he said he will be pushing that where land is acquired for any purpose, it has to go back to Parliament if the purpose is to be changed.

Further, he claimed that the DLP is engaging in “politics of distraction” and that “Parliament is becoming irrelevant.”

“I made the decision after today I will only go to parliament to make sure that I cover myself in terms of my tenure in this term. So that if I have to go to make myself present I will, but I will not go back to parliament to deal with any issues unless we get some solution, or some hope of a resolution to the problem here in White Hill. I will not be going to Parliament under these circumstances,” he said.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, while addressing the media, said that the residents, all of whom pay taxes, are being made to feel by the ruling government that they do not care. She said should the BLP win the government, the persons living in White Hill and Licorish Village will remain priorities since they are seemingly not living in the 21st century.

“Has [Prime Minister] Freundel Stuart even driven once to come up here and see what people have to endure?” she queried.

Resident Carlitha Andrews, who has been living in White Hill for over three decades, said as the country is celebrating 51 years of independence, residents are living in the St. Andrew community as though they are 40 years in the past. She recounted that on a phone call with Minister of Housing Denis Kellman, she was told that government does not have money to resite all the persons in White Hill and will only be moving 22 residents. She also charged that legal fees have been paid by some residents yet they have not been moved. Additionally, measurements have been taken but there has been no further action.

“How can we consider putting back the DLP?

“Without prejudice, if the BLP was in power, Mr. Payne as the Member of Parliament, we would not be living in this condition. And I say this with no prejudice…We are suffering and no one seems to care,” she cried. (JH)

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