Chairing the St. Andrew Thorne Commission Town Hall meeting were commission members (from left) Richard Carter, Krystle Howell and Cheryl Hunte.
St. Andrew residents support People’s Assemblies
The proposed establishment of the community-based People’s Assemblies in Barbados was welcomed with open arms by the people of St. Andrew at a recently held town hall meeting at the Alleyne School.
Though not a big crowd was on hand for the town hall meeting held last Wednesday evening, the consensus was that the initiative of electing community-based People’s Assemblies in Barbados was a promising one. The St. Andrew Assembly would be one of twenty proposed by the Thorne Commission on Local Governance, which was established by the Cabinet to oversee the consultations with stakeholders. The idea is that the Assemblies would also be democratic and participatory governance structures based on voluntary, non-partisan service and not subject to the dictates of any government minister.
The point of non-partisan service was a cause for some discussion, as it was put forward by Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education Senator Romel Springer that the parliamentary representative for each parish be an automatic member of the 30-member assembly. His point was supported by St. Andrew resident Natalie Murray, who said she believed that the representative would have an ear of the Cabinet.
“He already is a member of the community, he already carries the burdens of the community. If there is anything wrong in any community around Barbados, the burden is on that politician. If a road needs fixing he carries the burden, if people need water he carries the burden. I am saying that he would act as an advocate for the community and he would have the ear of Cabinet and the other ministers. If something needs to be done, he would get it done.”
The contention came from others residents present was that the Assemblies were to be non-partisan and it was perceived that any parliamentary representative who was not part of the ruling party would be at a disadvantage in being heard by the Cabinet.
Another point made was that there were enough educated residents of St. Andrew to come together and present the needs and concerns of the parish to the parliamentary representative to take to the Cabinet, and there was no need for the representative to be a part of the assembly itself.
The proposed People’s Assemblies will implement measures to improve accountability in governance, engage people participation, establish high standards of public service, contribute creativity, intelligence and energy to public affairs administration, deliver critical services to communities, protect neighbourhood welfare and participate in collective decision making and administrative activities which are designed to foster social and national unity.
The Assemblies will be for a period of three years and will elect presiding officers that will meet and make decisions and coordinate the work of the organisation.