Denial of Proper Consultation
February 20, 2007
Hope Town District Council
Re: Applications by Bakers Bay Developers/Passerine Group of Companies
We act on behalf of Save Guana Cay Reef Association Limited, as well as Mr. Anthony Roberts, Mr. Aubrey Clarke, Mr. Stephen Jenkins, Troy and Maria Albury, various other residents and landowners and citizens of Great Guana Cay
As you are aware, the Association and Mr. Aubrey Clarke are currently plaintiffs in litigation against the Bakers Bay/Passerine Group of Companies proposing to develop the northwestern portion of Great Guana Cay. The Prime Minister and various other government agencies are also defendants.
Our clients have challenged the legalities of the Heads of Agreement. More particularly, our clients have also vigorously complained that throughout this process they have not been provided with an opportunity for proper consultation and participation as stakeholders in the decision-making process of any central and/or local government person or agency having responsibility for consideration of applications.
Central to our clients’ complaints is the fact that our clients consider that it is the local government’s authority, specifically the district council, which has the duty and responsibility under the Local Government Act to consider the many different applications which will need to be made under the Local Government Act. Apparently, many applications have somehow been made directly to central government agencies in Nassau thus bypassing the local district council.
In addition, apparently in between the recent elections of new members to the district council, the administrator to the Council apparently issued certain permits.
Despite our many requests to central government, to the Attorney General and to the administrator, no one has seen fit to provide the citizens of Great Guana Cay with copies of either the applications or the permits issued.
The reason for this is that our clients were not given an opportunity to be heard on any such applications and the persons to whom we have written are anxious and fearful that if we are provided with copies of the applications and/or the permits, we would then seek to challenge them in court.
We are able to confirm that this is indeed the case. Once our clients do find out what permits have been issued, they will take appropriate action to seek to quash those decisions.
We should also refer you to the several letters written by the previous Chief Councillor, Mr. Walter Sweeting complaining that the district council has been bypassed in the consideration of applications and the issuance of permits. Again, this is a matter which we intend to continue to pursue as soon as we discover the relevant information.
We therefore take this opportunity to ask you to please provide us with copies of any applications and/or permits that have previously been made of which your council or the administrator is aware, either to the central government and its agencies and/or to the district council and/or such as may have been issued by the administrator to the Council.
We have previously requested this of Mr. Wayne Hall who was your Chief Councillor since Mr. Sweeting demitted office.
It is therefore with considerable appreciation that our clients have now been made aware by the posting of a Notice indicating that six permit applications have been posted on February 17, 2007on the post office board in Hope Town (and I might add not at Great Guana Cay), indicating that there are a number of projects ranging from $600,000 to $1.6M which applications are due to be heard this Thursday, February 22, 2007.
As a general point, our clients are opposed to the scale, scope and extent of the proposed development.
As you are aware, our clients’ complained of the extensive environmental, social, cultural damage as well as the destruction of their traditional way of life.
Local government is all about local rights and taking into account the views and allowing those who are most closely affected by the proposed developments, to be consulted and to have their views properly considered. The district council is statutorily supposed to be representative of the citizens, residents and landowners of the district.
We are aware however that your council has some qualification and appointment challenges. We understand that many of you were actually appointed by the central government and not elected to office. Our clients reserve their rights to challenge this process as being illegal and intend to do so in due course.
Our clients would like to have an opportunity to make representations with regard to those proposed applications.
In that regard, our clients would like to have copies of the documents submitted by the applicants, so that they, and their advisors, can consider the same and be properly advised with regard to matters they might wish to raise which may be of concern regarding the applications.
Our clients have only just been made aware that these applications are before the council and not having had the benefit of any details with respect thereto, and given the fact that the applications will be considered so soon, our clients will not be in a position to be properly informed so as to be able to make sensible, rational and constructive comments.
We also understand that your council has been provided with copies of the BEST Commission reports and the current Environmental Impact studies. These have been repeatedly promised to our clients but, again, despite the fact that our clients are the ones most affected, they have not received copies thereof.
May we also ask that, in the spirit of transparency, accountability and in the interest of natural justice, and having regard to our clients’ rights to be heard, that we be provided with copies so that we can take they into account when making representations. Our clients are prepared to pay the cost of any copies, and are prepared to collect them at your convenience.
In the meantime, we ask that you adjourn the consideration of these applications until such time as our clients have been provided with the information sought.
Accordingly, may we please have confirmation that you will provide the information sought and adjourn the hearing of the applications.
We must put you on notice that if our clients are not treated fairly and if the applications are considered and/or approved without our clients being given the proper opportunity to make representations for your consideration, our clients will bring proceedings to enforce their rights in due course.
Our clients do not wish to litigate against their neighbours but must emphasise that the central government and the developers appear to be using our clients’ neighbours and pitting them against each other.
Frederick R. M. Smith