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An Op Ed from OBA candidate Dwayne Robinson

The Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Government has said it is putting forward legislation with more protection for the taxpayer than previous deals. A good headliner but are the taxpayers in Southampton being considered?

There were discreet meetings held with the residents by Gencom, however constituents left still feeling uneasy about the residential portion of the proposed SDO, which will see the residential units number increased to 261.

I have waited patiently for the Premier to engage in heavy consultation with the surrounding residents. Despite the delays, Ministerial changes and dates pushed back, there has still been very poor consultation with the people surrounding the Fairmont Southampton.

I have mounting calls and email messages from concerned constituents seeking clarity on exactly what this means for them.

Many of them are expressing concerns over traffic, the impact on their property values with their scenic views being obscured by six-storey residential units and worries about the vector control issues being increased with commencement of construction. These are just a few issues raised to me by the people of Southampton East Central when I canvass.

I know my constituents aren’t the only ones feeling this way. My colleague, One Bermuda Alliance Senate Leader and representative for C31 Ben Smith, has raised concerns about this project in the Upper House on behalf of his constituents.

To be clear, neither my colleagues, the constituents, or myself are opposed to the renovation of the Fairmont Southampton. However, the need to keep the people of Bermuda up to date on a project that is so crucial to our economy is paramount. Right now, that isn’t being done, which, in my opinion should have been the first thing the Premier should have done. I am hoping to see town halls and open forums to discuss the residents’ issues and to show they have been considered by the Government and Gencom.

Show the people of C30 you are serious about revitalizing tourism by consistently maintaining the railway trails, getting the rat/pest problem under control, properly police the dumping of trash at the Southampton public access dock on Middle Road, and pave the roads! These are things that will show you are serious about providing a stellar tourism product and looking out for the people in the area.

I will listen carefully to the debates regarding the Fairmont Southampton, and hopefully I will hear a more rigorous consultation announced that will put the residents of Southampton at the forefront and that more clarity will be shared about the proposed residential units. The OBA welcome investment and the rebirth of one of our signature hotels, but the people who I represent must have their concerns heard and addressed.