The Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council was held in the UK, and on behalf of the Premier Paula Cox, Attorney General Kim Wilson led a Bermuda delegation comprising of Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott and Bermuda London Office Director Kimberley Durrant.
The OT conference was chaired by Mark Simmonds, Minister for the Overseas Territories and attended by Premiers, Chief Ministers and other elected representatives from Britain’s Overseas Territories.
The summit concluded today [Dec 5] with the agreement of a joint communiqué which sets out priority issues and a comprehensive action plan for joint work in the coming year.
At the request of the UK Government, Bermuda was asked to lead the discussion on Making Communities Safer and Criminal Justice.
Minister Wilson highlighted Bermuda’s three level approach, to include: Prevention, highlighting the successes of the Mirrors program; Intervention across Ministerial level with the interaction gang task force; and the enforcement of the legislative enactments to combat the issue of gang activity.
Helen Grant MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice, chaired the session on Criminal Justice and praised Bermuda on its efforts. Minister Grant specifically welcomed future discussions where both the UK Government and the Government of Bermuda may learn from each other’s practice.
The end of the second day of the Council saw the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron welcome Minister Wilson and the Territory leaders to No. 10 Downing Street – the first time that Territory leaders have had a collective meeting with a Prime Minister.
As Prime Minister Cameron said in his foreword in the White Paper: “The United Kingdom’s 14 Overseas Territories are an integral part of Britain’s life and history. This Government is ambitious for our Territories as we are ambitious for the United Kingdom.
“We want to see our communities flourish in partnership, with strong and sustainable local economies. We see an important opportunity to set world standards in our stewardship of the extraordinary natural environments we have inherited.”
Minister Simmonds, said: “The White Paper sets out a very positive vision for the Overseas Territories. This first meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council has helped us identify an ambitious list of priority areas for action, such as encouraging economic growth; protecting the environment and making government work better.
“We will work closely with the Territories in the coming year to achieve what we have together set out to do. Many of my Ministerial colleagues from across Government took part in the Council this week, demonstrating that the UK Government as a whole is committed to supporting the Territories.”
On Monday 3rd December Minister Wilson held a bilateral meeting with Minister Mark Simmonds MP.
On the morning of Tuesday 4th December the Minister represented Bermuda at the United Kingdom Overseas Territories [UKOTA] Political Council. At the Council a decision was taken by the Leaders that UKOTA will now operate as a formal Secretariat.
UK based Representatives of the Overseas Territories through their London Offices have been tasked with its development for a formal implementation for the New Year.
And on Tuesday evening the Government of Bermuda London Office hosted a networking reception for all Bermudians in the UK. It was an opportunity for those living in the UK to meet fellow Bermudians and to discuss with Minister Wilson issues that are of concern to them.