Municipalities Reform Act Stalls In Senate

March 21, 2019

[Updated] The Municipalities Reform Act 2019 was before the Senate yesterday and after a debate, a Government Senator said they would ‘rise and report progress’, which in effect, stalls the Bill, which aims to allow the Government to repeal elections in Hamilton and St. George, and continue the corporations as quangos.

The Senate has 11 members; five appointed by the Government, three by the Opposition, and three Independent Senators, so the Government always need the vote of at least one Independent or Opposition senator to pass a Bill, and during yesterday’s sitting  Independent and Opposition senators spoke against the Bill.

The Municipalities Reform Act 2019 has already passed in the House of Assembly, with MPs voting 22 – 7 in favour of advancing the Bill on March 13th.

The Government has previously stated, “This Government believes that the City of Hamilton and the Town of St. George must be rejuvenated in order to attract more visitors and greater investment opportunities for our island and its people.

“Government’s vision for the City of Hamilton is a ‘smart city’ infrastructure with a thriving residential centre and entertainment hub with distinct districts. Meanwhile, our vision for the Town of St. George is one that includes a mega-yacht port and marina with enhanced infrastructure, amenities and activities.

“Unfortunately, neither Corporation has the financial means to make the necessary investment needed to make this vision a reality. Government believes that the two levels of Government [national and municipal] can no longer operate in economic or decision-making isolation, which is why we made municipal reform a priority.”

Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling previously stated, “This Act essentially strips the rate-payer in the City of their voting right, including the residents.

“This Act will disenfranchise the rate-payers, giving them little to no say, no voice when it comes to City matters. It is entirely undemocratic. It is taxation without representation.

“‘With the appointment of five of the Members by the Minister as well as his authority to appoint the Selection Committee that appoints the remaining four Members, he essentially has complete control over who now governs the City.

“‘The Government also needs to stop using the word ‘quango’. It is entirely misleading. By definition a quango is funded by the Government. I didn’t see anything in the budget that allocates funds to the City of Hamilton.”

Update 5.10pm: OBA Senator Dwayne Robinson said, “Government saw that the Bill was going to be defeated so they denied the Senate the chance to vote.

“It is ironic that after attempting to pass a bill that would remove the right to vote for the representatives in the Towne of St George and the City of Hamilton, the Senate was then denied the same democratic process when Government saw it would not get its way.

“This part of a long pattern of diluting the independence of autonomous organizations in Bermuda. There is clearly no room for diversity of opinion in the Government’s agenda.”

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Comments (6)

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  1. Jt says:

    Well if the MP’s won’t stand up for their constituents at least a couole of Senators will

    • wahoo says:

      Sad state of affairs isn’t it? How did it even get this far? PLP keep holding press conferences in an effort to look like they are a hard working bunch and somehow deserve to take over the corporations.

  2. Maybe the machine works afterall says:

    Glad to see that a more fulsom discusssion will take place on this important issue.

  3. Silence Do Good says:

    Thank-you Senators, With the PLP majority in the house all sorts of nonsense like taking over the municipalities will be passed based on the party whip. With the second level of government and independent Senators hopefully sensible bills will be made. Push it back as foolishness. This is nothing but a land and tax grab to ensure PLP friends and family benefit from the redevelopment of the waterfront. If the PLP was the true people’s party then put the take over of the municipality to a referendum for the people of Bermuda to decide the faith of the municipalities. What are they afraid of? Everyone knows government spends more than they make and the city and town will quickly fall into disrepair under its tutelage. Will rate payers taxes and wharfage go away under government or just be raised. Both residence and business of both municipalities should protest or suffer two tier taxes for less services and no representation.

  4. aceboy says:

    Well done Senators! This is a grab by the PLP and at least SOMEONE in the right place recognizes it.

  5. Joe Bloggs says:

    The Attorney General has now given the Government’s reason for this move, to remove the power from the oligarchy as she called it, and redistribute it