Members of the Bain and Grant’s Town East Association’s Board made some serious allegations against the Urban Renewal 2.0 programme yesterday.
Canon Basil Tynes, one of the Board’s members, told reporters at a press conference at St. Barnabas Anglican Church that there needs to be more accountability with Urban Renewal.
“There has been a breakdown in the rapport between the community, the board and the police officers,” he said.
“Board members are not certain of their role in Urban Renewal. All of our plans have been temporarily suspended. The volunteer work started by Gaynel Ellis has either been discouraged or stopped completely leaving about 150 people in limbo.”
He said the Board was about to establish a cross guards programme around several primary schools in the area and that has been placed on hold.
“As a result, the morale in the neighbourhood has deteriorated and the general activity of the centre has come to a virtual standstill,” Canon Tynes said.
The Anglican priest said as a result of those issues the board has since identified some serious faults with Urban Renewal.
“There is no real structure or set format for operations,” Canon Tynes said.
“It cannot be treated as another branch of the Royal Bahamas Police Force where the civilian board has no say. There appears to be no accountability to those who sit on the board. Further, there is a question as to how funds are collected and who is held to give an account for the same. If the Board is to be dismantled, let us know. What are the short and long term goals of Urban Renewal?”
Canon Tynes said all of their information has caused the Board to believe that there is no “real transparency.”
“There are just a lot of hidden agendas and we the board members are not prepared to simply sit by and allow ourselves to become a part of the cloak and digger routine,” he said.
“The treatment meted out the board members, volunteers and others is unacceptable. There is little to no communication from those who seem to have so much power. We have never been interested in putting on a ‘show and tell.’ There is no course of repeal for action in the present system that appears to be made up as we go along. There is a need for some answers and we need them now.”
Co-Chair of the Urban Renewal programme, Algernon Allen, told the Journal that he was not aware of the group’s specific concerns.
“I’ve not been acquainted of what has been alleged but if there are allegations on the lack of accountability, Urban Renewal is structured with a permanent secretary,” he said.
“The permanent secretary serves as the accounting officer. What has happened is that there are several groups who sometimes parade as recipients of Urban Renewal and that may not always be the case. Everything that comes into Urban Renewal under the commission and under PS Diana Lightbourne has been appropriately accounted for.”
Mr. Allen was also asked whether some centres receive more than others.
“If it is that there are structured Urban Renewal centres that are more proactive than others under the chairmanship of the boards that may be true,” he said.
“As the commission is involved, let me say that Cynthia “Mother” Pratt and I, we do not have any power to give or donate to any particular group. We do know that they ought not to confuse urban renewal with urban development.”