Charity charges charity to use island

  • (Photo by Mark Tatem)
<B>White&#8217;s Island </B>in Hamilton Harbour. The island has been used by BASA for a summer swimming programme for many years without charge, however BASA must now pay a fee for useage after the island was leased by Government to the anti-gang charity CARTEL.

    (Photo by Mark Tatem) White’s Island in Hamilton Harbour. The island has been used by BASA for a summer swimming programme for many years without charge, however BASA must now pay a fee for useage after the island was leased by Government to the anti-gang charity CARTEL.

Pastor Leroy Bean’s anti-gang charity has been given a rent-free lease for White’s Island for more than 20 years by Government — and is now charging another charity to use the land.

The lease to CARTEL (Challenging and Reclaiming the True Essence of Life)was granted by former Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess when he was Works Minister and was not tabled in the House of Assembly for approval by MPs, as it did not need to be.

Leases of public land for 21 years and longer need parliamentary permission but the one given to CARTEL was for one day shy of 21 years.

Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association (BASA), which has run children’s summer camps on White’s Island for years, is now being charged a fee by CARTEL to use the land for its six-week programme.

BASA, which gets a $25,000 annual grant from Government to run the camp, says it has been told by Mr Bean it must pay $10 per child per week for the use of White’s Island.

The association typically welcomes 80 to 120 children a week to the camp, meaning it could have to pay CARTEL as much as $7,200 before the end of the summer.

Association president Tim Petty told The Royal Gazette: “We are paying a rent this year, which is the first time we have ever had to, of $10 per child [per week].

“It eats into, at the end of the day, what we can do. It isn’t impacting this year’s camp, because we already had the camp planned and it was late notice. It may impact what we are able to do in the future.”

Mr Petty declined to comment further on the new arrangement.

Another charity which regularly uses White’s Island is Bermuda Rowing Association but president Michael Swain said CARTEL was not charging it.

“The Bermuda Rowing Association shares a mission with CARTEL in the development of Bermuda’s youth,” he said.

“We are both small charities and CARTEL have permitted us to use White’s Island at no cost since 2010. That situation continues.”

It was reported last year that Bermuda Sailing Association (BSA) lost its informal lease for White’s Island, after it was told CARTEL would be running a youth rehabilitation programme there.

Association president Tim Patton said yesterday BSA hardly used the island now, though still had some boats there.

The group used to run its annual youth sailing programme from White’s Island but moved it to Darrell’s Island, mainly to reduce marine traffic in Hamilton Harbour. It had to axe the programme after its government grant was cut.

Mr Patton said BSA’s ‘lease’ for White’s Island was only ever a verbal one, agreed with civil servants, and the group was told permission was granted to CARTEL at a “higher level”.

“It’s not a big issue for us; we don’t use it much these days,” he said.

Mr Patton added that he’d offered BSA’s services to CARTEL to help with its programmes but: “Nothing has come of it and I don’t see much happening out there. I work on the water. We are by [White’s Island] all day and every day and there is not a lot of activity there.”

He added: “That isn’t to suggest that I think the CARTEL thing is a bad thing at all. Anything we can do to help rescue these young people — we would love to be able to do our bit to help.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Government Estates said: “On September 28, 2010, the Government entered into a 21 years less one day lease with CARTEL for the latter’s use of White’s Island as ‘a facility for adventure training activities for the betterment of the people of Bermuda’.

“The White’s Island lease is rent-free, as the Minister with responsibility for public lands [the Minister of Public Works] was satisfied that the island would be used for charitable purposes.

“Section 8(3) of the Public Lands Act 1984 requires that the Minister responsible for public lands receive the prior approval of Cabinet for the conveyance of any Government-owned land for a period of more than 21 years and up to 120 years and that such conveyance must also receive the approval of the Legislature. Therefore, legislative approval for the lease was not required.”

Mr Bean is chairman of the Progressive Labour Party’s constituency five branch in Hamilton East, where Mr Burgess is the party’s sitting MP.

The CARTEL founder and former deputy chairman of Bermuda Land Development Company (BLDC) was also recently announced as the PLP’s election candidate for St George’s South.

In 2010, according to Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews, public funds were misused when BLDC, which Mr Burgess had ministerial responsibility for, paid $160,000 in consultancy fees to Mr Bean and BLDC’s chairman, despite warnings of a potential conflict of interest.

The Public Accounts Committee concluded last week that Mr Burgess was wrong to direct the BLDC to make the payments.

Neither Mr Bean nor any other CARTEL representative could be reached for comment this week, despite repeated telephone calls and e-mails by this newspaper. Mr Burgess could not be reached by telephone.

We asked Government for a copy of CARTEL’s lease but it was not provided.

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