Charities, lobby groups call for dialogue

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The One Bermuda Alliance should consult with non-governmental bodies in order to build a better Bermuda, according to numerous groups.

Speaking with The Royal Gazette yesterday about the results of Monday’s election, organisations including Greenrock, the Family Centre and the Bermuda Public Services Union all called for the new Government to consult with stakeholders as it sets its plan for the future.

Martha Dismont of the Family Centre said the election night events were “interesting,” and that she was optimistic that both parties appear willing to work together for the Island’s best interest.

She said she hopes the new Government will work with other groups to create a national plan to tackle everything from the economy to social issues.

“We need to come up with a real solution for the needs of the families in Bermuda,” she said.

“I hope that the current Government reaches out to all the wonderful resources on the island to come up with a plan that we all agree to with regard to the economy, with regard to tackling the gangs, with regard to job creation.

“We need to create a viable plan where we all work together, rather than us all just doing our own thing.”

Dr Judith Lansberg, President of environmental group Greenrock, said she hoped the One Bermuda Alliance will quickly make a decision on proposals to replace the Tyne’s Bay incinerator and move forward with the Bermuda Blue Halo project.

“After that the new Government should address their own energy use as a matter of urgency for a number of reasons both economic and environmental,” Dr Lansberg said. “Energy-audits of schools and Government buildings highlighting energy savings measures such as raising the set-point of air-conditioning a couple of degrees could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in electricity charges.

“They have the Energy White Paper to get this started. Addressing our energy use as an island will also reduce our contribution to global climate change, an issue which is increasingly urgent and which was highlighted by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy.”

She also expressed hope that the Government will make it a priority to consult with community groups like Greenrock who are working to make Bermuda successful and sustainable.

Bermuda Public Service Union President Kevin Grant meanwhile said he hopes to have good, proactive dialogue with the new Government to help Bermuda get back on its feet.

“This country is right now facing some of the worst challenges in its history,” Mr Grant said. “[Premier Craig] Cannonier said he wants to get down to work right away, and I think there’s a lot he will have to deal with.

“As the leader of the BPSU, no matter what the party is, I want to be proactive with the Government of the day because I am here to represent the members.”

Mike Charles of the Bermuda Union of Teachers said he has no idea what to expect from the new Government, saying that while the OBA have criticised education they have promised nothing.

“They never said what they would do. I never saw anything on their platform,” Mr Charles said. “There was a lot of criticism of education and the place of it, how bad it was and how slow it was going.”

He said he hoped the OBA would provide the teachers adequate wages, and not interfere with the progress that is being made.

“I think right now we are on path,” he said. “We have the new curriculum we have been implementing over the last two, three years. What I wouldn’t want to see is that change. I don’t think teachers want to see it change.”

The Chamber of Commerce released a statement immediately following the election, calling for the Government to create an Economic Advisory Board to give the new Government stakeholder input.

John Harvey of the Bermuda Hotel Association said: “The Bermuda Hotel Association congratulates Premier Cannonier and his colleagues in the One Bermuda Alliance on their victory at the polls yesterday and look forward to working with them on the various tourism related challenges which will focus on causing this vital industry to achieve a healthy financial position.”

Stuart Hayward, chairman of the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce congratulated the OBA on their victory at the polls.

He called on the new Government to reconfirm their commitment to preserving the environment, saying the environment is the key to preserving the source of the Island’s wealth, improving it for locals, visitors and guest workers.

“A healthy environment helps us attract the cream of the visitor crop,” he said.

He also called for the Government to recommit to the environment charter signed in 2003, and work in collaboration with non-governmental organisations dedicated to environmental preservation and health.

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Published Dec 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm (Updated Dec 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm)

Charities, lobby groups call for dialogue

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