Corporation salaries report
Ombudsman to investigate City Hall
The Ombudsman is to investigate an alleged “lack of transparency” at City Hall, in the wake of concerns about a secret lease signed for the redevelopment of Hamilton's waterfront.
Arlene Brock announced that her “systemic investigation” into the operations of the Corporation of Hamilton was being launched “on her own motion in the public interest”.
A press release from her office said: “Allegations brought to her office include lack of transparency, inadequate governance and lack of public consultation generally (eg operational decisions made beyond remit of the board) and particularly (regarding the proposed waterfront development project).”
The release noted that CoH promised “full transparency” in relation to the multimillion dollar waterfront project, adding: “There are concerns that this promise is not being kept.”
Ms Brock said: “Twenty-first century transparency must demonstrate evidence-based decision-making, adequate disclosure and public consultation on major developments.
“The continuing controversy and apparent growing loss of confidence in the Corporation, in addition to the centrality of the City of Hamilton's role in Bermuda, give me reasonable grounds to launch a systemic investigation in the public interest.
“Shedding light on governance at the Corporation can only be of benefit to the City of Hamilton and to Bermuda as a whole.”
Ms Brock added that though it could be disconcerting for an authority to be the subject of an Ombudsman's systemic investigation, it could only be a good thing to shine a light on “otherwise dark places” and find out if concerns were well-founded.
Mayor Graeme Outerbridge is off-Island but his Deputy Donal Smith said in a statement that all council members and staff had been told to fully cooperate with Ms Brock's investigation.
“The council welcomes this inquiry into the governance of the City and, particularly, both the legacy and future aspirations regarding the proposed Hamilton waterfront redevelopment project.
“We look forward to receiving her report and reviewing any recommendations that shall be forthcoming at the conclusion of the investigation.”
Mr Outerbridge and his team were elected to run the capital in May last year, ousting former Mayor Charles Gosling's administration.
This newspaper revealed last week that the Corporation had leased waterfront property to developers without briefing Government.
The Chamber of Commerce questioned the way City Hall handled the deal and said its requests for more information were stonewalled.
Anyone with relevant factual information for the Ombudsman should deliver a brief written summary of no more than a page by 5pm on Friday, April 5 to firstname.lastname@example.org or to 14 Dundonald Street, Hamilton. The office will be in touch for follow-up interviews if more information is needed and all submissions will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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