Butler: make best of $1m Court Street boost
A million-dollar plan to boost economic projects in the North East Hamilton area must have a high level of accountability, a former Progressive Labour Party minister said yesterday.
Dale Butler added that a $1 million grant to the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation to boost the area centred around Court Street sounded “good on paper”.
But he said: “There are lots of these plans that sit on shelves and there’s no activity or accountability for the finances that are spent.
“We need to see benchmarks which clearly and in a timely fashion speak to exactly where the money has been spent.”
He added: “We need to actually see an outline of what the issues are, then tackle them and immediately indicate what the results are so people feel confident that change is taking place.
“Yes, there might be a mistake or two, but they have to be corrected early.”
Mr Butler was speaking after Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, announced the plan on Friday in his Budget Statement for the next financial year.
Mr Dickinson said: “The BEDC has received a capital grant of $1 million towards the establishment of the Uptown Development Authority.
“The mission of this BEDC subsidiary will be to implement the new North East Hamilton Development Plan and drive residential development projects in North East Hamilton.”
The area includes Court Street, Union Street and Angle Street.
Mr Butler said that the project would also require accountability from businesses who asked for financial backing.
He added: “We’re going to need the people of the area to really step up and work with the BEDC, the Corporation of Hamilton, the churches and anybody else in the community.
“They have to demonstrate that they’ve pressured the Government for years to move in this direction, they have the necessary skills and knowledge and that they know what to do.
“If that’s demonstrated, then I have no doubt that the Government will continue with such a plan.”
Mr Butler said that he had seen “massive improvements” around the area in the past five years and trusted “the expertise within the BEDC”. He also commended Mr Dickinson for the grant to help assist the area against a backdrop of “very difficult economic times”.
Mr Butler added: “Hopefully, the people will work with and not against the organisers to ensure success.
“We need less criticism and more assistance to get this done so we can all walk up that hill with great pride, rather than constantly being pushed down by a volley for criticisms that don’t help anybody.”
Cleveland Simmons, a community activist who lives near the area, said that the grant was a boost that many in the north east of the city thought was long overdue.
He explained: “There are a lot of things that need to be done with the physical infrastructure of Court Street.”
“There’s only a certain amount of people who shop around here because of what it looks like.”
Mr Simmons added: “There are some entrepreneurs here that are trying to come together and look at the changes to come.
“What they’ve said is that the money that’s being allocated is a drop in the bucket.”
Mr Simmons added that he did not think the $18.7 million given to the Ministry of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport would be enough to make an impact on social problems.
He suggested that community programmes, such as the Hustle truck, which provides employment opportunities and training for the jobless, and the Caravan, Mr Simmons’s project that travels the island to educate people on social affairs, should get more backing.
Mr Simmons said: “There needs to be some social development — there’s a bunch of things that we need to do.”
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