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Outerbridge: Black Mayors event slipped away

Mayor Graeme Outerbridge updates the press about the National Conference of Black Mayors. (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

Former Mayor Graeme Outerbridge has expressed his dismay at the collapse of the controversial Conference of Black Mayors.

“It was a huge disappointment having that thing fall apart,” Mr Outerbridge said as he reflected on his beleaguered spell at City Hall in an interview with The Royal Gazette.

“We entered in the faith that we were going to have it, but deadlines were not being met, contracts were not being signed off on for whatever reason and we had the bad luck of having the Ebola thing blow up when we were going to have a delegation coming from Africa.

“Dates had to be moved and it slipped away.”

New mayor Charles Gosling has estimated that efforts to host the event had cost the municipality around $250,000, but efforts are under way to recover some of those funds.

Mr Outerbridge said: “One would hope that basically people would be honourable and return the funds that we deserve to get back, but it was all done in good faith and with [Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy’s] full knowledge and backing at the time.

“There were plusses. In the same way that we are now embracing the America’s Cup with all of these sailors coming here, [we thought] it would be a big event bringing bodies and hard currency here, but it got ensnared in local politics and some of the differences in members around the table.”

He said the concept of hosting the event came after members of the council attended the National Conference of Black Mayors in Columbia.

While it was hoped the event would provide an economic boost to the city and the Island, bringing a surge of visitors coming to Bermuda, he said there were concerns voiced by members of the council from the start.

“Obviously it was a very fractious, philosophically divergent council, and certain members were very against it from the beginning.

“From the point of view of experience of the delegation who went to CBM, it was seen as a way to bring people to Bermuda in the same way that we embraced ASDA travel agents coming down here.

“It was just seen as another positive way of bringing bodies to Bermuda.

“These are people that would have been coming down here from all across the diaspora, all over the Caribbean, all over South America, and it’s a shame where it got to the point where non-deliverables happened.”