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Water safety group has not met for a year

Unable to attend: Michael Weeks, the Minister of Social Development and Sports, did not have time for meetings (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A water safety organisation board has not met for almost a year, an insider said yesterday.

A source said the Bermuda Water Safety Council was in limbo as a result.

The source, who asked not to be named, added: “The fact is that there is no presence at the moment.

“The summer has already started. We don’t have any radio or television ads, we’ve got a dormant Facebook page cum website.

“All of those things are not good. They need to start happening — and they should have started happening in February.”

The source was speaking as the island prepared for the National Heroes Day long weekend — a busy few days on the water.

Two tourists have died in water-related incidents this month.

The source said the last meeting of the BWSC board took place last summer and that, before the change in government last July, meetings were held every month.

The insider added: “In between, the projects were set.”

“We did things like host a water safety day at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.”

The source emphasised the importance of the board’s work.

The insider said: “Most Bermudians don’t even think about taking a power boating course.

“They just get in the boat, turn the key and go. And I see terrible, bad habits on the water.”

The BWSC’s website said the organisation’s mandate was to “identify issues in respect to water safety and to develop local strategies to prevent accidents and injuries on the water by means of relevant marine safety regulations, public education and the promotion of good water safety practices and initiatives throughout the community.”

Michael Weeks, Minister of Social Development and Sport, is listed as the chairman of the board in government publications.

But Mr Weeks said yesterday: “I never was able to take it up because I became a minister.”

He was appointed to Cabinet in February after the resignation of Zane DeSilva.

Mr Weeks said: “I was not even able to attend any meetings because I was transitioned to a minister so quickly.”

An employee at Marine and Ports identified Scott Simmons, the Progressive Labour Party MP for Southampton West, as the new chairman of the BWSC.

An official announcement in May said Mr Simmons took over about the middle of that month.

Mr Simmons said his first meeting with the board would be held in two weeks’ time.

But he added he was not sure if other board members had been told of the meeting.

Mr Simmons said: “That is something you would have to get from the ministry.”

He added: “It is my intention to meet as regularly as possible so that we can meet the mandate of the council.”

The insider said: “I think they plain forgot about it. I really do.

“Guys — you’re not awake here. You’re asleep at the helm.”