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'It's been a PLP area for seven years. It's not gotten fixed'

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Bermuda Democratic Party candidate Sylvan Richards

Sylvan Richards hopes the Progressive Labour Party is about to find itself in a hole as big as the one it’s taken the past seven years to fix in Smiths Avenue.Since around 2003, residents have been complaining to Government about the dangerous 5ft drop outside a home in the Warwick South Central street.A few days before the constituency’s by-election, Public Works Ministry staff at last turned up to make it safe.Mr Richards, the Bermuda Democratic Alliance’s first ever election candidate, says Government finally intervened after BDA told the Ministry of constituents’ concerns.Visiting the spot with The Royal Gazette, Mr Richards spoke to a resident who has to dodge the drainage hole several feet wide as well as a potentially nasty plunge to broken bricks at the bottom every time she leaves her house.“I thought one day someone’s going to fall in that trench. We have little five-year-old boys who play here,” said the woman, who asked not to be named.“They put some metal over it but that wasn’t safe because it didn’t fit properly. My husband has been contacting them for a long time and so have I this summer.“Someone from the PLP came here canvassing two years ago. He said he was going to look into it but we heard nothing until they turned up this week.”BDA leader Craig Cannonier found out about the problem while canvassing last week; Works spokesman Dueane Dill contacted the Ministry about it twice but initially received no response.Then on Monday this week, PLP candidate Marc Bean arrived at the house and promises it would be fixed; the following day workmen were on site.Yesterday, Works got back to Mr Dill to say they only just received his messages.Mr Bean raised the subject at last night’s PLP meeting at Warwick Holiness Church, saying of the hole: “Government put it there, but we haven’t touched it for at least seven years. Thank goodness we heard and delivered. The sunk is in the process of being fixed.“If we are out there looking for votes and people say this needs to be fixed ... the way our party is ... I fix it and I don’t need no credit.”On the suggestion Mr Bean could pick up votes because Government is now solving the problem, Mr Richards said: “The main thing is it’s being repaired now and we’re pleased about that, whoever tries to take credit for it.“But it’s an embarrassment. The hole’s been there for seven years. It’s been a PLP area for seven years. It’s not gotten fixed.”Mr Richards, a former PLP supporter who joined the BDA shortly after its formation last year, said making the hole safe should only have taken a few hours.“We see things like this across the whole Country,” he said. “This is a simple task. It’s not putting a man on the moon.”During his campaign trail, Mr Richards also came across trash regularly being dumped at the junction of Random Lane and Khyber Pass because of accessibility difficulties for trash trucks. He said residents have complained about vermin, including rats.The candidate said regardless of next week’s result, the BDA will speak to the landowner and aim to put a dumpster in place.Another source of complaints Mr Richards says could easily be put right is the overgrown state of Tribe Road Number Five, which has become such a dumping ground residents say it’s unsafe to use.“They need to send a team here and it would only take a few hours to get it safe again,” he said. “I could come up here with a couple of machetes and do it myself.“I would get people to take pride in their neighbourhoods, work with them, get Keep Bermuda Beautiful involved.“If you get people interested in the little things, hopefully it will affect the bigger things along the way.”Mr Richards also said he would consider bringing in a third party to mediate between residents and youths at Olivebank Community Field, where there have been allegations of late-night anti-social behaviour.

Photo by Glenn TuckerOn the campaign trial with Bermuda Democratic Party candidate Sylvan Richards