Log In

Reset Password
BERMUDA | RSS PODCAST

Now an Independent, Kim Swan faces two challengers in St George’s West

First Prev 1 2 3 4 Next Last

Not much of the Old Town is in St George’s West, but residents and election candidates alike will tell you that its well-being is critical to the constituency.

The district of 1,286 registered voters is the only one whose boundaries were left unchanged after revisions two years ago.

It has about 30 more registered voters than it did in 2007 and voter turnout (at 74.8 percent and 71.3 percent) has been close to, but somewhat softer than, the national average over the last two elections. Of its 1,286 registered voters, 865 voted in 2007.

It shares second place with its neighbour St David’s in the number of eligible voters who did not register for the December 17 poll. (Warwick South Central tops the list at 107 unregistered voters).

Key areas and landmarks include the whole of the Ferry Reach area, Penno’s Wharf, BIOS, the Mullet Bay playground and the Wellington area.

It also takes in about 80 percent of St George’s’ Golf course, itself a major parochial issue having been mothballed four years ago.

Residents have been promised that the golf course will be reopened and, as the election looms, a maintenance programme has begun.

But, as in neighbouring St George’s North, there is an air of discontent among some residents.

“That’s the main message on the doorstep — we’re just tired, tired of being neglected,” said Nandi Davis, One Bermuda Alliance candidate.

Constituents, miffed at having lost key amenities like a hotel, the golf course and associated restaurant, are saying they want honesty and good communication from their government.

“One of the most important things that was taken down with the golf course was the restaurant. Locals ate there. And they just felt that nothing was taken into consideration as a St Georgian before these changes were even made.”

Voters have a choice of three candidates come December 17. One of them, the Progressive Labour Party’s Renee Ming, stepped into the ring less than two weeks ago after the party’s first choice stepped down for personal reasons.

Newcomers Ms Ming and Ms Davis are trying to wrest the seat from incumbent Kim Swan who has been a passionate advocate for St George’s as an Opposition MP but is now standing as an Independent.

“The thing that people are really frustrated about is they are trying to invest in their town,” said Ms Davis. “A lot of St Georgians would rather open up small businesses and work close to their home.

“With the neglect of the cruise ships being taken away and the 24-hour police station being taken away they just don’t feel like [they can] survive. That’s what’s hurting them — because they’ve seen a town that has gone from people riding pedal bikes into St George’s just to be at the night clubs or at the restaurants and bars, to absolutely being deserted. It’s literally like a ghost town.”

Ms Ming would reject that label. At a town-hall meeting on Tuesday, she noted that new entrepreneurial activity in the old town was a good omen for the future of the area.

Government also recently designated the area an Economic Empowerment Zone to provide support and incentives for new businesses.

One resident who did not want to be named said she would be voting for the PLP candidate because she did not think many of the OBA candidates were genuinely interested in politics. John Gibbons, she said, had politics in his blood from college days; his replacement Renee Ming had already served as an Alderman with the Corporation of St George’s and on the parish council.

“A lot of the OBA candidates are my peers, but I never knew them as being politically minded,” she said.

The resident added that the key issues were a hotel development in the town, revitalisation of St George’s and a cruise ship.

“The only thing the OBA does is attack the PLP. They don’t come up with a plan.”

Independent candidate Kim Swan, on the other hand, would not get her vote because “I don’t find him articulate and informed about the topics”.

“He’s very affable, but I wouldn’t vote for him.”

When

The Royal Gazette caught up with Mr Swan, he spoke passionately and in detail about parochial and local issues. As the area MP, one of his most recent successes was getting Government to address a collapsed wall on Wellington Lane.

“That was a major issue for people,” he said. “But there are other cliff-faced walls of concern as well.”

He has also been actively involved in lobbying Government to restore the golf course which, he says, has had a direct effect on property values and the local economy.

“If, instead of 80 acres of pristine, manicured golf course you’ve got 80 acres of overgrown golf course, with people scrambling their bikes over it, it depreciates the value of property in that area” not to mention the loss of trade for the nearby businesses, he said.

In the last 60 years, the area has seen three golf courses — all now gone.

But besides the golf course issue, residents are concerned about crime on the national level and youth development, according to Mr Swan.

And Ms Davis reeled off a litany of additional parochial issues that residents are concerned about — the need for working lights and a bus stop along Ferry Reach where the prison farm is located, overgrown grass along Wellington back road, improperly placed speed bumps and broken signage.

“The Government’s commitment to St George’s remains the same in terms of the hotel and the golf course,” insisted Ms Ming when we caught up with her yesterday afternoon.

“You would have heard the Premier speak on Tuesday evening [at a town-hall meeting for the first three east end districts] and she said that Government is committed to getting a hotel in the town of St George’s.”

She added: “The Government is committed and our representation is to ensure the voice of St George’s is heard and to make sure that St George’s gets the attention that it should have.”

That commitment might ring a little hollow to constituents like Rick Spurling, chairman of the St George’s Foundation and president of the St David’s Historical Society.

“St George’s, as far as I am concerned, has been largely ignored and if there’s anything bad that could have been done to St George’s over the years, it’s been done,” he said.

Intelligent marketing of the World Heritage site, a marina for yachts and an aggressive package of incentives to develop a new hotel to replace the old Club Med are some of his proposals.

Mr Spurling, a former United Bermuda Party MP, said the district is fortunate to have three candidates to choose from, but his vote will be driven by what he sees as the need for a major change and an “injection of integrity”.

[LAYOUT-220091114022602000-168,559,469,579-\LAYOUT] Opposition Leader,
New OBA candidate
Photo by Mark Tatem ¬
Premier Paula Cox announced today that

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published December 01, 2012 at 10:00 am (Updated December 01, 2012 at 10:27 am)

Now an Independent, Kim Swan faces two challengers in St George’s West

What you
Need to
Know
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon