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House: Cabinet moving to temporary home

The Cabinet Building (File photograph)

The Cabinet Office, operational centre for the Bermuda Government, is to get a new home as of next Friday — while a relocation for the Senate is yet to be announced.

Health and safety concerns forced the move, according to Michael Dunkley, who said it was his goal to have Cabinet back at 105 Front Street by Remembrance Day.

The Cabinet’s temporary home will become the first floor of Innovation House nearby on Reid Street, which comes with a generator for back-up power.

The move was questioned by the Opposition, since the directors of Innovation Limited are Michael Freisenbruch and Michael Branco, the former One Bermuda Alliance deputy chairman.

However Mr Branco told The Royal Gazette that he had stepped down in October 2013 to focus on his family.

A company spokesman added that the Government Estates Department had negotiated a discounted rental agreement, which included looking at other premises.

Mr Dunkley said the relocation required a short-term lease, and that Innovation’s site suited the short walk from the other buildings on Cabinet grounds, which will remain in use.

The Premier told the House of Assembly yesterday that the building, which opened in 1884, was beset with maintenance problems — evident during the 2014 Throne Speech, when the Senate Chamber’s roof leaked heavily.

In February, an air-quality assessment picked up elevated carbon monoxide, high internal humidity, and mould, while damaged floor tiles showed asbestos in the basement, which was sealed.

Works include the replacement of “decaying windows”, the Premier told MPs, while the exterior will be sealed and painted, and termites will be tackled.

Most of the job falls upon staff from the Department of Public Lands and Buildings, with a $240,505 contract for new windows going to BS&R, and painting to Kaissa for $67,000.

Designed in 1837, the main building houses the Office of the Premier, the Secretary to the Cabinet, the Deputy Head of the Civil Service and all related administrative officers.

Innovation House, adjacent to Rock Island Coffee, was taken over by its new directors in December 2015. Cabinet will be the final tenant to join the premises, which houses several other businesses.