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Election 2020: West End regeneration urged

The Government has turned a blind eye to the West End, many residents have claimed.

Voters in the four Sandys constituencies appealed to election candidates to look at the crumbing buildings in the area and the lack of community-building work if they won office.

Larry Hunt, 71, said that many roads and buildings in Sandys, such as Clyde Best Lane, named after the man who broke records and racial barriers for black footballers in Britain, had suffered from neglect.

He added: “For someone who's supposed to be a hero, that is the worst street in Somerset they could have named after Clyde Best.

“I've protested against it and a lot of people have protested against it, but nothing seems to have been done about it.

“Whenever you go there, the trees are so far out on to the street that you can hardly ride through there — and it's just off the main road.”

Mr Hunt, who lives in Sandys North Central, said that the neglect included school buildings, which had not completed renovations and were unsafe because of mould.

He added that he was also concerned about the number of foreign workers on the island and how they could affect the job market.

Mr Hunt said that, despite the problems, he appreciated the work of Dennis Lister Jr, MP for Sandys North Central in the last Parliament.

He added that he was confident that Marc Bean, the leader of the new Free Democratic Movement, who is running for the Sandys North seat, would be elected.

Mr Hunt said: “He's a very popular person in Sandys — he's going to get votes simply because he's Marc Bean.”

A 60-year-old businesswoman, who asked not to be named, said that she had lost confidence in the PLP and the One Bermuda Alliance because they had failed to tackle problems that affected families.

The woman said that nothing had been done to help single-parent households or create community centres for children.

She added that the education system had “many issues” and a lot of children had been left without guidance.

The woman said: “I do a lot of mentoring for young women, and when mom and dad can't be home investing in child-rearing as they should because they have to get out there and work, it creates some issues for the children.”

She added: “The issues in Sandys are no different to the issues in this island and I don't think either party is looking to invest in that.”

The woman said that she was interested to see how the FDM would change the political dynamics.

She added: “I still think there's going to be a PLP majority, but I think Marc Bean's party's going to steal some seats.”

Jeff Sousa, the OBA candidate for Sandys North, said that he appreciated the West End had been neglected and that he hoped to bring more tourism to the area.

He said healthy tourism would bring employment and could also force whichever party formed a government to invest in Sandys.

Michael Cann, the OBA candidate for Sandys North Central, said that the Department of Works and Engineering needed to be lobbied to pay more attention to the parish.

He added: “Government needs to empower local entrepreneurs — be it from the community or established businesses — to come and cut the trees or fix walls.”

Nicky Gurret, the OBA candidate for Sandys South Central, said that she had organised community clean-up events and art installations in the past and would do more if elected.

She added: “I think having the schools being used as community centres in the evening would be very good, too.”

A spokesman for the FDM said that the party hoped to raise the area's concerns and be “open and honest” with Sandys residents about what could be done to improve the parish.

He added that the FDM would invest in programmes and organisations to provide more employment and engage with young people, as well as help “strengthen the family unit”.

He added that the party wanted to make residents more critical of the PLP and OBA.

The spokesman said: “Our inclusion in the election gives people an opportunity to look at the principles and policies associated with each entity and make a decision based on merit rather than tradition.

“Our goal is to ensure that our presence leads to better representation for the people we serve.”

A PLP spokeswoman said that the party had made “steady progress” on improvements in the West End, such as paving the road at Bob's Valley and Daniels Head Road, the installation of street mirrors on Hog Bay and Woodland Road and installation of a street sign on Sound View Road.

She told Sandys voters: “We're listening. Our MPs are out in the community listening to your concerns and wherever possible making steady progress in addressing them.”

The spokeswoman said: “Like most of Bermuda, Sandys has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The loss of the cruise season in Dockyard hit small businesses and taxi drivers hard.

“As we begin to recover economically, voters in Sandys need to ask themselves if now is the time to experiment or if we need steady and proven leadership to see us through.”

Norris Brangman, the independent candidate for Sandys North Central, could not be contacted for comment.

Albert Row in Sandys (Photograph supplied)

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Published September 26, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated September 26, 2020 at 7:56 am)

Election 2020: West End regeneration urged

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