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Hamilton mayor calls for peace talks with Government

Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, has called for peace talks with the Government as he rejected claims that the corporation and ministers are engaged in a “war of attrition”.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, used the battle analogy when he pushed through legislation that limited to two years the term times of members elected to the corporations in the capital and the Town of St George next month.

Ministers want the corporations abolished, but City Hall is fighting the move at the Privy Council in London.

Asked if the Government was in a trench war with the City of Hamilton, Mr Gosling told The Royal Gazette: “I wouldn’t say they were passing around the marshmallows and sticks by the fireside.

“For the life of me I don’t understand why we just can’t sit down together. It would be for the benefit of the island.

“I don’t know whether it’s arrogance or lack of trust.

“I want to spend a little bit of time in seeing what we have in common and what we can do together.”

Mr Gosling said he did not want to use such talks for confrontation, adding: “I do know that there have been times in the past where the Government has offered an olive branch to the Opposition and the olive branch has been used to slap them around the face.

“I am not interested in that. I am interested in a Bermuda which is friendly with the rest of the world in order to attract the world’s finest people.”

Mr Gosling said he wanted to see more business ratepayers take part in the corporation election, which he described as a ”referendum“ on how the City should be run in the future.

These will be the first corporate elections held since 2019 after the Government postponed the ones scheduled for last year.

Legislation passed by the House of Assembly would end municipal elections, with the Government, instead, appointing mayors and half of the councillors.

The remaining councillors would be picked by the relevant minister on the recommendation of a selection committee.

The City of Hamilton argued that the change was unconstitutional as it would give the Government “overwhelming” control of the municipalities and their properties, which would amount to an unconstitutional deprivation of property.

While the City has lost its case in the Bermuda courts, it has since appealed to London in a last-ditch effort to halt the change.

Colonel Burch told MPs last month: “This is obviously a war of attrition.

“The reality is that we are 21 square miles and we really have two governments.

“We have a municipality who runs the city and controls the main dock and imports into the country and you have a government that has to ask them for things.”

Business ratepayers have until April 6 to register for the elections on May 11.

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Published April 05, 2023 at 8:02 am (Updated April 05, 2023 at 6:56 pm)

Hamilton mayor calls for peace talks with Government

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