BEST: Release Tucker’s Point’s details
Environmental activist Stuart Hayward is demanding that Government release Tucker's Point's fiscal information in the latest stage of an ongoing battle against proposed development.
However, Environment Minister Walter Roban has said the information pertains to a private company and not Government finances. In a letter addressed to Mr Roban, Mr Hayward says he has estimated the resort has a negative net worth of $160 million, and has little prospect of avoiding bankruptcy.
“While the Tucker's Point resort does not have a fiduciary duty to the people of Bermuda, the Minister does,” he said.
“As a result of your refusal to disclose the relevant information, we and other members of the public and the legislature have been forced to struggle about in search of information. What BEST has found is troubling to say the least.”
He said his estimates are based on information provided by Ed Trippe in a meeting with (BEST) Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce.
The estimates were also revealed in a letter dated November 15, 2010 from Mr Trippe to his shareholders, which Mr Hayward said he received from a concerned third party.
Mr Hayward claimed the resort is $250 million in debt to its creditors and is paying $22.5 million a year on that debt.
And while the hotel and golf course is valued at $90 million, it is losing money at a rate of $1.66 million a month.
Mr Hayward claimed: “Based on that information, it is clear that Tucker's Point Resort, with a negative worth of approximately $160 million that is growing larger every day, has little prospect of avoiding bankruptcy, making the issuance of an special development order (SDO) a complete waste of everyone's time and clearly not in the best interests of the public.”
Last night a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Environment said: “The Ministry of Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Strategy would like to state, firstly, that the information which Mr. Hayward has demanded from the Government is simply not for the Government to provide.
“What Mr. Hayward requests is neither the finances of Government nor any Government-related body or body funded by the taxpayers' money they are those if a privately-owned entity.
“A company's finances are private. It would be similar to going into a doctor's office and demanding the public files of its patients be released to the public.
“Secondly, Mr. Hayward implies that Minister Roban has sought to in some way deceive the public, members of the House and his own party colleagues by withholding information. “This could not be further from the truth. Rather, every step taken by the Minister with regard to this SDO has been conducted with complete openness, including to the extent of placing consideration of the debate in the public domain, something that has never been done before.
“We are certain Mr Hayward has no evidence of this implication he has made and should retract this statement against the Minister.”
The SDO, which could allow the Rosewood Tucker's Point Resort to apply to build 78 private homes and 70 hotel rooms, is expected to be debated in the Senate tomorrow.
The resort has said the expansion is necessary in order for the site to remain operational, that it will not only provide more beds for visitors but help reinvigorate the tourism industry and benefit the whole of Bermuda.
However, environmental groups such as BEST have said the financial gains for shareholders will come at the cost of valuable green spaces, which house a number of indigenous and endemic species.
The SDO has also drawn criticism from Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB) because of the land's cultural history. In the 1920s, dozens of black families were forced off the land so it could be developed as a site for tourism.
The House of Assembly last week approved the SDO by a vote of 21 to ten, despite several Government MPs reportedly speaking against it in caucus.
Over the weekend, BEST, along with several other environmental and social organisations, posted a series of videos online to inform the public of the perceived impact of the development. The videos feature spokesmen from Greenrock, CURB and Save Open Spaces, as well as international cave expert Tom Iliffe.
Useful websites: www.best.org.bm, www.vimeo.com/best, http://www.gopetition.com/petition/43111.html, www.tuckerspoint.com, www.gov.bm.