Henfield to lead local government advisory committee

Senator Renard Henfield.

Local activist turned senator Renard Henfield has been appointed to head up an advisory committee tasked with mapping out what local government for New Providence will look like, according to the minister responsible for local government.

Transport & Local Government Minister Frankie Campbell said the committee comprises a cross section of “forward-thinking” individuals from varying backgrounds.

“I emphasize the need for them to take a non-partisan approach to their deliberations advising that this expectation of the government is demonstrated in the choice of Senator Renard Henfield as Committee Chairman,” Campbell said.

Former member of parliament (MP) and diplomat Philip Smith was selected by Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis to serve as the appointed representative from the official opposition’s camp.

The advisory committee had its first meeting Wednesday, April 18, according to Campbell.

During Tuesday’s Press Briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said, eight options were proposed for the New Providence version of local government by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which have already been reviewed and discussed by the committee.

“The minister also pointed out the need for the committee to take a very good look at the current system of local government in the Family Islands,” said Newbold.

“See how it can be improved or make some recommendations as to how it can be improved.

“There was also a slide presentation to also enlighten those members of the committee and to provide some background on local government in the family islands and its importance.”

Eight options proposed for New Providence include:

  1. Introduce local government in Nassau that is similar to local government system in the Family Islands.
  2. Introduce ‘Strong Local Government’ at a District Level New Providence, with substantial devolution of power from Central Government.
  3. Introduce a ‘Community Empowerment System’ involving local organizations.
  4. Introducing ‘Stronger local service offices’ at constituency level built around MPs constituencies.
  5. Introduce ‘Government Office for Nassau/New Providence’ with a coordinating’ Minister for New Providence’ and a New Providence Development Board.
  6. Introduce an Island Wide City Government to deal with island wide matters.
  7. Introduce a ‘combined authority’ of Mayors and Ministers to oversee island wide development issues.
  8. Introduce an ‘Island/Urban Development agency’, with a specific charter of responsibilities and budget for coordination, execution, and investment in urban infrastructures in New Providence.

The press secretary told the media that the idea is to have local government in New Providence “ready to go”, in time for the next local government’s elections, which will be held in 2020.

Additionally, the committee has discussed routes to the attainment of its goals with progress updates.

“The committee reviewed an aggressive road map to the attainment of its goals with a view to provide Cabinet with a progress report by the end of August, and a necessary public consultation thereafter,” stated Campbell.

Committee board members include: Vice Chairman Director for the Director of Local Government Cephas Cooper; Acting Undersecretary for Ministry of Transport & Local Government Joel Lewis; Director for Economic Development Planning Unit in the OPM Dr. Nicola Virgil Rolle; Ministry of Finance officer Leron Neely; Karen Dorsett & Lenette King from the Office of the Attorney General; Dianne Holowesko Dunkley, Town Planning Committee; Philp Turner, Parliamentary Registration; Matt Aubry, Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG); Roger Pinder, Bahamas Association of Local Government; Dr. Nicolette Bethel, University of The Bahamas; Executive Director for the National Training Agency Gadvill McDonald; Dwight Strachan, Guardian Radio; Valentino Brown, Haystreet Movement for a change, Former Parliamentary commissioner Errel Bethel; Ed Field, Downtown Nassau Partnership; Program Manager for the  Economic Development Unit in the OPM Brett Lashley, and a representative from the Chamber of Commerce with Chairman Renard Henfield, Senator and Philip Smith, Opposition representative.