Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has taken a hard line against Barbadians, who appear bent on flouting the orders of the Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins, warning that his Government is prepared to go as far as to enact laws to ensure they comply.
A stern talking Stuart told journalists at a media luncheon at Ilaro Court that he was not prepared to “sacrifice the rule of law” to permit Barbadians who willfully took matters into their own hands.
“The Chief Town Planner is a serious public official and what decision he makes, what instructions he gives, have to be complied with.”
Adamant that the country’s development must be “ordered”, Stuart was resolute that the law had to be followed.
“This is a country that subscribes to the rule of law, not to the rule of fancy and personal preference and so on.
“I think the message has to go out, not with any intention of making anybody a target, but the message has to go out that the Chief Town Planner is not somebody not clothed in his right mind and the people in the Town Planning Department are not people preoccupied with making people’s lives miserable.
“The development of Barbados has to be ordered development and we can only have ordered development if people comply with instructions of the Chief Town Planner,” he insisted.
His comments came against the backdrop of a public feud that has developed between the Mark Maloney-led Rock Hard Cement Company and Town & Country Planning Department.
Maloney’s company was recently served with an enforcement notice to take down a concrete structure being erected to store cement at Spring Garden, St Michael, but to date the businessman has been refusing to budge.
Stuart, who holds responsibility for the island’s Town Planning portfolio, informed the members of the media during a more than two-hour long, free flowing discussion, that though he was aware of the matter he had not intervened “given the statutory procedures” that had to be followed.
However, while insisting that he was not referring to the Rock Hard controversy, Stuart argued that disregard of the Chief Town Planner was not limited to any one group.
“It happens in some of Barbados’ most modest villages. I go out and do the site visits, people are told by the Town Planner to stop building because they don’t have permission, or stop, you are not building in accordance with the plan you submitted or with the permission you were given [but] as soon as the officer turns his back they resume as though they were not there.
“Enforcement notices are then issued, they ignore them too. And that has to stop.”
He said offenders appeared bent on using the strategy that “if they do enough building and have a large enough expenditure outlay when the minister comes out to see how much work has to be done, he will be conscience stricken and say to himself even though the wrongdoer flouted the law it would be unjust to demolish the property.”
However, Stuart made it clear he would not be moved, saying. “I am very sorry I have not yet got to the stage where I have drunk so deeply of the milk of human kindness in these matters that I am prepared to sacrifice the rule of law in Barbados with that kind of lawlessness.”
Rather, he has proposed to strengthen the powers of the Chief Town Planner to bring court injunctions against offenders.
“If people are not taking his enforcement notices seriously then he should be able to go to the court and get an injunction so that they will have to take the judge’s injunction seriously and if they don’t take the judge’s injunction seriously then they will be in contempt of court and the penalty for contempt of court is committal to the prison at Dodds,” the Prime Minister warned.