The raging public battle between Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins and leading developer Mark Maloney today escalated, as officers and workmen employed by the Town & Country Planning Department, accompanied by police, swooped down on Lears, St Michael, tearing down a section of the “Preconco” roundabout.
It was around 9 a.m. when members of the state-sponsored demolition squad arrived to remove the chattel house structure in the middle of the roundabout, which, in addition to bearing the trademarks of other Maloney associated enterprises, has also been the subject of an enforcement notice issued by the Chief Town Planner since 2011.
However, by noon today the ‘offending’ structure was destroyed and carted away, leaving in its wake, a shattered beautification project and an obviously infuriated Maloney, who bitterly cried victimization over the unexpected and unwelcomed shot across the bow.
“Drive around all the other roundabouts in Barbados and look at what those roundabouts are, with all these different structures and all of that all around, because we did a whole case on it; and look at that Preconco roundabout that was there, how beautiful it is, how we improved that whole junction and that was a junction where people got killed and that is what the Town Planning Department has sought to do to try to discredit us. What a bunch of shameless, shameless [people]! Destroying this country at every simple opportunity because they don’t like this person or that person. Victimization to the highest order,’ he said.
“We don’t live in a democracy at all; we live in a place where people that seem to want to progress and succeed are frowned upon. Success is not praised in this country, success is frowned upon. And people that are doing things to make a difference are frowned upon – you are getting too big, you are getting too powerful, you are getting too rich, all of those things,” charged Maloney.
“The man is a law onto himself and he needs to be removed from that office. Quote me on that,” said an upset Maloney in reference to his planning namesake.
Contending that he was not the only businessman in Barbados who had been made to suffer at the order of the Chief Town Planner, Maloney called on his private sector colleagues to speak up.
“He has been in that office too long. He is too powerful and he needs to be removed from that office,” he insisted.
‘I don’t care if I don’t ever do any more development in this country, it doesn’t matter to me. I can leave Barbados and go somewhere else. [However], he is a law onto himself and he is stopping development in this country . . . and he is victimizing me now. I am being victimized. It is clear,” a visibly frustrated and upset Maloney told Barbados TODAY.
The businessman, who on Tuesday was served with court action by Cummins over his cement operation at Spring Garden, St Michael, revealed that he had also filed a legal suit against the Chief Town Planner on Monday, in another twist to the Rock Hard Cement controversy.
While insisting that enough is enough, Maloney went on to accuse the Chief Town Planner of seeking to jeopardize his Coverley, Christ Church project by refusing to issue any more compliance certificates — effectively barring him from selling any more houses there.
“This happened two weeks ago, so we can’t sell any more houses because we haven’t discharged a condition on the gas station [at Coverley],” the developer said.
“[However], we can’t discharge the condition until we get the permission from Town Planning, but they haven’t given the permission and we have been trying to get the permission for a year and a half,” he said, describing the present Coverley predicament as a “checkmated” situation.
In relation to Coverley, he also made it clear that “we have never been asked to remove any gas station or anything”.
“The gas station has permission subject to conditions,” the developer insisted, pointing out that in keeping with concerns raised by the Town Planner, a number of houses which were constructed in close proximity to the Coverley petrol station were unoccupied.
Yet, he said, the Town Planner was refusing to give the desired permission and demanded to know why his businesses were being targeted.
“Why all of a sudden the Preconco roundabout is being pushed down today? Why all of a sudden he now stopping Coverley? Why all of a sudden all of this? Because the man is being called out and he doesn’t like being called out for his wrongs; and that is why he is doing what he is doing. So everywhere he can now probe at what I’m doing and try to stop it and push down the roundabout,” Maloney suggested.
Asked to respond to concerns that he had been acting like a law unto himself in relation of the Rock Hard Cement controversy, Maloney said: “I have acted within what the law allows me to do and I will continue to do so.”
He also defended recent statements made by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in relation to the matter, saying he clearly understood the Prime Minister to be saying that he supported the Town Planner against those who were breaking the law.
However, Maloney insisted that he was no law breaker, while criticizing the Town Planner for not going after the people who were doing wrong as he sought to identify a number of developments, which he said have occurred without planning permission, some of which have been granted retention orders.
“The Devil is at work and the Devil gine deal with the people that want the Devil”, Maloney said, stressing he was no villain.
However, he voiced concern over an “evolutionistic approach” to dealing with things in Barbados, warning that “when investors don’t come here because I speak up, then Barbadians would suffer. The lives that Barbadians want to live, they will not get the opportunity to live.
“I don’t care, they can say I’m a so and so and I’m a this and I’m a all kind of things. It doesn’t matter to me because I know who I am. I know I’m an honest, decent, hard-working person that wants the best for every person in Barbados and this here got to stop, has to stop. But it ain’t gine stop til someone takes drastic action.”
In the meantime, Maloney said he would remain focused on running his business until the court suggested otherwise.