The current state of Barbados’ capital city, Bridgetown, is the result of years of neglect, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley has charged.
However, speaking in Parliament today, he said the Freundel Stuart administration was prepared to fix the problems.
Contributing to debate on a resolution for the vesting of approximately 534.5 square metres of Crown land in Bridgetown for a $14.5 million synagogue restoration project, he said one of the primary objectives was to create a multipurpose heritage attraction in Bridgetown.
“For quite some time there has been the clamour and certainly many persons have been talking about the fact that Bridgetown is fast becoming a dead city. Persons have observed that buildings are not being restored and a host of . . . comments that were designed, I believe, to bring attention to real issues facing Bridgetown,” said Lashley.
“I don’t believe we can put our heads in the sand and not recognize that over the years neglect has set in, in relation to the look and feel of Bridgetown,” he told members of Parliament, while suggesting that this was one reason the move was made to have Bridgetown and its Garrison listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site some years ago.
Lashley said Government was also committed to providing the necessary incentives – including relief from Value Added Tax and import duties – under the Cultural Industries Development Act as “encouragement to potential developers to proceed along the very important task of the refurbishment of cultural buildings and certainly sites of historic significance”.
However, Lashley said there was a need for more rapid response from Government once approval was given for the restoration of key cultural projects in Barbados.
“So we have agreed, both myself and the Minister of Finance [Chris Sinckler], that going forward we will have to map out a more rapid response to applications under the Cultural Industries Development Act. That is absolutely necessary if of course the key objectives of the legislation are to be met,” he said.
In her contribution to the debate, Member of Parliament for St Thomas Cynthia Forde spoke of the the need for more attractions in The City.
The Opposition MP recalled that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had once stated that he would like to see another 40,000 visitors come to Barbados. She also acknowledged that Bridgetown and its historic Garrison had achieved the status of a World Heritage Site.
However, she pointed to the need for better lighting and properly paved roads in the City, saying “Bridgetown is looking a bit tacky.
“There are uneven sidewalks, potholes and poor signage. Lighting in some areas is poor. There are many pedestrians who have to walk from the upper bus stand to the lower bus stand under poor lighting,” she told the House.
Forde also complained that even Baxters Road, which was once a lively meeting point for many Barbadians, was today is a veritable ghost town at night.