It is back to court in two weeks time for attorney-at-law David Comissiong, legal representatives for Government and the developers of the now stalled Hyatt Centric project.
This morning the controversial project was hit by another legal snag, as a decision was made in the High Court to delay consideration of a crippling interim order filed by Comissiong, whose legal challenge has essentially brought the multi-million dollar construction at Bay Street, St Michael to a screeching halt.
When the matter came up before Justice Randall Worrell in the Number 9 Supreme Court, attorneys on both sides, including Deputy Solicitor General Donna Brathwaite, who is representing Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, agreed to postpone hearings on the interim order until May 9 when the substantive court case is due to be heard by Madame Justice Sonia Richards.
Comissiong made the disclosure to reporters on the steps of the courthouse after this morning’s brief ten minute sitting which began at 9:30 a.m.
“It was agreed that across the board that in as much as the substantive application is set down before a different judge in two weeks time that rather than having one judge deal with this interlocutory application and then another judge in just two weeks time deal with the substantive application, . . . that we would leave everything until the hearing on the 9th
of May,” said Comissiong, who left the court in the company of his colleague Bobby Clarke.
He also revealed that the Prime Minister had been given until May 8 to file any affidavits in response to his legal challenge, which he said he, as a Barbadian, was entitled to mount.
“As a citizen of Barbados, I, like all citizens of Barbados, am entitled to challenge the actions of my Government, of a minister of Government, bearing in mind that ministers of Government are servants of the people of Barbados; that we the citizens of Barbados pay their salaries, that this Supreme Court is our Supreme Court . . . and we have every right to ask a judge of our Supreme Court, whose salary too is paid by us the taxpayers of Barbados, to scrutinize, to review the actions of a Government department, of a minister of Government, of a public authority. This is democracy in action, this is what you call participatory democracy,” he stressed, adding that it was wrong for anyone to try to suggest that such was not the case.
It was on March 22 that Comissiong had secured an injunction immediately suspending the permission granted by Stuart in his capacity as Minister responsible for Town & Country Planning for construction of the 15-storey hotel until the matter is heard by the court. Comissiong is challenging Government’s decision not to conduct an environmental impact assessment on the multi-million dollar beachfront development. The attorney had also argued that Stuart had relied on an outdated Physical Development Plan, even though Section 11 (1) of the Town & Country Planning Act stipulates that the plan, which is now 14 years old, must be updated every five years. He also took issue with the 15-storey elevation, pointing out that the maximum height allowed for beachfront hotels was five storeys, compared to the seven storeys for non-beachfront tourist accommodation.
However, the US$100 million hotel development is a vital peg in Government’s economic recovery programme and with each day that the project remains stalled officials say it only serves to worsen the island’s economic situation.