As campaigning for the next general election intensifies, political newcomer Marsha Caddle is counting on the net to gain her votes in her quest to defeat the incumbent Richard Sealy in St Michael South Central.
Caddle, an economist who quit her job at the Caribbean Development Bank to vie for a chance to represent the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in the constituency, had her first taste of electoral victory in October last year when she defeated perennial BLP candidate David Gill for the nomination. An upset Gill has since switched allegiance to the United Progressive Party, a fledgling party led by former BLP senator Lynette Eastmond.
However, Caddle faces a much sterner test in the general election against Sealy, the Minister of Tourism, who had held the seat for close to 15 years, and who roundly defeated Gill 2,231votes to 1,967 in 2013.
As part of her campaign, the BLP hopeful has launched an ambitious project to make Internet service available to constituents free of cost.
“We’re starting with these communities. We have four access points across this part of Carrington Village. Next week we will be launching in Britton’s Hill, and as we go forward we intend to roll out to more communities in St Michael South Central,” she said at a meeting at Aubrey Grant Pavilion at Gully Hill, Carrington Village, where residents were already benefiting from the project dubbed Open South Central in its “pilot stage”.
“We’re just starting slowly but we’re going to roll out . . . open and free Internet access across the constituency,” she said.
“It is about being able to help young and old people find opportunities, strengthen their businesses, reach the world in such a way that they can market themselves.”
Additionally, she said residents “can benefit from a lot of the educational tools and platforms that are available on the Internet [which] they can integrate better into their communities, into their country, into their region and into the rest of the world”.
Caddle said she would seek corporate funding to support the project, stating there was a need for such a service despite the fact that Barbados has “reasonable levels of penetration when it comes to Internet access.
“These are very difficult times in this country, and a lot of the access that we once had and we’ve taken for granted we find that we no longer have,” she said.