One of the most dependable Democratic Labour Party (DLP) seats ever is slipping from the party’s clutches and is set to be a political battleground this election, according to local voters.
The DLP has had a firm grip on St Lucy since it became a single-member constituency in 1971, losing it just once – in 1981 when Roy Brathwaite of the Barbados Labour Party was victorious – before quickly regaining the seat in 1986 after just one term.
In fact, the DLP had dominated the seat even during the days of double-member constituencies, sweeping St Lucy in three straight elections beginning in 1956.
Its dominance has continued with the incumbent, Denis Kellman, having won five straight terms and is in search of a sixth.
However, residents say what once seemed impossible could very well become a reality in two weeks time, as there are signs that the BLP’s Peter Phillips is breathing down Kellman’s neck.
Phillips has lost to Kellman twice before, first in 2008 when he went down by 1,411 votes, before closing the gap to just 422 in 2013.
When Barbados TODAY visited the area just outside Kellman’s Moon Town business a vocal Dave Jackson made it clear he was no longer buying what the long standing parliamentarian was selling, as he stressed what had become a regular theme today: change.
“I strongly believe Peter Phillips will win simply because we want change. We [DLP administration] introduced a lot of taxes, the helmets for the bicycles, and it is time we introduce a new candidate for St Lucy,” the 51-year-old Jackson said.
“Everybody down here wants change and it is time for change,” he added.
Similar sentiments were shared by Jeremy Rollock of Clinkett’s Village, who made it clear he had “nothing against Kelly”.
In fact, Rollock gave the incumbent credit for bringing “liveliness to a place which was once dead”, but said he has had enough of both major parties.
“I have nothing against Kelly but I can’t say Kellman will win or Phillips will win, but I want a good man to win to represent St Lucy. There is a lot of work in St Lucy and nobody is doing it so I would like somebody independent to come and run and beat all two of them,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“I am not saying Kellman don’t do nothing; he brought liveliness to a place which was once dead, but I believe we need change. Kellman was here long but we want a change so Philips stands a chance. Last election he didn’t lose by much, he doing better every year, and I would like a change.”
Another resident, Deidre Cadagon, expressed dissatisfaction with the way the representative has handled the affairs of the parish, and she tipped Phillips to cause an upset come May 24.
“I think Phillips is definitely in. Kellman isn’t really doing anything. There are so many things that need doing in St Lucy and he did nothing. He was supposed to fix roads and we saw nothing, so I feel Phillips will beat him, and the third parties they stand no chance,” she said in reference to Wayne Griffith of the United Progressive Party and John Carter of Solutions Barbados.
“There is no place for Kellman,” Cadogan added.
Others who commented but requested anonymity shared similar views, while some were simply apathetic.
“Whoever get in I still have to get up and work the same way so it doesn’t affect me,” one resident said.
Kellman, the Minister of Housing, this week said he was confident of retaining the seat “based on my track record”.
He said he had dealt with “all these problems that have been highlighted in the constituency”, including roads, housing, agriculture and renewable energy, therefore he deserves a sixth term.
He also indicated that the loss of support to Phillips last time round was a passing thing and he expected to reverse those losses this election.
“I’m not worried about him because I understood the reason why that occurred. The world had gone into an economic slump and there are certain things the people were looking for that they did not see. It was more a bit of frustration, so now I don’t see anything at this point to be worried about,” he told Barbados TODAY on Monday after his nomination.
However, residents such as Jackson today complained about the condition of the roads in the northern parish, with Jackson calling for this to be a priority for the next representative.
“I would like to see us have better roads in St Lucy. I went to a meeting last night, I use to live there in 1992 and the roads are the same, nothing has changed.
“I also believe we should have had this election five years ago. We gave them a chance and they hurt us in the last ten years. It is time to give Peter a chance,” he said.
On the other hand, Rollock cited youth unemployment in
St Lucy as a major concern.
“Give the youth work. There are a lot of young people home on the blocks sitting down doing nothing. Give work to them. Nobody is doing it,” Rollock lamented.