Squatters in Welch Land, St John are one step closer to owning the land they now illegally occupy.
Member of Parliament for the area and Minister in the Ministry of Housing Charles Griffith addressed some of the 40 affected households during a town hall meeting on Sunday at the Victory Wesleyan Holiness Church in nearby Welch Village.
Pleased with the response from the residents, Griffith told reporters Government was moving with dispatch to address their housing plight.
In this regard, official forms were handed out to the residents at the end of the meeting, with Griffith stating that it was the first step towards invoking the Tenantries Freehold Purchase Act, which makes provision for qualified tenants to exercise their rights to purchase lots on which they have been residing for five consecutive years, or for five years out of the immediately preceding seven years.
“We came into Government on May 24th and the Government has been working at a pace in order to rectify a lot of the wrongs that have been happening across Barbados,” the Barbados Labour Party parliamentarian said, while acknowledging that the issues transcended several previous administrations.
He also acknowledged that attempts were made by the previous Democratic Labour Party Government to get the residents’ housing status regularized, but the process was never completed.
“Some four-and-a-half years ago attempts were made to regularize those people who are currently squatting . . . [and] the minister would have come to the community and told them that there was a possibility that they could own the land, but there was no follow through,” Griffith explained.
However, he said “a whole set of the communities would have benefited in the past from this [Tenantries Freehold Purchase Act] legislation . . . [and] residents in St John should feel the full benefit of a Barbados Labour Party Government that is working on behalf of the people”.
During Sunday’s meeting, residents also highlighted the need for road repairs, an improved bus service and a new community centre in St John.