For any form of local government to work, it must involve all members of a community working together – particularly area tradespeople – to achieve its goals and rekindle the community spirit that Barbados has lost in recent years, social activist Robert Bobby Clarke has declared.
The veteran lawyer made the comment as he addressed the latest Thorne Commission town hall meeting on the Government’s proposed People’s Assemblies.
“The communities themselves should look at all the needs they have, including road repairs, school building repairs, old persons that should be tended to on a weekly or monthly basis by people or families in the community and we should take the names and addresses of the close family members of these older persons,” Clarke said.
He also advocated for a list of tradespeople in the community who can be called upon to do house repairs and other matters that sometimes took Government agencies months to fix.
“There should be a list of all the people with talent, such as carpenters, masons, electricians and plumbers who can be called upon immediately if there is a problem in the community,” he said.
When asked how this would be managed, Clarke told the commission: “We hope people will give of their time freely, but in terms of funding, the assemblies should be able to put their position to the central Government, that is, send in an estimate of the costs associated with the kind of work required and the Government would release the funds accordingly.
“Ideally the funding should come from within the community itself, with Government only getting involved when it comes to bigger projects.”
He said the assemblies should also budget for a central office within their communities, with staff and the requisite equipment, and that community meetings should involve everyone from children to the elderly, “so that everyone can feel that community spirit again, which was alive in our great grandparents’ day but has gone missing in the last 30 years”.
But he expressed disappointment at the low turnout to the meeting, saying that for the assemblies to work, any meetings held should attract bigger audiences so they can do their jobs more effectively.