SIR ROY URGES COMMUNITY NOT TO BACK DOWN IN JOE’S RIVER BATTLE, AS NEW COMMITTEE IS SET UP
By Sheria Brathwaite
A six-person committee has been established to represent St Joseph residents in the Joe’s River Bridge controversy, including their discussions with the developer with whom they are in a court battle.
The residents also have the support of veteran trade unionist Sir Roy Trotman who urged them not to back down in their fight to retain access to vital areas in their community.
The members of the group, selected based on their relative expertise and extensive knowledge of the bridge and the surrounding communities, were introduced at a meeting on Sunday afternoon in St Elizabeth, St Joseph, chaired by community activist Victor Lewis and at which Sir Roy spoke.
They are Sheri Nicholls, Steve Jemmott, Mariette Allman, Christopher Oliver, Ian Miller and Alex Goodman.
The unveiling of the committee came a few days after High Court Judge Justice Madam Barbara Cooke-Alleyne granted a temporary injunction to stop the developer of the old Edgewater Hotel property, Ullswater Investments Limited, from continuing construction of two concrete columns at the bridge that residents say will block their access to Joe’s River Gully and an area of significance commonly referred to as the Teacup and Saucer.
Lewis, who had brought the matter to the attention of the public and in whose name along with fellow resident Christopher Oliver the court action was filed, told the approximately 30 people in attendance that the committee would act as a voice for the residents as the matter progressed.
While the injunction prevents the developers from continuing the construction for the time being, the matter of whether the existing structure will have to be demolished is still to be decided by Justice Barbara Cooke-Alleyne. The case will resume on April 24.
During Sunday’s meeting, Lewis said that Ullswater Investment Limited, which is transforming the old Edgewater Hotel into a beach house and villa, wanted to engage in dialogue with the community and it was important to have a body of people representing the interest of the residents.
Attorney General and St Joseph MP Dale Marshall said on radio on Monday that a meeting with the developer is likely to take place this week.
Meanwhile, Sir Roy, who grew up in St Joseph, urged the residents to remain steadfast in their fight.
He contended that Ullswater’s erection of the walls was infringing on the rights of Barbadians as the bridge was part of the right-of-way lands of the former Barbados Railway which he said by law were to be treated in the same manner as the island’s beaches.
Referring to a section of the old railway in The Valley, St George that was recently beautified and established as a pedestrian and bicycle pathway, he said: “The intention of the Government is that the train track is like the beach. The train track, like the beach, belongs to all of us . . . .”
He said while he would support the development of the area, he opposed any project that would undermine Barbadians’ rights.
“The problem comes when what you try to do breaks the rules, breaks the conventions . . . [and infringes on] the rights of the people who live in the area,” he said.
“We cannot have those elements in the economy of our country to be developed only for the wellbeing of the rich . . . . We must develop the commanding heights of the economy of our country so that every man, woman and child is equally able to enjoy the benefits of our society . . . .
“We appreciate those who have money that want to help us to develop Barbados but they would help us more if they start by respecting every Bajan . . . . If the respect only gives you the opportunity that you get what you want [and] you give people what you think they want, you are not respecting them,” Sir Roy added.
He also made reference to a project that was earmarked for the parish in 1955 and another about 15 years ago at High Rock, Bathsheba, noting that this was not the first time investors had their eyes on St Joseph for property development.
Lewis, meanwhile, also encouraged residents not to waver and said he was willing to do whatever it took to ensure continued public access to Joe’s River.
He added that the area had historic, educational and cultural importance to villagers and wider Barbados, noting that since the bridge was restored several Barbadians and visitors visit the area for recreational purposes.
Residents also had their say on the matter, questioning who gave the Australian developer the green light to erect the columns.