Easing the Burden of Parents
Easing the Burden of Parents
A Statement by Dr. Grant Gibbons, Shadow Minister of Education
3 September 2012
Because of Bermuda’s deteriorating economy and job losses, some parents of school-age children are having a particularly hard time out-fitting them for school this year.
Having heard from parents and constituents, as well as my colleagues in the One Bermuda Alliance, I would like to suggest that the Minister and the Department of Education give some thought to temporarily easing the uniform requirements. For example, instead of requiring expensive items like blazers, regulation sweaters could suffice as an alternative.
I know schools like to make sure their students present a uniform and disciplined appearance, and I certainly approve most of the time. However, after three years of a depressed economy and increasing unemployment with no recovery in sight, there seems to be a good and special reason to show some flexibility this year. We hope the schools will be able to tighten uniform requirements back up again next year, should the economy begin to stabilize.
I understand that some PTAs and charitable organizations have also organized recycling and exchange programmmes for second-hand school uniforms and we applaud their efforts in giving parents less expensive options and a helping hand.
Tucker's Point Planning Application
Tucker’s Point Planning Application
A Statement by Senator Michael Fahy, JP, Shadow Minister for Environment, Planning & Housing
30 August 2012
If there is a silver lining in the application by Tucker’s Point Management Ltd to subdivide land at Tucker’s Point which is to be sold as sites for luxury homes, it is that anything that helps to financially stabilize the Tucker’s Point group, well known to be having a difficult time of it financially, helps Bermuda and our efforts to revive tourism.
But anyone who has been following this story as it has developed over the last year or two knows that that is a mighty slim silver lining.
Mr Stuart Hayward of the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) has accused the Tucker’s Point group of trying to sidestep “stringent conditions” attached to the Government Special Development Order which allowed such environmentally sensitive land to be developed in the first place. Tucker’s Point denies it, saying its application is a technical one…simply for subdivision, and not for development. Relations between those two groups and between BEST and the Government are not cordial.
And everybody will remember the Ombudsman’s Report published earlier this year, which told a sad and depressing tale of a Government that, among other things, broke an international agreement – the United Kingdom’s Environment Charter, signed by Bermuda more than a decade ago – in order to allow Tucker’s Point to do what it felt it needed to do with a minimum of fuss.
The Government’s wish for a minimum of fuss has led it astray many times in the Planning arena. SDO after SDO after SDO has been granted to allow controversial developments smooth passage through the court of public opinion. But circumventing the law is a dangerous business. It doesn’t take people long to figure out what’s going on, and they are bound to wonder what else the Government is circumventing in its management of Bermuda.
The biggest loser is Bermuda’s environment, which always seems to be handed the short end of the stick. The One Bermuda Alliance, it is worth pointing out, is a supporter of using brownfield sites for development – sites, that is, that have already had at least one use in their history. Virgin land, we believe, should remain virgin.
But in addition to the environment, there is also another casualty. The price the Government pays with these short cuts is a loss of trust. Those involved in the Planning process lose trust, environmental groups lose trust, the British Government has lost trust in this case, and the Bermuda public loses trust.
The ability to make Special Development Orders is not, as the Government thinks it is, the gift that keeps on giving. It’s the gift that never stops taking.
Ideas beyond statistics: Crime mapping helps people know what’s going on
By Jeff Baron, OBA Spokesperson on National Security and candidate for Pembroke South East, August 12, 2012
It is tempting to engage in another semantic tangle with the Government over Police statistics. It happens every quarter when Police release crime data.
Tuesday’s official release of the second quarter crime statistics presents a mixed picture that cannot be used to show there is a long term change in crime in either direction.
Crime was down 10.7% in April, May, June, this year compared to the first three months of 2012. But that 10.7% reduction still meant that 1,038 crimes were committed in that time – a figure that includes burglaries, assaults, firearms offences, sexual assault and, as we all know, a daytime murder in a popular barbershop.
It is the totality of crime today and the extreme violence that Bermudians find intolerable. Crimes against the person – from sexual assaults and serious assaults to robberies – were down 8.6%, but that still meant 170 people in our community were attacked from May to the end of June.
But instead of engaging in a claim, counter-claim battle over the latest statistics, I propose we look at a much broader approach to the use of Police information that can activate the relationship between crimes reported and the public.
We want all residents in Bermuda to have accurate and clear crime data that is easy to access and understand. To achieve that, the Bermuda Police Service should implement and publicize street-level ‘crime maps’ showing all crimes reported and their outcomes. These crime maps should be updated each month instead of each quarter.
It is in Bermuda’s interest that we monitor crime in a way that is clear, meaningful and in which people can have confidence. That is why it is time for us to move forward with crime mapping and improve the way in which crimes are tracked and shared with the public.
Crime mapping has been used successfully by the Home Office in the UKsince its initial launch in January, 2011. According to the Home Office, the crime-mapping website (www.police.uk) was developed to provide the public with access to key crime and policing information in a way that allows them to raise issues or take an active role in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour. For example, the website allows people to type in a postal code to find out what crime or antisocial behaviour has been committed in that neighbourhood. It also shows how a crime has been dealt with by the police or the courts. Six months after its launch, the website had 420 million hits, showing – and feeding – a huge appetite for information on crime and what happens to a perpetrator.
Crime mapping empowers the public to seek answers to the questions which matter to them most: Will the police stop the drug dealing happening on the wall at the end of my street? What happened after a number of burglaries in my neighbourhood? What’s being done to reduce the presence of gang activity in my neighbourhood?
This level of public scrutiny and accountability can act as a strong impetus to operating an even more effective service delivery.
The BPS currently releases the crime statistics each quarter to facilitate “effective and open communication with our stakeholders… inform them of the plans, efforts and progress being made by the BPS” and to “provide meaningful information” to reassure communities in Bermuda.
Monthly publication of reported crimes and the outcomes of crimes, and made available to anyone with internet access, would help the BPS achieve these aims while increasing public trust and making the service more accountable to the community it serves.
Government needs to move toward greater transparency and accountability in the entire criminal justice system. The BPS now looks beyond the work of crime analysts – seeking input from residents for their targets and policing priorities. This enhances their relationship with the community and builds public confidence. Crime maps, along with daily access to interactive crime reports and outcomes, will help the public hold the Government, the BPS and other partnerships accountable.
I encourage the public to visit www.police.uk and experience the empowerment of fresh, accurate crime data available to you within seconds. Picture the positive impact this can have on our residents who fear the unknown of crime, on our social clubs and youth and our community leaders who must confront the issues.
Looking at solutions, like crime mapping, makes our community better informed and engaged. And, as Bermuda can appreciate, an engaged and empowered community is the key to public safety across the Island.
By Craig Cannonier, Leader, One Bermuda Alliance, August 7, 2012
On behalf of my colleagues in the One Bermuda Alliance, I want to express the pride we feel in the performance of our Olympic athletes in London. They carried the flag with pride and enthusiasm and they competed with grit, confidence and character against the best in the world. A great effort! Their example of hard work, commitment, ambition is one we can build on for the future.
Whatever their individual competition experience, I am sure the team’s time in London will have enriched their lives. That is something to be thankful for and to cherish.
We look forward to their return.
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