Letter to the Editor on Public Consultation for POS Revitalisation Plan -T&T Newsday

In response to a commentary article published on Sunday 11th July 2021 by the T&T Newsday newspaper by the TT Society of Planners (TTSP) and the TT Institute of Architects (TTIA) entitled “Feeble consultations on urban revitalisation plans erode public trust on Government’s urban revitalisation plans for Port of Spain and San Fernando, Afra Raymond responded with a Letter to the Editor, given the title, “We must insist on proper consultation“:

THE EDITOR: The joint letter from my colleagues at the T&T Society of Planners and the T&T Institute of Architects raised very important criticisms of the current wave of urban development projects, with the chronic levels of unacceptable secrecy and fake consultations.

On the secrecy issue, the State reportedly refused the JCC’s Freedom of Information request for the POS Revitalisation plan on the basis that it did not originate in that Ministry and that this was a series of privately-conceived projects.  Those are not lawful exemption grounds under the FoIA as the public is entitled to receive information ‘in the possession of public authorities’, so there is no requirement for the State to originate that plan.

The fake consultation issue is a long-term and valid concern which was especially noted as the 17th recommendation of the Uff Report (2009):

“…User groups and other interest groups should be properly consulted on decisions regarding public building projects, to ensure that relevant views can be expressed at the appropriate time and taken into account before decisions are made…” (emphasis is mine)

Uff Report (2009)

Of course, the sitting Prime Minister was the leading voice calling for that Commission of Enquiry and indeed played a major role as a witness.  We need to insist on the maintenance of proper consultation if we are to use our limited development options for equitable outcomes.

Afra Raymond

Port of Spain

7 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor on Public Consultation for POS Revitalisation Plan -T&T Newsday

  1. The only common element between “proper” and “parliament is the ‘p’ with which they begin.

  2. Afra

    Good letter to remind readers of the Uff Report recommendation that applies to this situation. The more things change the more they stay the same.

    Victor

    On Wed, 14 Jul 2021 at 10:01 PM, AfraRaymond.net wrote:

    > AfraRaymond posted: ” In response to a commentary article submitted to the > T&T Newsday newspaper by the TT Society of Planners (TTSP) and the TT > Institute of Architects (TTIA) entitled “Feeble consultations on urban > revitalisation plans erode public trust” on Government’s” >

    1. Hi Victor,
      Thanks for tuning-in, but is not only the readers I was trying to remind, eh…some of the writers too!
      Afra

  3. 2021 and after several Commissions of Inquiry we, the members of the public, are still begging administrations for transparency, accountability and proper consultation. These tenets are only upheld when political parties are in opposition. SMH. Steups!!!

    1. Yes, Perry – well the thing is that the JCC did request the Masterplan and background details via our Freedom of Information Act, but the official replies were polite but utterly obtuse, the kind of ‘Yes, Minister’ deflection which should be reserved for TV comedies, but is all too often part of real life…I am no longer formally connected with JCC, having resigned in 2015, so we will see how the new group reacts…

  4. So what is the way forward Afra in terms of accessing this Master Plan(if there is one) and background information?

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