What’s hiding behind the scenes in the Nelson Mandela Park affair?

I wish to present in this article a summary of my main points on the proposed ‘revitalization’ of the Nelson Mandela Park (formerly King George V Park or, before that, Pompeii Savannah) in west POS.

Some spaces are of such significance that they should be altered only after the greatest care and consideration—no hustle, no bustle! Nelson Mandela Park is certainly such a space.

Privatisation and PPP can have the effect of limiting or ending access to public facilities for poorer citizens, so we would need to have solid guarantees of right to access, regardless of income. Of course, that kind of approach is contrary to a model which relies on paying customers or groups.

Let us now take a closer look at the actual proposal.

Continue reading “What’s hiding behind the scenes in the Nelson Mandela Park affair?”

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