Minister ‘no-show’ at GT MLA’s meeting

| 15/10/2018 | 44 Comments
Cayman News Service

MLA Kenneth Bryan at his cruise port meeting

(CNS): Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell failed to appear at a public meeting last week in the constituency where the controversial cruise berthing project is going to be if government presses ahead with the project. George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan hosted the meeting as part of a series hosted by the opposition, designed to raise public awareness about the concerns and challenges relating to the project, to promote the referendum and demand answers from government. Bryan also invited Kirkconnell, hoping he would be able to answer his constituents’ questions, but there was no sign of him or anyone from government.

Addressing several dozen residents from the constituency who turned up for the meeting, Bryan said he had been told that the minister had to attend another engagement but was prepared to arrange another date.

Bryan told his constituents that on the campaign trail he had offered his conditional support for the project if it didn’t pose a serious threat to the environment or if what threats there were could be mitigated. He said that he still supports the idea of a cruise port, but “with too many unanswered questions” and a lot of concern about how bad the environmental impact might be, he was in support of a referendum. He said he was not going to tell his constituents what they should believe but he urged them to support the national vote.

The GTC independent MLA criticised government for pressing ahead with the project without putting the question to the people and keeping them in the dark about so many elements. Dismissing claims by the premier that a referendum would derail and possibly end the project, Bryan said that postponing the final decision for a few months was unlikely to put an end to the potential project unless the people voted to do so.

The opposition has just one more public meeting in its recent roadshow, and although attendance at each meeting has been considerably less than the one meeting held by the tourism minister at the Family Life Centre last month, across the six meetings so far, several hundred people have had the chance to hear a different side from the current government position.

At each meeting local underwater photographer Courtney Platt has given an engaging and informative presentation about the marine environment in the harbour and debunked the myth being peddled by government and the project’s supporters that the area has no life to speak of. Platt showed pictures and videos of the vibrant undersea life in the area, as well as the extent, size and quality of the reefs in the harbour, the unique elements and the importance it plays in our overall tourism product.

The meetings have also provided an opportunity for people to sign the petition for a people-initiated referendum calling on government to put the question to the people. Volunteers working on the campaign have had the opportunity at the meetings to explain that the referendum is not a politically motivated initiative; it is a grass-roots campaign largely spearheaded by young people with environmental concerns but it has developed into a broader movement.

Volunteers have stated that the petition is the last line in the sand before government moves on the cruise project and is the only way that the people of Cayman can have their say. Despite consistent evidence that the project does not have majority support among the public, government has refused to agree to a nationwide vote. However, the Constitution provides for the people to trigger their own referendum provided that 25% of the electorate demands it by way of petition.

Many people have significant concerns about the lack of information on the port and the hope is that if the petition can collect the more than 5,280 signatures needed, the referendum would require government to be much more forthcoming and honest about the details of the proposed development.

To date, government has given misleading statistics about the project, which are contradicted in may cases by its own figures. From the number of actual mega ships in the planning over the next decade to the hours that passengers will spend ashore with berthing facilities, the numbers presented by government have been wildly inaccurate.

With the number of registered voters having signed the petition now understood to be approaching 4,000, the campaign shows not sign of slowing down. Volunteers are now offering to bring the petition to your workplace or other venue to secure the numbers required as soon as possible.

It was also revealed at the meeting in George Town that Acting Governor Franz Manderson has paved the way for the petition to be hosted at the government building to enable civil servants and public sector workers who are not directly involved in the project to sign. However, no date has yet been set for that and Bryan urged civil servants at his meeting to remind their boss of the commitment and set a date.

For more information on where you can sign the petition, check the Cayman Port Referendum Facebook page or call 327 5411 to have the petition come to you.

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Category: Business, Local News, Politics, Tourism

Comments (44)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    For the first time the money baggers are realizing that the cayman people are more informed and outspoken. SIgn the petition for a referendum ASAP.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not enough watch sales in it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Maybe if the hoteliers, restaurant and bar owner and the cabal that are the taxi owners dropped their prices to what could be considered reasonable, then you may get far more stay-over customers.

    I have friends and family in the UK who would love to come here in holiday but I’ve told them not to as the entertainment costs are astronomical. It’s not the getting here that’s prohibitive, it’s the being here.

    All based around greed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So can we stop pretending the government and the “pro port folks” care about transparency and public outreach now

    Cause this is precisely the opposite of transparent leadership,

    Not to mention the fact that this is the constituency that the development is meant to take place in, and the minister can’t show up to take make a presentation, or take questions from the very people who will be the most effected by the changes
    They didn’t send anyone at all, this just highlights the facts, constituencies outside of the government caucus can suck salt for all they care.
    The message is clear “elect PPM members or we will pretend you don’t exist”

    • Anonymous says:

      5.34pm The Minister already had his meeting in George Town. This was an Opposition and anti port supporters meeting proposing a referendum to STOP the port, and make no mistake this whole antiport movement is being pushed by political hopefuls wanting to give a loss and subsequent black eye to the National Unity Government. Sure there are persons who genuinely care about the environment in the group but they are simply being used by people like Mario and Johann and some of those young business women heading up Sustainable Cayman etc.Inviting the Minister to an Opposition rally to support a referendum that he does not see as necessary is like inviting a rooster to foxes backyard barbecue. Simply put .. Kenneth was was guilty of political posturing.If you are planning to hang someone do you really expect him to show up when invited to meet under the hanging tree?

      • Anonymous says:

        @8:43 “This was an Opposition and anti port supporters meeting proposing a referendum to STOP the port” A referendum only stops something if it is voted down. If the CIG and the “pro-porters” are so convinced that God himself told the people to build it then they should not fear a referendum where they can vote YES and insure the dock is build by the will of the PEOPLE and not a few greedy brainwashing politicians.

  5. Anonymous says:

    2:58 pm where can the public pick-up their money in the envelopes?. Before the construction of the port begins.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have to agree with Mr. Bryan on this issue. Thank you sir

  7. Anonymous says:

    There is so much in this video and this article that insults the intelligence of readers. First of all, it is some kind of accusation to say that those who support the port, or indeed the government itself was behind the Bob FB page bots. It could just as easily have been the anti-port group as an attempt to undermine the Government. Is there an investigation into this or just blind accusations?

    He says that the premier is putting financiers above the interests of the people. that is not what the premier said at all – he said a referendum would kill the project for this term. Well, that is likely true. and the trouble is, that right now, with cayman holding all the good cards, we are negotiating from a position of power. once the cruise numbers start to drop again, like they did last year before the hurricanes, we will not have that same position of power – and then the deal that we have is lost.

    why is the premise that all of government is lying and corrupt? how can we move ahead with any infrastructure development or any other significant project if that is always the starting point?

    As a Caymanian, what I fear now is a Brexit situation, where there are tears afterwards saying that people did not understand that not having the piers meant that the economy we are all enjoying now will suffer and we have nothing in the wings to replace that industry – or even half of that industry.

    • Anonymous says:

      This regime (our servants) have circumvented process and kept the entire electorate in the dark, excusing the Department of Environment, laughing off it’s Environmental obligations and duties, including the long-standing necessity for an updated third party EIA (which, if bares any resemblance to the first one, would be a failing grade anyway). This regime contends that a hastily scrawled EIA, completed in hindsight, by a winning (and massively conflicted) bidder, will paper-over the checkmark and suffice. These are deliberate and irrefutable transgressions which WILL be reckoned, either by People-initiated Referendum, or by FCO.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Cruise ship numbers start to drop” mentally must go because more and more it looks like an obcession. First of all they won’t drop. And if they do, it won’t be because the piers weren’t billed. The giant pillar of Cayman economy is NOT tourism. It is financial sector.

      • Anonymous says:

        Until 2020 comes around with the public registry. Good Luck, nobody in the world is rooting for you.

  8. North Sider says:

    If MK could not make it because of a previous engagement, he could at least have sent a gov’t rep. His failure to do so was contemptuous of the public and their concerns.

    • Anonymous says:

      The port is going ahead, Decco & CHEC have been given the contract so who cares what any of you trouble makers have to say. You will see who has the real power now!

      • Ron Ebanks says:

        Anonymous 2 :58 pm , do you see and understand that the People who are against this cruise ship pier issue , are mostly Caymanian registered voters , and to say who cares about what any of them have to say , you’re just as arrogant as the politicians who don’t want them to say anything .

        People /registered voters keep the pressure up you have the Government scared to death of you so far , but don’t forget to sign petition for the referendum that will finish knocking their socks off .

        • Anonymous says:

          Who cares as the deal is done and none of you can stop it. These are huge behemoths in the world stage (CHEC & China) who have teamed up with the biggest most powerful developer (Dart & Decco) to build this project. Do any of you really think you and a silly referendum can stop them? Look at the huge amounts of money involved. Accept it Cayman!

          • Anonymous says:

            When did they purchase the Cayman islands?

          • Ron Ebanks says:

            Arrogant supporter 5 :24 am , when did Chec , China and Dart Deco and these politicians get more POWER than the REGISTERED VOTERS OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS in the Constitution ? Stop your arrogance you’re angering the PEOPLE with your arrogance , and let the people Vote for a referendum , what is needed to settle this FINANCIAL BURDEN THAT IS ABOUT TO BE PUT ON THE PEOPLE AND THEIR GREATEST GRANDCHILDREN .

          • Anonymous says:

            From the little that has been relayed about the obscured short-listed “qualified bidders”, CHEC and Decco are in opposing bidding camps, not working in collaboration.

      • Anonymous says:

        MK, go ahead and build the dock and when it is finished eveyone will be happy about it, just like the expansion of the Cargo dock and Airport years ago, people was against it until it was finished and then they were all glad of it

    • alaw says:

      How can MK be contemptuous to the public when he sat for 5 hours answering questions, many of them very stupid, from every cat and dog at his meeting?
      unless he has some new information,he would be blind, to fall for this set up, this trap!

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you really think he would have shown up. They are angry with everything and everyone that is not PPM, especially after their golden princes were dethroned by regular guys. Kenneth do not take it personally, they don’t care about the people of George Town, especially those that you represent. Continue to look after your constituents to the best of your ability. The tide will change.

  9. Ron Ebanks says:

    I wonder how many people of the Cayman Islands has ever been in the water in George Town harbour and seen the whole off the underwater environment/corals , to enable them to rebut anything that anyone would say about it .

    I can’t imagine that the all of the corals are in pristine condition , all because government incompetence of bad management for the Port. I would believe that the smart thing is to do is not finish destroying the balance and build something that will destroy all the other corals and environment outside the boundaries of the George town, to South sound and seven mile beach.

    • Anonymous says:

      that’s a very good question how many no porters have every been or last been in the water in George Town harbor?

      • Anonymous says:

        I am a no porter and I used to dive in town regularly up until a couple years ago, true not all of it is pristine condition due to the anchoring or the run aground accidents (remember the Rhapsody and that swath of destruction it incurred?) but there is life there, more than the good Premier and his supports will make you think.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Get off the fence and pick a side Kenny! Actually never mind, no one care s what you think anyway.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The question to be answered is “How much cruise tourism do we wish to have in 25+ years?”
    History has shown us that cruise ships have increased in size. For example, the Southward (from the 70’s) is now scrap metal. So it appears obvious that the medium size ships of today (2500-4000 passengers) will gradually disappear. Larger ships will replace them as has happened over the last 30 years due to economies of scale.
    If our country is OK with much reduced cruise tourism over the next 2 to 4 decades then not having the piers will be fine. Persons will have to move their lively hood into to other areas, e.g. stay-over tourism.
    If we wish to maintain the level of cruise tourism that we currently have then it would appear that the piers are needed. So the emphasis should be on keeping the environmental effect to a reasonable level. It will never be zero.
    Note that I do not have any interest in any cruise related business. I simply wish for my country to have continuing success. So I try to look long term.

    • Anonymous says:

      The liners are all public-listed companies with public filings and order books extending long into the future, which don’t line up with Moses’ assertions. We don’t compete with Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica, or the Bay Islands, never have and never will. We don’t compete with Med or Pacific Cruises either. Our product is entirely different, so long as we protect our environment, manage our resources, instead of accelerating their demise under these loaded-assumptions and false pretenses. Why not show us the specific ships >200GTs that will be built and launched for Western Caribbean itineraries? What are the bankable passenger guarantees for next 10, 20, 50 years?

    • Anonymous says:

      Will there still be cruise ships as we now know them in 25+ years is the real question and I suspect the answer is, ‘NO!’ In fact the way things are going with the mega-liners becoming little more than self-sufficient floating resorts I just don’t see the future of cruising including over-priced, tatty, over-crowded backwaters like GC. What we really need to be doing right now is making contingency plans for the days when the cruise ships stop coming.

    • CB4 says:

      Even if ALL the western Caribbean ships become mega sized, if the cruise lines want customers who want to see Cayman, they will simply still come and just be forced to use tenders. You all are forgetting that they ‘can’ be tendered, its just not their preferred option.

    • alaw says:

      12:53 you are saying exactly what the cruise lines CEOs tried to explain to the no porters
      but that is not what their ears hear !

    • Anonymous says:

      The order book does not support these assertions. There are only a handful of >200GT boats in planning stages, for launch over next 10 years. They cost >$2Bln each, so require a documented plan and shareholder approval. They are purpose-built and destined for other theaters of operation, and entirely different low-end market segments. Fully tenderable, 3500-4750 capacity ships, powered by LNG, are what the order books are telling us about the future of cruise tourism. Bigger and docking are the preferences of the liners, if it were at all possible, but it’s not possible for Cayman or 100’s of other frontier market ports (including some of the 7-8 Cuba ports they are eyeballing for one day). Plus, we don’t have any passenger commitments to secure financing on the 50 year amortization of this engineering marvel.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Keep your secrets. We don’t want or need the dock.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is what happens with your agenda is self servingly political Mr. Bryan.

    There is absolutely no sensible reasons to engage those who have no interest but to obstruct development either for political importance or eco radicalism.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who exactly are you referring to when you say “those who have no interest but to obstruct development either for political importance or eco radicalism.”? The constituents?

    • Anonymous says:

      Were the PPM being “eco-radicals” when they wrote national conservation into the Consitutuion in 2009, or when the presented their manifesto in 2017 that also includes protecting the environment?

      Of course you conveniently excuse the minister not showing up when he was invited, despite the government claiming that they have all the answers and can clarify the controversy when given the opportunity they are no shows

      The problem with you people is, no matter what the government’s record is on capital projects (abysmal management and lack of planning) despite the constant misrepresentations and lies, in presentations (like the 8 hours ashore claim by the CIG that they had to walk back) and despite them contradicting themselves when they were on the opposition benches you continue to defend them

      They have no interest in explaining the port to the constituents in the very constituency in which it will be built can you imagine
      If the government can ignore the people of GTC, as they have been doing to the eastern districts for years is this really in our best interests?

    • Anonymous says:

      Irreversibly accelerating the demise of our fisheries, West-wall scuba diving and snorkeling industries, and all of that draw and all of those stayover dollars, just to allow one more ship every second Thursday (for part of the year) is hardly eco-radicalism. The “reef and sponge suffocation particulate” cautioned in the original EIA under normal expected dredging impacts, was a reasoned professional opinion, which didn’t take into account the necessity for recurring maintenance dredging (or that budget).

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