National Trust dismisses chair’s ‘conflict’

| 16/09/2019 | 44 Comments
Cayman News Service
Beach Bay development, artist’s rendition

(CNS): The National Trust for the Cayman Islands has said that the involvement of Andrew Gibb, the chair of its elected council, in the controversial plan for a massive resort development in Beach Bay does not pose a problem for the NGO. At a recent Central Planning Authority meeting, Gibb spoke for the developers of the project, which poses a number of significant environmental threats. However, the Trust said in a statement that his involvement did not “have any bearing on the Trust’s position to challenge proposed developments” on environmental grounds.

During last week’s National Conservation Council (NCC) meeting, which fell on the same day that Gibb presented his client’s hotel proposal to the CPA, National Trust Executive Director Nadia Hardie, who sits on the NCC, asked the DoE to follow up on the planning department’s response to the recommendations for the project that had been made through the council.

This raised questions in the public domain about the potential conflict for Gibb, since the Trust is essentially opposed to the hotel plan, which is on a sea turtle nesting site, and involves construction on the beach, variances of set-backs and other major environmental risks.

Hardie said that Gibb, who chairs the 17-member council, does not have the exclusive right to make decisions on behalf of the Trust.

Cayman News Service
Andrew Gibb

“While Andrew Gibb is one of the architects acting on behalf of the developers of the proposed Beach Bay resort, his professional capacity does not have any bearing on the Trust’s position to challenge proposed developments on environmentally-sensitive land, as demonstrated by my comments at the National Conservation Council’s general meeting,” Hardie said in a statement. She added, “The Trust is in no way swayed or conflicted by Gibb’s involvement in the project.”

Hardie noted that Trust members are volunteers and many have other personal and professional commitments, but that it operates on the basis of good governance and transparency, and members must declare conflicts at all meetings and recuse themselves when they arise. She said it was “unrealistic to assume or believe” that conflicts of interest would never arise, which is why members must declare them.

“We are often faced with addressing the ever-increasing and delicate balance between future development and conservation. While some may view Gibb’s professional vocation as a direct conflict of interest with the Trust’s mandate, his expert knowledge of the often-complex Planning Laws has been incalculably valuable and has allowed the Trust on many occasions to best respond, object and present recommendations to the CPA regarding proposed developments within our purview,” she added.

She noted that in the case of the Beach Bay development, the Trust has no right to object because it does not own any of the adjacent land impacted.

“We can’t object in our capacity as the National Trust but we can, and will, push the Central Planning Authority to take into consideration the recommendations put through the NCC,” Hardie said. “Unfortunately, that’s all we can do, and to reassure the public that the Trust will review critically any development regardless of who is involved.”

The Beach Bay project has become very controversial due to its scale and the environmental threats it poses. Dozens of residents in the area have submitted written concerns and many of them turned up to the meeting last week. While the project has been deferred to allow the developer to reconsider some of the details, the project has not yet been refused.

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Comments (44)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What exactly is the problem here?

    The National Trust – in the person of Nadia Hardie – has spoken out emphatically and clearly against this development. If Mr Gibb was exercising the malign influence suggested by many on here, it would not have done so. Any conflict of interest has obviously been managed.

    I don’t see the harm in having someone who understands development on the Trust council. They appear to be a mixed bunch with a range of different skills and experience, and Mr Gibb has been repeatedly elected by the trust’s members so he must have been doing something right.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Talking about AL Thompson, there is a big difference between a NT director who is architect on one controversial project, and a CPA member who stands to make money on every single project that comes before him.

    • Anonymous says:

      What you are saying 11.32 is that there are different levels of wrong or different levels of morals involved. one set for the locals and another for the foreigner. Wrong is wrong. there should be no difference.

  3. Environment First says:

    The NT is not stupid. Just look on their website and you will see a good mix of clever people from diverse backgrounds and professions all committed to a good cause, protecting our beautiful and precious islands. Just my view but I would guess that Gibb’s involvement in the project may have come as a bit of a surprise to the council members… Hardie has openly criticised the project so either she was unaware of Gibb’s involvement or the majority of the council members are genuinely concerned and opposed to the project (irrespective of who is involved in it). Either way, I think it just shows that Gibb doesn’t have much sway over the council members and Hardie is completely independent and genuine in her concern for the environmental impact of the project.

    • Anonymous says:

      Environment First . So why is Gibbs being given benefit of doubt and Thompson not.

    • Anonymous says:

      11:03 You got that right – check to see who some of the co-opted members are. None of them can be swayed by anyone

  4. Anonymous says:

    I very much doubt there’s a single organisation, CIG, NGO or whatever, run by a committee on these islands that isn’t conflicted. Why do think certain people want to serve on these committees in the first place?

    I remember a former member of the WPB who regularly sat in on applications that their employer had a direct commercial interest in – that’s what they were there for.

  5. Messenjah says:

    If it wasn’t a conflict before then obviously it is now. There is a general rule when leading such organizations that “if it seems like a conflict, It usually is “.
    Stop making people think they are ignorant by pulling the wool over their eyes.

  6. Anonymous says:

    “Hardie said that Gibb, who chairs the 17-member council, does not have the exclusive right to make decisions on behalf of the Trust.”

    That’s good to know, but if I were a cynic I might think that his prime reason for seeking to chair the council was to mould/shape/influence their decisions, especially on projects that would bring him economic benefits.

    • Nadia Hardie says:

      The Chair has one vote and there are 16 other members who are bright and independent individuals. As stated in the press release – if there is ANY conflict of interest then that individual, including if it is the Chair, must recuse themselves from the decision making process and the actual meeting. The mere fact that The Trust Director went against this development at the NCCs General meeting shows 100% that the Council has not been swayed by Gibbs position. The Trust has very good governance processes in place. If it didn’t, I would resign my position as Trust Director immediately. I have also reinforced them since assuming my position over a year ago. Happy to answer all questions – anonymous or not.
      Thank you, Nadia Hardie

      • Anonymous says:

        How naive can you be. His Just Saying blog leaves no doubt that he views the NCC as an obstacle in the planning process, and he will do everything he possibly can to mitigate and reduce their influence.
        All he needs is to get another 8 people elected to the council without letting their true intentions known, and then he can call for a democratic vote that you would be more than willing to stand and support.

        • JTB says:

          Which would be a good point, if only the chairman had any influence at all on who is elected to the council. In fact, they are elected by the members of the trust.

      • Anonymous says:

        So this works just like the CPA chaired by AL T which so many people see as a conflicted board. Of course everyone sees conflict in the CPA yet you want us to simply close our eyes to what is happening to the Trust.

      • Anonymous says:

        When did Trust Council meet to approve the position adopted at the NCC? Where are the minutes?

  7. GR says:

    How exactly is this a conflict as the Trust is objecting to the proposed development? Surely the Trust is maintaining its independence. If the Trust was uncharacteristically silent on the development then that would raise questions which could suggest a conflict of interests. To me, if anything, this is a question of ethics as opposed to conflict of interest

  8. Anony says:

    Oh my God! He must resign, he is conflicted and if he and her do not know, then she must go as well.

  9. Anonymous says:

    From his writings, it would appear to me that he views the National Conservation Council as an unnecessary interference in the planning process. Just saying.

    The relatively simple process of making application for planning consent as provided for in the Development & Planning Law (2017) has been made considerably more complicated by the introduction of Part 7 of the National Conservation Law 2013 and which enforces the requirement that the Central Planning Authority (CPA) consider the recommendations of the National Conservation Council (NCC) regarding the proposed development’s potential impact on the environment both local and Island-wide when granting planning consent (or otherwise) for a qualifying development proposal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Really useful architect…is that business website…quite useful me wonders. He not stepping down, the trustbots love him after reading all this. The council must have their heads somewhat else, cause no one says a peep. Chirp. Not even a whisling duck can be heard.

    • Anonymous says:

      Also worryingly, from his link, it states he is also on the Planning Appeals Tribunal if it gets turned down, Conflict of interest Nah.Feel so sad that National Trust got thrown in this mess, Do the decent thing Sir and step down please.

    • Anonymous says:

      From the looks of those drawings the url should surely be

  10. Anonymous says:

    Well the National Trust has Gibb and Planning has AL Thompson seems like they are evenly matched in terms of conflict if you ask me.

    • Anonymous says:

      We need Mr Thompson as he knows what it takes to keep development going in Cayman. Praise to you sir! You haters need to leave.

    • Anonymous says:

      2.24pm you are so right. But notice this Mr Gibbs is an expat so he is not really conflicted.. Mr Thompson on the other hand is Caymanian so automatically he is very conflicted..I suspect that the persons who see Gibbs as not being conflicted are the same ones who are always telling us that to get rid of nepotism etc we need to elect new comers (non native) to our Legislative Assembly.Hypocrisy. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

  11. Anonymous says:

    He is a man of very high caliber and very well educated. What would any of you know anyhow? Keep up the great work and congratulations for getting these high positions!

    • Reg says:

      This an example of expats interferring in Cayman. If you can not vote you are a guest and should have no say in how the Cayman Islands does it business. Sorry but right or wrong we should be allowed to make our own decisions. We would not be allowed to be on any council/Boards in the USA, Canada, UK or any other place in the world if we are not a national of that country. This why i can not support the National Trust because they do not understand the Cayman people . I do not support the CPA in all their decision neither.

      • Anonymous says:

        7:44 if you are a Caymanian why wont you join the Trust rather than just complain about expats who join? If enough Caymanians join there wont be room for any other nationality. Case closed.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Who exactly from the national trust dismisses the Chair’s conflict interest,? Is it the Chairman or Nadia Hardie or both . What says the rest of the board?? Inquiring minds want to know?

    • Anonymous says:

      The national trust is a false operation and will work alongside developers so they get what they want, just give us some donation money and all is great.

      • Anonymous says:

        You obviously know nothing about the National Trust. Look at everything that they have achieved historically! They have always put environmental, cultural and historical preservation at the very centre of their work.

      • Anonymous says:

        8:11 not so; if you don’t know what you’re talking about then keep your mouth shut. trouble maker

  13. Anonymous says:

    He might not feel like he is conflicted, Nadia Hardie might not think he is conflicted but common sense will tell you that if he is Chairman of the National Trust , which I understand is against the scope of this hotel and he is also an architect on the project and would be involved in any changes that might be requested by the planning board then there is a huge conflict of interested. While I am cognizant of the fact that many on these boards have the sole purpose of doing it for love of Cayman at the forefront but there are many who get themselves appointed for the sole purpose personal benefit.

  14. Anon says:

    There will be no conflict so long as he resigns his position with the Trust.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or if he simply recuses himself from any discussions or decision making related to the matter. To be clear, this means completely as in removal from the meeting.

    • Anonymous says:

      Avoiding any whiff of conflict is a practice so normal and obvious elsewhere, yet so completely foreign in the Cayman Islands that it’s deemed unnecessary. There are many government boards that are loaded with conflicts, by intent. Another (daily) reminder, like we need more, that we need SIPL enacted, immediately.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Trust is a NGO (non governmental organization) and the Trust membership vote a new council in each year. The Council are answerable to the Trust membership. You can become a member for $30 per year or $45 for a family. I can assure you that the Trust has good governance policies in place. They are provided to all new Council members at their first meeting after being elected in September. Pop by the Trust and happy to show you if you are interested. The reason large international charities such as the RSPB are willing to partner with us is because we have these clear and good governance procedures in place. Thank you.

        • Nadia Hardie says:

          Comment above posted by Nadia Hardie. Not sure why it came up Anonymous. Apologies!!

        • Anonymous says:

          The Trust also receives funding from CIG so they are also accountable to the general public. This looks really bad and should be fixed immediately.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I am less concerned by his conflict of interest than I am with his ridiculous design. If he had anything to do with that picture and the dscription of the project, he should resign from being an architect.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wednesday will be the true rest of integrity. To step down or not to step down, that is the question.

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