I attended the meeting called by the Government on Thursday evening to discuss the taking-over of the Corporation of Hamilton. The meeting was well attended.
The panel approached the present mayor on two issues, but did not address any of the positive achievements that have transpired during his tenure as the Mayor of Hamilton.
As the evening progressed, the panel was not considering taking over the corporation, but advising us that it was actually a done deal. The panel stated that our government is in favour of a quango. These have been used in various departments of the Government and they worked well. Of course, one of the downsides of a quango is that they are not obliged to reveal any minutes of their meetings to the general public.
The panel clearly acknowledged that the Government was broke and out of money. It also acknowledged the debt itself. The panel stated that once the Government had taken over the corporation, it would be quite legal for it to transfer all or part of any accounts held by the corporation into other government bank accounts in need of immediate funding.
At present, these funds are kept aside by the corporation to carry out large reconstruction or repairs as the need arises. There was also no guarantee that the income derived by the corporation would be used internally for the day-to-day running of the corporation only. It would be comforting to be assured that the corporation will continue to have sufficient funds for the city to be run as well as it is at present.
As of today, I have to say that the city in indeed an area to be proud of: the streets are cleaned every day, there is no trash, there are no weeds visible. The parks are beautifully kept and the hanging flowers and public seating are well laid out, and there are plenty of public car parks. The public toilet facilities, amazingly enough, are also pristine.
I would like to congratulate Charles Gosling and his team for a job really well done.
My concerns are that I am not sure our government really understands or comprehends how much detail it is undertaking in order to run a city successfully.
I live in the parish of Pembroke, not in the city itself, and the roadsides under the care of the Government are overgrown with weeds. The very visible sidewalk outside of Government House by the roundabout is spoilt with weeds and trash that has been there for some time — just a small example of this lack of eye for detail.
I ask this government to tread lightly. The Corporation of Hamilton is a vibrant entity, but, without due care, this picture could change for the worse — and rapidly. Right now, the City of Hamilton is an entity that our tourists, foreign business personnel and residents enjoy on a daily basis.
In closing, I would therefore ask our government at this late stage to at least delay and reconsider the decision to finalise this obviously very unpopular law designed to take over control of both corporations. A decision that in the future may have very serious consequences for all.