Archive for September 13th, 2013

Dart’s road opens Monday

| 13/09/2013 | 107 Comments

(CNS): The final stretch of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, which has been completed for several months, will open to traffic Monday, the planning ministry and the National Roads Authority said Friday in a release from government. Phase 2 of the extension into West Bay runs from the northbound leg of the new Yacht Drive Roundabout and terminates on Willie Farrington Drive and Batabano Road. The extension forms part of what is known as the NRA Agreement between Dart Realty and the government, which was signed by the then UDP administration in December 2011. Dart remains in talks with the new government over the full deal but there has been no update on progress since early last month.

Speaking at the PPM’s National Council Meeting on Saturday 10 August, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts said that talks were ongoing with the islands largest developer, as the PPM administration had particular concerns over the 50% tax waiver that the previous administration had agreed to give Dart on all tourism accommodation that it owns now or will aquire over the next thirty years. The issue of the value of the land swap aswell as the need for some kind of through access on the West Bay Road were other points that the PPM had raised on the campaign trail.

However, although Tibbetts had said he was expecting to make an announcement soon after the meeting, more than a month later government has made no further comment other than to state that talks are continuing. CNS has emailed a request to the minister for an update and is awaiting a response.

Although there is no further news of the agreement, the road will now be carrying traffic from George Town into the heart of West Bay. The highway is a continuation of the existing dual lane carriageway, with the exception of the Willie Farrington Rd connection, which is a single carriageway with no median.

All work has been completed on the road, and the National Roads Authority (NRA) has concluded the required safety audits to sanction the opening of the highway, officials stated. The posted speed limit is 40 miles per hour on the main highway and then 30 mile per hour on the Willie Farrington Connection.

The first phase of the ETH was opened in 2006. Then, then following its agreement with the UDP government, Dart began work on the road in 2012 and opened the first part of the phase 2 extension in March.

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Mac’s trial pushed back

| 13/09/2013 | 0 Comments

 

(CNS): The leader of the opposition now has almost one year to wait before he will face trial on corruption related charges about the misuse of a government credit card after the court heard that the trial is now set for 8 September 2014. An earlier proposed trail date in March next year could not be met as a result of other commitments with the attorneys involved Michael Snape, the crown counsel prosecuting the case against McKeeva Bush, said. Michael Alberga who was representing the UDP leader remained silent during the short mention as the trial date was entered into the court files and four weeks set aside for the hearing.
 
Bush nodded his assent from the Grand Court dock as visiting judge Justice  Panton read out the official trial date and extended the former premier's bail until that day. 
 
The now opposition leader and veteran politician is facing eleven different criminal counts relating to the misuse of a government credit card and abuse of office charges which he has vehemently denied and insisted he will be completely vindicated. Originally he was also charged with a number of counts of theft which have already been dropped by the crown. Among other allegations Bush is accused of using the government issued credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM invarious casinos. 
 
Bush is expected to elect a jury trial in the case but so far his legal team have made no mention of any concerns regarding the presiding judge given their potential conflicts in trying the former leader of the country.
 
   
 

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Mac’s trial pushed back

| 13/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The leader of the opposition now has almost one year to wait before he will face trial on corruption related charges about the misuse of a government credit card. The court heard this morning that the trial is now set for 8 September 2014. An earlier proposed trial date in March next year could not be met as a result of other commitments by the attorneys involved, Michael Snape, the crown counsel prosecuting the case against McKeeva Bush, said. Michael Alberga, who was representing the UDP leader, remained silent during the short mention, as the trial date was entered into the court files and four weeks set aside for the hearing. 

Bush nodded his assent from the Grand Court dock, as visiting judge Justice Panton read out the official trial date and extended the former premier's bail until that day. 
 
Bush, a veteran politician who is now opposition leader, is facing eleven different criminal counts relating to the misuse of a government credit card and abuse of office charges, which he has vehemently denied and has insisted he will be completely vindicated.
 
Originally, he was also charged with a number of counts of theft, which have already been dropped by the crown. Among other allegations, Bush is accused of using the government-issued credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM in various casinos. 
 
Bush is expected to elect a jury trial in the case, but so far his legal team has made no mention of any concerns regarding the presiding judge, given their potential conflicts in trying the former leader of the country.  

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OT minister is one of most ‘expensive’ UK MPs

| 13/09/2013 | 19 Comments

(CNS): Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s junior minister, Mark Simmonds, who has responsibility for the overseas territories, has been revealed as one of the UK’s more costly members of parliament. According to the latest figures released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Simmonds put in expense claims last year to the tune of £173,436.96. The report found that Simmonds employs his wife, Lizbeth, as an office manager on £20-25k a year and claimed £13,005.38 for office costs, £5,910.00 for other staffing expenses and £137,426.92 on payroll. His bill increased by around £17,000 from the 2011/12 fiscal year, when he claimed £156,446.90, which had been a big jump from his claim in 2010/11 of £114,267.11.

The expenses claimed by Simmonds are two and a half times his basic salary (£65,738) and they outstrip the claims of his more senior colleagues by tens of thousands of pounds. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne claimed £120,898.07, while Prime Minister David Cameron put in for £121,872.97 and Simmonds' direct boss, Foreign Secretary William Hague, claimed a comparatively modest sum of £92,273.15.

Despite racking up a significant tab, Simmonds' expense claim is not the highest; that title went to an MP in Northern Ireland, the DUP’s Ian Paisley, who claimed a whopping £232,042.33.

See spread sheet of expenses and pay here.

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Conflicts for members and chair of booze board

| 13/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Potential conflicts of interest for three of the five voting members of the liquor licensing board caused proceedings of the annual meeting to grind to a halt on Thursday when they recused themselves. With only two voting members left the board was unable to form a quorum and couldn’t hear 12 applications from five different George Town retail liquor license holders who had applied to extend their opening hours to 10pm and create a level playing field for booze stores on Grand Cayman. Long held concerns about conflict on this board came to the fore when a member who is also a licensee and one applying for an extension said he felt he had to recuse himself from the deliberations. This was followed by the exit of the chairman and another member as they were also perceived to be conflicted. Read more and comment on CNSBusiness

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Haines takes to the road to feed local kids

| 13/09/2013 | 40 Comments

(CNS): Local veteran marathon runner Derek Haines will be pounding the pavement again in December when he runs the 2013 Cayman marathon after turning 65 next month. As usual, Haines won’t be running the 26+ miles for free as he will be raising cash for a local charity. This year, the endurance racer will be hoping to raise $30,000 for the 'Feed our Future Cayman Islands' summer meals programme to contine giving local kids at least one decent meal a day when school is on break because so many of them are dependent on school lunches. The running Rotarian is  looking for sponsors, who will have their brands on his shirt. Now that his pace is a little slower than in years gone by, he said, they get great value for their money.

“A growing numbers of students in our community rely on subsidised or freeschool meals each day as for many this is the only meal they will receive. In fact, current statistics show that over 20% of the enrolled government school population for the Cayman Islands are being provided government assisted lunches," he said. “Every child needs nutritious food. If children do not receive nourishment they cannot learn, they cannot behave to expectation, they will not remain healthy. Health risks include obesity, diabetes and other associated illnesses.”

He explained that to implement the summer programme the Feed our Future project needs in the region of CI$30,000, based on a target of making available weekly grocery credit or goods valued at up to $50 for 50 plus children’s families.

Haines said he has continued training in preparation for the 1st December marathon and is now looking for sponsors. A company that invests $5,000 will be recognised in the local media and in other advertisements, including the Feed our Future website. He said it was also an excellent PR tool for companies, which will be associated with a very good cause.

“For individuals, and as an added incentive, for each pledge of $25 a guess of Haines’ finishing time can be made and the winner will receive six bottles of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin for the closest guess.

To help guessers out, Haines said his fastest time is 2hrs 59mins. However, that was 27 years ago and not likely to be repeated in this lifetime. Last year he finished in just over 4 hours.

For more information about the charity go to www.feedourfuturecayman.org.

See more about Haines below.
 

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