Archive for June 18th, 2009

Beach becomes political issue

| 18/06/2009 | 44 Comments

(CNS): The former Tourism Minister and MLA for Bodden Town, Charles Clifford, says that the Coe Wood Beach project has become a political football as the current administration had told the contractors to demobilise their equipment and return the beach to its previous state, but have now said the project is not stopped but merely under review. Clifford suggested the backtracking on what was understood to be a cancellation is probably political as a result of the challenge made by Bodden Town voters that could trigger a by-election in the district.

Clifford told CNS that the demobilisation of a project is expensive and would not have been undertaken if this was merely about reviewing the plans. He believes that the UDP government intends to completely stop the project but is finding it politically expedient to now say that it is merely under review rather than being cancelled because of the support for the initiative in the district.

Following a challenge to the validity of the election of the two UDP candidates for the district with regards to their failure to comply with the constitutional requirement under Section 19 (1) (g) in time, Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour may well now have to face the Bodden Town electorate again in the next few months and cancelling the Coe Wood Beach project may have an impact on the voters.

“The last information we had was that the contractor had been told to demobilise his equipment and return the beach to the state in which it was found,” said Clifford. “It makes no sense to demobilise the heavy equipment if you are merely reviewing how the project will work asit costs money to do that. I suspect this is a case of panic in the wake of the challenge filed in the court, as the project was welcomed by voters.”

Clifford argued that this is a much neededproject and that official opening ceremony on 25 April just after construction started was not an election stunt but a result of the long term planning and considerations that had been made to ensure it was a sound project.

“This project has been in the works for some time,” he said. “Planning began more than a year ago and we spent a lot of time making sure it would meet the needs of the district, was consistent with the Go East initiative and a sustainable project.”  

He said it was unfortunate that the UDP seemed to want to stop it given that it was a scheme to help local small businesses, fisherman and to provide a recreation area for local people. “We were creating a good project and I believe the people of Bodden Town deserve an explanation of what it is they intend to do and to offer a time line if they are not cancelling the project,” Clifford added.

Mark Scotland the new Environment Minister and first elected member for Bodden Town, however, told CNS that there were a number of problems with the project that needed to be reviewed, which was why things had been brought to a halt, but it was not and never had been entirely cancelled. He said it was over-priced and criticised the boat ramp, saying it was being built for non–motorised vessels — a point denied by Clifford, who said it was designed for craft up to 25 feet including motorised boats. Scotland also said the car park in the design was encroaching onto half the beach and he did not believe that was necessary.

“We are also concerned about having the ramp, the fishermen and swimmers all in the same area. You don’t normally have people swimming where you have the fishermen coming in and bring fish or where boats are docking,” he said. “We recognise there are three elements to this but we don’t think they go together. We think this all needs to be re-designed.”  Scotland said there were also environmental concerns and that a more ideal solution would be to split up the recreation from the commercial aspects.

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Police pedal power

| 18/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): There are considerable advantages to policing the district on two wheels says West Bay area commander Chief Inspector Angelique Howell who recently went out on patrol on a bicycle with neighbourhood officer PC Devon Bailey. She said that feedback from residents and business owners has been encouraging with people commenting that the initiative makes the police more visible. “Working on two wheels means we can access areas which vehicles cannot and we can be easily stopped by the public if they want to speak with us,” Howell said.


“Obviously there will be times when bikes are not suitable, for example we cannot respond quickly to emergency situations on two wheels, but cycle patrols have a very important part to play in our overall strategy,” she added.

The police hope that residents will take full advantage of the bicycle patrols and that officers will find themselves more accessible to the public.

“People can approach the officers to chat to them about any problem they may have, report an incident or pass on information about crime taking place. “Officers will also be able to access off-road areas to check out for themselves what’s going on,” Howell explained.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in West Bay should contact the local police station on 949-3999 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Two teenager in court for burglaries

| 18/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): UPDATE — Friday 1:00pm: Police said this morning that a 19-year-old man has appeared  before the courts yesterday, 18 June, charged with a number of offences relating to a burglary which occurred at Portofino Restaurant in East End earlier this month where a number of bottles of alcohol were stolen. And a 15-year-old will appear in court today regarding the burglary of a home in West Bay earlier this week.

Roland Murphy Welcome has been charged with one count of burglary, one count of damage to property and one count of handling stolen goods.

Police said they were alerted to the break-in at the well-known Eat End restaurant on Friday, 5 June after staff found the back door forced open and a number of bottles of alcohol missing. Detectives from the Eastern Districts Criminal Investigation Department conducted enquiries and arrested Welcome on suspicion of burglary and recovered a number of assorted bottles of alcohol soon after the offence was reported.

West Bay detectives have charged a 15-year-old youth with burglary following a break-in at a property in Parkview Crescent earlier this week. Police were alerted to the burglary Tuesday afternoon after the homeowner returned home to find someone had entered the property and taken a number of items including jewellery, two ipods, a cell phone and items of clothing.

Detectives from West Bay CID conducted an investigation which led to the arrest of the teenager and the recovery of a number of the stolen items. The teenager will appear in court today.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Eastern Districts should contact their local police station on 947-2220 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Brac opens for tourists with disabled group

| 18/06/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The Dive Pirates Foundation (DPF), a group based in Texas that trains disabled people to dive, will be visiting Cayman Brac for a week, 20 to 27 June, the first tourist group to travel to the Brac since Hurricane Paloma hit the island in November 2008. Once a year, the non-profit organization of scuba diving enthusiasts sponsors those with disabilities with training, gear, plus a paid trip to the Brac to complete their certification. This year DPF is bringing the largest group so far, with 63 travelling to the Brac, comprising the recipients (including those who have suffered combat injuries, car accidents or illness), their support teams and Dive Pirates enthusiasts.

“Neither a massive hurricane nor the current recession could hold back the Dive Pirates, now gearing up for its largest trip to date, with 12 recently-trained adaptive scuba divers, two returning adaptive divers, along with other certified divers as diving buddies, family members and supporters,” said Barbara Thompson, who co-founded DPF with Sophie Wimberley.

Among the group arriving this weekend will be two paraplegic divers, four quadriplegics, a double leg amputee, four leg amputees, and arm amputee and a diver with incompletely formed hands and feet.

“We were devastated after the hurricane, and feared we could not accommodate the foundation, which has become part of the Brac family,” said Mary Tibbetts Brandes, owner of the Brac Reef Beach Resort that in the past retrofitted some of its rooms to accommodate disabled guests. “Though we are on the mend, we are very excited to say we will be co-hosting the adaptive divers this year with The Breaker’s Condos and the new The Alexander Hotel, and the divers will continue to use Reef Divers II with its staff of specially-trained dive masters.”

“We can’t say thank you enough for the Brac business community pulling together to make this year’s travel event possible. And we in turn want to continue to come here with adaptive divers as Reef Divers II is now a universal referral destination for adaptive dive training,” said Wimberley.

This year’s trip, coined “Out Brac – Pirates Down Under”, with an uniquely designed t-shirt by artist Rogest, is possible due to generous donations of those attending the 5th Annual Pirates Ball, the foundations’ key fundraiser, and a generous grant from ABB. Also very important to the trip this year is the continued support of SSI and the newly formed chapters across the country. Fundraisers in Dallas, Texas (Adventure Scuba), Corpus Christi, Texas (Adventure Scuba), Albuquerque, and New Mexico (New Mexico Scuba Center) have also contributed to this year’s recipients making the expansion of Dive Pirates across the country possible.

The Dive Pirates Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing Scuba Diving to persons with disabilities and joining them with the mainstream of divers. Its vision is to create a community of adaptive divers that will dive and travel in the mainstream world of scuba diving through education and overcoming obstacles.

For more information about the foundation or the trip to Cayman Brac go to

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Walkers backs HospiceCare

| 18/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Walkers Charitable Foundation has become Cayman HospiceCare’s Corporate Partner for the next three years the firm said this week. Although the actual figures have not been revealed the law firm said it was s a substantial amount and was the commitment to help HospiceCare to build on the incredible work done to date. As a free service offered to all people living in the Cayman Islands, Cayman HospiceCare is supported almost entirely by donations.

"The provision of hospice care is something which has touched so many of our staff and our clients worldwide," said Nancy Lewis, chief executive office of Walkers Global Holdings and chair of the Walkers Charitable Foundation. "Becoming a Corporate Partner of Cayman HospiceCare is something we strongly believe in on a personal level and the Foundation has been very keen to support this cause,"

HospiceCare stated that through the partnership Walkers has shown their strong commitment to the community and that the charity would now be able to meet its goals for the future Robin Dalsheimer, member of the Executive Committee of Cayman HospiceCare’s Board of Directors said it extended its gratitude to Walkers for, “this rare opportunity and the gift it gives to the people of Cayman."

The Walkers Charitable Foundation was established in March 2004 to receive and consolidate charitable donations arising out of client transactions in order to benefit worthy charitable causes.

In recent years it has made a number of substantial donations to charitable and community causes in Cayman the firm said.

This latest commitment follows a US$100,000 donation to the victims of Hurricane Paloma on Cayman Brac in November 2008. The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands has been another recipient of funds.  "We always look to assist where there is a need in the community of Cayman, particularly where the organisation reflects what our clients believe in," Lewis added.

Walkers’s contribution to HospiceCare will go beyond the financial commitments, with the firm working as a Corporate Partner in a number of initiatives. "Our staff will also provide their time and we will help out in areas where we have strong expertise," Lewis explained. "Bringing the strengths of a strong business to the infrastructure of a small charity can and will make a major difference."




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British MPs’ expenses published

| 18/06/2009 | 14 Comments

(The Guardian): The Commons authorities were today facing a backlash after publishing 1m expenses claims and receipts covering the past four years but censoring some of the most damaging information. The online publication excludes all rejected claims and addresses, disguising the extent to which politicians used the "flipping" tactic to redesignate their second homes to maximise their income. The long-awaited publication – which follows a year-long court battle and weeks of revelations in the Daily and Sunday Telegraph – covers printed documents and receipts relating to MPs’ claims for a series of parliamentary allowances between 2004 and 2008.

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Tax havens take heat

| 18/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(Accountancy Age): Tax havens are unlikely candidates for public sympathy, but are some being treated unfairly in the global crusade against tax avoidance? James Tipping, director of Gibraltar’s finance centre, thinks so. He laments the criticism directed at the offshore centre, arguing that Gibraltar doesn’t promote itself aggressively and has a demanding application process for those seeking a presence in the territory. Gibraltar’s plan to standardise the corporate tax rate at a flat 10% from July 2010 will see many multinationals move from a 0% rate. So far this has resulted in no companies indicating a retreat.

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Miller won’t take HSA chair

| 18/06/2009 | 24 Comments

(CNS): At his first open public  meeting of constituents as a sworn Member of the Legislative Assembly, Ezzard Miller said that he has decided he will not take up the role as HSA chair if he is formally asked as it would detract away from his ambitions to serve the people of North Side.  He told CNS that he would work with the ministry to address the issues surrounding health care and insurance but the chair role was not necessarily a positive move for him.  “I am still prepared to work with the Ministry of Health in any capacity to assist the country with the health care and health insurance issues we face,” Miller said.

An impressive number of North Siders came out to Miller’s first ‘participatory democracy’ meeting, where he established a committee to set up a district council, updated everyone on what had happened so far, asked them what he should be trying to get funding for in the next budget, and told them some of the ideas he had and wanted to put forward to the new government. Fulfilling his election promise, Miller engaged his constituents in open discussion and asked for their input. He told them that during his previous times in office he found it very difficult to access genuine public opinion but this time he was going to do everything possible to find out what people wanted and what they thought about his plans.

One of the major issues that Miller discussed was to reverse the decision of the previous administration to acquire a piece of land in North Side to build both a retirement home and affordable homes for the district. He said that during the campaign most of the elderly residents in North Side had made it clear that they wanted assistance to stay in their own homes rather than be put in a retirement home, and he said he would rather devote resources that way. He also said that the affordable homes should be built in several places in smaller numbers rather than all in one place. “The two won’t sit well together either, so I propose to ask the new government to stop that purchase and look at other options,” he said.

Asking if anyone objected, a debate ensued among the North Siders about the need for at least a smaller  old folks home, but everyone agreed that it should not be built with the affordable homes and that he should go ahead and stop the purchase of the piece of land in question. It was suggested that he look at existing Crown land in North Side for affordable housing and not rule out a small retirement home in the future.

Miller also managed to get people to volunteer for various initiatives including getting five people to commit to serve as special constables in the district so they could open up the long unused North Side Police station.

The North Side MLA told his constituents that while people thought he was going to be the HSA chair, it seemed to have helped him pull a few strings and he had already sorted out some of the fundamental problems at the clinic. He said the water heater had been fixed and the mouldy ceiling replaced. He also said he was starting work on getting the civic centre, in which the meeting was held, up to standard for the Hurricane Season, but he also wanted to take over the management of the centre so that it could be more readily used by the community. Miller said that at present the bureaucracy regarding the centre was ridiculous and he wanted to cut through the red tape, fix the building up, landscape the surrounding area and have the community start using it.

The need to clean up and develop North Sides beaches, public access, the erection of right of way and no dive signs and water sport zones, historical markers, the completion of the seamen’s memorial, erection of bus stops, repair and construction of roads were just some of the issues that were raised, and Miller said he would do what he could to get things started.

The meeting was well received by the local residents and a number of people noted that it was something that should happen in every district. Miller himself said he was delighted with the turnout. “This was an excellent meeting,” he said. “In the past I was lucky if ten people showed up but this was a great showing and very encouraging.”

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Bill for new schools grows

| 18/06/2009 | 17 Comments

(CNS): In a statement regarding the government’s financial situation by the leader of government business last week, McKeeva Bush said claims for overruns of around $17 million were being made on the two new schools being construction in Frank Sound and on the John Gray Campus. Speaking to CNS today, Hunter Jones of Tom Jones International (TJI), the general contractor on both schools, said that the overruns were down to changes made to plans by government and not as a result of running costs.

In Friday’s statement Bush said that the new government had not yet carried out a detailed analysis of the financing relating to the new schools being built, but that the public should be aware that there are claims for cost overruns of $17 million, which he said the new Minister of Education, Rolston Anglin, was addressing.

“Any such potential overruns would exacerbate the challenges created by the fact of building the schools at such a high cost in the first place,” Bush said. “The government will do the best it can to work with the contractors and find solutions to complete these projects in a fiscally prudent manner.”

However, Jones told CNS that $17 million was the worst case scenario but that the costs were down to requests made by the ministry for fundamental changes to the plans. “As with any major development project like this there are often changes made which have to be accommodated,” Jones said, adding that once the changes stopped he would be able to put a cap on the costs giving a final estimated total.

Currently, the contracts total around CI$110 million for both schools, with Clifton Hunter at around $51 million and John Gray around $59 million. CNS has contacted the Ministry of Education for details of the changes, which seem to have increased the cost and we await their response.

Despite the fact that former Education Minister Alden McLaughlin was criticized for the cost of the new schools, a number of local contractors said from the start that the bids were in fact underpriced and expected problems to arise as a result of that.

Steven Hawley, President of the Cayman Contractors Association told CNS last year that low bids should always raise eyebrows. “Profit margins in the construction industry are quite small,” he said. “If a contractor offers a bid that is as little as 10% below the other bidders, that suggests that he plans to complete the project at a loss to himself, which, of course, he would be very unlikely to want to do.”

TJI’s winning bid for the construction of the new John Grey High School was said, by theprevious administration, to be some 35% lower than the next bidder .

Ian Pairaudeau, General Manager of McAlpine Limited, said he believed it would be hard for TJI to complete the two schools for the price offered but if it did the government was getting a good deal.

While there have been problems with labour sub-contractors on the site, Jones made it clear that the current claims for increased costs are as a direct result of changes to the plan and have nothing to do with any problems with the estimated costs in the bid which won the firm the contract.

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Quarter of men in South Africa admit rape

| 18/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): One in four men in South Africa have admitted to rape and many confess to attacking more than one victim, according to a study that exposes the country’s endemic culture of sexual violence. Three out of four rapists first attacked while still in their teens, the study found. One in 20 men said they had raped a woman or girl in the last year. South Africa is notorious for having one of the highest levels of rape in the world. Only a fraction are reported, and only a fraction of those lead to a conviction. Of those surveyed, 28% said they had raped a woman or girl, and 3% said they had raped a man or boy.

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