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News : New Providence Last Updated: Oct 3, 2018 - 12:39:04 PM

National Advisory Council encourages public engagement on Local Government
By Sarah Kirkby
Oct 3, 2018 - 7:34:17 AM

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Members of the Local Government NAC including Dr. Nicolette Betherl (center) Ed Fields, Chairman Senator Ranard Henfield (far left) and Acting Director of Local Government Brenda Colebrooke, join popular host Darold Miller for a lively and provocative discussion on a local government plans for New Providence. (Photo courtesy of Ronnie Archer)

New Providence, Bahamas – The National Advisory Council on Local Government for New Providence has been taking their consultation process to the nation during the month of September to encourage widespread engagement from residents in New Providence and the nation at large. The large volume of radio calls and texts messages coupled with a dramatic increase in engagements on committee’s social media pages is evidence of the tremendous level of public interest that exists and denotes further that the Committee's efforts are proving fruitful.

Council Members Ed Fields and Acting Director of Local Government, Brenda Colebrook kicked off the last week of radio appearances by taking their message to the thousands of listeners who tune in to the nationally syndicated ZNS show, Darold Miller Live.

The far-reaching public media consultation campaign – which began earlier in September with appearances on Guardian Radio with Lester Cox, known to some as “Mr City Government”, and Dwight Strachan - follows a series of strategic meetings with local government practitioners from Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Abaco, Inagua, Exuma, Long Island and other islands whose local government practitioners and residents have lent their voices, support and advice to the evolving process.

Council Members Ed Fields and Brenda Colebrooke listen attentively as callers weigh in with their calls to Darold Miller Live. (Photo courtesy of Ronnie Archer)

Since its formation back in April of this year, the Cabinet Advisory Committee, led by Chairman and Senator Ranard Henfield has fielded countless suggestions from Bahamians at all levels and in different sectors of society including the general public, the local media houses, the business community and NGO’s – the ultimate goal being widespread and thorough consultation to allow the people to shape the way forward.

“For the first time that I can remember, the government of The Bahamas is urging the electorate to determine how a new law should look. It's a complete turn-around from governments dictating to the people what they should need and want. This is a great start up the path of good governance in a modern participatory democracy" explained Senator Henfield. Despite conducting over two dozen meetings with persons experienced in local government and appearing on countless radio shows, Acting Director Colebrooke stated, "we understand that we cannot talk to everyone personally, which is why we are here. We want persons to be able to hear from us and formulate their own opinions and also express to us their concerns and ask questions”.

One such concern for many attentive Bahamian callers was the issue of how various communities on New Providence would be assigned into districts.

“Based on the conversations that we’ve had on this matter, it is very possible that we may look at five districts or more than that in our proposal” Colebrooke noted.

“That process however is not set in stone and we’re currently fielding the advice of a former and the present parliamentary commissioner on how best that aspect of the initiative would work for Nassau” added Ed Fields. Senator Henfield and Acting Director Colebrooke were scheduled to meet with both parliamentary commissioners (Bethel and Turner) for their insight on how best to create the districts and conduct the elections.

With the consultative phase nearing completion, The NAC will present all of its findings to Cabinet in a special report detailing their researched proposals and the many suggestions put forward over the past many weeks by persons like Alfred Sears, the Auditor General, Philip "Brave" Davis, the MPs for Bain and Grants Town, Centreville, Pinewood, MICAL, Eleuthera along with former Family Island Commissioner Ken Mortimer, Family Island Council Members like Dave Ralph (Abaco) and many other passionate practitioners.  The advisory report will assist the government in crafting the legislative framework to make implementation of Local Governance in the capital possible and effective in 2020.

In the interim, the NAC will continue to field advice and suggestions from the public via its official Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/localgov242/ or email them to LGNP2020@gmail.com

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