The Ministry of Labour and Social Development which has responsibility for the Urban Renewal Programme has taken note of the references to the Urban Renewal Programme in a press release by the Progressive Liberal party issued on 17 August, 2011 under the caption “FNM NOT IN CONTROL OF CRIME, FAILED TO FUND URBAN RENEWAL” and in the stories in the print and electronic media and issues the following statement in response.
Firstly, The Ministry wishes to inform the public that in New Providence, eight Urban Renewal Centres were operational under the former Government in the following communities, Fox Hill, Kemp Road, Nassau Village, Englerston, St. Cecilia, Farm Road, Bain & Grants Town and Fort Charlotte. None of these Centres were closed by the Government and six including the Nassau Village Centre continue to operate from the same location as they did under the former Government. A ninth Centre was opened in Pinewood Gardens in 2008.
In Grand Bahama, six Centres were operational under the former government, all of which are still open and four continue to operate from the same location as they did under the former Government. A seventh Centre was opened in Seahorse Village in 2008.
Secondly, there has never been any failure by the Government to fund Urban Renewal. Funds for the programme have been allocated on a annual basis since 2007 as follows:
2006/2007 – $2,450,000
2007/2008 – $2,500,000
2008/2009 – $3,000,000
2009/2010 – $2,800,000
2010/2011 & 2011/2012 – $2,301,822
The current allocation was based on the pattern of expenditure over the previous years.
The Urban Renewal Programme continues to operate a number of community based programmes.
As has been the case for the past three years, all of Centres in New Providence held a summer programme for children in July, 2011 at a public school in the community where the centre is located. Almost two full pages of photographs of some of the activities of the camps were recently featured in the print media. In Grand Bahama, the camps were held for two weeks during the month of July, 2011.
All Centres in New Providence and Grand Bahama continue to operate After-School Programmes during the school year and since May, 2011, a number of teachers have been engaged as tutors in an effort to enhance the quality of instruction. Similarly, a number of qualified musicians have been engaged as band instructors for New Providence and Grand Bahama to enhance the competence of band members. In Grand Bahama, the Royal Bahamas Police Force still provides assistance with the bands.
In Grand Bahama, as an extension of the Urban Renewal Sewing Programme, a school uniform sewing workshop was introduced in August, 2010, to provide instruction to persons in the making of school uniforms under the direction of a trained streamstress. The workshop was a tremendous success and the 2011 workshop is currently in progress. In Grand Bahama, an employability skills programme is also offered which provides instruction for unemployed persons in a number of areas including Office Procedures and Computer Applications.
The Urban Renewal Programme continues to partner with other government agencies including the Department of Social Services, The Department of Environmental Health Services and the Royal Bahamas Police Force for the delivery of services and the operation of programmes. Joint activities include community walkabouts to identify problems and the means by which they can be addressed. The Programme also continues to partner with community based organizations. For the past several years, a church in Nassau Village has served as a home base for the band as is the case with Ft. Charlotte. A number of churches also serve as the meeting place for the senior citizen’s associations.
The Ministry wishes to remind the public that a comprehensive report on the Urban Renewal Programme was tabled in Parliament in October 2009.
The Ministry acknowledges with appreciation the continued support of communities where Urban Renewal Centres are located for the programme and the public and private sector partners who assist with the implementation of programmes.