26 February, 2010

Revenue


Anguilla Revenue Study.  This is the point at which we Anguillians have to pay for our government's excesses over the past couple of years.  I understand that our public debt now exceeds EC$200 million.  Now, it has been revealed that one Mr Alan Roe, an Oxford Management Policy Consultant, is coming to Anguilla to study our economy and finances and to make recommendations as to how we are to improve our revenue to meet our bills.  Our agreeing to this exercise, you will remember, was a condition that Minister Chris Bryan laid down for permitting our Ministry of Finance to borrow more money.  Mr Roe is a former World Bank economist, and a lecturer in economics at Warwick University.
I see from his Itinerary that Mr Roe is arriving on 29 February.  I hope the relevant officers of the Ministry of Finance do not do all their counting in this way!
The most scandalous situation exists in the area of property tax and hotel accommodation tax.  Will Mr Roe be successful in impressing on us our need to pay our taxes?  Or will we continue our historic path of habitual tax evasion?  Would someone please remind Hubert what he is supposed to do now that he is in government?  There is no excuse for his continuing to refuse to pay his property tax.
My contributions to Mr Roe's exercise are as follows.  Now that the accounts are all computerized, and since government does not have to pay for postage, would it be such a problem for the various government departments that collect revenue to send out a reminder or bill to all taxpaying citizens at regular intervals?  I know that governments do not usually remind people of their obligation to pay, but is it so difficult to organize?  I never remember that I have not paid my property tax until later in the year when I am writing up my accounts and find that column empty.
       Can I suggest that he recommend that we begin to move to a value added tax system?  It would be relatively easy to introduce VAT for services.  All of the major service providers in Anguilla have computerized accounts.  We do not pay income tax.  It would be comparatively easy to introduce and to enforce a 20% tax on all services.  Small tradesmen will be able to evade the tax comparatively easily, but not the major ones whose accounts are computerized.  We could continue for the present to pay customs duties on imported goods until we have developed the expertise to replace customs duties with the VAT.
Anyway, now we know that Victor did sign an agreement with the British to engage in this study in exchange for them permitting him to borrow for the elections!  That is how he was able to pay some of our bills last month.
Related posts:
Approvals –           4 September 2009
Green light -          23 September 2009
Income tax -          27 September 2009
FCO Response -      2 October 2009


21 February, 2010

Receivers


Can the Receiver at Flag Luxury Resort find a new buyer?  The answer is yes, he can find a new buyer.  But, there is not a damn thing he can do with the buyer, except tell him to go and talk to Robert FX Sillerman, the owner of Flag Luxury Resort. 
I do not know if you heard JB Turbidy being interviewed by Iwande on Upbeat Radio on the morning news about ten days ago.  What Turbidy said concerned me.  He repeatedly assured Iwande that the Salamander Group of investors was looking forward to the appointment of the Receiver at Flag Luxury Resort by Credit Suisse because that would enable the project to be sold to a new investor such as the Salamander Group.  He seemed convinced that the Receiver had the power to sell Flag to his group. That is so wrong, that I wondered if he had any advice before he spoke.   
Turbidy is not the only one mistaken.  The various newspapers carrying articles on the topic continue to repeat that Credit Suisse has “assumed ownership” of Flag.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
Anguilla has had since 1974 a pure system of registered land titles.  It is called the Torrens system after its Australian inventor Robert Torrens.  This system exists in several parts of Canada, the Commonwealth, and the United States, as well as in Anguilla.  It is a system whereby all deeds, and all common law concepts of land titles and interests in land, are abolished and replaced by a Register kept by government.  This Register is the only evidence of title to land in Anguilla. 
One of the reforms of the Registered Land Act of Anguilla was the abolition of mortgages, and the traditional rights of a mortgagee.  A lender secures a loan by registering “a charge” over real property.  When a secured loan goes into default, the creditor has only two remedies under our Act. They are, briefly, either (1) to appoint a Receiver of the charged property; or (2) to exercise the power of sale by public auction.  If a loan is in default, the secured creditor must give a 3-months notice either (1) to appoint a Receiver, or (2) that the property will be sold.  He cannot do both in the same notice.  Let us look at these two remedies.
First, what does it mean to appoint a Receiver of land in Anguilla?  The rights and powers of the Receiver are set out in the Act.  These rights and powers may not be expanded by contract beyond those given in the Act.  A lender cannot make a borrower sign a debenture increasing the rights and powers of the lender beyond those given by the Act.  To permit otherwise would be to corrupt and distort the remedies given in the Act.  Every lender would inevitably oblige every borrower to vary the limited rights of the lender to give the lender the widest possible rights.  The law does not permit that. 
If a loan goes into default, the Chargee may give the defaulting borrower a notice to the effect that unless the loan is brought current within 90 days the Chargee intends to appoint a Receiver.  The law enables the Receiver only to go into possession of the property and to manage it.  The Receiver runs it for the benefit, essentially, of the creditor until the loan has been paid off.  On the satisfaction of the debt, the Receiver is obliged to hand the property back to the owner.  His rights and powers are limited to managing the property in order to ensure the income goes to satisfying the debt.  Under no circumstances can he sell it to another investor, regardless of what the loan documents say.  He can sell nothing except in the ordinary course of business, eg, the sale of food in a restaurant.
A secured creditor has one alternative remedy under the Act.  That is the right of sale by public auction.  He no longer has the traditional remedies of a mortgagee under the common law.  The holder of a mortgage under the old law used to have the “right of forclosure”.  Forclosure gave the mortgagee title to the property, subject only to the right of the borrower to pay off the loan and get title back.  The holder of a mortgage used to have the right to go into possession of the property and to sell it to satisfy the debt.  He could sell by any means, once he tried his best to get the full market value.  That power of sale included the right to sell by private treaty.  That remedy has been abolished. 
The rights and powers of the lender who holds a mortgage charge are set out in the Act.  These rights and powers may not be varied except to the limited extent permitted by the Act.  The right of sale is, essentially, to appoint an auctioneer to sell the property by public auction.  No private sale is permitted.  The remedy of sale is given only to the holder of a charge exercising the right of sale as a chargee.  That right does not extend to a Receiver, who has no power of sale.  A sale by Chargee has the advantage that it wipes from the title all remaining charges and liens.  The purchaser from a Chargee obtains a free and clear title to the property.
In the event that a Chargee gives a notice to appoint a Receiver, the Chargee must appoint the Receiver with the limited powers of a Receiver, ie, to manage for the benefit of the lender.  A Chargee may not appoint a Receiver and simultaneously exercise the right of sale by public auction.  If the lender/chargee wishes to change his mind and sell, he must give the defaulting borrower a second notice to that effect, with another 3-month grace period.  The creditor has to give 3 months in either case.  So that, if there is no revenue to make the appointment of the Receiver worthwhile, and the creditor decides to exercise the right of sale, he must give another 3-months grace period to that effect.  
Given that Flag Luxury has no significant income that I am aware of, I cannot imagine why Credit Suisse would have wanted to appoint a Receiver.  There would be no income for the Receiver to deal with in satisfying the debt owed to the lender.
In the unlikely event that the Receiver did find a buyer, and persuaded the defaulting debtor to sell to this buyer, such a sale would be a disaster.  It would essentially be a sale by owner.  Such a sale would leave the property bound by all the existing obligations registered against title.  A sale by the chargee/lender is much more advantageous.  Sale by the Chargee would wipe the existing obligations from the title.  A purchaser would obtain a clean title from the Chargee.  That advantage is lost if the Chargee permits or pressures the borrower to sell to a new purchaser.  The new purchaser would take title encumbered with all the other debts and charges.  No properly advised potential investor in these circumstances would buy from the Receiver or owner.  He would insist on buying only from an auctioneer, or from the government after compulsory acquisition.
          Is there something in all this that is a matter of public record and that I am missing?
         Just remember that Don Mitchell is a dead-out, retired, ex-lawyer, and nobody can safely rely on anything he says about the law.



20 February, 2010

Nation Builder



Why I do not believe that Jerome will join Hubert in a “national government.” To recap, for those who do not realise what is at stake in Anguilla's political establishment. Hubert Hughes and his Anguilla National Movement was the successful party in the recent Anguilla general elections. The AUM won four of the seven seats in the Anguilla House of Assembly. The Governor appointed Hubert to be Chief Minister. Acting on his advice the Governor has appointed his other three successful party candidates, Edison Baird, Walcott Richardson, and Evan Gumbs, to fill the three remaining seats on the Executive Council. Victor Banks' outgoing Anguilla United Force lost the election, retaining only two seats in the Legislature. This transferred the AUF to the opposition benches in the House. The Anguilla Progressive Party of Brent Davis won the one remaining seat. That winning APP candidate was Jerome Davis. That places Jerome on the opposition benches. There, he joins Othlyn Vanterpool and Neil Rogers of the AUF.
      Throughout the election campaign the members of the APP repeatedly assured their supporters that none of them would break ranks, if elected, to join with another party in forming a government. We were invited either to elect a majority of APP candidates to form a government, or, if a minority was elected, they would serve the next five years in opposition. In spite of that promise, Jerome is said to be consulting with his constituency stalwarts on whether he should break with his party, leave the opposition ranks, and join Hubert's government.
      It has been widely published that Hubert has invited Jerome to join in a “national government”. Hubert has been quoted as saying that a national government is needed in Anguilla at this time. National government in time of extreme external threat is permissible. It calls for the most exceptional circumstances. National government is a code name for government with no opposition, a dictatorship in short. When the outside threat is so severe that we are prepared to give up our freedoms and liberties, surrender our democratic right of opposition to certain elements of government policy in the interest of defeating the enemy, then only is national government acceptable.  During the Second World War, the British Labour party joined with the Conservative government to form a national government.  It dissolved immediately the War ended.
      From Hubert's point of view, if he can tempt Jerome into joining him, there are only advantages. With his superior political experience, he could ensure that Jerome was no threat or challenge to his government. To quote Lyndon B Johnson on why he did not fire J Edgar Hoover as the head of the FBI, “It is probably better to have him on the inside of the tent pissing out, than on the outside pissing in.” There is no doubt this is a brilliant move on Hubert's part. Trust the old fox of Anguilla politics to think up such a smart move as that!
      By securing Jerome's allegiance, Hubert's government would become more secure. Instead of having a bare majority in the House of Assembly, he would have a comfortable majority. In case Sutcliffe Hodge did not prevail in his promised challenge to Neil Rogers' successful recapturing of the Valley North constituency, this would give him a vital buffer in case one of his Ministers became ill.
      Sutcliffe is said to have promised to support Hubert's government if he should win the North Valley seat. He lost the vote, but is suing for Neil's win to be overturned. Even if he successfully challenged Neil, he might not do any better in any bye-election, in the event that the judge ordered one. Or, if he prevailed, Sutcliffe might prefer to remain in opposition, and to fight for honest government from the opposition benches. Hubert needs the reassurance of another seat in the House now, he cannot afford to wait for Sutcliffe.
      From Jerome's point of view, there are temptations to join with Hubert. He would be gaining a front seat at the banquet of power. This should mean that he could lobby for some of the crumbs of patronage that will fall from the table of government. He may be able to get positions for himself and his main supporters, a pay-back that some of them may expect and may desperately need. He will have a taste of power, a seat at the decision-making body of the nation. Politicians drool over such a prospect. He might even convince himself that he could be a force for good once he was in government.
      The critical point of view in all this is the people's. From our point of view, Jerome joining a government that did not belong to his party would be only a negative development. We could no longer rely on him to keep government honest, something he could only do from the opposition benches. If he gave his allegiance to such a government then, when government made a mistake, he would have to keep quiet about it. He would no longer be available to introduce independent Motions, Resolutions, and Bills in the House, and lobby and argue for their passage. He could not organise the Public Accounts Committee to oversee government expenditure of public funds. He could not challenge government from the government benches. A voice for the people would have been lost. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either na├»ve or simply does not know how government works. Hubert's reign would become essentially unrestrained.
      Other than Neil, who has never been known to speak in the past on any of the topics of transparency, accountability or integrity in government, there would be no advocate for good government in the House. Othlyn Vanterpool, the sole AUF member of the House if Sutcliffe were to win the election petition, would be as equally unreliable as Neil would have been as an advocate for transparency, accountability, and integrity in the new government. His timidity and inactivity in his last position as Director of Fisheries does not give us any confidence that he would suddenly become a champion for integrity in government.
      Don't get me wrong. I am not assuming that Hubert's government is inevitably going to go rogue. I am not attacking Hubert. I am assuming that, no matter how hard Hubert tries, there will be a need for an opposition to do what a good opposition does: to point out the mistakes that are being made, the concerns that are not being addressed, and the promises that are not being fulfilled. The likelihood is that Hubert will be so busy worrying over the economy for the next couple of years that he will put his undertakings to introduce good-governance measures on the back burner. We shall need a vocal and active opposition in the House to remind him of his campaign promises. That is why we need a Jerome on the opposition benches.
      If Jerome were to be seduced into Hubert's 'national government', he would have shown himself to be unreliable. His reputation for integrity would be shot. He would have turned his back on his party. He would be seen as having been willing to sell them out for thirty pieces of silver. A viable, energetic, enthusiastic, developing political force, the APP, would have been betrayed, perhaps mortally wounded. It might be difficult for the party to recover from such a near-mortal blow. Neither Jerome nor the APP would be likely to gain an increase in public support in the next general elections. It would more likely than not be the end of Jerome's career in the House of Assembly. The likelihood is that, having cut ranks and crossed the floor, he would never win his seat again. Could this be what President Abraham Lincoln meant when he famously asked, “Am I not destroying my enemy when I make a friend of him?”
      The damage to Jerome would be the least of the loss to Anguilla. It is vital for a healthy democracy that we have a robust and active opposition in the House of Assembly and in the country, whether it be the AUF or the APP, to keep the new government on their toes. It is precisely the absence of such an effective opposition over the past ten years that is largely to blame for the island having sunk insensibly into bankruptcy and discredit. Jerome joining a “national government” with Hubert Hughes would be a loss for Jerome, for the APP, and, most of all, for Anguilla.
      The Jerome I know has too much political savvy to make such a short-sighted, party-destroying, nation-denying, career-ending mistake.



19 February, 2010

White man


God, I love this angry white man. I never heard of him before. Someone sent me the link to this video. It was so beautiful to listen to. I had to share it with you:
Is that not the most refreshing piece of honesty you have heard for a long time?  I thought so.
I don't know whether his rant applies more to our Muslim cousins than it does to our Christian brothers and sisters. What is certain is that it applies to both of them. Probably equally!

For my determinedly Christian readers, who would rather listen to his blast directed to our Muslim cousins I recommend this video as being more politically correct. For Christians, that is:
All those Anguillians who would love to live in faith-based Saudi Arabia right now, put up your hands!








17 February, 2010

Sweeping

The new administration has got to raise revenue and reduce costs. I figure they need all the help they can get. I make the following suggestions for increasing revenue starting with the most obvious and least controversial.
           'Sin taxes' always receive public approval and approbation. No one would object to increasing the duties on tobacco and alcohol. Anguillians consume far too much alcohol, anyway. It would be a significant health measure just to triple the duty on spirits, wines and beer. Tobacco is hardly a problem in Anguilla. Increased excise duty will make it even less so. And, don't forget lapdancing salons, cockpits, and dogfight rings. No more turning a blind eye to the main chance to maximise revenue!
           Collect property tax from the thousands of householders who have refused to pay it. Do not forget the fines associated with late payment. There is no need to prosecute everyone, an example of one or two prominent citizens should result in a flood of homeowners rushing to pay up. Perhaps, the Hon Mr Hubert Hughes can volunteer to be the guinea pig? That would be a real show of leadership.
           Disconnect the thousands of illegal water connections and prosecute the offenders for having stolen water. I do not approve of my tax dollars going to subsidise certain well-known North Valley and South Valley business men using the public water for free.
           Enforce the accommodation tax laws. Visitors to Anguilla pay the bed tax, and certain well-known local and foreign hotels have failed ever, and I mean ever, to pay the public revenue collected by them on behalf of the public into the Treasury. This is a form of licensed stealing, so long as Government continues to condone it.  If I were a law abiding hotelier, dutifully paying my bed tax into the Treasury every month, I would be particularly offended.
           And, please, don't tell me any stupidness about not wanting to “criminalise” poor Anguillians. These not-so-poor Anguillians have done it to themselves, no one is doing it to them.
           Remember, the new broom sweeps cleanest!

16 February, 2010

Congratulations


Some reflections on the elections.  I am happy with the election results.  I have no doubt that the Anguillian electorate has spoken loudly and clearly.  Congratulations to the victors, and commiserations to the losers.  Better luck next time.  And, there will be a next time, perhaps sooner than we all realise.
This is DeFosto’s satirical calypso on Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s palace that he has just had government build for him in the heart of Port of Spain in Trinidad.  The music reflects so clearly what Anguillians thought about the United Front Party and the incumbent politicians that I invite you to look at it to get a sense of how relieved we all are in Anguilla at the outcome of yesterday’s elections.
The elections are not completely over.  The likelihood is that, in the coming weeks, Sutcliffe Hodge will challenge Neil Rogers’ victory in the courts.  To this day, Neil has refused to demonstrate something that only he can do, and that would have cost him nothing: that he has effectively renounced his US citizenship, something that he is required to do under our Constitution if he is to be legally qualified to sit in the House of Assembly.
Will the Hon Hubert Hughes, our new Chief Minister, remember James Frankel of La Samana hotel in St Maarten?  In about 1979 Frankel was given an Aliens Landholding Licence by the Government of Anguilla to purchase land at Maundays Bay from Emile Gumbs, and to lease more of it from Government.  He began building what was to become the Cap Juluca hotel.  The following year, during the election campaign, Hubert took as one of his main campaign planks a threat to force Frankel to re-negotiate the Licence.  He said he wanted to see more density on the beach.  Now, a licence of this sort, which contains mutual undertakings and promises by both government and the developer, can be considered a contract.  Ronald Webster made Hubert Minister of Tourism in the new government that took office in 1980.  Hubert continued to make it clear to Frankel that his licence was not going to be honoured.  Frankel sued the Government for anticipatory breach of his licence agreement.  I do not know what advice the A-G gave government.  But, government hurriedly agreed with Frankel that in exchange for his dropping the suit, he could sell his licence and project for a goodly profit to Friedland and Hickox, who became the next developers of the hotel.  If Frankel had continued with the case, the likelihood is great that Government would have lost it, and been ordered to pay him substantial damages.  Will Hubert make the same mistake all over again, as he is promising to do?
Congratulations are due to the IT team which put together a brilliant website to cover the results as they were coming out.  If you have not seen the web pages before, you can get the election details here.  The elections map which showed the results as they developed was particularly good.  Congratulations again to Rudy Webster, Romero Kelsick, Garson Kelsick, Ludwig Grant, Damien Harrigan, Vaughn Hazell, Roxanne Romney, Duquaine Brooks, Dwayne Smith, and Karenda Brooks.  You did a magnificent job of bringing the elections to those of us who stayed home glued to our computer screens.  Don’t put away the software just yet!

15 February, 2010

Voted


Well, there, I have voted.  I really don’t want to write anything on the elections taking place in Anguilla today.  There is this irrational, but visceral, fear that, whatever I write, I’ll end up putting ‘goat mouth’ on the outcome.  So, I shall just keep quiet about my hopes and fears for the results expected late tonight.
One comment I feel obliged to make is that I found the atmosphere in the line of voters at the Road Methodist Church to be very light hearted.  Everyone seemed to share the same unbelievably friendly and gregarious mood.  There were no scowling faces and menacing looks as I have experienced in previous elections.  Everyone was chatting and laughing with everyone else.  And, the large number of people that were there standing in queue from early was itself unusual. 
I can only hope that these are good omens for the future.

10 February, 2010

Aloe Vera


Lubricants.  I know, every West Indian hedonist is well aware that here is nothing that beats the core of a leaf of aloe vera chewed up and collected in a cereal bowl, and placed on the bedside table.  Ever since the days of slavery, this potion has not only been the spermicide of choice for knowledgeable West Indians, but also the intimate lubricant nonpareil.  There is the little matter of the possibility of indelible stain on the hotel’s sheets, but, for the more cautious, the waterproof shower curtains have long ago solved that little problem!
Aloe vera, famously, cures sunburn instantly, takes a little longer, say 24 hours, for a burn of boiling water.  But, for sex?  Never has anything better been discovered or invented.  Apparently, until now.
St Valentine’s day is fast approaching.  The sexually active need to plan ahead.  Aloe vera is best used fresh.  Flaxseed, by contrast, can be prepared a day or two in advance. So, I offer you a choice of the two. 
I am not interested in whether you think that this is an appropriate post. If you don’t like it, go and create your own blog.  After you have tried a leaf of aloe vera
Go on, I know you will love it.
Reports should be published on YouTube, not here.

08 February, 2010

Fair Play


Jeunesses Musicales International (JMI) and the World Bank Institute http://www.worldbank.org/wbi/ are pleased to announce the launch 1 February 2010 of Fair Play - Anti-Corruption Youth Voices http://www.jmi.net/page.php?n=3&ID=12, a global competition for original songs by young musicians on the theme of anti-corruption and good governance.
The competition is an initiative of the Global Anti-Corruption Youth Network, a worldwide network of civil society organizations with the specific agenda of fighting corruption. Winners of Fair Play - Anti-Corruption Youth Voices will be invited to perform at the group's international summit Spring 2010 in Brussels, Belgium.
"This is not an idol search like most music competitions targeting youth today," says project coordinator Kate Declerck "this is a call for young musicians to join the global anti-corruption youth movement, and ensure that their messages are heard by the global community."
Fair Play - Anti-Corruption Youth Voices has nine (9) international musical ambassadors - top young artists from Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Philippines, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, who have recorded and released their own original tracks on corruption in order to motivate and engage young people worldwide in the fight against corruption.
Here are the first anti-corruption music videos online from ambassadors Ajob (Bangladesh) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_XZd0xFZVk, Fareeq el Atrash (Lebanon) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B2x6D2hvm4, Lesen Udar (Macedonia) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suyrOwYEyK8, The Ryan Cayabyab Singers (Philippines) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6SfSdLi8VI, Steven Sogo (Burundi) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4qJteGT3CQ!
All music and videos, including those by ambassadors African Destiny (Zimbabwe), Blessed Sons (Sierra Leone), Kamer Jingles (Cameroon) and Profetas (Colombia) can be heard here: http://www.jmi.net/page.php?n=3&ID=12
The competition is open to all musicians under 35 years of age, from any country. Please download the full Competition Guidelines: http://www.jmi.net/pub.php?ID=66
To enter the competition candidates should upload their anti-corruption video to YouTube and send the link to kate@jmi.net along with the completed Application Form.
Get connected with the lastest news, music and videos by becoming a fan of Fair Play - Anti-Corruption Youth Voices on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fair-Play-Anti-Corruption-Youth-Voices/273959194790?ref=search&sid=556166120.3496496731..1
Kate Declerck
Programs Officer
Jeunesses Musicales International
Palais des Beaux Arts
Rue Baron Horta 13
1000 Brussels
Belgium
T. +32 2 513 97 74
F. +32 2 514 47 55
M. +32 487 16 39 31
E-mail: kate@jmi.net
Skype: kate-jmi

07 February, 2010

Sadness

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It is with great sadness that I report the following.  One of the many public complaints against the outgoing Anguilla Administration has been its gross over-emphasis on economic development at the cost of the under-development of our social services.  It seems that whenever there has been a choice between any of culture, social development, the environment, transparency, accountability or integrity on the one hand and the financial interest of the land developer on the other, the land developer won each time.  It appears to be the commonest complaint one hears both on the calypsos and on the opposition platforms.  Now, I hear a very sad story that I want to tell you about.  First, a little history.
Portrait of Dr SB Jones MD
Dr Samuel B Jones, famous as the first black medical doctor in the Leeward Islands, served as Warden, doctor, and Magistrate of Anguilla from August 1918 to May 1923.  He wrote the first published history of Anguilla, The Annals of Anguilla (1931).
Dr SB Jones OBE of Anguilla
During the time Dr Jones was in charge of Anguilla, the island experienced four consecutive years of drought, food shortages, a hurricane and a quarantine period.  The last of these endured for several months due to the presence of 400 contacts and 19 cases of mild smallpox imported from the Dominican Republic.  In response to the threat, Dr Jones built a quarantine station on the tip of the point of the Shannon Hill which lies to the north of Sandy Ground Bay
View of the point at Shannon Hill where Dr Jones built the Anguilla Quarantine station
All schooners returning to Anguilla bringing the annual temporary cane cutters from the Dominican Republic back to Anguilla were made to tie up to the great iron ring that still to this day remains cemented on the small cliff.  There, the crew and passengers were detained in quarantine until they were cleared of all infection and were permitted to join their families.  They were the 400 “contacts”.  Dr Jones ensured that no serious case of smallpox escaped from the quarantine station.  It is said that he built a fence across the Shannon Hill point, from shore to shore, and put guards at the gate to keep the men in and the girlfriends out.  No Anguillians died during the epidemic that raged in the islands around.  For his achievement in preserving the islanders from serious infection he was awarded the OBE.  The ruins of the foundations of the cottages that made up the quarantine hospital could, at least until about five years ago, still be seen there.  Now they have been bulldozed by some demented Philistine developer, and the site has gone back to its previous state of abandonment, but without the historic foundations.  There remained one link with Dr Jones’ historic achievement.
Bulldozed foundations of the quarantine station at the point of the Shannon Hill
The cottages that he built on the foundations at the point on the Shannon Hill were subsequently, when he finally lifted the quarantine, transported by truck and by cart to the top of Crocus Hill.  There they were installed on new foundations.  They formed the first wards of The Old Cottage Hospital.  Over the years, the original chattel house buildings were gradually replaced by the concrete and galvanized-roof buildings that are there now.
The back view of the Old Cottage Hospital
Anguilla’s hospital has moved on to its present location in Pope Hill where it is now known as the Princess Alexandra Hospital.  The Old Cottage Hospital buildings are presently occupied only by WISE and by the Anguilla branch of the Red Cross
The front view of the Old Cottage Hospital
WISE stands for Workshop Initiative for Support in Education.  The name rather conceals the purpose of the institution.  This is where Anguilla’s children who have behavioural issues, or who have chronic learning problems, come to complete their education.  Members of the public have equipped it with wood working equipment and metal working tools.  There is a modern, well equipped teaching kitchen.  Language and mathematics skills are developed.  Above all, there is shelter, care and concern showered on the students while they are there.  WISE is a division of the Ministry of Education, and is one of the most important social developments that have taken place in Anguilla over the past decade.  The management and staff of WISE are widely recognized throughout the island for their selfless devotion to, and love for, their wards.  Many of them have graduated and gone on to be productive and useful members of Anguilla society.
The WISE classrooms at the Old Cottage Hospital
Now, the school children tell me that members of a certain political party have promised the Crocus Bay Development people that, if they should win the upcoming general election, they will sell them the Old Cottage Hospital buildings.  The developers have, apparently, applied to some of these politicians for the property to be sold to them.  Once they open their villas for sale, they do not want the school to continue on their doorstep, so to say.  I am told that the original Old Folks Home on the grounds of the Cottage Hospital was turned over to the Fisheries Department when the old folks were removed to their new home at Pope Hill.  This building has already been occupied by the developers.  If this is true, there will be precedent for this proposed transfer.
The Old Folks Home at the Cottage Hospital, now occupied by the developer
Given what, in my opinion, appears to be the cattle-truck style of construction pursued by Crocus Bay Development, I doubt that there can be any question of a surplus bundle of money being available to the company for it to build a suitable replacement college building for WISE. 
The Crocus Bay Development
It is not clear whether any, and if so, how much of a campaign contribution was solicited or donated in exchange for this promise.  Given the presently apparently semi-abandoned state of the project, it is highly unlikely that there would be any substance to such a base thought.  As is apparent from the photographs, construction appears to be almost at a standstill.  On the Saturday I visited, there was one workman hammering away at the back of the site.  The fronts of the half-constructed buildings were covered with weeds.  It did not seem to be under active construction.  A July 2009 article in The Anguillian Newspaper quotes the owners as saying that the first of the buildings would have been available for sale last year.  The next seven were to be ready by December of 2010.  It would appear that things are not progressing as planned.  Even the website appears to be only partially constructed.
Weeds growing out of the front of the Crocus Bay Development, suggesting a degree of abandonment
Will WISE have to close down, or will they be able to remove their equipment, students and staff, to a new and adequate location provided to them?
Whatever the fate or fortune of Crocus Bay Development, if there is any substance to the story of the imminent demise of our Old Cottage Hospital building at the request of a real estate developer and speculator, all those who are concerned ought to be ashamed of themselves.

05 February, 2010

Diplomats


So far as I know, I have never met Colin Roberts.  He is the successor to Leigh Turner as Director of the British Overseas Territories, the FCO officer responsible for Anguilla.  He has just been on a tour of the British Overseas Territories in the West Indies, most of them, that is, except Anguilla
He has just been on his first official visit to the British Virgin Islands January 27-30.
From there, he went to the Turks & Caicos Islands, reviewing the progress of the Interim Government.  The TCI Journal reports that, in the coming months, there will be a full review of the constitutional arrangements, the electoral system, and the political system of the TCI.  They are going to get a brand new Constitution before August 2011.  The British are not going to allow the TCI to go back to the old, winner-takes-all, Westminster-system of exploitative government that the people endured there under the present Constitution.  Bear in mind that the TCI got its brand new Constitution only last year.
So, I wondered, who is this Colin Roberts?  Where else do you go with such a question but to Debretts?  There, I discovered that besides being a career diplomat he has been a lecturer at Kyoto University 1983-84, was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1986, and entered the diplomatic service in 1989.  That was twenty years ago.  The bright young lawyer and diplomat has moved up to the top of the service.
He has served as First Secretary (political/military) at the Paris embassy 1997-98, head of the Commonwealth Foreign and Security Policy Department at the FCO 1998-00, political counselor at the Tokyo embassy 2001-04, ambassador to Lithuania 2004-08, and now, since 2008, Director of Overseas Territories at the FCO and UK Commissioner for the British Antartic Territory and the British Indian Ocean Territory (yes, that’s Chagos). 
So, a high-flyer in British intelligence and security is now in charge of the BOTs.  Make no mistake about it, they have aimed the big guns on Anguilla and the other Overseas Territories.  Consider our current Governor, Alistair Harrison.  None of the recent non-entity, clerical types we have had can boast a similar career to his.  They really have upgraded the rank of Governor of Anguilla!  No more treating us like the friendly, harmless natives we are.  Why the nerves, you ask.  Is it perhaps that we are the gaps in the armour on the soft underbelly of the cousins on the other side of the pond?  Could it be that a jittery USA is demanding a higher level of reassurance? 
We will never know what goes on at that level.  We can only speculate.
What is clear is that Colin Roberts was well advised that he should not come to visit Anguilla at this time when we are in the middle of a vicious, drag-down, cut-throat, political campaign.  We can expect him in Anguilla within a week or two of the publication of the results of the 15 February 2010.  Mark my words.
And then, can we hope that whatever constitutional reforms are implemented in TCI will next be implemented in Anguilla?  We live in hope that that is the message he will be bringing.