City Hall has announced this afternoon that it will close to the general public from 4 pm at the suggestion of the Bermuda Police Service.
But a planned meeting of the One Bermuda Alliance, at which Finance Minister Bob Richards is to make a presentation to party members on the airport development plans, is set to go ahead at the Bermuda National Gallery – against City Hall policy.
The news comes in the wake of a call by a grassroots activist group, MOVE, to gather at City Hall in protest at the airport plans.
Government has been criticised for holding a OBA members only meeting on the project which has been controversial since inception.
But Finance Minister Bob Richards brushed away the criticism today, telling Politica:
I am making a presentation to members of my political party for information purposes. It is surprising that anyone would find this unusual.
Every political party caucuses with its members.
I have addressed a number of public forums on the Airport Redevelopment Plan and have also met with private groups.
I will continue to make presentations and answer questions about a project that I know is important to Bermuda.
In a press release shortly after 3 pm, City Hall said that “due to unforeseen circumstances” the facilities will be closed to the general public at the suggestion of the Bermuda Police.
The release added that it was against City Hall policy to hold political events at its facilities.
Access will be granted for attendees of a private event as well as for those rehearsing in the Earl Cameron Theatre.
The City of Hamilton has a policy that does not allow for events of a political nature to be held at City Hall or on/in any other City-owned property. The City regrets the fact that one of its tenants was unaware of this policy. We have taken steps to ensure that they are fully informed. City Hall continues to adhere to said policy and looks forward to receiving its tenants’ support moving forward.
A City Hall spokesperson confirmed, when asked for clarification on the status of the political party meeting that it will in fact go ahead, saying “nowhere in the release does it say it is cancelled.”
We’ve reached out to the Minister, the Police and City Hall for further comment.
The One Bermuda Alliance began advertising the meeting to its members about seven days ago. This afternoon it issued a reminder saying that the meeting was for party members only and no media will be in attendance.
The emailed reminder ended:
We have taken steps to ensure this is an informative meeting with adequate security if required.
Update 4:15 pm
We’ve received this clarification from Corporation of Hamilton Secretary, Ed Benevides:
Mr. Johnson city hall is not making any exceptions. The release was written for public at large as informational not for the microscopic dissection of journalists trying to make a story to increase excitement and readership.
As with any Landlord we lease many properties and unless I am mistaken the terms and conditions of the lease dictate the operations not the arbitrary whims of others.
I am sure that if you rent an apartment your lease does not tell you who you can invite into the venue you are leasing at the choice of the landlord.
This is the same for the Corporation of Hamilton, we lease property to the Government, the Opposition , the Chamber of Commerce and good few more – which includes the BSOA and BNG in the upper floor of City Hall.
The City Hall grounds, steps, theatre , Foyer and Offices of the CoH are under a policy of no religious or political events. Up to fairly recently this extended to our parks as well but the previous administration amended the policy so now only city hall is covered.
The BNG has rented out their area to a private function which they are entitled to do without having to get the landlord’s permission. Had they been aware of the policy they may or may not have asked us if they could move forward. However they were not and accepted a rental of their space. Going forward I am certain there will be more dialogue between tenant and landlord to determine an amicable way forward that will allow their funding efforts and prove to be less embarrassing to the landlord.
If you want to take note of something you should note that persons who wish to exercise their right to make a political statement or protest should also respect the rights of private property owners.
The only reason the PR was worded as such was to demonstrate to the public that the CoH is not involved with the event as many would make an assumption that the location automatically means the CoH knew and supported the same. We did not know of the event until today when the email being circulated by the PLP protest organiser reached our offices.
City Hall release
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