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WEST BAY CENTRAL CONSTITUENCY COUNCIL - “IT’S ALL ABOUT ‘PEOPLE POWER”

Cayman Conversation 06 Jul, 2023 Follow News

WEST BAY CENTRAL CONSTITUENCY COUNCIL - “IT’S ALL ABOUT ‘PEOPLE POWER”

The West Bay Central Constituency Council is up and running, and it could very well set the template for similar groups throughout Cayman.

From its inception a few months ago the WBCCC is at the point now where it’s about to transition from an interim organisation to a fully-fledged council.

Giving an update on the success of their progress to date, Member of Parliament for West Bay Central, Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, commended residents of the area for their involvement.

“It wasn’t very hard to get members involved. What we did from a constituency standpoint was we actually reached out and asked persons in the community to send in nominations. So there was a nomination period and the applicants were vetted. I got feedback from constituents on what they felt would have been important for this interim body.”

The council members are Sharlene Rogers (Deputy Chair), Charles Brown, Alyssa Ebanks (Youth Ambassador), Sophia Bryan, Glenda Lee-Ebanks, Daubreen Maxwell, Roberta Powery, Shemar Harding, Jehu Rivers and Clint Hunter (Chair).

Mrs Ebanks-Wilks, who is also the Speaker of the Cayman Islands Parliament, was keen to point out that the West Bay Central Constituency Council(WBCCC) is not politically-affiliated. Instead, she stressed, it is made up of people of different political affiliations, age groups, backgrounds, professions and interests who want to see the best for their community.

“What I pride myself with in regards to establishing this because this body is not political. There may very well be people in this council whose political affiliations may be different. So, as a result of that, it’s done in a democratic process that the MP or myself doesn’t overstep boundaries and try to dictate to this council what their remit should be. it’s really a body that’s established to advise the MP on areas that they have collectively been discussing.”

The selection of members also followed specific criteria based on the original Advisory District Council Law of 2011. “One of the things was they wanted to ensure that the persons that were on the Council were registered in the electoral boundary for West Bay Central. The other requirement was for persons who had applied to be in good standing. So we had a number of persons that were nominated, and then there was an evening where we did the selection.”

According to MP Ebanks-Wilks, as political representation and the electoral process have further evolved in Cayman since 2011, the law which established the district councils now needs to be reviewed, and she expects the WBCCC to play a role in that.

“There will definitely need to be some sort of amendment or change in the original law as we move forward. The Advisory District Council

Law 2011 was passed when we did not have single-member constituencies. We’ll definitely have to consider that and I know we’re having discussions right now about electoral boundaries, right? So it will happen reflective of the way in which the electoral boundaries are established.”

Among the issues that the WBCCC is expected to address and advise both for the community and nationally, include; finance tourism, employment, community affairs, housing health and other areas as already defined in the scope of the current district council law.

“I know that a lot of times all of us residents are going through periods where we’re frustrated with a particular matter. This body I feel is a vehicle to help drive change because what it will do is discuss what the issues really are, and then take it to the MP and then the MP would then be responsible for taking this matter to the government.”

According to Mrs Ebanks-Wilks, “It’s all about people power”.

The West Bay Central MP said she hopes to see the WBCCC evolve from an interim council to ultimately influencing government policies for their area and the country. At the same time, Mrs Ebanks-Wilks is encouraging other MPs - whether they are in government or opposition - to do likewise and activate their community advisory councils.

“This is an interim council, but I’m hoping that it will continue to grow and other MPs will eventually establish similar groupings. It could be that the MP is not on the government side, so it will then force that entity to take their concerns to the government at hand to just ensure that the government is aware of the concerns of the relevant constituency.”

She also said: “It’s so important that the representatives understand that they represent the people and the people should be heard. The people are the voters and should feel comfortable with approaching their representatives.”


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