*Photo by Nicola Muirhead
*Photo by Nicola Muirhead

There is no conspiracy over the City of Hamilton, only a quest for more accountability, according to Premier Craig Cannonier.

Mr Cannonier denied the row over the Municipalities Act was a power struggle over revenue and control, and said it was simply about transparency.

On Wednesday the Senate ratified the Municipalities Act 2013, which gives business ratepayers the right to vote, and stipulates all land sales and leases of more than 21 years since January 1, 2012, must have the approval of Parliament.

The Act has drawn controversy as the City of Hamilton leased 26-acres of its waterfront to developers Allied Development Partners last December. 

The corporations of St George’s and Hamilton must also provide a code of ethics and conduct for ministerial approval. 

The Minister of Home Affairs also has the power to direct how Government funding is used, and collect evidence to that effect. 

And Government gains an oversight over infrastructure management.

City councillors however, have branded the legislation “dictatorial” and have accused Government of seeking to take away the city’s assets.

Taxpayers

But Mr Cannonier told the Bermuda Sun yesterday: “Bermuda, we need to put behind these thoughts and ideas of conspiracy. There’s no conspiracy here, this is all about accountability…

“This is not about a particular minister, this is about Cabinet making a decision to ensure the decisions we make are based on the taxpayers’ dollars.”

He appeared to allude to the waterfront row, when he said: “If we’re investing a major part of this country, then everyone should have an equal say as to the direction we go in.

“Bermudians want us to be accountable and that’s what this Municipalities Act is all about.

“This is not about us looking over with a fine toothcomb. We’re not looking to get in the way of the Corporation doing its business. What we are looking for is, if we’re in a partnership here, that we all be accountable as we move forward.

“And these things I hear out there about attacking the minister [Michael Fahy, Home Affairs] — that’s attacking the messenger. 

“This is not about the minister, this is about Bermuda moving forward, making the right decisions that make sense for everyone.”