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Do the Christian thing – return land to the people

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EDITOR: In the late 1980s, the then NDP Government, after a protracted campaign by residents, acquired through purchase, lands from the Minors family to put down a Community Centre and a Playing Field for the residents of Belair, Dauphine, Bridgehill, Ashburton, Gomea, Welcome and surrounding areas.

To date neither the Community Centre nor the Playing Field is fully complete. Nevertheless, the Parliamentary Representative has found it necessary to give a portion of these lands to a private INSTITUTION (a church) to run a COMMERCIAL activity (a bakery)!!!{{more}}

When information was first circulated that the leaders of the church had approached and gained the approval from the Parliamentary Representative for the said portion of land, many

persons, including this writer were naturally incensed.

I spoke to Comrade Mike Browne and reminded him of the purpose for which the lands were acquired and that it was wrong to give them to the church. He told me he had not realised that persons felt so strongly about the issue and promised to discuss the issue with the community.

I then spoke to Mr. Osborne Browne, Manager of the National Sports Council (NSC), the body that has responsibility for playing fields. I explained to Mr. Browne what was being contemplated and told him that such an action was wrong and that the NSC should investigate the matter. His response at best was lukewarm.

I also approached one of the leaders of the Faith World Ministries – Pastor Ezekiel Creese. I told him that it was wrong for the Church to even approach the Parliamentary Representative for the land. I reminded him that he and I were members of the upper West St. George District Committee that stopped other persons from occupying the said piece of land. I was told I can’t fight against the Church. Well I am not fighting against the church, I am fighting against wrong. The church ought to join me in that fight.

I thought that the opposition by residents including this writer had caused all concerned to reconsider the issue and that the matter was resolved. Lo and behold in the height of the recent elections campaign, the lands were surveyed and a portion earmarked for the church! I then approached Mike who confirmed the new development.

Well Comrade Mike Browne, many residents rightfully are very angry. Moreover this matter transcends partisan political boundaries. The facts are clear and simple:-

(i) PRIVATELY OWNED lands were acquired for a PUBLIC PURPOSE

(ii) Those lands are neither that of the Parliamentary Representative to give nor the church to receive

(iii) The distribution of the land was immoral and the jury is still out as to whether it was legal.

I therefore call on the Parliamentary Representative and the NSC to return the land to the Community. Moreover I call on the leaders of the Faith World Ministries to do the CHRISTIAN THING and return the land to the community.

I call on residents not to allow the Dauphine Playing Field to get to the stage of the Belair School where the students of that school cannot play freely in their schoolyard or on the hard court because all the lands which were once public are now private property. To avoid having their balls seized, the students have retreated to the classrooms. Where will residents go if we allow the playing field lands to become private?

Curtis M. King

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