Concerned Citizens clarify petition numbers
The Concerned Citizens Group, which last year organised a petition against proposed changes to the West Bay Road, has moved to clarify press reports regarding signatures on the petition, which was presented to His Excellency the Governor on 12 December.
Speaking on Thursday, 19 January at the John A Cumber School Hall, Ms Alice Mae Coe, leader of the group, criticised media reports that portrayed the group in negative light by citing duplicate entries, signatures by non-residents, and other irregularities in the petition.
The Concerned Citizens Group, however, said that duplicate entries were not included in the final count of signatures and so the allegation could not be used to challenge the validity of the petition.
Betty Ebanks, a member of the group, noted that some of the petitioners signed with their nicknames and pet names and after verifying their names in the voters register, they were included as genuine entries.
Following the presentation of the petition to the governor, Premier Hon McKeeva Bush dismissed it and criticized the group’s action, noting that the public had been confused into signing documents that they would otherwise not sign. Even tourists had been asked to sign, he noted.
In defending the petition, Ms Coe noted that the petition was meant to preserve the West Bay Road and nobody was misled into thinking otherwise.
Community activist Billy Adams, who signed the petition, noted that more and more people wanted to participate including children, but the CCG had decided to include adults only.
The CCG provided a breakdown of the signatories to the petition. There were 1,652 signatures from West Bay or 44 per cent of the total; George Town followed with 1,223 or 33 per cent; Bodden Town had 501 translating into 13 per cent and North Side had 208, representing 10 per cent. Other districts had negligible numbers. The non-duplicated signatures amounted to 4,116 and registered voters were 2,363.
“This represents 6.9 per cent of the total population,” said Peter Morton, who presented the figures.
The government plans to close a section of the West Bay Road to allow for the redevelopment of the Courtyard Marriott Hotel and an expansion of the Esterly Tibbetts Highway by the For Cayman Alliance led by the Dart Group.
West Bay residents have however opposed this plan, saying that the road should be left intact, although they do not object to the expansion of the Esterly Tibbetts Highway.
The group collected more than 4,000 signatures on a petition, which they presented to the Governor, requesting him to use his powers to stop the proposed closure of the West Bay Road.
However, the governor said that the issue could only be dealt with by Premier McKeeva Bush, who is the minister responsible for development. The residents have however protested this, noting that Mr Bush, having signed the deal with For Cayman Alliance, cannot suddenly change his mind.