The following is an open letter to Henry Bellingham, Parliamentary under secretary of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Dear Mr. Bellingham:
I am writing you on behalf of myself and the many other concerned citizens and residents of the Virgin Islands in regards to the proposed Tortola Pier Park development.
This proposal, in my opinion, is very similar to the Bates Hill plan of the 1960s, and is therefore not in the best interest of the territory and its people. This proposal would gravely affect VI businesspeople and tie the hands of the next 12 administrations and several generations of our people.
It is my understanding that similar projects were undertaken by the same set of developers in Jamaica and other countries, and they were not at all satisfactory. I am not an educated man, but simple common sense tells me that should this project be approved and completed our children and grandchildren will pay a very heavy price financially and otherwise.
This proposal was brought to the attention of the public on June 27, and in the presentation two things were made perfectly clear: that the contract would be signed in about 30 days and that only a few retail spaces would be available to the people of the VI. It has been the practice of past governments to go into agreements with foreign corporations and then come to the public to inform them as to what they are doing rather than getting input from the public first. This government is walking the same road. This, therefore, tells me that the intervention of the United Kingdom government is needed.
We must always bear in mind that the majority is not always right, whether it be the government or the populace. We have a number of greedy individuals and influential businesspeople who support this project because their only interest is personal and not that of their territory or its people. Then, of course, we have those who would not voice their opinion for fear of victimisation.
As the time is close for the signing of this contract and the interest of future generations is at stake, I am asking you to look into this matter on behalf of myself and other concerned citizens and residents.
I am hoping that the Protocols for Effective Financial Management, agreed in April by the UK and VI governments, gives you the right to intervene should you feel that my concerns are genuine.