January 19. A dispute over a decision by the Hamilton Princess to cancel a venue for same-sex marriage opponents has flared up once again. The hotel maintained that the original reservation had been made under an alternate name, and it later broke off the agreement. However, Preserve Marriage has insisted that its e-mail records confirm that the booking had been made in its name, and it provided The Royal Gazette with a copy of a communication showing so. In November 2015, the hotel withdrew a booking for Ryan Anderson, a visiting American speaker and prominent opponent of same-sex marriage. Allan Federer, the hotel’s general manager, said subsequently that the Preserve Marriage event had been originally reserved under “a different guise”. On that occasion, Mr Federer said the Hamilton Princess booking would “never have been accepted if the group had disclosed its intentions at the time of the reservation. The Hamilton Princess does not accept any booking that promotes discrimination of any kind,” he added. Dr Anderson’s lectures subsequently went ahead in the Heritage Worship Centre hall. Preserve Marriage said they had met Mr Federer and requested a retraction of his remarks, which he declined to do. Meanwhile, Preserve Marriage was said to be contemplating a formal complaint to the Human Rights Commission. In a statement yesterday, the group said it had been identified from the outset. Preserve Marriage also said they had met Mr Federer and requested a retraction of his remarks, which he declined to do. In response to yesterday’s announcement, the hotel said: “Hamilton Princess stands by its previous statement.”
January 19. A 56-year-old tour operator is behind bars today after admitting possessing heroin worth more than $250,000 with intent to supply. Michal Tucker, of Paget, pleaded guilty to having 86.38 grams of the drug in St George’s on December 13 last year. Deputy director of public prosecutions Cindy Clarke told the court that the drugs would have had a street value of $253,380 if sold in Bermuda. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo remanded Tucker, who runs Affordable Ride Minibus Tours, into custody and ordered a social inquiry report as well as a drug assessment. Sentencing was adjourned to March 10.
January 19. A public meeting on money management and home ownership is being held tonight at Heron Bay School. Zane DeSilva, the Progressive Labour Party MP for Southampton East, said many Bermudians considered owning their own house to be “an unobtainable goal”. The discussion is due to cover personal finances and taking the first steps to home ownership. The meeting will be held at Heron Bay School hall from 7.30pm.
January 19. A fire protection company is to highlight tough new safety rules on commercial properties. Brendan Stones, general manager of Air Care, said new legislation, likely to be passed later this year, will give the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service (BFRS) new powers to promote fire safety and protection in buildings from design to construction. “There is no doubt that the Act has the potential to have a significant impact on all commercial buildings and landlords really should make themselves aware of what they might have to do in order to comply,” said Mr Stones. The new Fire Safety Act will adopt standards set by the US-based global National Fire Protection Association, which cover all commercial buildings, ranging from office blocks to shelters for the homeless and warehouses. A new building will also have to comply with the new standards before it is given a fire certificate, which will have to be renewed every five years. Air Care will join forces with representatives with the BFRS and overseas partners of Air Care at a seminar on the legislation at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on January 26. “The Fire Service will give a presentation on the new Act which, I think, will be invaluable to commercial property owners. The new Act is all encompassing and is excellent in terms of improving safety,” said Mr Stones. He added that, while Air Care is best known for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning services, it also has a fire safety division specializing in fire alarms, and fire sprinkler and pump maintenance and testing. Furthermore, the company works with Canadian firm Troy Life and Fire Safety to install alarm and sprinkler systems. “With the new fire code that will likely be enacted this year, we are taking a proactive approach to fire safety which is why we have also invited the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service along to this event to provide additional information,” said Mr Stones.
January 18. Ukrainian Valentyna Poltavska said it was a “wonderful feeling” after becoming the first woman to win the Bermuda Marathon yesterday. The 44-year-old finished the 26,2-mile race in a time of 3hr 4min 2sec to etch her name in the annals of Bermuda Marathon Weekend history. Bermuda resident Rose-Anna Hoey came second in 3:06:56 to set a new record in the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, with American Tim Price the first man to the line, finishing third overall in 3:07:24. Poltavska, who won the women’s marathon in 2014 in 2:56:25, said she was confident of victory in the absence of any other “elite” runners in the field. “I’m very happy and feel wonderful,” Poltavska said via a translator. “After the first loop I understood I could be first and beat the fastest man. I knew there wouldn’t be too much competition and decided that winning was my aim and not running a particularly fast race.” Poltavska, whose personal best stands at 2:38 at the Detroit Marathon in 2004, said the conditions were perfect, a welcome change from the sub-zero temperatures in her homeland. “I love Bermuda, I love the people and everyone is happy and smiling,” said the former track athlete who started running marathons 14 years ago. “The weather here is perfect. Back in the Ukraine it is very cold so I came here to enjoy the experience.” Gideon Kigotho, a Bermuda resident, was fourth overall, posting a time of 3:14:31. Jordan Chipangama breezed to a third half-marathon title in four years yesterday, crossing the line in 1:11:46 to follow on from his win in Saturday’s 10K. Chipangama trailed behind Laura Paulsen, a United States Olympic Games trialist, for the first four miles before taking the lead. It was the Zambian’s second 10K triumph in three years, with the 27-year-old also finishing third in the KPMG Bermuda Invitational Mile on Friday night. “It was a successful weekend for me and I was pretty impressed with my performances,” said Chipangama, who will compete in the marathon at this summer’s Rio Olympic Games. “I’m pretty happy although I would have loved to have won the elite mile.” Paulsen’s impressive display earned her the women’s half-marathon title, finishing second overall in 1:18:29, in her first appearance in Bermuda. “I was weird [at the start of the race],” she said. “I was wondering where everyone was and I wasn’t even going that fast. I just felt fine.” In third place was Byrne Decker, of the United States, who posted a time of 1:22:42, with Bermuda’s Spencer Butterfield placing fourth in 1:23:36. For Hoey, it was a weekend to remember, with the Irish runner shattering Dawn Richardson’s 2009 Bermuda Triangle Challenge record. “I felt like crying to be honest,” Hoey said. “I saw my husband and son, and that was a bit emotional. I’m so pleased, I just want to thank everybody, my family and friends, who supported me. I broke the record and I’m so pleased.”
January 18. Rose-Anna Hoey broke Dawn Richardson’s 2009 Bermuda Triangle Full Challenge record with about five minutes to spare after finishing yesterday’s marathon in 3hr 6min 56sec. Hoey pumped her fists in the air as she broke the tape well under the target of 3:12:27. She was immediately congratulated by her husband David and young son Matthew as she savored the moment. Hoey did the half-marathon loop in 1:31:24, which left her with a target of about 1:40 for the second loop in order to stay on course for the record. She managed 1:35:36. “I did the wrong thing in a marathon, and I would never advise it, but I planned on running a positive split which means running the second half slower than the first half,” Hoey said. “The reason being is there is nobody out there on the course in the second half so I had to settle into a pace and keep going. I realized I had some time to spare [after the first loop], so just relax and try to run a 7.20 pace and knew if I did that I would run under 3:10.” At the finish line Hoey could not control her emotions as fellow runners Victoria Fiddick, her coach, Deon Breary and Tamika Miranda all came over to congratulate her. “I felt like crying to be honest, I saw my husband and son, and that was a bit emotional,” she said. “I’m so pleased, I just want to thank everybody, my family and friends, who supported me. The second lap was lonely but my friend Chris, who was out for a Sunday morning run, joined me for a few miles to keep me company.” Hoey kept in contention for the record by recording a time of 42:16 in Saturday’s 10K race in blustery and rainy conditions. The time was 56 seconds slower than Richardson’s time of 41:20 seven years ago. “The wind started picking up on the North Shore so you take what you can get, I broke the record and I’m so pleased,” she said. Breary was the first local female finisher in the half-marathon, coming across the line in 1:29. “I’m happy with my time, I was aiming for 1:28, didn’t make it, but I’m pleased with the 1:29,” Breary said.
January 17. The Progressive Labour Party has applauded the Bermuda Government for reversing a tax increase affecting senior landowners, but has questioned whether the initial hike was down to a legislative “error”, as claimed by finance minister Bob Richards. Diallo Rabain, who is running for Constituency 13 against the One Bermuda Alliance’s Andrew Simons, said tonight in a joint press statement with David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance: “While I am pleased that the OBA have reversed their ill-advised tax increase on our seniors, it is disappointing that the OBA cannot own up to the mistake and are now calling it an ‘error’.” The Government stated in a press release on Friday: “The Land Tax Amendment Act stated an incorrect value for the maximum ARV allowed for the exemption afforded to Bermudians 65 years and older, as per section 3A of the Act. “The corrected ARV limit for the seniors’ exemption is $42,000, not $29,000 as tabled.” Mr Rabain continued in his statement: “The voters of C-13 have told me on the doorstep that they are very concerned about the cost of living and making ends meet. “They have seen their healthcare costs rise, their health insurance has skyrocketed, their fees have been raised and they have yet to receive an increase in their pensions from the minister, Bob Richards. While this change from the OBA on land tax is a victory for seniors, there is much more that we need to do to ensure our seniors can live their lives in dignity. I will continue to be an advocate for seniors and look forward to continuing to share the PLP’s vision for our seniors on the doorsteps of C-13.” We did not receive a response from the Government by press time.
January 16. A move by the Bermuda Government to block unions from staging walkouts has been turned down by the courts. However, the mass walkout in January last year over the explosive issue of continued furlough days in the public sector has been branded “unlawful” by Ian Kawaley, the Chief Justice. Dr Justice Kawaley refused to grant a permanent injunction against walkouts, one year on from the mass demonstrations sparked by a standoff over furloughs. A letter from Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, called for a swift decision by unions on the issue and kept it as a cost-saving measure, sparking widespread marches and days of occupation by unionized staff of the grounds of the Cabinet Office. With yesterday's ruling, the Chief Justice effectively cast blame on both sides, noting that the evidence suggested both had “failed to fully appreciate their respective most compelling concerns as the 2014/15 Budget approached”. Dr Justice Kawaley found that the minister's letter had been “provocative”, while a statement from the Bermuda Trade Union Congress described it as “one of the most explosive pieces of correspondence in the history of industrial relations in Bermuda”. While the Government's demand was received as an insult to the Island's labour movement, the Chief Justice wrote: “It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that the unions were, to some extent at least, secretly delighted to seize on the January 23, 2015, letter as the perfect tool to motivate public officers to display a massive show of impromptu support. “It was, in once sense, a belated Christmas gift from the Government, which was supplemented by the only marginally less provocative 'no-show' at the January 27, 2015, resumed negotiations.” He added: “The 'Occupy Cabinet Office' campaign proudly described in the Bermuda Public Services Union pamphlet was doubtless a morally justified triumph in labour terms as regards the narrow issue in question. “I am, however, bound to find that it was not a lawful response to a provocative letter which merely threatened future, not imminent, wrongful conduct on the Government's part.” Dr Justice Kawaley also ruled that employers, including the Government, should respect unions and deal with them in good faith, in a “non-provocative manner. Against this background, the January 23, 2015, letter was, on any detached and objective view, a wholly surprising and disproportionately confrontational communication,” he wrote. He further acknowledged that the BTUC's position must have proved “very frustrating” for a minister charged with reducing costs while saving jobs. “Having advanced proposals designed to reform the public service and make substantial cuts while protecting workers through creating alternative private employment, he was not only met by a union response which both opposed these essential structural changes,” he said. “The comparatively minor furlough day measure, itself designed to save jobs, was itself under attack.” The Chief Justice found that both sides were at cross purposes, which ultimately led to the dispute. While both parties were aware of the urgency, that awareness never translated into a “meaningful meeting of the minds”. Dr Justice Kawaley concluded that a “generalised risk of future irregular strike action” remained, and that the Government still had the potential to provoke union walkouts. “There is no credible evidence before this court that the respondents will, without the sort of extreme provocation which occurred on January 23 and January 27, 2015, abandon a consensual negotiation process in favour of unlawful strike action,” he said. “In my judgment it is impossible to imagine circumstances in which unlawful industrial action could properly be said to be imminent in the requisite legal sense when there is no current or pending dispute which it is clear the parties cannot resolve through negotiations or other forms of consensual dispute resolution.”
January 16. The Corporation of Hamilton has missed the deadline set to pay back the $18 million owed over the failed Par-la-Ville hotel project. However, Charles Gosling, the mayor, said last night that the client now appeared to be “more understanding in terms of what we need to do”. Mexico Infrastructure Finance’s legal team told the corporation last week that if it failed to settle the debt, it could sell the Hamilton Fire Station, the Chamber of Commerce building and the Custom House. Mr Gosling said it was unlikely that MIF would seize any property at this stage. He said repayment of the debt would have an impact on the ability of the corporation to provide services to the city, but added that he would do everything in his power to avoid job losses. He told The Royal Gazette: “They have been accommodating and more understanding in terms of what we need to do. They are not pleased with the speed at which we are getting these things accomplished and neither are we, but we are trying to speed up the process as much as we can. The one thing I dislike about the whole process is that this guarantee is going to take us many, many years to pay off — it is going to be a 15-term loan and it is going to have an impact on the abilities of the corporation to do capital projects for a period of time. When I first got into office I had a staff meeting. I told the staff it was certainly not my objective to have any of the staff laid off because it was not the fault of the staff that got us in this particular situation. With regards to that, I am going to do my darndest to make sure that that does not happen. I want to save jobs and services because I want to make sure the ratepayer — even though there will be changes in our rates and service fees — I really want to ensure they get as efficient service that they are currently getting or that we can actually improve it.” Asked whether MIF had made any claims over corporation property, Mr Gosling said: “No, but they made very clear that they want this situation to end as quickly as possible and we are trying to make that happen. I am certain that we can find a solution. We have a particularly good term sheet from the bank that we are dealing with.” Corporation secretary Ed Benevides said he hoped that the situation would be resolved by the end of this month. “We have been able to demonstrate how far we have got and what pace we are working at and, even as of yesterday, we had the banks, the Government and ourselves in the room. There are certain things we have to do legally but to speed it up we are doing a number of things in parallel. We would love to have it all wound up by the end of the month, that is what we are aiming for.” On July 9, 2014, developer Par-la-Ville Hotel & Residences Ltd entered into a credit agreement with MIF to borrow the $18 million for a hotel in Hamilton. On the same date, the corporation entered into a guarantee of the loan and, as security for that guarantee, it provided MIF with a first mortgage over the Par-la-Ville car park. However, that loan was later recalled, making the corporation liable for the $18 million owed to MIF with interest of about $3,450 a day.
January 16. Adam Bitchell timed his kick to perfection to emerge victorious in one of the most “epic” finishes to the KPMG Bermuda Invitational Front Street Mile. It was almost impossible to tell who had crossed the line first, with just a tenth of a second separating the three runners competing in last night’s elite mile race. So close was the finish, Welshman Bitchell and runner-up Drew Soucy, of the United States, recorded the exact same time of 4min 26.51sec, with third-place Jordan Chipangama, of Zambia, just a split second behind. With about 400 metres remaining, Soucy and Chipangama had established a small lead but it was Bitchell, coming up on the inside, who finished the strongest, treating the spectators lined along Front Street to a thrilling finale. “It was an epic finish,” said Bitchell, a first-time visitor to Bermuda.
January 16. Heather Kampf stormed to a fourth consecutive Bermuda Invitational Front Street mile title in the elite women’s race in front of another bumper crowd last night. The American ran a very smart tactical race and used her knowledge of the local conditions to her advantage to become the first woman to claim four titles in the popular event. Kampf was forced to come from behind after trailing Kenia Sinclair, the Jamaican race record holder, most of the way, before surging ahead down the final stretch as her rival’s gamble to break away from the field early ultimately backfired. The 2016 Olympic Games hopeful led the field across the line in 4min 42.68sec to successively defend the crown she first won in 2013.
January 16. The beaming smile and glow on Tamika Miranda’s face pretty much summed up how much winning last night meant to her. With her parents, family and some of her Heron Bay School students cheering her on from the sidelines, Miranda secured the top spot on the podium in the local women’s mile after holding off Jennifer Alen, the defending champion, in an exciting sprint to the finish. The great-niece of road running legend Sir Stanley Burgess executed a well thought out game plan to lead the field across the line in a winning time of 5min 20sec.
January 16. Local diners marked the end of an era with the closing of Dorothy’s, a well-loved café tucked away in Chancery Lane. Its hamburgers were the stuff of legend, and the atmosphere everything guests could expect of a family business run for 40 years. For Dorothy Emery-Middleton and her niece Claudette Trott, the time has come to hang up their aprons and take a break. “It’s amazing that a place known for the best burgers on the Island has closed its doors,” said Kendaree Burgess, the executive director of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, echoing the sentiments of many. “Dorothy’s represented that old-school brand of Bermuda’s mom and pop eating establishments, a place where the food was as real as the people. You knew what to expect and you were never disappointed. I wish them well and hope that the closure was a choice, a retirement of sorts.” Businesses close by said there had been no shortage of crestfallen diners, but the closure was voluntary and a welcome breather for the establishment’s owners. In a notice in The Royal Gazette, Dorothy’s loyal customers were thanked for their years of support — along with voting the venue the home of Bermuda’s Best Burger for more than 18 years.
January 15. Insurance giant Ace has completed a $29.5 billion takeover of Chubb to create the world’s largest publicly-traded property and casualty insurance company. Ace was an early flag-bearer for Bermuda’s insurance sector after placing its operating headquarters on the Island in 1985. It still has a strong presence here, although it is now headquartered in Switzerland. The Ace name and logo will go, to be replaced by the Chubb brand for the new firm, which has a market capitalization of $51.2 billion. The new firm will also adopt a new Chubb logo in a variety of colours. Former Ace chief executive officer Evan Greenberg, now chairman and CEO of Chubb, said: “ACE and Chubb are now one and we could not be more excited about moving forward together with our new colleagues and our new brand. We are a global leader in commercial and personal property and casualty insurance with an exceptionally balanced product portfolio, a broad and deep global presence, extensive distribution channel capabilities and the ability to serve a diverse array of commercial and personal customers. Because we are creating a new path, we needed a visual expression to bring our new vision to life. It starts and ends with the Chubb name. Our identity — who we are — comes from our name, which is a symbol of quality and strength. So we have chosen a new logo that is a simple expression of our name, with no extra symbols or visual distractions. To balance the simplicity of the new Chubb logo, we have chosen an out-of-the-box approach with colours. There will be many colours to represent the new Chubb brand — nine to be exact. These colours reflect the diversity and energy of our culture, our thinking, global presence, the many different customers we serve and the many products we offer.” Although Ace’s operating headquarters came to Bermuda in 1985, the company was officially domiciled in the Caymans. It moved the seat of its operations to Switzerland in 2008, but maintains a significant presence in Bermuda through its landmark headquarters in Hamilton. Mr Greenberg said: “We are creating a new identity from our shared DNA. Our new identity is vibrant and full of life, anchoring us to our future, not to our past. We look forward to focusing on our craft of insurance to create significant value over time for our shareholders and to deliver unmatched quality and service to our customers and distribution partners.”
January 15. Martin Luther King, Jr, the American Civil Rights leader who was assassinated in 1968, would have turned 87 today. Dr King’s work extended far beyond battling segregation: he campaigned for economic empowerment and the betterment of inner-city communities. This drew Dr King to the work of Bermuda’s own Canon James Francis who, as a priest in the Episcopalian church in the United States, devoted many years to poor neighborhoods. “He was known as the ‘hoodlum priest’, because he would go everywhere, among everybody, mobilizing people, kind of like some of the work Dr King did,” his nephew, Elbert Richardson, recalled. In the 1960s, Mr Richardson went to live in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his uncle, then known as Father Francis, and his wife Audrée. One area where Canon Francis often went to help families was the predominantly black neighborhood Lincoln Heights, which was “a rough place”, Mr Richardson said. Rex Darrell, then a young Bermudian student living close by, recalled the notoriety of Lincoln Heights as “one of the worst black communities in America”.
January 15. The Departments of Civil Aviation and Maritime Administration are both set to become quangos this year, according to Shawn Crockwell. Speaking with The Royal Gazette, the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport said the move was intended to make the departments — which control Bermuda’s ship and aircraft registries — more efficient and more capable of adapting to the market. “Both of these registries can grow exponentially by not having the weight of a government, because it’s quite sluggish in making the adjustments necessary to meet the demands. By making them nimble, putting them into a quango so they can be somewhat autonomous in making their decisions, then they can grow these registries. We have been working on this since 2013. Our timeline is to have both of them up and running by April 1, and we are pretty confident that we are going to meet that timeline. It’s something we are quite excited about. They are going to grow, create more business opportunities and more revenue for the government.” Quangos, such as the West End Development Corporation and the Bermuda Land Development Corporation, are financed by the Bermuda Government but operate independently.
January 15. Bermuda’s murder rate has halved over the past five years but it is too early to say the Island has turned a corner on violent crime among young black men, according to commentators. There were four murders on the Island in 2015, compared with a peak for the past decade of eight in 2011, and Bermuda’s per capita murder rate of 6.1 is now just below the global average of 6.2. But former race consultant Rolfe Commissiong and former police commissioner Jonathan Smith told The Royal Gazette that although the gang and gun problems appeared to be improving, there was still much work to be done. Mr Commissiong said the upsurge in murders five or six years ago was attributable to the major restructuring of Bermuda’s economy in the mid to late 1980s, from tourism to international business.
January 15. Authorities tasked with tackling cyber-bullying in Bermuda are becoming increasingly concerned over the prevalence of “sexting” among young pupils in schools. Police and staff from the Department of E-Commerce go into primary schools, as well as middle schools and high schools, to warn students of the perils of exchanging sexually explicit images. They have warned that the distribution of sexual or pornographic images could result in serious, long-term consequences for pupils, including prosecution and criminal proceedings. Meanwhile, community officers urged parents to be aware of their children’s cyber-activities and try to create an open dialogue about their online interactions. Marisa Stones, director of the department of E-Commerce, told The Royal Gazette that the prevalence of mobile phones and the myriad of apps now available had facilitated sexting as well as cyber-bullying.
January 15. The Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) last year registered 64 new insurers and reinsurers — one down on 2014. A total of 22 of the new companies are limited purpose insurers or captives, six up from the 16 registered the previous year. Shelby Weldon, director of licensing and authorizations at the regulator, said: “Registration of captives is on the increase because they not only reduce insurance costs but are important components of the parent companies’ burgeoning risk management programmes.” He added that captives registered in the last six months of 2015 covered a range of risks, from oil and gas drilling in Canada to drivers’ insurance in Peru. Mr Weldon said: “It is encouraging to see continuing registrations from Canada and Latin America, as these regions have been targeted by Bermuda’s business development efforts.” But he said the US is still the biggest source of captive formations for the second half of last year. Bermuda captives remain out of the scope of the EU Solvency II supervisory rules, which only apply to the Island’s commercial insurers, reinsurers and insurance groups. The BMA registered 13 new commercial general business insurers and reinsurers last year, compared with 11 in 2014. Long term life insurance and reinsurance companies recorded nine new entries to the market, the same as the year before. Among the new life insurers and reinsurers is a Chinese firm designed to reduce the cost of cancer treatment in the country. And a total of 20 special purpose insurers were registered in 2015, down eight on the 2014 total. New asset management funds totaled 83 last year, up slightly from the 80 logged for 2014. Last month saw a total of 11 new registrations in insurance and reinsurance.
January 15. Cyber risk, energy trends and new business opportunities in Canada and Latin America will be among the topics for the annual Bermuda Captive Conference in June. Keynote speaker Joe Flowers will look at the future of healthcare, the impact of technology on the sector, pharmaceuticals and diagnostic techniques. He is an international expert in the field. David Gibbons, the conference chairman and managing director at PwC Bermuda, said: “Our speakers and panelists will be discussing topical and emerging issues such as cyber risk, oil and gas risk, Canada, Latin America, insurance-linked securities, taxation treatments, legal issues and recent claims and investment trends.” He said Bermuda is the top global jurisdiction for captives, with 800 registered, supporting primarily Fortune 500 firms in the US. In 2014 they generated in total more than $48 billion in annual gross written premiums in 2014. Bermuda-based captives support an estimated 25 per cent of the US medical insurance and reinsurance market and increasing numbers have come from Canada and Latin America in recent years. Mr Gibbons said: “We plan to capitalize on these trends with a compelling agenda that will attract, educate and engage delegates at this year’s event, to be held at the Fairmont Southampton between June 13 and 15. Other sessions at the conference will focus on the impact of climate change and the evolution of catastrophe events and losses. There will also be a “Bermuda Shorts” series of briefing sessions on specific lines of business, technical issues and targeted topics identified by captive owners and professionals.
January 15. The Island’s courts have refused to grant a permanent injunction against walkouts by members of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress. However, unions acted unlawfully in a mass walkout a year ago during a standoff with the Bermuda Government. According to a statement issued by the BTUC, Ian Kawaley, the Chief Justice, also described correspondence sent to the unions calling for a decision on continued furlough days as “provocative”. That letter from Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, was “one of the most explosive pieces of correspondence in the history of industrial relations in Bermuda”, the statement added. The letter sent on January 23, 2015, in which the Bermuda Government kept public sector furlough days as a cost-saving resort, sparked days of marches by unionized workers. Dr Justice Kawaley ruled that employers, including the Government, are “required to respect the right of trade unions to represent their members and to deal with the unions in good faith, in a non-provocative manner”, the statement said. However, the Chief Justice also found that the unions did not act lawfully in walking off the job. Dr Justice Kawaley also wrote in his judgment: “It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that the Unions were, to some extent at least, secretly delighted to seize on the January 23, 2015 letter as the perfect tool to motivate public officers to display a massive show of impromptu support. It was in one sense a belated Christmas gift from the Government.” A temporary injunction on walkouts has been in place since last year. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Home Affairs released the following statement this afternoon: “Today the Chief Justice issued his ruling in the case of Minister of Home Affairs v BIU, BPSU, BUT, Prison Officers Association and Fire Officers Association. Members of the public will recall that these proceedings were brought about by Government when the Bermuda Trade Union Congress called on public sector workers to leave their workplaces and attend Cabinet Office grounds for three days in January 2015. They did so in response to Government’s request of the Unions to extend the agreement on furloughs. The Chief Justice today made the following declarations:
- THAT the [BIU, the BPSU and the Fire Officers Association], as regards their divisions or units which are essential services, on or about January 28, 2015, acted unlawfully, contrary to section 9(1) of the Labour Relations Act 1975, in taking irregular industrial action short of a strike;
- THAT the [BIU, the BPSU and the BUT] acted unlawfully, contrary to section 19 of the Labour Disputes Act 1992, in taking irregular action short of a strike.
In summary, the court declared that these public sector unions acted unlawfully during the events of 26 — 28 January 2015. Although the Government’s application for a permanent injunction was not granted, the court was clear that Bermuda’s labour legislation provides requirements that must be met by public sector unions before a strike will be legal. The Chief Justice said that, “the war against a public debt crisis which could, if not addressed, ultimately transfer control of the country’s finances to its lenders, remained to be fought.” This case has long been made by the Minister of Finance. The Chief Justice concluded that all parties should take this case as an opportunity to engage collaboratively going forward. The Minister of Home Affairs Sen. the Hon. Michael Fahy JP, upon learning of the decision said, “The Government agrees that this represents an opportunity to create better relationships with the Unions and looks forward to engaging with them to build on previous collaborative efforts in order to deal effectively with our public debt crisis through prudent fiscal measures and sustainable public sector finances.”
January 15. The real-estate market has bounced back, according to a new report from a major industry player. But Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty said the recovery had a long way to go before it matched pre-recession boom years in the property market. Agency manager Susan Thompson said sales by the firm rose 60 per cent last year compared to 2014, with 37 per cent of the transactions being cash purchases, compared to just two per cent in 2010. She added the anticipated Island-wide total of 300 properties sold in 2015 was up from the 209 logged in 2012 — the worst year on record — although way below the 714 recorded in 2008. “The real estate market has suffered tremendously over the past few years,” she said. “The latest figures are a very promising sign when you look at the confidence people are showing in their spending transactions and that 37 per cent of the transactions were in cash.” She added: “There may be a couple of overseas buyers in there, but the vast majority of that 37 per cent are Bermudians and people living on the Island — permanent resident certificate holders and spouses of Bermudians.” Ms Thompson was speaking after Coldwell Banker released its sales market update yesterday.
January 15. A legislative “error” which would have impacted on seniors is to be amended by finance minister Bob Richards. The Bermuda Government announced Mr Richards will present changes to the Land Tax Amendment bill, which was tabled on December 16, but contains an “error which would have unintentionally impacted Bermuda’s senior citizens who are land owners”. The press release stated: “The Land Tax Amendment Act stated an incorrect value for the maximum ARV allowed for the exemption afforded to Bermudians 65 years and older, as per section 3A of the Act. “The corrected ARV limit for the seniors’ exemption is $42,000, not $29,000 as tabled.” According to Government, based on the new land tax rates which were also tabled in the amendment, the maximum dollar value of the exemption provided for seniors is $1,569, annually which is in line with the previously existing exemption of $1,566. Government stated: “Therefore, although the ARV value has been lowered, the dollar value of the exemption provided to seniors has been maintained.”
January 15. Restaurant Weeks begins today. Forty-five restaurants are participating in the annual event, which is now in its fifth year. Bermuda-inspired dishes, mystery reviewers and the People’s Choice Award all add to the fun of the three-week dine-around.
January 14. US Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has bashed Bermuda in an attack on tax loopholes. Ms Clinton said that she planned to crack down on tax avoidance to boost the US economy. Her official website said: “High income money managers have used loopholes related to foreign reinsurance — often located in Bermuda — to avoid paying their fair share. And they take advantage of complex derivatives trades to lower their tax bill. Clinton would build on proposals from both Democrats like President Obama and Republicans in Congress to close down these two loopholes.” Several hedge fund managers have established Bermuda reinsurers with a primary focus on managing investments and have derived tax benefits on investment gains as a result. The statement added that she will beef up the “Buffet rule” — coined by super-rich investor Warren Buffett — which said that those making $1 million or more a year should not pay a tax rate less than their secretary, which meant a rate of at least a 30 per cent rate. It said: “Hillary will call for strengthening the Buffett rule by broadening the base of income subject to the rule and end the ‘Romney loophole’, which allows the wealthy to shelter millions of dollars in retirement accounts. This means immediately closing egregious loopholes, like the Bermuda reinsurance loophole and the ‘Romney loophole’ that let the most fortunate avoid paying their fair share. Unfortunately, far too often, our tax code is rigged to favour multimillionaires and billionaires who can exploit loopholes and shelter income in order to avoid paying their fair share. There is essentially a private tax system for the wealthiest Americans that lets them lower their tax bills by billions, while working families play by the rules and pay their fair share.” The website said that 2013 figures showed that the 400 highest-income taxpayers — those making more than $250 million a year on average — paid an effective tax rate of just 23 per cent, in part because of tax gaming and sheltering to reduce their tax bills. “Some multimillionaires can pay lower tax rates than their employees,” the website adds. “Clinton believes that at a time when pay has risen far too slowly for working families, when America is under-investing in our young people and our infrastructure, it is outrageous that the wealthiest can exploit loopholes and avoid paying their fair share. Hillary is committing to shutting down the private tax system for the ultra-wealthy by closing loopholes that exist today and remaining vigilant for new loopholes lawyers and accountants try to find next. The ultra-wealthy should not be able to exploit loopholes and leave middle-class families who play by the rules holding the bag.”
January 14. People making planning applications will soon be required to display a notice of their proposed development on site, the Department of Planning has announced. Signs should be installed clearly and visibly as soon as possible, once the wording has been provided by the Department. They must stay in place until at least one week after the appeal period for the development has ended. The Department said: “This new initiative addresses an objective of the Public Access to Information Act which is to have more information placed in the public domain as a matter of routine. It also meets the Department of Planning’s objective of providing a more efficient and customer-friendly planning regime; and it addresses the concerns of the public and NGOs which are that newspaper advertisements alone are insufficient to properly notify the public of proposed developments across the Island.” The initiative will come into effect on January 25.
January 14. The Bermuda Government has pledged to clean the canal that has contributed to flooding problems in the Mill Creek area, according to local businesses. Mill Creek Road firms said they had received a letter from the Government last Friday, indicating it will clear the canal, flood-box and sluice gate of debris, and make relevant infrastructure repairs by the end of March. According to businesses, the Government advised that it will issue a request for quotation to contractors this week, to provide quotes within the next three weeks for:
- removal of trash and debris from floodbox and along canal;
- cutting down vegetation adjoining Mill Creek Road to facilitate assessment of the canal;
- inspection of sluice gate to ensure it is operating properly.
- sealing walls, repairing cracks and building a concrete structure next to the bridge
- construction of wall at junction of Pitts Bay Road bridge and Mill Creek Road for pedestrian and vehicle protection.
Ed Faries, on behalf of the Mill Creek Road businesses, stated: “We are delighted that Government is finally moving forward with the upkeep of the canal and would like to thank the Minister of Public Works for making this a priority. “We are happy to see that the project started on Tuesday and to seeing its completion before the end of March, as promised. We were also pleased to read in The Royal Gazette that Government will set up a small team of enforcement officers to crack down on contractors and land owners who break planning rules. Construction throughout Hamilton has contributed significantly to the canal issues that we face today. The ministry has also advised us that it will meet with the Department of Planning regarding the permitted planning applications that are granted contrary to planning policy.” The Government has also advised that additional works may be necessary as the project progresses, for which it will aim to allocate funding. Mr Faries added: “Moving forward, we hope that appropriate funding will be included in the Ministry’s annual budgets for the ongoing upkeep of the canal. It is important to note that maintaining the canal benefits all flood-prone areas of Pembroke, not just Mill Creek. We look forward to seeing this outlined in next month’s budget debate.”
January 14. A five-year plan for reforming Bermuda’s healthcare is to be presented tomorrow at a health symposium. Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Seniors and Environment, said the Bermuda Health Strategy lays out 14 goals to be achieved by 2019. “Moving that forward, we have an action plan that talks about the actual initiatives that we are working on right now, for better health, better spending and more access. It’s not just about spending money. We are trying to change the emphasis from care to prevention.” Ms Atherden will open a forum at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute to speak about the plans, which follow from the National Health Plan that came out in 2011. The minister said the plan had been “tweaked” and changed from “a conceptual plan to an action plan.” The symposium, a joint effort between the ministry and the Bermuda Health Council, follows the priority given by the World Health Organisation to chronic non-communicable diseases. Asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hypertension and heart disease can be headed off in many cases by a healthier lifestyle, she said. Healthcare quality, insurance access and premiums will also be discussed at the gathering of more than 100 health stakeholders, which will be held at no cost. Asked if Bermudians were showing signs of a turnaround in health, Tawanna Wedderburn, acting CEO of the Bermuda Health Council, said there were some improvements evident, such as a reduction in smoking. The council is also able to analyze the financial cost of specific chronic conditions on the healthcare system. “Prevention is definitely the way we have to go, because the care is becoming very expensive for us,” Ms Atherden said. Ms Wedderburn will make a presentation tomorrow, as well as the chief medical officer, Cheryl Peek-Ball; Calvin White, the acting director of the Health Insurance Department, and chief of staff of Bermuda Hospitals Board Michael Weitekamp. A panel discussion will follow.
January 14. Health professionals have spoken out about the benefits of planning ahead for pregnancy. According to the nurses at the Hamilton Health Centre, unplanned pregnancies can be stressful and family planning can assist the health and well-being of parents and their children. “We’re not saying ‘don’t have children’ but rather pick an optimum time so that children, who are one of our greatest future resources and blessings, have the best options available to them,” Gloria Burgess said. “Family planning allows parents to choose the best time psychologically, physically and financially to have a family.” Ms Burgess is the family planning and maternal health co-ordinator at the clinic. She is assisted by a team, including public health nurses Rachel Card and Debora Oriol. As the clinic continues to see a high rate of unplanned pregnancies, they are urging women to plan ahead and chose a secure time to have children so they can benefit from the best head start possible. “Family planning is always about empowering women and their partners to choose the optimum time for having a child or children,” Ms Burgess said. “We realize that mistakes can happen and we don’t judge but we want the public to know that knowledge and planning are powerful tools in life.” Ms Card added: “Give your child the best head start possible, is what we’re saying.” According to Ms Burgess, the Hamilton Health Centre last year saw 109 unplanned pregnancies out of 120 total pregnancies. This is a slight decrease from 2012 and 2013, which both saw 113 unplanned pregnancies out of a total of 124 and 120 respectively.
January 14. Stances on same-sex marriage were among the tough questions fielded by the two candidates for Devonshire North Central as they faced the area’s seniors. Diallo Rabain of the Progressive Labour Party and Andrew Simons contrasted notably on this and other issues, with three weeks remaining before constituency 13 voters go to the polls. “It’s not a question I thought would come up,” Senator Rabain told the audience of roughly 100 people. “I am not a proponent of same-sex marriage, but I am a proponent of this issue going to a referendum so that the people can decide.” Mr Simons countered by saying he was in support of marriage equality when it came to civil marriage. With concerns over medical costs running high among older residents, Mr Simons pointed out that people’s partners were often their primary caregivers in later life. Sen Rabain repeatedly asserted that accommodating the needs of seniors pinched by rising costs was about “your priority, and what you as a Government care about”. Challenged by voter Valerie Pethen to name where he would make cuts to provide for seniors, Sen Rabain replied that he would cut “tax concessions that have been given for 20 years for some businesses who are earning profits." Mr Simons, who served on the OBA’s shadow health board and is deputy chairman of the Bermuda Health Council (BHeC), outlined government initiatives already under way to head off rising health insurance premiums, as well as the drain inflicted by young workers leaving the country. “Fundamentally, the people of this constituency need an MP who understands the issues that concern everyone here, and who has access to government ministers,” Mr Simons added, saying he had “a record of getting things done through the political process.” He pointed to his efforts with the BHeC to track down and penalise employers who break the law and withhold paying health insurance for their staff.
January 14. The cost of groceries continues to rise in Bermuda with some products doubling in price in less than a decade, according to the latest Digest of Statistics. But farmers and supermarket bosses say the figures are not a fair reflection of the prices paid at the tills and maintain they are subject to a range of global forces outside of their control. The digest suggests the cost of rice, cooking oil, butter, frozen beans, flour and vegetable soup all nearly doubled between 2005 and 2014, with rice going up from $3.46 to $6.88 and cooking oil increasing from $3.68 to $7.23. Zach Moniz, manager of the Lindo’s Group of Companies, told The Royal Gazette that the idea of supermarkets driving the price of groceries up was simply wrong. “The figures in the digest are a little misleading. I have looked back at our price history on some of the items listed and they haven’t changed since 2011,” he said. “The price of flour has not changed since 2012, rice has been the same since 2013. Produce and meat are entirely market-driven, so unless whoever did this research is in the supermarket every week they are not getting a true average. Meat price has increased, while bird flu has had a major impact on the cost of eggs, but it is really out of our control.” According to the Bermuda Government statistics, between 2013 and 2014 sliced peaches, corn niblets, chicken legs, butter and vegetable soup underwent the largest per cent increase in price, with the cost of sliced peaches increasing by 24 per cent. A loaf of bread increased from $4.74 in 2009 to $5.88 in 2014, while half a gallon of milk increased from $4.79 to $5.30 in the same period. Mr Moniz said: “We had strawberries in just before Christmas priced at $15.99. The reason was the yield coming out of the fields was terrible and they would have been rotten if we shipped them in. We had to make a decision whether to bring them in by air, which sends the price through the roof. But people buy them at that price and if we don’t have them they will go somewhere else. The digest prices don’t take into account the many specials on offer. A better way of doing this comparison would be to look at most frequently purchased items and sizes. It’s also important to note that nowadays people have less disposable income than 20 years ago to spend on groceries because of cable and mobile phone bills.” William Cox, president of Miles Market, described the Department of Statistics’ valuation as “narrow”, adding that it did not reflect the broad array of value items that stores try to provide.
January 14. Popular businessman Michael Adolph Smatt died on Monday at the age of 67. Mr Smatt was the owner of Smatt’s Cycle Livery, having taken over the business from his father Adolph during the 1980s. He was well-known for introducing helicopter tours to the Island. Mr Smatt leaves behind mother Emily, wife Leeann, two children and five grandchildren. His funeral takes place tomorrow at St Anthony’s Church, Warwick.
January 14. A letter cover featuring a rare Bermuda stamp dating back more than 150 years is set to go on the auction block this month. The American-styled date stamp, reading “Paid at Ireland Island/Bermuda”, was found on a mourning envelope from Midshipman John Hemery Robinson to his mother in New Brunswick dated January 22, 1863. Midshipman Robinson died at the age of 25 in late 1870 while serving on board the HMS Endymion, and was buried in the Sea of Japan. A description of the item by Spinks Auction House in London described the date stamp as an “incredible rarity”, estimating a sale price of between £12,000 and £15,000. “This item shows a fine strike of the previously unrecorded American-style 32mm ‘Paid at Ireland Island/Bermuda’ circular date stamp and with locally made hand struck ‘6d’, the latest recorded date of use, at upper right, both struck in red,” Spinks said. “A remarkable cover only discovered in among an original family correspondence in the mid-1990s. In 2000, Geoffrey Osborn provided evidence confirming the purchase of an Ireland Island Paid date stamp in records for the year ending October 1863, the cost of the instrument being £1/19/6d.” Research has suggested that the stamp used on the cover was obtained from an American source by the Bermuda postmaster-general for use at Ireland Island. Bermuda was one of the first jurisdictions in the world to introduce a uniform postal rate in 1842, only two years behind the United Kingdom and three years ahead of America. The earliest Bermuda stamps, Perot stamps, were named after William Bennett Perot, who served as Bermuda’s first postmaster-general from 1818 to 1862. Only 11 Perot stamps are known to still exist, and they can fetch more than $100,000 at auction. The cover is set to go to auction as part of Spink’s Philatelic Collector’s Series sale, which begins on January 27.
January 13. Cheaper flights to the Island and strong international branding are the keys to rebuilding Bermuda’s hotel industry. Speaking to The Royal Gazette as part of a series of interviews on the status of the tourism industry, hoteliers Paul Telford, Sally Kyle and Clarence Hofheins all gave their thoughts on how the industry could be strengthened. Mr Telford, the managing director at Rosewood Tucker’s Point, feels the Island is in transition and needs to develop and focus its brand to better sell itself as a destination.
January 13. Bermudians and work permit holders are not getting value for money when it comes to healthcare, according to Tawanna Wedderburn. Addressing Hamilton Rotary’s weekly meeting, the chief executive of the Bermuda Health Council gave a presentation illustrating the Island’s annual health expenditure. Seeking to explain the “health insurance puzzle”, Ms Wedderburn produced figures that outlined how the costs were distributed within health services, an effort to answer the questions, “What is that used for? Where does it go? We are not receiving value for money,” she said. “This is something the Bermuda Health Council will have to address in addition to our partners and stakeholders.” Bermuda’s total yearly health expenditure is $693 million. She compared the Island with Japan, where residents have the highest life expectancy, of close to 87 years, and are spending less than $3,500 per capita annually. While the United States marks the extreme at almost $8,500 per capita, “Bermuda is not in very good company”, she said. Our life expectancy is just below 80 and we are spending a little less than $7,000 per capita. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average shows that 8.9 per cent of a country’s GDP is spent on health expenditure — in Bermuda we are just below the US, spending 12.7 per cent of our GDP on health," Ms Wedderburn showed. "It is imperative that we bring life expectancy up and the cost of healthcare down, an outcome I believe is achievable." She also announced that the BHC has a number of new initiatives in place. She said they had investigated complaints and employed a strategy of publishing the names of “non-compliants” on their website. “Of the employers that have been published on our website, 72 per cent have successfully reinstated their coverage, so we know that publication is working,” she said. “We have an obligation at the Health Council to ensure that those employed persons do actually have access to health insurance and the way we do that is through compliance.” While she maintained that excellent care was available in Bermuda, "we have to look at contributing factors to poor health and a lower life expectancy. Part of the perception people have is that we don’t have good local care, when indeed we do. We have some well-trained practitioners,” she said. She said there was “no question of the connectedness between mental and physical health” and that the BHC was working towards regulating other professions within the health industry. Ms Wedderburn told The Royal Gazette: “One of the primary reasons has to do with lifestyle choices. We have to acknowledge that we do not make some good lifestyle choices. Those lifestyle choices are primarily related to our exercise and our diet. If we’re not making good lifestyle choices it invariably influences the degree to which we get sick and the degree to which we are able to manage that sickness. We are clearly seeing that if people are more stressed and if people have mental health issues then that obviously contributes as well to the extent to which they require care and whether or not they can access care.” Ms Wedderburn also suggested that patients “shop around.” The prices set by healthcare professionals are not regulated and making important decisions means knowing how much it will cost, she said.
January 13. The Corporation of Hamilton has announced a “slight tax increase”, which reportedly came into effect at the start of the year. In a statement yesterday, mayor Charles Gosling said the resolution was necessary as a part of the City’s strategy to increase revenue, which has plummeted in the last ten years. He noted that wharfage income alone had fallen by more than 40 per cent in that time. A spokeswoman for the municipality noted that Ordinance amendments have not yet been published, adding: “We anticipate that will occur in the coming days and we are therefore preparing the public for the change. “The changes were only approved in the last two weeks and over the holiday period. Among the announced changes are a 2 per cent tax increase, a restructured “tiered” residential tax structure similar to land tax and a 5 per cent increase in rental rates at city venues such as Pier 6, the Earl Cameron Theatre and the various parks and streets in the municipality. Property owners will be responsible for the full municipality rates and will be authorized to collect the tenants’ portion through the rent. “Where the property is not tenanted, commercial owners may apply for a refund,” the statement said. “This change is in effect because property owners often do not update the city on tenant changes and this will reduce City of Hamilton administration time and costs.” Residential parking permits will now include a $25 per year administrative charge. Handicapped parking will switch to the full rate, however handicapped spaces will be converted into two-hour parking. The administrative charge for a handicapped parking permit remains unchanged. The statement said that sewage connection fees and concession stand fees have also been changed, adding that the City will communicate the changes to affected parties.
January 13. A firm has threatened to start selling off Corporation of Hamilton land if it does not receive the $18 million it is owed over the failed Par-la-Ville hotel project by the end of Friday. Mexico Infrastructure Finance’s legal team has told the corporation and the Bermuda Government it has no choice but to sell Hamilton Fire Station, the Chamber of Commerce building and the Custom House if the debt is not settled. In a letter seen by The Royal Gazette, the firm’s legal team expresses extreme disappointment at the conduct of the city’s administration for “failing to engage in any constructive dialogue”. MIF also accuses the corporation of going against the Supreme Court judgment that entitles it to an extra $800,000, on top of the $18 million, in receivership revenue and expenses over the failed hotel deal. Last night, Hamilton mayor Charles Gosling confirmed discussions between the two sides were continuing and the corporation had offered “every reassurance” that it was making “every effort” to settle the $18 million judgment. Mr Gosling pointed to recent legislation increasing the amount the corporation could borrow from $20 million to $30 million. He told this newspaper: “The corporation has also kept MIF abreast as best as possible in relation to its discussions with the lending institution for the securing of the funds as well as the ministry in relation to amending various legislation that would permit the corporation to borrow the necessary funds — while permitting them to continue with the day-to-day operations. “The corporation is confident that they will be in a position very shortly to pay all funds owed to MIF as they are fully aware of their commitment under the court judgment.” Mr Gosling’s pledge was endorsed by Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, who said he remained confident in the mayor’s ability to see the matter resolved. Last week, senator Fahy told this newspaper the corporation could reach an agreement within days to satisfy its debt over the matter. Yesterday, he stated: “The ministry has separately kept MIF’s lawyers advised of efforts being made by the corporation to satisfy its obligations and more recently I commented publicly as to those efforts.” However, in its letter to the corporation and Government at the end of last week, MIF maintained it would take steps to execute the judgment “without further notice” if it did not receive the money owed on or before the close of business on Friday. “In light of these developments you have left our client with no other option but to proceed to execution which will include the sale of your client’s properties including Hamilton Fire Station, the Chamber of Commerce building, and the Custom House, as well as the garnishment of its income,” the letter states. “In an effort to provide your client with one last opportunity to meet its obligation, our client will hold off taking such action until close of business on January 15. Payment of the judgment of $18 million together with accrued judgment interest and net of receivership revenues and expenses of $817,935, as of January 15, must be received by our client, otherwise steps to execute against the judgment will commence without further notice.” On July 9, 2014, developer Par-la-Ville Hotel & Residences Ltd entered into a credit agreement with MIF to borrow $18 million for a proposed hotel development in Hamilton. On the same date, the Corporation entered into a guarantee of the loan and, as security for that guarantee, it provided MIF with a first mortgage over the Par-la-Ville parking lot. That loan was later recalled, leaving the corporation liable for the $18 million owed to MIF with interest of about $3,450 a day. The letter from MIF’s legal team further states: “Our client is extremely disappointed that your client has declined to engage in any constructive dialogue in connection with the repayment of our client’s $18 million judgment, together with accrued judgment interest net of receivership revenues and expenses, which stands at $769,606 for a total obligation of $18,769,606 as of January 1, 2016. No sensible timeframe has been provided, this despite the fact that your client promised to repay our client either at the end of 2015 or during the first week of January. Further, our client is deeply disappointed to now learn that your client is not intending repaying the judgment interest to which our client is legally entitled. It has been clearly agreed that if our client would refrain from commencing execution proceedings on its judgment, that the entirety of our client’s judgment would be repaid including the 7 per cent judgment interest according to law.”
January 13. John Prato, the Canadian Consul General in New York, has arrived in Bermuda for a short visit. Mr Prato called at the Cabinet Office to meet with Michael Dunkley, the Premier, and Bob Richards, the Deputy Premier, as well as other officials from the Bermuda Government. According to a press release from Government, Mr Dunkley stated that Bermuda has enjoyed an enduring relationship with Canada over many years and he expects that the mutual respect will continue in the future.
January 13. Political parties would have to disclose who funds their election campaigns under new legislation proposed by Marc Bean yesterday. The Opposition leader called a press conference to push for a new good governance law to outlaw corruption and shine a light on political party funding and politicians’ financial interests. In 2009, MP Wayne Furbert called for a law to force political parties to disclose financial donations above a certain amount and reveal where they came from but the idea never gained traction. Mr Furbert was an independent at the time and now represents the Progressive Labour Party. The Island’s MPs and senators declare their personal financial interests voluntarily on a register which can be viewed by members of the public at Sessions House. It was introduced after a long-running one-man campaign by MP Trevor Moniz, who is now the Attorney-General. Mr Bean, flanked by members of his shadow cabinet, said a new law was needed to:
- ensure full transparency on political campaign finance;
- require MPs and senators to declare all their financial interests, including those held in trusts;
- widen the definition of corruption to make unethical behavior illegal;
- create tougher sentences for Cabinet ministers, MPs, civil servants and members of the public found guilty of corruption;
- stop politicians profiting from their government knowledge and contacts once they have left office.
January 13. A former senior Cabinet official and British Army Colonel Donald Ralph Pudney has died at the age of 88 after a battle with cancer. He died last Tuesday — six weeks after receiving his diagnosis. Mr Pudney moved to Bermuda in 1971 working across the health and home affairs ministries as well as the Cabinet Office. His eldest daughter Elaine Pudney recalled that her father was a stickler for the rules yet possessed a gregarious character. “He was very strict with us growing up because he was army. That background gave my brother, my sister and I huge insights and we had to move to a new location every few years. He was particularly strict with us when we were in Bermuda because it was such a free Island in the 70s, so he read the riot act to us. My father was an amazing chef and he would cook for all the dinner parties and he was such a jovial host. He was a real storyteller — he had some amazing stories — he was in the Korean War just after my brother was born.” Mr Pudney, a freeman of the City of London, was the last officer to be commissioned into the British Army in the Second World War, and the youngest Captain. He served in Korea and claimed to have “been shot at in most parts of the world.” He retired from the British Army in 1971 and moved to Bermuda. His first role here was as permanent secretary for the Ministry of Health. He later worked for the Bermuda Regiment as an administration officer before moving to the Ministry of Home Affairs as co-ordinator for security services including the police, Regiment and fire services. He moved to the Cabinet Office as assistant secretary to Cabinet under the leadership of Sir John Swan. Mr Pudney worked within the private sector before retiring and leaving Bermuda for England in 1987. Sir John Swan said of his former colleague: “I was impressed with his promptness and punctuality, and the importance he placed on fulfilling his responsibilities. He obviously had a very strong military background. He joined me at Home Affairs and subsequently joined Cabinet as assistant secretary to Cabinet — that is my working history with Donald. He did a great job in making sure that we made the most efficient use of our human resources through our relationship with permanent secretaries. He was always there to assist and meet the requirements of the Cabinet’s responsibilities which were rather vast at the time because the Cabinet’s job was to co-ordinate all the functionalities of the various ministries. Pudney played a role in maintaining that process in an orderly fashion.” Quinton Edness was health minister while Mr Pudney was PS within the ministry. Mr Edness said: “He was my permanent secretary when I was in the Ministry of Health. He was a very efficient man — he was a soldier. When he gave an instruction he meant it — he was Colonel Donald Pudney. He loved people and had a tremendous personality. He had one of the world’s best classic toy-soldier collection. It was a phenomenal collection — it was just tremendous. He loved Bermuda.” A scholar of British Regiments Mr Pudney’s collection featured more than 9,000 figures. He leaves behind his wife June, son Steven, and daughters Elaine and Susan Hill. He has five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
January 13. Animal advocacy group Punish the Deed has renewed its call for a dog amnesty after helping to arrange for the export of two seized dogs from Bermuda. Both pets, which would have faced euthanasia had they remained on the Island, were flown to a temporary foster home in Ohio where it is hoped they will be re-homed. It comes after the Ministry of Health confirmed its policy had been modified to allow owners of banned breeds to export their pets when it is “logistically and financially viable”. Punish the Breed welcomed the move by the Bermuda Government, but insisted it was not a long-term solution to the problem. “While we are extremely thankful that the export policy has now been amended to allow for this opportunity when these breeds are seized, we recognise this is not sustainable long term,” the group said. “Punish the Deed has been petitioning to the minister to request an amendment to the prohibited breeds list in the hope of ushering in a new era of responsible ownership and animal welfare. While this policy remains enforced it allows for an endless cycle of distress within the local community of Bermuda. We would like to stress the need for an immediate amnesty while the current policy is under review. This is our hope for 2016.” The group has pledged to help owners of banned breeds that have been seized to export their pets.
January 13. A real estate firm has launched a pioneering company to rent furniture to new Island residents. Albert and Debbie Moura, who run Moura & Associates, spotted a gap in the market in catering to overseas workers. Now they aim to provide customized packages named after Island beaches for properties ranging from studios to large family homes through TurnKey Furniture Rentals. Ms Moura — who has a background in interior design — said: “The packages are fixed to include the pieces of furniture deemed necessary to fill a space. “There is a level of flexibility through different rental options, with the option to add on a TV and TV stand if needed.” Mr Moura said that furniture rental businesses — popular in North America — had never taken off in Bermuda, despite its large expatriate population. He added: “In our line of business, we see a lot of people moving to the Island for only one to five years and, because of their relatively short stay, a lot are less than eager to purchase new furniture or go through the expense of importing their own furniture and paying duty on it. To help alleviate the stress of finding furniture, TurnKey provides the opportunity for new residents to have their homes or apartments completely furnished quickly and cost effectively.” And he added that the service meant not only less time hunting down furniture, but co-ordinated packages featuring a dash of style as well as convenience. TurnKey also arrange delivery and pick-up. The company will be run on a day-to-day basis by the couple’s son Justin. And Turnkey aims to expand the business in the future to include small kitchen appliances and accessories, as well as outdoor furniture.
January 12. John Wight, the chief executive officer of BF&M Ltd, is take over as president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce. Mr Wight replaces Kristi Grayston, who died suddenly last month. He said yesterday: One of the objectives I have is to raise the profile of the chamber and enhance the value of membership for our members. There are many issues affecting Bermuda’s future that I think needs elevating to higher and broadened discussion. Each quarter, starting this quarter, there will be an article in The Royal Gazette focusing on my opinion about a topical issue relevant to Bermuda. This will be followed by a panel discussion with qualified speakers for our members to attend and participate in. We will then survey our members on the particular topic in question and take any action following that we deem necessary on behalf of our members.” Kendaree Burgess, the Chamber’s executive director, said: “We look forward to welcoming John as president — he has been an avid supporter of the chamber in the past year. “John’s passion for and leadership development will enable us to further develop our member engagement strategies.” Mr Wight, a qualified accountant and property and casualty underwriter, is also a council member of the Bermuda Stock Exchange and a member of the Ministry of Finance insurance advisory committee. He is also a past chairman of CPA Bermuda and a past president of the Bermuda Insurance Institute.
January 12. Political parties would have to disclose who funds their election campaigns under new legislation proposed by Marc Bean yesterday. The Opposition leader called a press conference to push for a new good governance law to outlaw corruption and shine a light on political party funding and politicians’ financial interests. In 2009, MP Wayne Furbert called for a law to force political parties to disclose financial donations above a certain amount and reveal where they came from but the idea never gained traction. Mr Furbert was an independent at the time and now represents the Progressive Labour Party. The Island’s MPs and senators declare their personal financial interests voluntarily on a register which can be viewed by members of the public at Sessions House. It was introduced after a long-running one-man campaign by MP Trevor Moniz, who is now the Attorney-General. Mr Bean, flanked by members of his shadow cabinet, said a new law was needed to:
- ensure full transparency on political campaign finance;
- require MPs and senators to declare all their financial interests, including those held in trusts;
- widen the definition of corruption to make unethical behavior illegal;
- create tougher sentences for Cabinet ministers, MPs, civil servants and members of the public found guilty of corruption;
- stop politicians profiting from their government knowledge and contacts once they have left office.
“Good governance protects the public purse, protects the interests of Bermudians, raises the standards of governance and enhances investor confidence,” Mr Bean said. “Good governance is good for Bermuda.” Asked why such robust legislation was not introduced when the PLP was in power, he said the party started the process of improving governance but it was a step-by-step process. “Unfortunately it seems as if the One Bermuda Alliance have been very reluctant to implement good governance,” he added. “Why? You’d have to ask them.” Mr Bean said his party backed the recently announced Commission of Inquiry into the handling of public funds between 2009 and 2012 and would initiate its own commissions into historic land theft, the airport development, Jetgate and the Hamilton waterfront “fiasco” if elected back into power. He said the commission into the Auditor-General’s findings of numerous breaches of financial instructions needed to be longer than three months and more like six to nine months to ensure it was thorough and could not be dismissed as a “whitewash or cover-up”. “It is important that the truth be revealed, and if any wrongdoing has occurred, that it be exposed,” he said. “Our position is that anyone engaged in corruption, malfeasance or insider dealing must be exposed, convicted and punished to the fullest extent of the law, whether they are UBP, PLP or OBA.” He said some would be surprised at the PLP’s support of the Commission of Inquiry because “generally speaking, the public narrative is that the PLP would defend the indefensible, despite the fact that we are the only party to take a definitive stand on good governance.”
January 12. The Bermuda Broadcasting Company has announced it is to partner with the British Broadcasting Corporation to offer World Service News and premium BBC Radio and Television content. “This is a very exciting time for the Bermuda Broadcasting Company as we embark on this partnership with one of the world’s most established news and content organisations,” executive director of sales and marketing at The Bermuda Broadcasting Company Anthony Mocklow said. “We have spent the past several months negotiating this exclusive partnership, bringing The BBC World Service News back to the ‘free-to-air radio community’. It is a giant leap forward, and we are thrilled with this development.” Bermuda Broadcasting plans to bring on-board new technology and new studios throughout 2016. Mr Mocklow added: “We will soon be in a position to announce the schedule of BBC World Service programming for radio, starting first with the news, and then following this up with further programming content additions. The BBC World Service partnership is a very positive step in the direction of providing a complete and quality radio experience and we are excited to be able to relaunch this very valuable service.”
January 12. Premier Michael Dunkley and Minister of National Security told this year’s recruits for the Royal Bermuda Regiment that he felt proud to be Bermudian after meeting with its first all-volunteer trainees. “Stay safe, don’t injure yourselves and have fun,” he advised the 66 recruits on their second day of training at Warwick Camp. It was the Premier’s fourth time coming to recruit camp, but this one represented a historic change for the force. “I’m delighted to be here with these volunteers for the first camp where conscription has not been used, and I’m proud to see them working through a very different process in this changing system.” Numbers are smaller because there is a higher rate of retention for the Regiment — testament to efforts to make a career in the Regiment more attractive to men and women. Mr Dunkley was accompanied by Ginny Ferson, the Deputy Governor, and Jeff Baron, the Junior Minister of National Security. “The atmosphere here is both identical to every other camp and yet significantly different in one aspect,” Senator Baron said. “There is yelling, there is drilling, there’s fatigue and nervous energy in the air, but the men and women who are experiencing all these things are here voluntarily and proudly. This is a huge step. But again, we have to continue to work extremely hard with national security stakeholders and the community so that this beautiful thing is sustainable.” Among the volunteers was 51-year-old Ian Blakesley, who said he counted himself fortunate to live in Bermuda and joined to give back to his community. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and the skills I can learn,” Mr Blakesley said, adding: “I may regret it in about a week’s time.” Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Foster-Brown, the Regiment’s Commanding Officer, said there was great positivity and enthusiasm in the air. “I’ve always been impressed at how much they achieve in two weeks,” he said, noting that as well as being the first all-volunteer camp, the recruits were also the first to drill with the Regiment’s new weapons. This year’s recruit breakdown consists of 50 men and 16 women. Of the 66 recruits, six were Junior Leaders and 13 conscripted persons chose to join as volunteers. Thanking them on behalf of the Bermuda Government, Mr Dunkley said he looked forward to seeing the recruits again at the passing out parade in the next couple of weeks.
January 12. Christine Francisco said she was just 19 when she was hired to cook and clean for the Jones family, who had moved into a home on Cambridge Road. It was only after she agreed that she learnt the Jones family was actually David Bowie and his wife, Iman. “I was asked if I could handle it and I said no problem,” she said. “Nothing made me be prepared for his world. I was to report in at 5am every morning to make Bowie his fresh bread and then run to the market and buy the fruit for the morning. Nothing was ever kept in the fridge except water, wine and the small carton of milk for his coffee. Iman was focused on keeping everything fresh.” Mrs Francisco said that Mr Bowie deeply loved his wife and son, Duncan. While she said Iman ran the house, and was usually strict about Mr Bowie’s diet, he would have Mrs Francisco make fudge brownies for him when she went away on business trips. “I grieve today for he was a brilliant man who knew what he loved in life and made sure to achieve it. My condolences go out to Iman and the family and I wish them much love and that my prayers are with them that they find some way to say good bye and remember all the good times.”
January 12. The world knew David Bowie as an iconic performer, but in Bermuda he was a loving husband, a fan of the arts and a welcoming neighbor. While he will be celebrated as one of the most influential musicians of all time, yesterday Bermudians fondly recalled a charming and humble family man whose unassuming personality belied his rock-star status when he resided in Somerset during the 1990s. From chance meetings in furniture stores and art galleries to invitations for codfish breakfast, readers of The Royal Gazette shared with us their anecdotes of Mr Bowie — born David Jones — who died on Sunday, aged 69, after an 18-month fight against cancer. During his nearly 50-year career, Mr Bowie produced more than 100 singles, including Let’s Dance, Space Oddity, Starman, Modern Love, Heroes, Under Pressure, Rebel, Rebel and Life on Mars, and acted in a number of films including Labyrinth and The Prestige. Despite his battle with cancer, he remained creatively active. His latest album, Blackstar, was released last week and a musical co-written by Mr Bowie and featuring his music, Lazarus, premiered in New York late last year. Among the cast is Bermudian actor Nick Christopher. Mr Bowie moved to the Island shortly after he made the unusual move to issue bonds for his future earnings in 1997, with investors buying $55 million in “Bowie bonds”, backed by income from his back catalogue. He lived in the house Seaview on Cambridge Road, where he recorded much of his 1999 album Hours ... in a home studio. While the album drew mixed reviews, it made history by becoming the first album by a major artist to be officially sold as an internet download. Mr Bowie also recorded a cover of John Lennon’s song Mother while on the Island. The song was intended to go on a tribute album for Mr Lennon, who both co-wrote and sang on Mr Bowie’s hit song Fame. While the album was never formally released, the recording is available online. Among the locals paying tribute yesterday were Christina Francisco, who worked for Mr Bowie in his home and called him a “brilliant man who loved life”, and former neighbor Michael Scott, the Progressive Labour Party MP, who described him as both a fascinating artist and a humble family man. Asked about the Island, Mr Bowie once said: “We loved it in Bermuda during our time there. Quiet, respectful, a dreamscape atmosphere out in the part of the island where we lived. Nobody ever bothered us. But, of course, I have the best protective camouflage in the world. I am married to Iman. Do you think when we were walking along the street together in Hamilton anybody ever gave me a second glance? Do you think anybody even noticed me? Honestly?”
January 11. The Island has been featured as one of this year’s 20 must-see places by a top travel magazine. National Geographic Traveler lists Bermuda in its Best Trips 2016 among the likes of Cote d’Or in Burgundy, France; Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil; the Danube River; Eastern Bhutan; Capability Brown’s Gardens, Britain; Hokkaido, Japan and the Philippines. “Whether it’s Botswana’s Okavango Delta or Brazil’s beaches, these 20 go-now destinations will get you packing,” the feature states. Introducing the Island under the title “Because Life Is Shorts”, Chaney Kwak gives Johnny Barnes a mention and quotes taxi driver Larry Rogers as saying, “We may seem very proper but we are also an eccentric island.” Mr Kwak writes: “Indeed, scratch the immaculately gardened surface of this British overseas territory, and you’ll find a place brimming with personality. Every year, participants in the Non-Mariners’ Race vie to construct the shoddiest vessels to see who sinks fastest; descendants of Native Americans proudly hold powwows; and policemen and businessmen insist on wearing knee-high socks with their shorts, no matter what the rest of the world may think. You can beat the crowd headed to Bermuda for 2017’s America’s Cup by going now, and don’t forget to say hello to Johnny.” The feature also offers travel tips about when to visit, how to get around, where to stay, eat and drink and what to buy as a keep sake. Underwater thriller The Deep, which is set in Bermuda and shows several scenes shot on the Island, is the recommended film to watch before you go. Bermuda’s plentiful shipwrecks, including a Confederate blockade-runner that sank in 1864, get a special mention and the cultural tip offers advice about the dress code, stating it is a “more formal take on casual”. “When in doubt, wear a pair of TABS.”
January 11. Violent crime has risen with the start of 2016, including violence perpetrated by women, the Centre Against Abuse has noted. Remarks from the centre’s executive director Patrice Frith-Hayward came after police observed there had been a “small uptick in violent crime” with five incidents in five days. “There have been two cases of girls attacking each other, which we do have from time to time,” Ms Frith-Hayward told The Royal Gazette. “However, this has included an extremely violent incident where we have someone in hospital after being struck in the head with a baseball bat. We have had someone else in hospital after being stabbed. All of them raise concern with us, in terms of reaching these individuals so that they can see there are other routes rather than violence. Unfortunately, all of these incidents are something that they all could have walked away from. You don’t need to take out your anger and hurt on somebody else.” Ms Frith-Hayward was referring to two recent incidents: on Friday, an 18-year-old Pembroke woman required hospital treatment after two women are alleged to have set upon her with a baseball bat. The attack occurred at a residence on Curving Avenue at roughly 2.45am. Both suspects were arrested later. Meanwhile, on Sunday, police reported that a 24-year-old Devonshire woman sustained stab wounds to the face in the Cedar Park neighborhood after being struck by 21-year-old woman. The suspect was still being sought by police yesterday. In other incidents, a 37-year-old man was treated in the Intensive Care Unit for multiple gunshot wounds after a Saturday night shooting on Happy Valley Road, Devonshire shocked the neighborhood. Additionally, RoseAnn Edwards, a councilor for the City of Hamilton, was stabbed on the night of January 5, with a man charged in court three days later. Police said that in most cases, the victims had a relationship with the suspects and appeared to be specially targeted by a person they knew..
January 11. The Minister of Health gave permission for hospital chiefs to hire a non-Bermudian as chief financial officer without advertising the job, The Royal Gazette can reveal. The Bermuda Hospitals Board told this newspaper that David Thompson was given the “very senior position” for a two-year period after his predecessor Delia Basden resigned in 2014. A spokeswoman said: “The current BHB CFO, Mr Thompson, was initially seconded from PricewaterhouseCoopers as an interim CFO in 2013 while the Auditor-General carried out an investigation and the existing CFO, Ms Delia Basden, was on administrative leave. BHB was not able to hire a new CFO during this time as Ms Basden was still a BHB employee. Ms Basden subsequently tendered her resignation in 2014. Given the very difficult financial challenges that BHB was dealing with, and the amount of time a full recruitment process and orientation for this very senior position would take, approval was sought by the board from the Minister of Health to appoint Mr Thompson as CFO for two further years. The post was therefore not advertised in 2014.” The spokeswoman confirmed that Mr Thompson, who specializes in public sector financial management, was a work permit holder. She said the CFO position was legislated in the Bermuda Hospitals Board Act 1970 and appointment of the position was the responsibility of the board and required the approval of the health minister. Mr Thompson’s biography on the board’s website states that he was seconded to cover the CFO position in March 2013, having more than 20 years experience in public practice and having acted as director of finance for two UK government departments. In April 2014, then BHB chairman Jonathan Brewin said Mr Thompson would continue as interim CFO while the “board considers the best long-term solution for the post to meet [the] needs of BHB and ensure it continues on the path towards financial sustainability.” Jeanne Atherden became Minister of Health in May 2014 and Mr Thompson was appointed as CFO two months later, according to the BHB website. His two-year contract will end in June this year. The BHB spokeswoman said: “The board is currently deliberating on the expertise needed to fill this critical position in what remains a very challenging financial situation. “Due process has been followed consistently throughout. The board will decide whether it will continue to appoint this position through a secondment or hire substantially into the role.” The BHB revealed in June 2013 that it was facing a cash crisis and Ms Atherden told the House of Assembly in March last year that it was expected to run out of cash “in the near future.” A six-month unaudited financial update released last week showed revenue of $156.5 million and expenses of $151.6 million. The results of the Auditor’s 2013 review of BHB’s finances have yet to be made public. The Royal Gazette asked Ms Atherden for comment but a ministry spokesman said that “no further comments can be made” on the statement. The BHB spokeswoman did not respond by press time to a question about the amount of the CFO’s salary.
January 11. Residents of Happy Valley Road have been left “traumatised and frightened” after the shooting on Saturday night that put a 37-year-old man in intensive care. Police officers responded to a report of several gunshots heard in that area of Devonshire at about 10.45pm. A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said last night that the victim sustained eight bullet wounds to his arm and leg. At noon today, he was in a stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Glen Smith, the MP for Devonshire North West, spent the day visiting residents yesterday after the incident. “I have been visiting constituents who live on Happy Valley Road, including those near where the incident took place,” he told The Royal Gazette. “Many are traumatized, worried and frightened. I wanted to offer my thoughts and prayers to those who were affected by this. We will be working with the Bermuda Police Service to see if anything needs to be done to improve safety in the area.” One area resident, who wished to remain unnamed, told The Royal Gazette: “I heard several gunshots and I was terrified. I called 911 and told them I heard gunshots. I heard some shots, there was a break then I heard more. The police came promptly; they were here within minutes. I was terrified afterwards — I couldn’t sleep. I don’t feel safe at all in this area — it is too dark on Happy Valley Road. We need more street lighting and more police to be present in the area. It used to be a quiet, peaceful and loving area — it has changed. It is so scary.” Jeff Baron, junior minister for National Security, said: “I trust MP Smith will bring any of the concerns from residents forward to the ministry and to his colleagues across the House of Assembly. “I am certainly very concerned by this incident. There are many who daily will tell us that this is unacceptable, that this is not what they expect in their neighborhood and their Island and we agree. We will continue to work with everyone in the community, with the social stakeholders, community champions and the law-enforcement community to make sure we continue our strategy to suppress violent crime and particularly gun violence. Our strategy is the right one and we are going to see it through.” In a joint statement issued last night, Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, and Michael Weeks, the Opposition spokesman for community affairs, called for witnesses to come forward and assist law enforcement “in getting these shooters off our streets. In what is becoming an all too frequent occurrence, another act of gun violence has tarnished the peace and tranquility of our community,” they said. “It is evident that something is deeply wrong and requires a community effort to change the mindset that believes disputes must be settled with guns. Our prayers are with the family and friends of the victim.” Police are interested in speaking to anyone who saw individuals on two cycles acting suspiciously, then fleeing the area. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 295-0011 or the Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477.
January 11. Belmont Hills Golf Course has teed off a $1.5 million renovation programme. The Warwick course is to demolish its existing clubhouse and restaurant and rebuild bigger and better facilities. The development will feature a larger members’ lounge and bar along with a new restaurant and pro shop. At the same time, Blu Bar and Grill, which shares the building, will expand into the present pro shop to add around 2,000 square feet to its floor space to create a new private dining room. Larry Doyle, the Belmont Hills owner and US businessman, said: “The members of Belmont — most of whom have been loyal to the club for many years — have waited a long time for the much needed upgrade in this area and I am happy to be able to do this for them.” Mr Doyle, a hedge fund manager who already owns the old Lantana property in Somerset, sealed the deal for the Newstead Hotel and Belmont Hills last year with a price tag thought to be as high as $18 million, although the terms were never disclosed. He said: “When I invested in Newstead and Belmont back in 2014 I said my intention was to invest further. I am pleased that my building plans were approved and I can now do this.” The existing Shanks restaurant will be “razed” and rebuilt with more space and higher ceilings, while a new pro shop will also be built to replace the existing one, located next to Blu on the upper floor of the complex.
January 11. Chris Estwanik and Deon Breary were the winners of the first Gosling’s to Fairmont Southampton Road Race, setting formidable course records. Estwanik, who has been taking a cautious approach to racing after suffering an Achilles injury last year, cruised to victory in 37min 11secs yesterday. That gave him a winning margin of just over five minutes. Breary was almost as dominant in the women’s race, finishing in 47:04, a fraction over three minutes clear of her nearest rival. The 7.2-mile road race was a refashioned version of the former Princess to Princess event that started in 1978, and which became known as the Fairmont to Fairmont Road Race in later years. Organizers kept the distance the same. The only change to the course was in the first quarter of a mile as runners started near Union Square on Dundonald Street, running past the headquarters of Gosling’s before turning onto Cedar Avenue and then to Front Street. From there it was the same route as it has been for the past 38 years, taking Harbour Road and Middle Road to the Fairmont Southampton and finishing at the Ocean Club. Estwanik, 35, became the first to lift the Peter Lever Trophy, named in honour of the original race director and talented runner who died last March.
January 10. A flight from Germany to Jamaica was diverted to Bermuda this afternoon. Air Berlin flight 7356 arrived at LF Wade International Airport at about 3.35pm, according to the airport duty officer. She said it diverted because of a sick male passenger, who was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The aircraft had 282 passengers and 12 crew on board and was en route from Munich airport. It left the Island at about 5.10pm and is expected to arrive in Montego Bay later this evening.
January 9. Bermuda’s economic growth is accelerating, according to the latest government figures. Gross domestic product in the third quarter of 2015 was $1.35 billion — up 6.3 per cent on the same period in 2014. Real GDP growth — that is, adjusted for inflation — was 4.4 per cent. It was the fourth successive quarter of real GDP growth, coming out of a six-year recession. After real GDP growth of 1.5 per cent in the first quarter and 1.6 per cent in the second, it puts Bermuda firmly on track for its first year of economic growth since 2008. The low global price of oil helped to boost third-quarter growth, as Bermuda spent less on fuel, contributing to a 13.5 per cent fall in the amount paid for imported goods. This added nearly $32 million to the Island’s trade surplus. A 3.5 per cent increase in exports of services also helped, as a result of increased compensation for employees in international business and reinsurance premiums sold to overseas customers. Exports of services totaled $644 million in the third quarter, up by almost $22 million from the $622.2 million recorded in the same period of 2014. The value of imported goods fell to $207.5 million from $239.2 million, thanks mainly to a slump in fuel costs. The price of US crude oil fell by more than 50 per cent between the third quarter of 2014, when it was more than $100 a barrel, and a year later, when it was around the $45 mark. Bermuda residents have seen the benefits in the form of a lower fuel adjustment rate on their electricity bills and cheaper fill-ups at the gas station. The Bermuda economy looks set to continue into this year, with global oversupply continuing to drive the crude oil price lower. Today oil was trading at around $33 a barrel in New York. The GDP statement from the Department of Statistics added that household consumption increased 3.8 per cent to nearly $779 million in the July-through-September period, reflecting greater expenditure on durable goods such as motor vehicles, non-durable goods such as food purchased in stores and services such as accommodation and catering. After adjusting for inflation, household consumption rose 2.7 per cent. Government consumption weakened 0.3 per cent to $238.6 million, thanks mostly to lower spending on goods and services. After adjusting for inflation, government consumption fell 1.1 per cent. Investment in fixed assets fell by about $1 million to $163 million. While investment in construction rose by $2 million to $88.3 million, investment in machinery and equipment fell by $2.8 million to $74.6 million. In real terms, gross capital formation contracted 1.4 per cent. The trade surplus grew by $53 million, or 45.2 per cent.
January 9. A battle to secure visitors made 2015 a difficult year for Cambridge Beaches, according to general manager Clarence Hofheins. While the resort was able to increase its occupancy over the summer months by lowering room rates, the move only increased the site’s cost to operate. “It has been a real struggle for all of us,” Mr Hofheins said. “We were hoping that we would see an increase and we haven’t seen that. We had to literally struggle through the year.” Mr Hofheins said 2015 started positively, but increased competition from the larger hotels during the summer proved to be costly. “Our biggest thing is in the summer months, when we make our money, our business is linked not just to occupancy but to rate,” he explained. “What happened this summer was some of the large hotels had a lot of inventory that was not filled up with the group business that they have had in the past. They had to jump in and fight for our business. They went out with an aggressive rate, which drove the rates down for everywhere else. Here at Cambridge Beaches we had to make a decision whether we were going to try to hold our rate or if we were going to compete, and we chose to compete. We actually increased our occupancy, but we had to give up a significant amount of rate on a daily basis to get that business. I’m afraid that it’s going to happen every year now. We are hoping that next year the bigger hotels do have more group business than they did this time, but we have to prepare ourselves if that doesn’t happen and we have to continue to fight in the summer for these guests. We need to make changes to adapt to that, and it’s all about trying to cut costs.” Hotel manager Richard Quinn added: “While we’re dropping down our rates, our operational costs aren’t lower at all. We’re operating at a higher cost for a lower revenue base.” Moving forward, Mr Quinn said the resort plan to continually reinvest in their facilities to ensure a quality experience for guests. That’s particularly important given the age of the plant.. We’ve been here since 1947.”
January 9. The completion of the Morgan’s Point clean-up operation is something that all of Bermuda should take pride in, according to Craig Christensen. Mr Christensen, president and CEO of Morgan’s Point Ltd, said it was noteworthy that local workers had been responsible for the major three-year remediation programme of the former United States military base. The project has involved the removal of container loads of asbestos and old oil tanks as well as the demolition of abandoned, dilapidated and vandalized buildings on the property. “Bermuda should be proud of what we have done in taking a brown field site and bringing it back to life to the appropriate high standards of cleanliness,” Mr Christensen told The Royal Gazette. “This is a final tick in the box for us to move forward with this development. We anticipate making further positive announcements very shortly.” The completion of the remediation work, which was conducted by the Ministry of Public Works and several contractors, paves the way for construction of a new luxury hotel to start this month. The project will be a phased development and will start with the building of 157 waterfront residences, a 79 room ultra-luxury branded hotel and amenities that include restaurants, a spa and a marina that can host 77 boats along with 21 mega-yachts. “We are extremely pleased that this stage has now been completed,” Mr Christensen said. “We never imagined that it could create a potential impediment for financing when it was being remediated, even though Government had agreed to complete it. But it was an issue. It has been a long process and now it is done that impediment is cleared and that is a big relief.” Morgan’s Point Ltd obtained the land in 2008 as part of a land-swap agreement under the condition that the Bermuda Government remediate the former base lands to residential standards. Work on the clean-up project began in 2013 with a number of companies hired to carry out the work. The land has been remediated to New Jersey standards with international consulting firm Langan Engineering and Environmental Services overseeing the project. Craig Cannonier, Minister of Public Works, said: “This is a monumental step in bringing the proposed development into fruition — a development that will equate to more jobs for Bermudians and a first-class tourism product for Bermuda.” Vince Yarina, vice-president of Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, said the New Jersey remediation standards were very stringent. He added: “Using New Jersey standards in Bermuda was unique, but Langan’s knowledge and extensive experience working with these standards was successfully applied to ensure the safe clean-up of the site for the future benefit of the residents and tourists.”
January 9. The Centre for Justice is to host a private panel discussion for members of the Bermuda Bar Association on Monday. Supported by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) Race and Resistance network, the event marks a growing interest in the history of race and resistance in Bermuda. A seminar that focused on the Bermuda Civil Rights Movement was held at the university’s Pembroke College in May and has since spurred an ongoing series of events exploring race, law and history on the Island. The session will explore the intersection of these three lines of inquiry hoping to provide a unique historical perspective on the Bermudian legal system. This will be the third event of its kind and will give an historical overview of race-related legislation in Bermuda. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley will lead the event with his talk “400 Years of Courts in Bermuda (1616-2016): Towards a Non-Racial Vision of Justice.” Dr Justice Kawaley said: “Consideration will be given to the evolving role of the courts from initially being required to uphold discriminatory laws to their current obligation to apply the law in a non-discriminatory manner.”
January 9. The Royal Bermuda Regiment’s commanding officer is gearing up to welcome a record-breaking number of volunteers for his last recruit camp. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Foster-Brown, who will be handing over command to Major David Curley in February, said he was “thrilled to be leaving on a high with among other things the first ever all-volunteer recruit camp”. A total of 64 recruits — 48 men and 16 women — are expected to start their training at Warwick Camp tomorrow morning. They are the first recruits to join the newly designated Royal Bermuda Regiment, which was awarded the title as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations in September last year. Col Foster-Brown said this year’s number of volunteers exceeded last year’s record of 61 volunteers out of 115 recruits. He added that the RBR had been able to reduce its intake to a minimum of 50 recruits because more soldiers were choosing to stay on after their minimum three years of service. And the smaller number of recruits means that there will only be two platoons instead of three. “Our aim, as with the wider Regiment, is to build soldiers up, not break them down, so they will have a busy but rewarding two weeks of training while they make the transition from civilian to trained soldier,” Col Foster-Brown told The Royal Gazette. “Throughout there will be an emphasis on teamwork, which is encouraged through section and platoon competition and sport. The recruits will be trained on the new SA80-A2 weapons which we received in the summer from the United Kingdom.” The programme includes shooting, field craft and drill, as well as fitness and military skills. Recruits will also spend an extra night deployed in the field this year. Col Foster-Brown added: “As with the last two years, we will be posting periodic video updates on our website so that families and supporters of the recruits can follow their progress.”
January 9. Establishing the ramifications of a recent Supreme Court ruling on the South Basin development will be a priority for the West End Development Corporation’s new board in 2016. The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) recently won its appeal against how the project was handled and specifically the end uses that the infrastructure would be put to. However, it remains unclear what the long-term practical effects of the judgment will be on the development in Dockyard that will be used as the America’s Cup Village in 2017. Andrew Dias, the general manager of Wedco, said: “We have been able to have one board meeting where the ruling has been brought up as a topic we will need to deal with moving forward. “We have had preliminary discussions and at the beginning of this year once the new board has been appointed, we will make it one of our primary items to address and move forward. It is important we look at the whole picture before making any decisions.” Earlier this year, BEST launched a legal action against the Development Applications Board (DAB) and the minister responsible for planning regarding the environmental impact of the West End project. While the Bermuda Government had said the project was environmentally sound, BEST argued that the assessments that had been carried out were inadequate. At the time of the Supreme Court ruling a spokesman for BEST said: “The court action permits the South Basin landfill and its interim use for the America’s Cup Event village, but rejects the end uses that developer Wedco had in mind, namely a commercial boatyard, a luxury marina and the consolidated offices and maintenance facility for the Marine and Ports Department. “The core factor for BEST was that in a major development such as this one, the DAB had a mandatory and legal obligation to obtain the best possible environmental information on which to base its decision. However, the Environmental Impact Assessment that was initially conducted for the project was substandard and inadequate to uphold that obligation. The court’s decision vindicates BEST’s stance.” Work on the project has already begun, with materials collected from the dredging of the North Channel as well as aggregate from overseas, being deposited in the South Basin.
January 9. The Bermuda Government has no plans to extend voting rights to Bermudians living permanently abroad. At the end of last year, absentee ballots allowing students to vote were proposed for the new legislative year by the One Bermuda Alliance. However, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, told The Royal Gazette that the Government has no immediate plans to widen it out to include those living overseas long-term. “Because they have moved their place of residence, the constitution is clear, as is the Parliamentary Election Act, that those ordinarily living outside Bermuda cannot vote in Bermuda elections,” Mr Fahy said. “We believe it’s fair that only students who are officially resident in Bermuda should get that right to vote. Giving people living outside Bermuda that right could cause problems especially if they are registered at their parents’ house or have property of their own. We don’t want to get into those kind of difficulties.” The argument for absentee ballots was part of a raft of political reforms, which included fixed-term elections, backed by the OBA before its victory in 2012. In last year’s Throne Speech, the OBA said extending the vote to registered voters studying overseas at “recognised educational institutions” would strengthen participation and help to build a more inclusive Bermuda. Mr Fahy added: “In other countries it is a different situation. I don’t see how it could work in Bermuda, but that does not mean it will never happen. We have given the opportunity to students studying abroad and that is a good move and a good start.”
January 9. Persistence and resilience are the key to St George’s Preparatory School’s success, according to principal Mary Lodge. The primary school celebrated its 140th anniversary yesterday with a special assembly announced by David Frith, the Town Crier and former chairman of the board of trustees. “The Prep” is now the highest ranked public school in the Cambridge Checkpoint examinations. Ms Lodge told The Royal Gazette: “School is not just about Cambridge results, though we are very proud of them. The school is about making sure that the children find what is their joy and what makes them want to work for us. For some it is music, for some it is sports.” Former student Finn Smith, who frequently performs with the national orchestra and the Bermuda School of Music, performed a violin solo by Bach and celebratory favourite Bermuda is Another World. After the performance, Mrs Lodge said: “Those of you who are thinking about not practising, there’s a good reason to get up and practise so that you can play like that.” The school opened on January 10, 1876, as a one-room schoolhouse in the former Sunday school of the Ebenezer Methodist Church. Known simply as “the school” in those days, it was officially recognized by the Ministry of Education in 1880 and renamed the St George’s Grammar School. The present school was built in 1923, as a community effort; it stopped taking senior students in 1966 when it became known as the St George’s Preparatory School. The school has strong family ties. The Spurling family have kept an “unbroken line” as trustees of the school since the beginning, with Ann Spurling now sitting on the board. During the anniversary assembly, teacher Natalie Roberts shared the story of her family’s tangled history with the school. It was where her grandmother, Barbara Roberts, met her grandfather, Freddie Roberts, along with his brothers and sisters. She would catch the Daisy ferry from St David’s because there were no bridges linking St George’s and St David’s to one another or the mainland. Her father, Larry Roberts, and her uncle also attended the school, and she and brother Andrew followed in their footsteps. As she finished the story, she asked her son, Oliver, to stand, then her nephew Ryan, niece Emma and second cousin Samantha. Ms Lodge said the year marked another historic landmark: 50 years ago the Bermuda school system became desegregated.
January 9. A private school is to scan the fingerprints of hundreds of secondary students in order for them to be able to get hot lunches and take out library books. Warwick Academy confirmed yesterday it was introducing the “totally voluntary” system this term, mainly to ease lunch queues, and said full fingerprint information would not be retained, only a set of unique points identifying each student. David Horan, head of secondary at Warwick, told The Royal Gazette: “It’s all coded. It’s all binary. It is nothing that can be used by a forensic service. It’s not fingerprinting.” Students were told about the scheme at an assembly earlier this week and an e-mail was sent to the parents of 462 pupils on Wednesday. “We had seven who got back and opted out of it,” said Mr Horan. “Most said they just wanted to research it further. One changed their mind and a number are reviewing the initiative.” The e-mail, shared with this newspaper by Mr Horan and principal Maggie McCorkell, told parents to get in touch with the school if they felt their child should not be part of the initiative.
Warwick Academy, see story above.
January 9. Bus services will be improved, and overtime for drivers reduced, after the Bermuda Government and the Bermuda Industrial Union finally agreed on a new schedule. After years of dialogue, transport minister Shawn Crockwell said the union and the Department of Public Transport have come to an agreement on the timetable which will be in place this summer. Mr Crockwell told The Royal Gazette: “I know they are still working on the winter component of it, but in terms of the summer, which was the most contentious part, I have been advised that all parties are in agreement with the new summer schedule. We actually came to an agreement at the beginning of summer last year, but because we had already started the summer schedule we didn’t want to disrupt it with a new schedule. We will be implementing it this coming summer.” BIU president Chris Furbert confirmed that a schedule had been approved, saying: “It’s something that has been in the making for a long time, but we have come up with something that is workable. It’s something that has to be tweaked as we go along, but both the management and the unions deserve a hats off.” There have been numerous efforts to update the schedule, which was first introduced in 1999. In 2005, there was talk of a walkout after an alleged effort by the Government to enforce a new schedule, which would have cut down on breaks and increased night shifts for drivers. Two years later, another proposal ran into challenges because of a reported lack of consultation with drivers. Another schedule was presented in 2012 after continued dialogue, but the drivers expressed concerns over some elements and did not ratify it. Over the past 15 years, a “grey schedule” of non-rostered trips have been introduced to help improve service, but the changes reportedly resulted in increased overtime. Last year, Mr Crockwell said that the Government’s overtime liability averaged more than $2 million per year, which he described as “simply not sustainable”. Several previously discussed elements are believed to be included, with routes to Barnes Corner and Grotto Bay extended to Dockyard and St George’s respectively. .”
January 9. A small team of enforcement officers will be set up to crack down on building contractors and land owners that break planning rules. The move is part of a raft of measures, including providing the director of planning with the ability to impose civil penalties, that have been proposed by the Bermuda Government to tackle developers who flout planning regulations. Michael Fahy, the Minister for Home Affairs, told The Royal Gazette that the penalties from breaching planning laws would be in line with fines for breaching immigration rules. “I was disappointed that we did not get these changes through in the last year, but it will be done this year,” he said. “To ensure we see it through we will likely need to appoint a small team of enforcement officers to develop and handle cases. We simply do not have the capability to deal with all the offences and we are not as proactive as we would like. We have not set the scale of the civil penalties as yet, but if you take immigration where a first offence is a $5,000, a second offence is $10,000 and then it becomes a criminal matter, it will probably be something similar.” Government’s more robust approach to planning infringements has been welcomed by the Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce. The group’s chairman, Stuart Hayward, said more still needed to be done to inspire understanding of the policy and encourage “voluntary adherence to the rules.” Senator Fahy added: “The aim here is to change a mindset as people start to get fined and are held to account quickly. The other big thing about these changes is that we will look to enforce against the contractor as well as the landowner depending on the facts.”
January 9. It was not the tropical storm that some believed but severe weather hit transport from flights to ferries across the Island yesterday. Gale-force winds from a swirling body of low pressure that passed north of Bermuda caused sporadic power outages, and had many wondering if hurricane season had somehow come back. Several incoming flights were forced to turn back as gusts neared 60mph, and the Bermuda Government had to issue an advisory assuring residents that the Causeway would remain open. Drivers using two-wheeled transport were advised to use extra caution, with police reporting that at least one person was blown off their vehicle. The storm, now headed off to our east, packed winds of tropical storm strength and churned up sea heights of 20ft and more outside the reef line. A small craft warning remains in effect, while several ferry services were suspended yesterday afternoon. Belco had a busy evening responding to scattered power cuts, and the Paget stop lights were intermittently knocked out. The storm skirted 75 miles to Bermuda’s north in the afternoon, and may potentially develop as it heads farther out into warmer waters. The Atlantic hurricane season ended officially on November 30, making the extra-tropical low pressure system a comparative rarity.
January 8. The reinsurance industry is still under pressure from low prices, a top executive said this week. Aspen Re chief underwriting officer Emil Issavi added the year started with a “benign” natural catastrophe environment, a more stable economy and stable inflation. “The industry, however, continues to suffer from the low interest rate environment and excess capital,” Mr Issavi said in a conference call hosted by Macquarie Securities to discuss reinsurance renewals. “The pricing challenges created by this excess capital continued during January 1 renewals, although the impact differed by line of business and geography. While there was a slowing of price decreases in certain lines, pricing in many areas of business was disappointing.” Mr Issavi added, however: “Terms and conditions generally remained reasonably stable, mitigating some of the negative effect from rate movement. In addition, clients continued their consolidation of reinsurance panels, choosing reinsurers capable of delivering a broad range of products with local distribution reach.” Mr Issavi said that relative pricing for most lines of business had held up better in the US than internationally, and even loss-affected portfolios had seen positive movements. He added: “There are signs of a market that has maintained some discipline despite the soft conditions. In addition, original underwriting rates generally remained more stable, allowing reinsurers to benefit when participating on a pro-rata basis. In these cases the commissions increased on better programmes but the industry showed discipline and stability compared to prior soft markets. January 1 also saw greater requests for multiyear deals, potentially signaling the bottom of the market for certain lines.”
January 8. The Corporation of Hamilton could reach an agreement with a lending institution “within days” to satisfy its $18 million debt over the Par-la-Ville hotel debacle, according to Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs. Senator Fahy said that the city’s council was still in discussions with a local bank to secure a loan to pay off monies outstanding to Mexico Infrastructure Finance (MIF) over the deal. He told The Royal Gazette he was confident the corporation would endure despite its present financial difficulties. “The corporation is still in discussions with a local bank to provide a loan to satisfy the $18 million debt with Mexican Infrastructure Finance over the Par-la-Ville hotel. This has to happen in short order and we hope it will happen in the next few days. I feel confident that the Corporation of Hamilton will survive. “f I did not, we would not have done all the things we have. It would have been far easier to close them down but that was not the option we wanted to take.” Recent legislation passed by the House of Assembly and the Senate has enabled the Corporation of Hamilton to increase its borrowing limit from $20 million to $30 million in order to help pay off the MIF loan. Sen Fahy said that Government enjoyed a good relationship with the corporation’s new administration, and maintained there was still a place for municipalities in Bermuda. "In my opinion Bermuda is slightly over-governed already but the municipalities still have an important role to play in the community. Down in St George’s there is a real community spirit — it is its own little Bermuda. There is so much history there and the council is full of hard-working individuals who are paid very little but make a huge community contribution. The marina development is fantastic and has been driven by the corporation and the developers. It does not matter what political affiliation the council members have, that is the beauty of the municipalities. They are there to look after the community. Hamilton has the America’s Cup to look forward to and help revitalize the city. The city will continue to reinvent itself although it is difficult because it does have financial difficulties. But the city thrives when Bermuda thrives as a business place and we are seeing progress in this area. I believe the municipalities do have longevity and so they should.”
January 8. A businessman has launched a new water purification service for homes and commercial properties. Miguel Pereira — whose R&M Maintenance Group of companies already includes construction and landscaping arms — has expanded the business with new venture Waterite. Mr Pereira said that Waterite offers state-of-the-art water purification using the latest technology. He added: “We’ve just opened the water filtration company — as far as I know, there are only two in Bermuda including us. It’s basically water filtration for businesses and homes — Bermuda’s water is hard and not the cleanest you can get. It contains a bunch of particles. The water here is very hard and damages a lot of equipment like coffee makers, dishwashers and restaurant equipment.” Mr Pereira’s system includes an eight-stage ionization and purification system and uses ultra-violet light to ensure water is crystal clear. He said: “You can have the system connected to your faucet and have purified drinking water instead of buying these big jugs that take up space. We install the filters and the water is always clean. It comes out of the tap completely cleaned — not only are people reducing costs, the filters’ lifetime is three to six months, so they would be looking at a service maybe twice a year.
January 8. Tributes have been paid to Iris Davis, an iconic figure who persevered through segregation to become the Island’s senior nurse, who has died at the age of 94. Miss Davis, well known to generations of families as a midwife and school nurse, was hailed as a powerful example for black people, particularly black women, throughout her trailblazing 40-year career. She was the second black Bermudian nurse, after Sylvia Richardson, to be taken on at the government Health Clinic, and was appointed MBE in recognition of her service in 1974. Describing Miss Davis as “an icon in the community”, historian Walton Brown told The Royal Gazette: “We take a lot for granted today, but during that period of rampant segregation, she represented a powerful example for black people and for black women.” Nursing was an early dream from her humble origins in Somerset, where her father, William Davis, emerged as a pivotal early figure in the Island’s labour movement. As a midwife she helped bring generations of Bermudian babies into the world, and she grew familiar to later generations of schoolchildren as the nurse who brought the vaccination shots. Preferring to be addressed as “Miss”, as she never married, she was famously private but known around Bermuda for the lovingly restored 1961 classic Austin Cambridge that remains in her garage today. She won recognition only after pressing ahead through arduous training at a time when even qualifying was segregated, and King Edward VII Memorial Hospital refused to accept black nurses. Miss Davis obtained her initial training at the Cottage Hospital, followed by a year’s study at Lincoln Hospital in New York — her first departure from the Island.
The late Iris Davis, MBE
January 8. A Butterfield Bank supervisor wept yesterday in Supreme Court as she recalled coming face-to-face with a gunman during a robbery. Gregory Tucker is accused of using an imitation firearm to rob the bank’s St George’s branch on June 9 last year, and accidentally leaving the weapon’s barrel behind at the scene. The incident happened shortly after midday on a quiet Tuesday at the bank, where eight employees and one summer student were working. The court was shown CCTV footage from inside the building, which captured the event in full. Supervisor Beatrice Signor told the court that the robber leapt over the counter and ran towards her with a gun in one hand and a brown paper bag in the other. The criminal was wearing a red-hooded sweatshirt and black trousers, and had a dark cloth covering all of his face except his eyes. “I was afraid. I didn’t know if he was going to shoot,” she said. “He had a coarse voice and a Bermudian accent. He was shouting, ‘Give me the money and open the safe’. I was terrified.” As this happened, Mrs Signor’s fellow supervisor Nigel Turuni emerged from his office to check on the commotion. The robber turned the imitation firearm on Mr Turuni, and demanded that he hand over “all the money” into the paper bag. Mr Turuni opened the cash drawer of teller Laura Bottelli and proceeded to give him the money that was available.
January 8. A man has been charged with an attack that left a Hamilton councilor with serious injuries. Ottis Walter Bell, 61, from Devonshire, appeared in Magistrates’ Court this morning charged with wounding RoseAnn Edwards with intent to cause her grievous bodily harm on Tuesday. Mr Bell was not required to enter a plea as the matter must be heard in the Supreme Court. No application for bail was made, and he remained silent throughout proceedings. Magistrate Archibald Warner sent the matter to the Supreme Court for the session starting next month. Mr Bell remains remanded in custody.
January 8. Extended hours for MRI patients are being offered by Bermuda HealthCare Services while MRI is temporarily unavailable at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The extended hours will be available for the next two weeks. “We are here to serve the community and we are happy to accommodate patients who would normally go to the hospital,” said Mahesh Reddy, the medical director at Bermuda HealthCare Services. Referrals should be made by calling 236-2810 during the clinic’s normal working hours. All inquiries should be sent to Marynell Goolsby.
Bermuda Healthcare Services, see above story
January 7. Premier Michael Dunkley yesterday explained his decision to hold the upcoming Commission of Inquiry behind closed doors. The Premier, who announced the independent investigation into the handling of taxpayers’ money under the former Progressive Labour Party administration last week, told The Royal Gazette: “Giving evidence is a highly stressful experience for anyone, especially in a public forum. In planning this commission, we felt the inquiry’s informational and evidential needs would be best served by holding its meetings in camera. If the commission decides to hold public meetings, then it will have licence to do so but we felt the in-camera provision was important for the fulfillment of its work.” He said it was important to note that the commission’s full report would be made public. The Commissions of Inquiry Act 1935, which determines how the investigation must be conducted, requires a report in writing to be made the Governor. Mr Dunkley said last week that four commissioners, including a lawyer and an accountant, would be appointed by mid-January, with a report due in less than four months. The commission will look at how government money was managed by civil servants for the financial years ending March 31, 2010, 2011 and 2012, after what the Premier described as a recent “disturbing report” by Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews. Mrs Matthews found that public officials violated the rules on the spending of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money so often that it became the norm for which there are no consequences. Previous reports from the Auditor also revealed breaches of financial instructions but Mr Dunkley said the commission would be limited to the three years covered by her most recent inquiry because it was the first report tabled while he was Premier and the first since the law was changed to allow the Premier to call for a Commission of Inquiry.
January 7. A Bermuda-based hotel firm has bought Boston’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel for $140 million. Mandarin Oriental has managed the hotel on the city’s upmarket Boylston Street since it opened in 2008. But now the company, part of the Bermuda-based Jardine Matheson empire, has bought the freehold and hotel business from CWB Hotel Ltd Partnership. Mandarin Oriental also manages the 85 privately-owned “Residences at Mandarin Oriental” which are linked to the hotel. Mandarin Oriental chief executive Edouard Ettedgui said: “We are delighted to acquire the property that houses our luxury hotel in the heart of Boston.” Mandarin Oriental operates or has under development 47 hotels in 25 countries with a total of 11,000 rooms. It also operates or is developing 17 residential developments connected to its properties.
January 7. The search for a new owner for Rosewood Tucker’s Point is continuing, but managing director Paul Telford remains upbeat about business at the resort. While what happens next will be up to the eventual owners, Mr Telford said there is still room for growth at the Hamilton Parish site. “We have been open for almost seven years, and what we have noticed is that there’s a lot of business with families,” he said. “We’re seeing the grandparents coming in with the kids and the grandkids, and we have tried to build on that. We have a number of suites — we have 20 suites in total — and we can make up one-bedroom suites and two-bedroom suites. Certainly in July and August we sell a lot of that. Really, what we’re doing here at Rosewood Tucker’s Point is trying to build the group base — group business is the base that most of the hotels on the Island need to build on — and then fill in with transient visitors on top of that. We are trying to build the social aspect as well with birthday parties, families, destination weddings, that sort of stuff, but we are seeing growth in that business, that family business.” Asked about recent planning applications, which proposed the addition of further convention facilities, he said: “The plans that were put in were more about the things that a new owner could potentially do. I don’t know that it will necessarily happen. It is certainly a possibility, but the resort hasn’t sold. If we had a little bit more function space or meeting space that we could use to cater to groups, we could cater to multiple groups at one time in the hotel. In the long-term, once you are able to have that ability to cater to groups, then you can increase the room inventory and you are able to take more group business. We have a pretty good infrastructure here. Our kitchens are big and we have our own laundry which can support the whole resort and then some. We have the beach club and the golf club, so we have a good base, core infrastructure on which to build. That’s why we want to start off by building that shoulder period and groups and maybe looking at getting more function space. Then might come the moment when we think we might need to add more rooms. That’s the long-term, but we have to get through receivership and the sale first. Hopefully a new owner will subscribe to that long-term strategy and put some funds towards it.”
January 7. A total of eight Bermuda female business leaders have been listed in a prestige global top 200 of power women. The 2016 list compiled by London-based business magazine Citywealth includes Kimberley Durrant, UK representative for the Government of Bermuda, Fozeia Rana-Fahy, director of law firm MJM and Vanessa Schrum, a partner at law firm Appleby. Also included were Michelle Wolfe, managing director of Meritus Trust Company, Helen Cooper, director at law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman, Hamilton Trust managing director Linda Longworth, Caroline Foulger, a former partner in professional services firm PwC, now a non-executive director of insurer Hiscox and Freya Giffen, managing director of Codan Trust, part of Conyers, Dill & Pearman.
January 7. A seven-strong team of hospital doctors and marine experts worked around the clock to give a stricken loggerhead turtle a fighting chance of life. The spectacular 60kg marine creature was rescued by free divers Shaun Holland and Aaron Bean off the North Shore on December 30 and brought to the aquarium. Scans conducted at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital the next day revealed a hook deep in the turtle’s trachea that had caused her left lung to hyper inflate and right lung to partially collapse. The turtle underwent a three-and-a-half-hour operation to remove the hook on Tuesday night and although she is still in a critical condition, is making good progress. Experts think the turtle could have swallowed the longline hook as long as a year ago and been in pain for some time.
January 7. Older voters stand to present a decisive force in the upcoming contest for Devonshire North Central, according to the advocacy group Age Concern. Constituency 13 candidates from the governing One Bermuda Alliance and the Opposition have been invited by the group to field questions from area residents aged 50 and above at a meeting next week. “Bermudians are getting older, and it’s the seniors who are going to hold quite a sway,” said Charles Jeffers, director of Age Concern. “If people vote as they have voted all their lives, we will have similar results. But if they vote on issues, Bermuda would be better off. I believe we could become a potent voice if we could get people to break with tradition.” Pensions have not kept up with the rising cost of living, medical insurance and prescription drugs, he said. Diallo Rabain, the Progressive Labour Party hopeful, and Andrew Simons, who is canvassing for the OBA, could face tough questions at next Wednesday’s forum in Christ Church hall. Mr Jeffers said the OBA’s performance at the polls on February 4 would serve as a “barometer” for the its brief record as a Government. Meanwhile, anything short of victory for the PLP in a district it has long held would come as a major blow to the Opposition, according to former PLP senator Jonathan Smith.
January 7. A new $57 million private catastrophe bond has been launched in Bermuda. The bond transaction used Willis’ Resilience Re cat bond issuance platform, which was launched in October last year. It was listed on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) on December 31 last year and sits under a newly listed Resilience Re insurance-linked securities note programme. Resilience Re was set up to cover property catastrophe risks by Willis Capital Markets and Advisory, a catastrophe bond, ILS, mergers and acquisitions and investment banking unit of global reinsurance broker Willis. Willis, which has offices on Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, officially merged earlier this week with Towers Watson, a professional services company with an office on Par-la-Ville Road, Hamilton.
January 6. Two major firms with a presence in Bermuda officially merged yesterday in an $18 billion deal. Insurance and reinsurance firm Willis, which has offices on Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, started operations in partnership with Towers Watson, a professional services company with an office on Par-la-Ville Road, Hamilton. The move creates a global advisory and brokerage firm serving 80 per cent of the world’s largest companies in more than 120 countries. The official launch of the new company — Willis Towers Watson — came after shareholders in both voted to approve the merger. John Haley, the chief executive officer of Willis Towers Watson, said: “Willis Towers Watson is uniquely positioned to see the connections between talent, assets and ideas and how they can lead to strong performance and growth for our clients. “We intend to help our clients manage risk and engage their people in a whole new way. We believe we can change our industry by delivering solutions that are driven by data and analytics and are integrated, innovative and tailored to meet the evolving needs of our clients.” The joint company expects to make merger-related savings of between $100 million and 125 million a year.
January 6. A customer who brought his car for a check-up got an unpleasant surprise yesterday after finding it crushed by a shipping container. High winds on Monday evening managed to slide the container off a stack at a depot at TC Associates in Industrial Park Road, Southampton. According to sources in the area, two cars were badly damaged in the fall, which occurred at around 5.45pm as squalls blew across the Island. One car belonged to a worker in the business complex, while the other is understood to have been brought to a mechanic’s shop on the road. No injuries were reported, but one source said that a truck had been driven past not long previously — adding that containers had been toppled at the site before by strong winds. It comes as further high winds are forecast for later in the week, with potential for gale-force winds starting tomorrow evening.
January 6. The MRI scanner at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital will be out of service for about three weeks. According to a Bermuda Hospitals Board spokeswoman, a “major component” of the scanner needs replacing. “Unfortunately this will result in the MRI scanner at KEMH Acute Care Wing remaining out of service for approximately three weeks,” she said. “BHB clinicians will work collaboratively with Bermuda Healthcare to secure access to another machine for urgent cases. BHB will issue a release when the scanner service resumes. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause.”
January 6. Bermuda Health Council has said it will investigate allegations of unpaid employee health insurance at Sandys 360 if former staff of the defunct sports facility get in touch. The Royal Gazette yesterday reported claims by a former employee who said staff were paying their own health insurance before the centre went bust in late 2013. Employers who fail to provide their staff with health insurance are breaking the law and the council announced last year that it would begin naming delinquent employers online. Asked last month if Sandys 360 was being investigated, acting CEO Tawanna Wedderburn said: “The Bermuda Health Council responds to all health insurance-related queries as per the Health Insurance Act 1970. Please be advised that we are not currently investigating any active complaints about Sandys 360’s health insurance policy. If the employees of Sandys 360 are concerned about their health insurance policy, they may contact us on 292-6420 and we will follow-up accordingly.”
January 6. RoseAnn Edwards, a councilor on the City of Hamilton, is being treated in King Edward VII Memorial Hospital after being stabbed last night. Ms Edwards, 60, is said by friends to be recovering well in the Intensive Care Unit. The incident, described as a domestic matter, occurred at about 10.25pm yesterday at her Angle Street residence in Hamilton. The alleged offender was subsequently arrested.
January 5. Longtime former Bermuda resident Robert Stigwood, the international music, theatre and film impresario, has died at the age of 81. Friends of the Australian-born manager of legendary bands the Bee Gees and Cream have paid tribute to a “giant” of popular culture. “He was a very good friend,” said former Premier Sir John Swan, “not only to me but Bermuda as a whole.” Sir John described Mr Stigwood as: "A great ambassador to Bermuda, who spoke very highly of the Island. He was quite an impresario who produced many stage and screen musicals, managed the careers of many pop bands and had a very keen eye for the arts. He encouraged a lot of people to come and visit Bermuda and, obviously, was a hugely influential figure in the world of global entertainment.” Sir John said his good friend was a generous donor, who quietly supported many cultural projects on the Island. “He was an enthusiastic person. He loved people; he was a people person. He was just a down-to-earth, approachable individual.” Mr Stigwood was a frequent presence in Bermuda during the 1970s and 1980s, living first at the Palm Grove estate in Devonshire before purchasing the Wreck House property in Sandys. His two luxury yachts, Sarina and Jezebel — the latter once described as “a floating fantasy” by The New York Times — were familiar sights in Bermuda’s waters for many years.
January 5. Bermuda-based insurance and investment firm Old Mutual has been bought by Beechwood Bermuda. Old Mutual, which has more than $1 billion in assets, closed for new business in 2009. Now Beechwood, a major provider of international investment plans that has more than $2 billion in assets, has completed the buyout of the firm for an undisclosed price. Beechwood chief executive officer Mark Feuer said: “This transaction offers a unique opportunity to strengthen our position as a global leader and demonstrates our dedication to providing innovative financial solutions for international investors. “Our scale and resources will allow us to continue to meet and further develop client demand for our products for years to come.” Beechwood has pledged continuation of service support for Old Mutual products over the next three years, backed up with support from Beechwood’s wealth management business. As part of the agreement, Old Mutual will reinsure certain policy guarantees until they mature in 2017 and 2018. Beechwood said it will contact Old Mutual’s distribution partners to discuss the transition and introduce Beechwood’s Accumulator Plus and Escalator Plus investment plans, which it said offer attractive rates and unique investment features such as principal protection guarantees. David Lessing, executive vice president of products and services at Beechwood, commented: “The growing client demand for the Beechwood products reinforces our decision to make a significant commitment to this business in support of our distribution partners and their financial advisers.” Beechwood Bermuda is a long-term insurer based in Hamilton. The company also owns Caymans-based Beechwood Re. The companies were formed to service demand from non-US high-net-worth investors seeking innovative, guaranteed investment products, and US and international insurers in need of attractive capacity in the life insurance and annuity reinsurance market.
January 5. The demise of the Sandys 360 community centre has left former staff, some facing severe financial challenges, unpaid and unable to get answers. “It has been two years since Sandys 360 closed and quality of life for the staff is bad,” said one, a struggling parent who asked not to be identified. “Staff still have not been paid. Staff were paying their own insurance. We would get to the end of the month, get $750 and be told ‘this is it — hang in there, be patient a little longer’.” Saying they were owed one year’s salary, the source added: “If you look at the Employment Act, they were meant to pay insurance for the period of redundancy, which was four months. On average, if you listen to staff, I don’t think there is anybody at this point who is owed less than $30,000.” Former employees of the West End sports facility, opened to acclaim in 2009, are reluctant to rock the boat, the ex-member of staff said. Some held back out of a fear that a whistle-blower is not employable, “We have just kept hoping that at some point we are going to get what’s coming to us. However, there are no answers to questions, no communication. Surely by now they must have some sort of plan.” Melvyn Bassett, who had served as managing director of the facility, declined to comment on the issue last night. Staff were initially told that wages and electricity costs were taking an unsustainable toll. Belco, which disconnected power in November 2013, had refused to restore electricity without one-third of the utility bills paid off. Enough power was provided to keep the pool circulating. HSBC bank refused to loan any further to cover operating costs, creditors had lost patience, and Sandys 360 depended on government grants for its survival. The facility still receives unspecified government help, and a mistaken duplicate payment of $807,000 made in 2012 was never recovered, as reported by this newspaper last month.
January 5. The management buyout of the fiduciary arm of legal firm Appleby, backed by London-based private-equity firm Bridgepoint, has been completed. The deal means the fiduciary and administration segment of the offshore law firm, which has 350 employees, part of which is based in Bermuda, will be spun off. Farah Ballands, a former Appleby partner based in the firm’s Jersey office, will lead the new independent business. She said: “Appleby Fiduciary Business has grown significantly over the years with over 350 staff located across nine offshore jurisdictions. “With Bridgepoint’s expertise and support, we look forward to building on this success and investing in new infrastructure to give our clients an unrivalled standard of service. The Appleby group has provided us with a solid foundation from which to build our new fiduciary brand, which we expect to launch in the first quarter of 2016. The team is also busy working on a number of strategic initiatives that we look forward to communicating over the next few weeks, including the appointment of our new chairman.” Bridgepoint partner and head of its financial services team William Paul said: “The buyout brings significant opportunity for Appleby Fiduciary Business as a stand-alone business to accelerate its growth organically and via acquisition in what remains a strongly growing market.” Appleby Fiduciary Business provided offshore management and administration services to wealthy clients, private companies, funds and global corporations for more than 25 years. The business unit is also a significant player in the Island’s booming insurance-linked securities market. Although neither side was prepared to discuss the cost of the buyout, is estimated to be worth around $370 million.
January 5. Team Oracle USA threw open the doors of its Bermuda headquarters — giving the media a glimpse of their America’s Cup preparations. The state-of-the-art facility in Dockyard offers everything from a fully-kitted gym to loft space offices to vast warehouses for boats and sails. All this to ensure the team’s sailors and engineers follow up their 2010 and 2013 wins in Valencia and San Francisco respectively with first place next year, as the world’s most prestigious yacht race comes to Bermuda.
January 5. The Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art received what a spokesman is calling a “momentous and culturally significant” Christmas present in the form of a major collection of works by one of the Island’s most acclaimed contemporary painters. The Botanical Gardens gallery has been gifted 40 paintings by Bermudian artist Bruce Stuart, most of them depicting Bermuda’s architectural heritage. “We were fortunate enough to have been given these works by a patron who prefers to remain anonymous,” the museum spokesman said. “He had lovingly put the collection together over the last three decades. He wanted to ensure the paintings remained together as a testament to Bruce Stuart’s talent as well as a record of the unique architecture of Bermuda — some of which has already been lost to the ravages of time, the elements and man since these works were painted.” Mr Stuart, 55, remains one of Bermuda’s best-known modern artists. A former president of the Bermuda Society of Arts, the Island’s built heritage was the primary focus of his acrylic paintings from the time he began exhibiting in the early 1980s until 2006 when he moved to Mexico with his wife, Claudia. He took part in dozens of exhibits locally and one of his murals can be seen at LF Wade International Airport’s arrivals hall. Mr Stuart now runs an art gallery out of his home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico — Stuart Fine Art Studio..
January 5. An after-hours robber at KFC in Hamilton made off with cash after slipping through the fast food restaurant’s back door on Sunday night. Police described the suspect, who entered the establishment near 11pm, as wearing a dark colored hoodie and mask. It is not known whether he was armed, and no one was injured during the robbery. However, the man ordered a member of staff to lay down on the floor and searched the eatery before making good his escape. Employees said that business hours for the Queen Street KFC end at 10pm and most staff have left by 10.30pm. Cleaning staff and supervisors remain on the premises until later. Police are asking anyone with information about this incident to call the Criminal Investigation Unit at 247-1252, or the confidential Crime Stoppers number at 800-8477.
January 4. Hospital authorities have revealed information about 13 adverse events in the past five years which, in some cases, led to the death or permanent injury of patients. The Bermuda Hospitals Board disclosed the information in response to a public access to information (PATI) request from The Royal Gazette for details of all “serious or untoward incidents” at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital since 2011. There were two such events in 2011, one in 2012, five in 2013, two in 2014 and three in 2015, according to the board. The list provided shows that of the 13 patients involved in the incidents, five died as a result of the hospital’s actions and one, who was given surgery on the wrong part of their body, died as a result of their original ailment. One patient suffered permanent harm and another long-term harm which was potentially permanent. In one case there was no adverse outcome to the patient, while four patients suffered temporary harm and made a full recovery. Although this newspaper asked for details of each event, the BHB shared limited information on the circumstances. In three of the cases where patients died as a result of the hospital’s actions, there was a delayed or missed diagnosis. In another fatal case, a patient fell and the hospital concluded that the event was “likely unpreventable”. A fifth fatal case was described as a “monitoring event” which prompted the development of “improved monitoring procedures” at KEMH. In the case involving permanent harm, a patient fell. The incident led to a review of the process for patient’s getting permission to leave a clinical unit and “strengthened communication” among staff. The case which resulted in long-term harm involved a surgical site infection and led to an “intensive review to identify a definitive cause” though no cause was identified. The hospital also made “small changes to possibly prevent future recurrences” after a general review of all infection control practices.
January 4. White collar union leader Jason Hayward last night held out a 2016 olive branch to Government — and pledged to work with Ministers to reduce the cost of public administration. Mr Hayward, president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said that 2015 was “a rough year” for industrial relations. But he added: “The protection of workers is the union’s priority — however, that will not prevent us from working with the Government.” Mr Hayward said: “Both sides should commit to more harmonious relations in 2016.” He added: “The union recognizes that wages and salaries are a huge expenditure item for the Government. As a result we have worked with the Government to reduce that line item through supporting voluntary early retirement, wage freezes, pay cuts and supported reducing the services through attrition.” Mr Hayward was speaking after economist Craig Simmons last week warned that attempts to cut the Civil Service to reduce the Island’s billion-dollar-plus debt would spark fierce protests from the unions. Mr Simmons added that — although Bermuda’s gross domestic product (GDP) had risen for three successive quarters and retail sales had also increased, signaling an end of recession — the working classes continued to struggle to keep their jobs. Mr Simmons said that debt reduction could not happen without “a restructuring of the Civil Service”. And he added that the number of Ministries and departments would have to be “reduced, consolidated or eliminated altogether”, while government services would have to be “rebalanced”, with some scaled back and others expanded.
January 4. The wrong dates for this year’s Cup Match holiday are being given by a number of publications and websites (but not by this website as it was correct to begin with for 2016), the Cabinet Office has said. The annual Cup Match holiday is observed on the Thursday and Friday before the first Monday in August. Emancipation Day and Somers Day 2016 will thus be observed on Thursday, July 28 and Friday, July 29.
January 4. Rubis Energy Bermuda’s managing director David Rose has retired after 44 years in the fuel industry. He started out as a management trainee with Shell Bermuda in 1971. Under the direction of marketing manager Stanley Marshall, who is now also retired, he progressed through the ranks and became managing director of Rubis when it purchased the assets of Shell Bermuda in 2006. Mr Marshall said: “David proved to be the ideal choice as he progressed in the various positions under the programme. His training encompassed all areas of the fuel business in Bermuda and he attended numerous overseas courses designed to enhance his knowledge. Over the course of David’s career he served in a number of positions including aviation manager, outside services manager, and health, safety and environment adviser for the local company as well as several other islands in the Caribbean.”
January 2. “To be silly. Not too silly. Just the right amount of silly.” That was the promise made between husband and wife Cullen and Kaitlyn O’Hara as they exchanged vows at their New Year’s Eve wedding. The short ceremony was peppered with kisses — each vow punctuated with an embrace — the unconventional couple unable to wait until the finish. “We’re making it up as we go along,” Dick Okada said of what he called “Wedding 2.0”. A relative by marriage, Mr Okada unofficially officiated the service at the World Heritage Centre in St George. The pair had an authorized union at the government offices in Hamilton. In their self-penned oath, the pair pledged “to be good, kind and loving, “To provide hugs, scratches and snacks. To tell jokes and continue to find even better jokes.” And finally, “To be your best friend and loving companion forever and ever.”
January 2. City officials declared North Hamilton’s big night on New Year’s Eve a spectacular success. The festivities pulled in close to 1,000 people without incident and were well endorsed by area businesses. Charles Gosling, the mayor, said the Corporation of Hamilton “had to pull out all the stops” to lay on such an ambitious event. City councilor RoseAnn Edwards also acknowledged the risks involved in closing off traffic to several blocks of Court Street and their surrounding roads.
January 1. A colorful display lit up the East End for New Year’s Eve as the Corporation of St George welcomed 2016 with fireworks. Restaurants throughout the Olde Towne held their own parties to usher in the new year. In King’s Square, a night of DJs and other entertainment culminated in the traditional Onion Drop — followed by pyrotechnics.