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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
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Bermuda's Royal Gazette newspaper is not published on Sundays or Public Holidays.
September 19. A Bermuda delegation participated in a welcome and plaque exchange aboard the MS Aurora, during the ship’s short stay at King’s Wharf in Dockyard. Transport minister Walter Roban led the delegation aboard the Bermuda-registered luxury liner which arrived from the port of Charleston, United States, on its inaugural visit to the island. Stopping in its home port for the day and then sailing on to Ponta Delgada, Azores, the vessel carried some 1,900 passengers and a crew of 850. Mr Roban welcomed Deputy Captain Alan Hawkins and crew of the sixth largest of eight ships currently in service with P&O Cruises. He said in a press release: “Visitors have been cruising to Bermuda for more than a century and, today, we welcome more than ever before in three port of calls. It is as a result of great organizations such as yours — and modern marvels like the MS Aurora — that travelers are finding ocean cruising more comfortable and rewarding. I congratulate you and your crew for your participation in the growth of the cruise industry. The island’s popularity as a vacation destination is growing — both for cruise ship visitors and air travelers — as more people learn of our mid-Atlantic paradise.” At more than 76,000 tonnes, Aurora was built by Meyer Werft at their shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Those at for the ceremony and tour of the ship included officials from the Ministry of Transport, Marine and Ports Services, Bermuda Tourism Authority, host port the West End Development Corporation, ship’s agent Meyer Agencies and the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority.
September 19. “Children first and families first.” That was the overriding message from the Bermuda Government last night as it hosted a town hall meeting to further detail proposals outlined in the Throne Speech. Several hundred residents descended on the Berkeley Institute to hear presentations from David Burt and three of his Cabinet colleagues before the floor was opened up for questions. The Premier outlined plans to reform Financial Assistance and stimulate investment in all aspects of tourism through the Tourism Investment Act, while providing opportunities for entrepreneurship by Bermudians. His vow to “do things differently” and “attract a young, more cosmopolitan visitor to our shores” was greeted by warm applause from the crowd. Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, also received a rousing reception as he said: “Children should always be in the forefront of our mind. There should not be any politics, there should be no egos, it is just about educating our children”. Mr Rabain detailed plans to install WIFI in all public schools by the end of the school year and establish a National Workforce Development Plan to equip Bermudians with new skill sets. “We have exciting things planned for next year,” he said. “It is about the children, first and foremost.” Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, then addressed the audience on immigration reform saying the Progressive Labour Party would consult and collaborate, and not make “arbitrary laws”. His pledge that government would look to introduce a living wage because it was “simply the right thing to do” and further regulate the banking industry also drew applause from the audience. Attorney-General Kathy Lynn Simmons echoed a similar theme to Mr Rabain: “Families first, children first,” Ms Simmons said as she outlined plans to reform the child support system and legal aid system. “We are not looking to penalize those who can not pay; we will work with them. We are not going to enforce their imprisonment, because that just breeds more resentment. Our aim is to heal our families and not further destroy them.”
September 19. An official guardian for vulnerable elderly people is high on the agenda, new Minister for Health Kim Wilson promised yesterday. Ms Wilson said an Office of the Public Guardian was on the cards and told a meeting “watch this space”. She added: “There are certain legislative enactments that we would like to advance, the first one being something with respect to the Rest Homes Act and amending that to make sure that there is proper supervision. “There will be a part two of that legislation, which will address that particular issue as well as some other issues that will help to provide safety and security to people who are vulnerable in our society.” Ms Wilson said the new administration was committed to consultation on an “ageing well” strategy and appealed to members of the public to become involved. She explained the strategy had three main goals — to help individuals and deal with an ageing population, create a strategic planning framework in line with international and island principles and to support collaboration, co-ordination and action across all sectors of government and society to address opportunities and problems related to ageing. Ms Wilson said: “The Ministry of Health is pleased that a national ageing plan for Bermuda is being developed and will be unveiled shortly. The ageing well strategy will be a visionary document and a starting point to then drill down and create solutions. Ultimately, the goal is for Bermuda to become ageing-friendly and for our ageing population to be considered when any policies are developed.” Ms Wilson was speaking as she delivered the keynote address at the Annual General Meeting of charity Age Concern. She told the audience that it was expected that the percentage of those aged 65 or more would double from 11 per cent to 22 per cent over the next 13 years. She said Bermuda had to prepare for a demographic shift “which will greatly influence our future well-being and social economic success particularly in the areas of health, social services and pensions”. Ms Wilson added: “Part of the strategic planning process must be to further define the roles and responsibilities of the Government, individuals and families as well as the private and non-profit or charitable sectors. The healthier we stay as a population, the less we need to pay for healthcare and the less we pay for healthcare, the lower our healthcare premiums will be. A concerted effort must be made to address preventable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, high blood sugar and high blood pressure. The Department of Health is wholly committed to this vital preventive action. The community nursing team has been holding free health checks in the community. Of the 266 people who have taken advantage of the free checks, 106 were asked to make follow-up appointments with a physician or the free wellness clinic.” Claudette Fleming, executive director of Age Concern, has backed the creation of a public guardian because existing laws fail to protect vulnerable elderly people or punish people who take advantage of them for financial gain. Ms Fleming told the meeting the charity — which carried a $150,000 deficit two years ago — was now “on a two-year track to get where we need to be to be sustainable”. She warned, however, that an Age Concern membership survey had shown that around 60 per cent did not have an emergency plan in place, while 70 per cent had not made a will. She added the most common illness reported by members was high blood pressure — but that 90 per cent of those surveyed said they had not been advised on how to make lifestyle changes by their doctor in the last year. Ms Fleming said: “We will design a follow-up programme with the Department of Health to see if we can lower high blood pressure.” She congratulated charity members for pressure which led the former government to not increase the cost of the Standard Health Benefit. She added that she was “very excited” Age Concern would be involved in a programme to boost the level of care facilities in Bermuda.
September 19. Bullying and bad behavior at an island primary school is ignored by education officials, worried parents have claimed. Parents of pupils at Elliot Primary School said that their objections to the education ministry had fallen on deaf ears — and that some had voted with their feet and transferred their children to other schools. A total of five parents, who asked not to be identified, attacked the school’s standards and said misbehavior and bullying were not dealt with. One mother said she had complained numerous times to the principal and the counselor at Elliot about her son’s academic problems. She added: “Elliot has always been known as a really, really good school, but discipline has gone down the drain. “I got to the point where I decided to get my son out.” The parent added his new teacher identified his academic difficulties within a week of his transfer last year. She said that she had sat in on one of her son’s classes at Elliot where the teacher had been “unable to control these kids — she screamed at one boy to go into a closet and do his work”. The woman added she had been shocked to see a teacher shouting at children in front of her but had found the school’s management “not very approachable”. She said: “I know that other parents have written to the ministry.” But the mother explained she hoped there would be a change in management style at the school because fellow Elliot parent Diallo Rabain was now Minister of Education, She added: “He will help. He has been very good, very keen with the PTA. I just feel that those teachers who are hard workers are getting very frustrated.” Another parent claimed that parents had pulled as many as 20 children out of Elliot last year. The woman said: “There were people in June taking their children out, and not even letting them finish the school year.” Going to the ministry does not help. Many parents have called Commissioner of Education Freddie Evans and sent him e-mails. If multiple parents are coming and complaining, they have got to try and get the problem right. I have called the ministry many times. So have many other parents. Nothing is being done. The last two years, it’s been crazy.” And she admitted she had considered taking her child out of Elliot, She said: “I’ve even spoken with teachers at other schools who have heard about the issues we’re having.” She added many teachers appeared to struggle with controlling their classes and that “incidents of bullying” were not acted upon. The claims were backed by three other parents, who said they were frustrated at a failure to enforce discipline. The woman added: “It’s not about being vindictive — it’s about the children enjoying their childhood memories.” The Ministry of Education was asked if there had been a substantial volume of complaints about discipline at the school and if there had been a rise in transfers to other schools over the last three years.
September 19. An investigation is under way to determine whether police personnel leaked images connected to a planned trip to New York involving David Burt, the Premier, and other politicians. Acting Commissioner Paul Wright confirmed that complaints had been received over “inappropriately disclosed” images connected to the alleged trip Mr Burt, then Opposition leader, was going to take with Progressive Labour Party MP Zane DeSilva, and former independent MPs Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell. Documents purporting to show confirmation of the group’s booking at the Four Seasons Hotel on June 11 were widely circulated online and on social media before the General Election on July 18. Yesterday, Mr Wright said: “The Bermuda Police Service can confirm that complaints have been received that persons unknown within the BPS inappropriately disclosed the images. “There is no specific information suggesting why the BPS, rather than any other party, might be responsible. If the disclosure was made by a member of police staff, then it would constitute a breach of our standards of professional behavior. Therefore, the independent Police Complaints Authority has been informed and a full internal investigation is under way.” The trip was mentioned by Opposition leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin in her Reply to the Throne Speech on Friday. Ms Gordon-Pamplin told MPs: “We will watch closely the developments of the questionable New York trip that was planned by an unlikely quartet with would-be gaming operators to determine the purpose of their meeting at the Four Seasons, and the benefit to Bermuda, if any.” Responding during the Throne Speech debate, Mr Burt said: “There was no trip to meet with would-be gaming operators. It was a figment of the imagination of the One Bermuda Alliance and those persons of whom they wanted to put in the campaign.” Mr Burt described the portion of Ms Gordon-Pamplin’s reply focusing on the trip as “below and beneath the dignity” of the House. The alleged trip was set to take place the day after Mr Crockwell was found dead at his Hamilton Parish home. In June, police confirmed that an investigation had been launched into a voice note left by a member of the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service regarding the death of Mr Crockwell that circulated on social media. Asked by The Royal Gazette in July about the booking, Mr Burt said that “people should be very concerned if items that are in police custody are given to members of political campaigns”.
September 19. Research has shown that a tax on sugary non-nutritious foods cuts consumption, according to Bermuda’s chief medical officer. Cheryl Peek-Ball told Hamilton Rotarians that a subsidy for locally grown fresh produce had also led to healthier diets in many jurisdiction. Dr Peek-Ball was speaking after the Throne Speech said Government would start consultation on the introduction of a sugar tax on the sale of some foods and drinks. She said: “Mounting evidence in many jurisdictions shows that taxation of sugary non-nutritive foods reduce their use and that subsidy of locally grown fresh produce improve access to healthier diets. “Advocacy and policy development in both these areas will continue this year.” Dr Peek-Ball highlighted the success of school nutrition policies that increased access to healthy foods for children. She said the Ministry of Health would continue to encourage compliance and work “for mandated daily physical activity throughout all 12 years of schooling”. But she added that more collaboration is needed in these areas to “assure these sensible, healthy policies become a reality”. In a speech on how public health authorities can help beat Bermuda’s health problems, Dr Peek-Ball called for better health promotion as public policy and increased personal responsibility to tackle its chronic disease crisis. “Both are needed, and as soon as possible, if Bermuda is to reverse its chronic disease crisis.” But she added that both will present a challenge and will require focus and sustained effort, as well as thinking and behaving in new ways. Dr Peek-Ball encouraged everyone to use public health principles and tactics to solve major health problems. These include premature death and disability caused by obesity, diabetes, kidney and heart disease, as well as psychological and social problems such as substance abuse, family dysfunction, community violence and preventable road traffic injuries. She also outlined how the principles of prevention, social justice, collaboration and personal empowerment made a difference. Dr Peek-Ball also emphasized that lifestyle decisions “hold tremendous power and can be the deciding factor in health”. She said: “In the coming years, public policy will need to be accompanied by a fierce determination to take control of our health by making the necessary lifestyle and behavior changes. When we stop smoking, or choose not to drink and drive, when we pick fresh whole foods over processed, non-nutritious sweets, and when we make daily physical activity a high priority, we are taking personal responsibility for our health and well-being. And it pays off. Our lifestyle, our behavior choices, can be the difference between life and death or between a poor quality and a high quality of life. They also affect the productivity of the workforce and the strength of the island’s economy. In the coming year, the public health sector, led by the Ministry of Health, will continue to roll out its framework for a national policy to halt the rise of obesity and diabetes in Bermuda. You will hear much more about this from the Department of Health in the weeks ahead.” She said the annual Celebrating Wellness event hosted by the health department in Victoria Park on September 27 “will energize and focus us on taking responsibility for our health”. She also revealed that the Ministry planned to use social media to “enlist the help of all of Bermuda in putting public health principles to work solving some of the island’s problems”. In addition, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer will work with the private healthcare sector to develop a chronic disease register. Dr Peek-Ball said that would allow professionals to better monitor chronic diseases and how well they are being managed. She added: “We are also making comparisons of our health outcomes and health system strength to various similarly developed countries in the world.” Dr Peek-Ball said findings of this comparison with 30 other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries would be made public later this month. She added: “We will see a mixed picture of our health system, some good news and some not so good news.”
September 19. A 71-year-old kayaker, Aleksander “Doba” Olek, has completed his third solo Atlantic crossing — with Bermuda playing a minor role in the epic voyage. The Polish adventurer has crossed the ocean twice before. But his arrival in France on September 2 — just a week before his 71st birthday — was his first successful attempt to make the voyage traveling east. Mr Olek previously made headlines in Bermuda in 2014 when his rudder broke during his second crossing, which left him paddling in circles more than 100 miles away from the island. He steered his way to Bermuda and continued his voyage after repairs. According to Canoe and Kayak, Mr Olek’s latest voyage also ran into problems when bad weather forced him to delay the start. Mr Olek was finally able to set out from New York on May 8 on his custom-built 23-foot ocean-going kayak. But his rudder was again damaged in a gale on June 15. Mr Olek considered abandoning the trip — but decided to keep heading for Europe until his supplies ran out. His expedition co-coordinator later chartered a yacht in Bermuda and delivered replacement parts. Mr Olek was picked up by 656-foot bulk carrier Baltic Light, whose crew hoisted the kayak on-board. Repairs to the kayak were carried out in the ship’s machine shop before he continued the voyage. Mr Olek had aimed to reach Portugal, but landed at Le Conquet in France after 110 days at sea. The adventurer has not announced any plans for a fourth crossing.
September 18. Premier David Burt has dismissed a trip to meet would-be gaming operators in New York as a “figment of the imagination” of the former government. The purported trip, a source of controversy in social media in the run-up to the July General Election, was mentioned by Opposition leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin in her Reply to the Throne Speech on Friday. Ms Gordon-Pamplin told MPs: “We will watch closely the developments of the questionable New York trip that was planned by an unlikely quartet with would-be gaming operators to determine the purpose of their meeting at the Four Seasons, and the benefit to Bermuda, if any.” The comment relates to a purported trip Mr Burt, then Opposition leader, was going to take with Progressive Labour Party MP Zane DeSilva, and former independent MPs Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell. Responding during the Throne Speech debate later in the day, Mr Burt said: “There was no trip to meet with, as I quote, would-be gaming operators. It was a figment of the imagination of the One Bermuda Alliance and those persons of whom they wanted to put in the campaign.” Documents purporting to show confirmation of the group’s booking at the Four Seasons Hotel on June 11 were widely circulated online and on social media before the General Election on July 18. The trip was set to take place the day after Mr Crockwell was found dead at his Hamilton Parish home. Mr Burt described the Reply to the Throne Speech as “disgusting”, and dubbed Ms Gordon-Pamplin the “Princess of Pettiness”. He called the portion of Ms Gordon-Pamplin’s reply focusing on the New York trip as “below and beneath the dignity” of the House. Mr DeSilva described the information pertaining to the trip as “false”. The social development minister said: “They have no clue. The honorable Opposition leader has quoted something that was on social media. Or did she get it from a friend in the police force maybe? Or someone that had access to Mr Shawn Crockwell’s phone?” He described the Reply to the Throne Speech as a document that “almost in its entirety needs to disappear”. Asked by The Royal Gazette in July about the booking, Mr Burt said that “people should be very concerned if items that are in police custody are given to members of political campaigns”. The Premier used his debate time to paint the OBA as the party of the past and the PLP as the future. “Their ideas are from a bygone era, and our ideas and plans are for the future of this country,” Mr Burt said. “The reason why you are over there is because you didn’t listen enough to the people and stakeholders in this country.” Mr Burt touched upon the Tax Reform Commission, Economic Diversification Unit, loan guarantees for sports clubs, and the return to a two-tier public school system within his address.
September 19. Bermuda’s troops got to work as soon as they arrived in hurricane-hit Turks & Caicos, the commander on the ground said yesterday. Major Corey Smalley explained the Royal Bermuda Regiment contingent had helped to build a logistics base for the World Food Programme on Providenciales while waiting for an airlift to Grand Turk at the other end of the island chain. Major Smalley, Executive Officer of the Regiment, said the troops were now in Grand Turk and working hard to help repair the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma, while bracing themselves and the local population for an expected hit from Hurricane Maria on Friday. They are fighting searing temperatures of more than 100F and plagues of mosquitoes — made worse by standing water after Irma hit, while there is no running water or flushing toilets. The RBR soldiers, who flew out on an RAF transport plane last Friday, are living in the main airport on Grand Turk, sleeping on the terminal floor without running water or air conditioning and existing on bottled water and field rations. Major Smalley said: “I’ve lived in some inhospitable places, but last night was pretty unbearable.” But he added the Bermuda contingent had been welcomed with open arms by Grand Turk residents. He said: “The reaction to the Bermudians being back on the island after we helped with Hurricane Ike nine years ago has been really positive. When our soldiers are out and about, the people speak very highly of the troops who were here in 2008. We’re here once again to help out one of our sister islands and they’re so grateful to see us here. It’s not great conditions, but our troops are still pushing out 12-hour days.” The 30-strong group of soldiers have been working to fix the severely damaged EL Simons Primary School on Grand Turk. Major Smalley said: “Our soldiers have been at the school all day and the troops have done a great job clearing out the building, removing rubble and trying to make the building as safe as possible so kids can get back to school.” He added: “The new-type buildings have suffered a little bit of damage, but older ones with wooden structures and roofs have been hit very hard and people can’t live in them. The local population is in dire need of food and clean water. The majority of the island is without power and running water and that’s caused problems because no one has flushing toilets or clean drinking water. Half of the operation is focused on food and water distribution points with supplies flown in by air or transported on boats. The other side is assessment, stabilization and reconstruction of key places like schools and Government administration buildings — that’s the main effort of the Royal Engineers and the RBR.” Major Smalley added that the troops were also working to find a safe place for the local population and the RBR to “hunker down” before Hurricane Maria hits on Friday morning. "We’ll then sort out our equipment and get back into the community to help them out.” Major Smalley was speaking as the concerns of Bermuda residents turned to the Caribbean again last night as the region was braced for a second major hurricane in less than three weeks. Hurricane Maria hit category five status last night as it ploughed straight through the Caribbean. A six-strong group from the Bermuda Police Service and a Bermuda Hospitals Board staff member have also been deployed to the Caribbean to help. And a team of six Belco linemen are also awaiting the green light before they can travel to the British Virgin Islands after their Sunday departure date was put back by Hurricane Maria. Fundraising efforts in Bermuda are well under way to help those affected by devastation caused by back-to-back hurricanes. Susan Moore-Williams, vice president of the West Indies Association, told The Royal Gazette that members’ thoughts and prayers remained with the residents of the countries hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. “Our emphasis at the moment is that we are still very early in the hurricane season; this is a marathon and not a sprint, so efforts have to be ongoing,” she said. “We have our first Caribbean cruise event this weekend to raise funds and will be looking to maintain this month by month to ensure a long-lasting response to what has happened in the Caribbean.” Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security and chairman of the Emergency Measures Organization, yesterday warned people visiting beaches to be careful of swells and dangerous rip currents caused by Jose and Maria. Mr Caines said: “As it relates to Hurricane Jose, Bermuda will continue to experience unsettled weather into tomorrow. This will result in heavy rain and some flooding in areas that are prone.” Airport operators Skyport scrapped the normal airline fees for a pair of Royal Air Force aircraft that stopped off in Bermuda as they headed to the Caribbean. The Ministry of Health has urged anyone traveling to the Caribbean islands affected by Hurricane Irma to take the appropriate health precautions. Donations can be made to the West Indies Association’s Bank of Butterfield account 20006 060 870030 100 or to the Bermuda Red Cross through BNTB: 20006 060 663859 200. The public can also donate to the Salvation Army online at: sar.my/amappeal.
September 18. People are invited to take part in round table discussions to help form new immigration policies. The Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group is organizing discussions on Thursday, September 21, and Thursday, September 28, at Elliot Primary School, from 6.30pm to 9pm. Chairman of the group William Madeiros said in a statement: “The purpose of these discussions is to have the public comment on the guiding principles that will form our recommendations to the Minister of Home Affairs. “We urge the public come prepared to discuss and make recommendations.” Submissions can also be sent to the Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group via a drop-box on the ground floor of the Government Administration Building on Parliament Street, or by e-mail to email@example.com. The group will submit its recommendations after public consultation by October 31.
September 18. Efforts to save Robertson’s Drugstore from the fire that broke out on its upper floor have come under sharp criticism from within the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service. The East End establishment reopened for business within a few days, but the blaze on September 2 brought down the store’s roof, with a source telling The Royal Gazette that the building “should never have been lost in the manner we saw”. All available firefighters were deployed, excluding the minimum of five required to remain at the airport, once the alert was called through. But a litany of errors hampered the response once the team arrived at Robertson’s, according to the source, who maintained that the ladder truck should have been sent to St George far earlier. Asked if firefighters had been reprimanded by the main fire officer for not acting quickly enough to contain the blaze, a spokeswoman for the service stated “categorically” that such a suggestion was false. On the arrival time for the ladder truck, known as the Bronto, the spokeswoman said that “high-volume master streams, such as that on the ladder truck, are never deployed whenever there may be the opportunity to commit firefighters to conduct interior firefighting operations in the affected areas”. But the ladder truck “absolutely” should have been deployed earlier, according to the source who spoke to The Royal Gazette. The source also faulted the command of the operation, in which lower-level firefighters received “conflicting orders” and were subjected to uncoordinated “micromanagement”. The source added: “They did their best with the directions they were given.” However, some firefighters were criticized for their techniques at the scene, including the alleged improper wearing of hard hats, coats and gloves. The source also pointed to a failure to cordon off the scene and prevent civilian spectators from wandering dangerously close to the burning building, as well as the occasionally haphazard deployment of water hoses, which in some cases were aimed against the building instead of through the windows to target the fire directly. The source also said some firefighters appeared to spend time taking “photo opportunities” which suggested they were inadequately trained. In response, the spokeswoman said that an incident debriefing had been conducted — with the information discussed appearing to be “significantly different” from the assertions made to this newspaper. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and the top floor of Robertson’s is to be rebuilt. Joy Rothwell, who owns the store with her brother Garth, has declined to comment on criticism about the fire service’s performance. Judith Simons, manager at the neighboring Oleander Cycles, thanked all those who came to help take anything flammable out of the premises. She said people came off the streets to assist them when they were told to get out after the roof of the pharmacy had collapsed halfway. “We evacuated and took all the flammable stuff out of the showroom. People from the street came to help and I thank all of those who helped.” Ms Simons said she did not realize there was a fire until the smoke was coming from the back of the building. “The whole street was covered with smoke and the fire service hadn’t come yet.” She said she went to check that Robertson’s staff were aware of the fire and found the doors already locked. “We had a lot of smoke and that kept setting off the fire alarms. So we kept the doors closed and the air conditioning on.” Ms Simons added that when the fire service arrived, people could see the flames and they did not seem to be lessening. “They were relentlessly trying to get enough water.” Adding that “everybody can play the game from the sidelines”, she said: “I think they did a remarkable job.” Former St George’s North MP Kenneth Bascome repeated that the area needs its own dedicated fire station and police station. “It’s only proven my point that we need to have a fire brigade on this side. I believe that the response time would have been that much quicker.” Mr Bascome added that many of the buildings on Water Street are connected and this could cause “serious problems” if one of them catches fire. St George’s mayor Quinell Francis said she had heard criticism in the community of how the fire was handled by the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service. But she said she could not comment further because she was not in St George when the fire broke out and did not know the facts of what happened.
September 18. A spate of bus breakdowns caused a number of cancellations yesterday, according to the Department of Public Transportation. Oil leaks, air system failures, inoperable bells, steering problems, faulty airbags and doors failing to operate properly were among the reasons for the breakdowns, the DPT said. Today, officials said they reduced the “out of service” number of vehicles down to 58, which left 47 buses in service. The total number of 105 buses is down from ten years ago when there was a fleet of 123. The weighted average age of the vehicles is more than ten years, while the industry standard is less than seven years. Officials said the fleet has become older and less reliable as DPT operates services more than 18 hours every day of the year. The Department stated: “While the Department has had to wrestle with these issues over an extended period of time, circumstances will not consistently improve until the fleet is considerably upgraded. The DPT will endeavor to keep the public informed when there are future service interruptions.”
September 18. Hurricane Jose has brought strong winds and a risk of thunder as it heads away from Bermuda, the Bermuda Weather Service said. The storm, which has winds of about 75mph and higher gusts, passed its closest point of approach within three days this morning but remains a potential threat to the island. At noon, Jose was 331 nautical miles west-northwest of Bermuda and heading north at about 9mph. It is forecast to stay off the United States’ East Coast, but could bring tropical storm conditions to some areas, according to the National Hurricane Center. The BWS said at noon: “Hurricane Jose is continuing to move away from Bermuda. Today we are experiencing strong winds, gale force gusts, heavier showers, and a risk of thunderstorms as an outer rain band from Jose drags through the area. These conditions will gradually settle tonight through Tuesday as Jose moves further and further away from Bermuda.” Meanwhile, the storm-ravaged Caribbean is under threat yet again, this time from Hurricane Maria. Dominica, Guadeloupe, Anguilla and Antigua and Barbuda are all in the line of fire from Maria over the next four days. The storm is forecast to become a category four hurricane by this evening. But Maria is not considered a potential threat to Bermuda at this stage. The hurricane was 1,087 nautical miles to the east-southeast of the island at noon today, and its closest point of approach within the next three days is forecast to be 783 nautical miles to the south on Thursday. A third system in the Atlantic, Tropical Depression Lee, was more than 1,700 nautical miles east-southeast of Bermuda at noon. It is heading west-northwest, and its closest point of approach within the next three days is forecast to be more than 1,300 nautical miles to the east-southeast on Wednesday morning. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security and chairman of the Emergency Measures Organization, warned people visiting beaches to be careful of swells and dangerous rip currents caused by Jose and Maria. He stated: “We must continue to exercise vigilance and preparedness as we continue to navigate through this hurricane season. This is an extremely active time for us, and the EMO continues to monitor all of the weather systems making their way through the Atlantic. As it relates to Hurricane Jose, Bermuda will continue to experience unsettled weather throughout the evening and into tomorrow. This will result in heavy rain and some flooding in areas that are prone.” He added that both Jose and Maria are producing “significant wave action”, which has lead to swells and dangerous rip currents. “We can expect this will last for the next few days. I want to stress that care and caution should be taken by individuals who are visiting our beaches. As a measure of public assurance, the EMO has been kept regularly abreast by the BWS and the NHC and we will continue to closely watching these storms for any changes that may pose a threat to Bermuda.”
September 18. Roslyn Bascombe-Adams, Bermuda Hospitals Board’s director of emergency and hyperbaric services, is to join the hurricane relief effort in the British Virgin Islands at the request of the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization. Dr Bascombe-Adams is a member of the Regional Emergency Medical Team of Paho and a certified Paho Disaster Instructor. She is also the chairwoman of BHB’s disaster management and response committee — and represents the hospital on the Emergency Measures Organization. Dr Bascome-Adams leads the Paho mass casualty management system training course for first responders in Bermuda. She is now on a two-week secondment as part of the Paho/Who Regional Emergency Medical Team in BVI.
September 18. Scores more dead fish have washed up on the island’s South Shore at John Smith’s Bay and Devonshire Bay. Last week The Royal Gazette reported that the rotting carcasses of dozens of fish were found on the sands at Shelly Bay and floating in St George’s and Hamilton harbors. At the time the Bermuda Government said it is the worst fish die-off around the island in eight years. A Department of Environment and Natural Resources spokeswoman said warmer temperatures promote the growth and reproduction of naturally occurring bacteria, viruses and other parasites that can affect fish health. These fish pathogens are normally present at low levels, and are generally not pathogenic to humans. “The current die-off event is affecting a large number of fishes from a wide range of species,” she said.
September 17. A six-strong team of Belco linemen will travel to the storm-damaged British Virgin Islands to help restoration effort. The crew will spend four weeks working alongside the BVI Electric Company in rebuilding and restoring electricity to the people of the islands. They had been expected to leave tomorrow to help repair the damage left behind by Hurricane Irma, but have postponed the trip until midweek while the Caribbean awaits the arrival of Tropical Storm Maria, which is forecast to become a category three hurricane by Tuesday night. “A request for urgent support was received by the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation immediately following the onset of Hurricane Irma,” Belco’s operation and maintenance lead, Ian Finnerty, said. The Bermuda team, which is made up of foreman Chad Brimmer, John Martin, Marcus Astwood, Shawn Wade, Sherman Trott and Stevon Trott, will take with them their own safety and working equipment. Vice-president of grid operations, Dennis Pimentel added: “I am extremely proud that the expertise of these team members will make a positive difference in the lives of residents of BVI. This is not going to be an easy undertaking for the six gentlemen who are travelling to BVI. They will be away from their families for several weeks, working extremely long hours and dealing with the same challenges that the permanent residents of BVI are currently experiencing. The telecommunications infrastructure has been badly damaged. Businesses are only just beginning to open their doors and many buildings, including the hotel that our crew will be sleeping in, are being powered by generators as there is no permanent power yet. Our guys are ready to go. They have the experience and the drive to take on this mammoth task. We wish them well and also send out thoughts to all of those communities who are working to recover from Hurricane Irma.” Meanwhile the Bermuda Red Cross announced that it had received just over $31,000 from Bermuda residents to help those affected by Hurricane Irma.
September 17. Hurricane Jose will bring strong winds and the risk of thunder as it passes to the west of Bermuda tonight, according to the Bermuda Weather Service. The storm, which has winds of about 90mph and higher gusts, is described as a potential threat to the island. At noon today, it was 371 nautical miles to the west-southwest of Bermuda, heading north at about 9mph. Its closest point of approach to the island is expect to be 2am tonight, when it will be 350 nautical miles to the west. It is forecast to stay off the United States east coast, but could bring tropical storm conditions to some areas, according to the National Hurricane Centre. The Bermuda Weather Service stated at 6pm: “Hurricane Jose, a potential threat to Bermuda, is expected to pass to the west, approximately 350nm, late tonight. Showers and a risk of thunderstorms associated with Jose will then affect Bermuda Monday and Tuesday as Jose continues to move away from Bermuda. The track in the long term remains very uncertain as Jose continues to be a very unusual Tropical Cyclone.” Meanwhile, the storm-ravaged Caribbean is under threat yet again, this time from Tropical Storm Maria, which is expected to strengthen into a hurricane. Over the next four days, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Anguilla and Antigua and Barbuda are all in the line of fire of Maria, which is forecast to become a category three hurricane by Tuesday evening. Maria is not considered a potential threat to Bermuda at this stage. At noon, it was more than 1,200 nautical miles to the east-southeast of the island, and its closest point of approach within the next three days is forecast to be 891 nautical miles to the south on Wednesday. A third system in the Atlantic, Tropical Depression Lee, was more than 1,900 nautical miles east-southeast of Bermuda at noon. It is heading west-northwest, and its closest point of approach within the next three days is forecast to be more than 1,300 nautical miles to the east-southeast on Wednesday.
September 16. Progressive Labour Party MPs rallied behind their leader last night as parliamentarians debated the Throne Speech. While praising the initiatives outlined by David Burt, the Premier, in the Throne Speech delivered last week, government MPs also pointed to the failure of the One Bermuda Alliance to connect with the people they were elected to represent. Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, rounded on Opposition leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin’s reply to the Throne Speech, branding it “rubbish”. He said the One Bermuda Alliance’s response that outlined the progress the party had made in education was “erroneous and incorrect. If the previous government had taken the time to support education I would not have to listen to this rubbish,” Mr Rabain said. He condemned the former government for failing to make the progress it claimed it its response with installing wi-fi in all public schools. He added: “There is no internet policy within our schools. You can not put unfettered access to wi-fi without a policy in place; that is what we are working with. They continue to present erroneous statements and that is why they are sitting on that side.” Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, said that the previous government had failed to consult during their time in power. "This led to a series of upheaval” which led to a crisis of confidence that produced the result of the General Election on July 18. The people felt marginalized under the OBA. They weren’t disappointed, they were outraged.” PLP backbencher Wayne Furbert commended the Premier for a “stimulating” and “invigorating” Throne Speech. “You have never heard so much clapping coming from those who were in attendance,” he said of the event on the Cabinet grounds. Pointing to the Opposition’s response to the Throne Speech, Mr Furbert said he would not stand for lecturing from the former government. “We should not even be listening to what they say,” he said. “I don’t know if they realize that on July 18 they were fired.” Mr Furbert said the Throne Speech prioritized what the people had asked the party to do. “This Throne Speech prioritized issues that will grow international business, inspire our children, protect and respect our seniors, restore confidence to our public education, and ensure Bermuda is best placed to meet the challenges of the modern information age.” PLP MPs Rolfe Commissiong and Michael Scott said that the Throne Speech contained a lot to be commended. Mr Commissiong said that the challenges facing Government make those facing the previous PLP administration in 1998 “seem like a tea party”. He pointed to an ageing population, income inequality, and the shrinking of the middle class as issues the Government would have to address. Meanwhile Mr Scott said the latest Throne Speech represented a “reformation” adding that it would create the “best platform for accountability in our country”.
September 16. Opposition leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin came out fighting in her reply to the Throne Speech, accusing the Progressive Labour Party’s “relentless pursuit of power” of denigrating the political process to unprecedented levels. She described the Government’s Throne Speech as “short on real solutions and long on studies” and maintained that many of the initiatives proposed by the PLP were already well under way because of the One Bermuda Alliance. Ms Gordon-Pamplin told the House of Assembly that the OBA had restored much needed confidence in Bermuda before listing the party’s achievements while in office. “The tenor of the speech suggests that Government has either purposely elected to disregard the country’s tenuous economic position or has chosen to continually misrepresent the achievements of the former OBA government,” Ms Gordon-Pamplin said. The OBA leader said that the PLP had adopted a “rather Trump-like” approach to undo many of the actions initiated under the previous administration. She added: “This Throne Speech proposes many initiatives that were well under way. In our view, a ground-zero approach to implementation is costly and time wasting. Many of the committees that have been proposed to examine topics can utilise the work already done to move to the implementation stage.” In her response to the Throne Speech, she acknowledged that the electorate had made it abundantly clear that some of the OBA’s policies were “disappointing”. She added: “We take full responsibility and apologise for those disappointments. We note the new administration has decided to approach governance differently, and has determined that people will be better served by consultations and studies and rehashing of things that have already been completed.” In an at times combative response that prompted government MPs to raise to their feet in protest, the Opposition leader accused the PLP of spreading misinformation and untruths. “We saw it yet again when the OBA government was accused of pepper-spraying seniors, when it is known that constitutionally, the Government neither gives direction nor orders policing policies. We saw the cowardice when the leader of the PLP encouraged through robocalls and blast e-mails for protesters to attend Parliament, then some of the attendees proceeded to push seniors into the line of fire when the police department determined that lawbreakers should be challenged. We, therefore, wholeheartedly support a committee to investigate the occurrences of that dark and unfortunate experience that will surely highlight the substantive part played in the debacle by those now calling for an investigation. We noted the PLP’s call for civil disobedience as being an appropriate action, yet threw their hands up in disbelief when the situation they created spun out of control and resulted in physical harm to both protesters and the police. It is said that politics make strange bedfellows. We will watch closely the developments of the questionable New York trip that was planned by an unlikely quartet with would-be gaming operators to determine the purpose of their meeting at the Four Seasons, and the benefit to Bermuda, if any.” In a 16-page response to the Government’s Throne Speech, the Opposition leader questioned why legislative proposals relating to the report of the bipartisan Boundaries Commission, absentee balloting and superyachts were missing. Ms Gordon-Pamplin maintained the plans to provide public schools with wi-fi and implement roadside sobriety checkpoints had already been advanced under the OBA and revealed that a Gang Violence Co-ordinator had already been identified by the previous government. She did, however, express her party’s support for the introduction of regulations for debt collection agencies and the leveling of the playing field relating to occupational pensions. Ms Gordon-Pamplin finished her response by saying: “We are committed to a collaborative approach, and trust that the pettiness of politics takes a back seat to co-operative and constructive debate.” At the end of Ms Gordon-Pamplin’s response to the Throne Speech, newly appointed Speaker Dennis Lister Jr warned MPs that innuendo would not be tolerated in the House of Assembly. He acknowledged that there had been back and forth innuendo between rival MPs without any factual base in recent Parliaments, but said: “We are not going to have this, it will not be tolerated.”
September 16. Assertions that the One Bermuda Alliance overspent on the America’s Cup were attacked as “political grandstanding” and “pathetic” by Grant Gibbons, the Shadow Minister of Economic Development. The claims came from David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, who said the former administration had failed to budget for $13 million for this fiscal year, including $4.3 million for the regatta’s sponsorship. Branding it “misinformation”, Dr Gibbons said the remarks had denigrated the work that had gone into the America’s Cup. “It’s unfortunate and, frankly, pathetic that the Progressive Labour Party and the new PLP government continue to spin Trump-like misinformation about Bermuda’s highly successful financial management and hosting of the recent 35th America’s Cup,” he said. Mr Burt’s remarks appeared in yesterday’s newspaper, and were reiterated in the House of Assembly as part of supplemental estimates — which Mr Burt said were “prudent to table at this time” because of the change in government. But the Shadow Minister of Economic Development said the comments over the $15 million sponsorship guarantee jumping to $19.3 million were “spin at its worst”. The cash surplus left from the event would “more than cover any difference” between the initial estimate and the “now reported, reconciled amount of $19.3 million”. Overall expenses for the ACBDA were estimated to be more than $8 million below budget as of July 2017, Dr Gibbons said, which would return to the government. “Thus, no additional taxpayer money will be required.” As the two clashed in Parliament, Mr Burt maintained that the regatta had been “unable to meet the expectations of the people of this country”. Mr Burt added: “Just yesterday in the Ministry of Finance, I had to find an additional $1 million to cover the interest for an empty island.” This was in reference to the loan payments for the creation of Cross Island, where the America’s Cup was held. Defending the $25 million sponsorship guarantee as “an attractive deal for Bermuda”, Dr Gibbons said it was no surprise that the final figure from August had differed from January estimates. “In retrospect, Bermuda should be pleased with the total sponsorships — more than $20 million — the ACBDA and the former Ministry of Economic Development introduced from Bermuda-based and associated entities given our relatively small market size,” Dr Gibbons told The Royal Gazette. “The PLP government should understand that denigrating the overall sponsorship level does nothing to facilitate future government sponsorship requests for major sporting or tourism events. Finally, as the PLP government will be aware, the difference between the Government 2017-18 budget sponsorship guarantee estimate of $15 million and the recently reconciled $19.5 million figure is more than offset by the superb financial and operational management demonstrated by the ACBDA and the former Ministry of Economic Development. Rather remarkably, over the entire three-year period, total operating and capital expenses for the ACBDA and the AC Department in the Ministry of Economic Development appear to be coming in at roughly 10 per cent below the original estimates projected in late 2014. Fixed assets such as floating docks and vessels acquired for the regatta represented additional cash, should the ACBDA and government decide to liquidate them instead of retaining them for future sporting events. Rather than spending their time on petty, Trump-like political distractions, the new government should be working hard to build on the successful legacy of the AC35 by attracting lucrative repeat superyacht business to Dockyard and future sporting/tourism events like the World Triathlon Series, scheduled for 2018, 2019 and 2020. The transformation of Dockyard and the new Cross Island venue represent a superb platform for future international events. Bermudians will rightly expect the new government to take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity for Bermuda.”
September 16. VSB Radio will cease broadcasting at 5pm tomorrow. The organisation, which has provided local news since 1981, pointed to its struggles in the face of competition for advertising from social media and fellow radio stations. It said in a statement: “Sadly, despite the support of listeners and advertisers and the offering of the island’s best news programming, it has not been possible to achieve a viable commercial model with the ability to survive and expand. The excessive number of local radio stations has also made it difficult to attract sufficient advertising support. Consequently, VSB Radio will cease broadcasting at 5pm on Sunday, September 17. The community should take this news as another wake-up call to the increasing difficulty that the print and broadcast media are having in remaining afloat in the face of the turn to advertising on social media.” Veteran journalist Bryan Darby, 78, who has worked in the Bermuda media for 57 years, said the loss of VSB will be a further blow to an island in which traditional news sources are under threat from “fake news” on social media and openly biased radio talk shows. Mr Darby said he felt bitter that the retail industry had not been prepared to support the station by advertising. “If ten local businesses had each put in $100 a week, we would still be going,” Mr Darby said. “You would think the advertisers would have a little more guts, and realize this is an important part of Bermuda. We did an awful lot of things that we are proud of, and we kept thinking we will turn the corner, but we never quite made it.” DeFontes Radio and TV companies, which ran VSB, closed two years ago, but Mr Darby and a small group of management and staff undertook to keep it on the air and to provide broadcasting on MIX 106FM and the BBC channel. In a press release yesterday, owner Kenneth DeFontes thanked those four people — Ted Pitman, Chris Lodge, Mr Darby and Peter Cattell — for their heroic efforts in creating “The Miracle on Reid Street”.
September 16. Sports minister Zane DeSilva has offered congratulations to triathlete Flora Duffy for her “astounding success” today. Duffy took first place in the WTS Grand Final in Rotterdam, Netherlands, to secure her second consecutive ITU World Triathlon Series title, and celebrated draped in a Bermuda flag. Mr DeSilva said in a statement: “I am extremely pleased to celebrate Flora’s win today — her sixth victory of the season. “This champion has put an incredible amount of time and effort into being the best of the best. I am sure the whole island will join me in celebrating her astounding success. Seeing her draped in the Bermuda flag at the end of the competition filled me with immense pride. What an absolutely outstanding display of strength, dedication and endurance from someone representing the tiny island of Bermuda.” Shadow sports minister Ben Smith, of the One Bermuda Alliance, stated: “I would like to send congratulations to Flora Duffy for winning her second consecutive world title and sixth title of the year on behalf of the OBA. She continues to make us proud carrying the Bermuda flag around the world.”
September 15. Conversations about independence are “counterproductive at this time”, according to Premier David Burt. The Premier insisted the Progressive Labour Party is not discussing a potential attempt to break ties with Britain, and is focusing instead on local issues such as the economy and social challenges. PLP senator Jason Hayward had put the topic on the agenda in a Labour Day speech earlier this month, when he told the crowd: “We have to shift the conversation and remove ourselves from this colonial rule. We have to now look at independence as a viable option for our people so we can set our own agenda, so we can create our own system and so we can see our people get ahead.” Former PLP premier Alex Scott, a long-time advocate for independence, followed up by saying Bermuda’s new political climate could set the stage for another review over the issue. It also became the topic of opinion pieces within The Royal Gazette this week. Asked about independence yesterday, Mr Burt told this newspaper: “As I have said on numerous occasions, the only place where independence seems to be an issue is in the editorial office of The Royal Gazette. The Progressive Labour Party government is focused on growing the economy, dealing with the social challenges and reforming our education system. Those are our priorities and focus right now and that is where our focus will remain.” Asked if he supported independence, he said: “Independence is in the Progressive Labour Party’s constitution.” Pressed on his opinion, he reiterated: “Independence is in the Progressive Labour Party’s constitution but I believe that conversations and writings about independence is counterproductive at this time. We are not discussing, it’s not our focus. We are dealing with the issues which I just explained.”
September 15. David Burt will today accuse the former government of failing to budget for a “staggering” $13 million worth of spending this financial year, including an extra $4.3 million on the America’s Cup sponsorship guarantee. The Premier and Minister of Finance will tell MPs in the House of Assembly that his administration has inherited the “unfunded commitments” made by the One Bermuda Alliance and will now have to pay for them, adding to the island’s deficit. But last night, Opposition leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said it was too soon to comment on the final amount to be spent on the AC. She said: “It would seem a little nonsensical to budget for sponsorship shortfall when the projections indicated that there would be no need to call on the guarantee. Any shortfall could only be determined when all the numbers have been tabulated, and until we have sight of the final account, it is premature to comment.” Ms Gordon-Pamplin added that Grant Gibbons, the Shadow Minister of Economic Development, was travelling last night but possessed “full information” on the America’s Cup finances that he would be able to share upon his return. Mr Burt told The Royal Gazette, in an exclusive interview, that he could not “say one way or the other” whether the “staggering figure of $13 million” represented a larger-than-normal overspend by the Government of Bermuda. Mr Burt said: “It’s not a question of if it’s unusual. We can call it staggering, we can call it whatever we want. The fact is that these represent the commitments made by the former government which were not budgeted.” The items which make up the $13 million include $4.3 million on the America’s Cup, $2.8 million for the World Triathlon Series, $1.9 million for roadworks related to the new hotel development in St George’s, $1.6 million for operational expenses for the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, $1.6 million for extra ferries during the AC, $250,000 for repairs to the weather radar and $290,000 for the relocation of the mail processing facility at the airport. This morning, as the new Parliament begins its first full day of business, the Premier will table the items as the first supplementary financial estimate for the fiscal year 2017/18. Mr Burt said yesterday: “These are all items of which we will have to pay for this year. These are commitments which were made by the former government, which had not been budgeted, and we are going to make sure that we lay these commitments down so members can be clear as to the commitments which were incurred by the former government. The former government professed their fiscal prudence and said they were being fiscally prudent and that’s fine. But what we are seeing is that this is just in two months. These are the bills which we found, which we have to pay, where the budget did not exist.” Every year, before the new Budget is passed, the Government typically seeks approval from MPs for supplemental spending — items not budgeted for in the previous spending plan. The Royal Gazette asked the Ministry of Finance for the total amount approved for supplementals for the last fiscal year and previous years, but did not get a response by press time. But past reports in The Royal Gazette showed a $23 million overspend for the full year in 2014/15 and $24.5 million in 2005/06. Mr Burt said it was hard to understand why some of the items this year were not budgeted for by the OBA, since they were predictable, including the extra for the AC sponsorship guarantee, the additional ferry service and the Casino Gaming Commission, the latter originally having been given a budget of zero. He added: “The largest figure in there is $4.3 million to pay for the America’s Cup sponsorship guarantee, which totaled $19.3 million. There was a total maximum amount of $25 million and the Government budgeted $15 million for it. The former government was told [by civil servants] that the $15 million figure would not be enough to budget and the former government still under-budgeted at $15 million when the recommendation was that the best-case scenario was we would have to pay $18 million for the sponsorship guarantee. And now we are seeing it ended up being $19.3 million. So the $15 million was budgeted but now we have to find an additional $4.3 million to pay.” Mr Burt also questioned why money was not allocated to the Department of Marine & Ports for the extra ferries which ran during the AC. The new airport deal with Aecon was responsible for some of the additional spending, according to the Premier. He said airport fees which used to be payable to Government now went to the Canadian company, leaving no funds to pay for repairs to the weather radar system. And under Government’s contract with Aecon, the mail processing facility had to be moved out of the building it currently inhabits — or a $600,000 penalty fee would be payable. Mr Burt said: “These are all items which were not budgeted but were commitments which were made and we felt it was prudent, in the interests of transparency, to ensure that the people of the country know precisely the items which we inherited, which were not commitments that were made by us but were commitments made by the Government of Bermuda, which we have to fulfil. I’m sure the Government had some idea of some of these items — they were advised on the AC sponsorship guarantee, so that is not something that is surprising. They clearly knew that they would have to move the post office facility from the airport — that’s not something that was surprising. So, some of these things, they knew clearly that they would have to budget additional money for, like ferries for the America’s Cup, but that money wasn’t budgeted.” He said that though his government had committed to staying “within the figures” laid out in this year’s Budget by the OBA, the $13 million represented “additional spending”, which would add to the deficit. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said she was “unaware of the underlying information respecting any of this expenditure” and suggested questions be put to shadow ministers. Former finance minister Bob Richards, who retired from politics after the last election, declined to comment.
September 18. New tourism minister Jamahl Simmons highlighted a string of accounting failures in the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Mr Simmons told the House of Assembly on Friday: “The findings of this audit are unacceptable and I will be monitoring the BTA closely to ensure higher standards of transparency and accountability from the organization.” He said: “I must say I was quite disturbed with its findings and the lack of accountability, which I will highlight further in my statement.” Mr Simmons added that an audit carried out by the Auditor-General on the BTA, a quango, had found 13 areas where improvement was needed and a requirement to strengthen internal controls. These included no evidence to support that either the BTA’s compensation and remuneration committee or the BTA board ensured that criteria for bonuses to the executive management team were met. In addition, performance appraisal forms for selected staff, which are used to calculate the personal component of incentive bonuses, were not provided by the BTA. Other problems raised in the report were a lack of board approval for a 30 per cent discretionary payment to former CEO Bill Hanbury, a payment posted as a credit instead of a bad debt recovery, a lack of signed contracts for services and sponsorships and payments made before the completion of milestones. Mr Simmons added that 12 of the 13 board minutes for the year included in camera sessions — sessions held in private — which were not recorded in the minutes. And he said the audit and risk committee, which was supposed to meet every quarter, had not met in the last quarter of 2016 or the first quarter of this year. The BTA also failed to provide a response to the Auditor-General on whether they had been given declarations of interest from its employees or how this requirement was communicated to staff. The Auditor-General’s report said: “The board should update its governance charter to ensure that there is proper oversight and review of incentive bonuses, particularly the executive management team.” It added: “Given the discretionary nature of the incentive bonus awarded to the former CEO, the board or the compensation and remuneration committee should approve the bonus percentage awarded to the former CEO and document such approval in its minutes. The board should ensure that the minutes of all meetings, including in camera sessions, are documented.” The Auditor-General’s report added that the Government’s financial instructions should form “the minimum standard for financial controls in every quango”, even though the BTA has its own financial policies. And it said: “Management should follow its compensation philosophy and ensure the timely completion of the signed performance appraisals. Moreover, the compensation and remuneration committee should not be approving the incentive bonuses prior to receipt of the completed performance appraisal forms.” The report added that contract provisions should be met in full before payments to suppliers are made. Mr Simmons told MPs that the BTA had accepted problems spotted by auditors and started to implement the report’s recommendations. But he added: “It is unfortunate that such measures had to be identified through the audit process for actions to be undertaken to improve the level of transparency within this organization.”
September 15. Details of sex offenders will not be put on a public register, the Attorney-General said yesterday. Kathy Lynn Simmons added that some members of the public saw a public register with details of convictions and offender photographs as an “easy solution”, but the law would not allow it. She said: “Let me be clear, our laws would not permit this, and I believe it would not be in the interest of the public for such a complex matter to be given such a simplistic solution.” Ms Simmons added: “The range and circumstances of these offences are such that the most serious offenders should be identified differently from those that pose less danger to the public.” The Attorney-General said that the release of sex offender information was aimed at protecting members of the public and cutting the risk of re-offending. She added that any information released must be designed to not cause further harm to victims of sex offences. Ms Simmons said that decision on which offenders would have information released would ultimately be hers and would be informed by a risk assessment from the Department of Corrections and in consultation with the Commissioner of Police. Ms Simmons was speaking as she outlined key proposals from the Throne Speech. She did not reveal how details on sex offender information would be provided. Ms Simmons said: “That will be revealed in further communication with the media and the public.” The Attorney-General also used the press conference to discuss Throne Speech plans for child support payments and legal aid reform. It was revealed in the Throne Speech that outstanding child support payments totaled nearly $47 million for more than 1,800 cases, with some of the files dating back almost 40 years. Ms Simmons said: “This means that there is an average of $25,385 owing per case.” She added that the most successful methods of arrears enforcement were “regular phone calls and warning letters, attachment of earnings, committal to prison and travel restrictions”. Ms Simmons said two main problems had to be tackled to improve payment statistics: the compilation of accurate data, and “the shortfall of human resources needed to administer child support orders”. Ms Simmons said one enforcement officer was responsible for the administration of all the outstanding cases. She added: “This raises a glaring human resources shortfall in the system.” Ms Simmons said: “The public need to be assured that we will be addressing this from a resource and systemic perspective. If we find that there is a need to redirect resources in that regard, we certainly will consider it.” Ms Simmons said that the priority for legal aid was to maintain its availability while controlling costs. She added it would need changes to the Legal Aid Act and allocation of resources to allow for more cases to be dealt with by on-staff legal aid counsel, rather than the use of outside lawyers. She said the main goal of all three proposals was designed to “ensure the protection and well-being of affected members of our society, namely victims of sex offenders, children in need of financial support, and those unable to afford legal services”.
September 15. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, declared himself “astounded” at the state of the Bermuda Land Development Company that he discovered upon taking office. Colonel Burch told the House of Assembly that the BLDC’s finances for the year 2011 had not been submitted because it had not held an Annual General Meeting since 2011. The last audited accounts tabled at an AGM are the audited accounts for the year ending March 31, 2009. The auditing of the 2010 and 2011 accounts “have only recently been completed by the office of the Auditor-General”, he said. A sanction is required from the Registrar of Companies for the years in which there were no audited financial statements. Saying the BLDC was in “serious breach of financial regulations”, Colonel Burch said he was “astounded” that the Auditor-General, which had “doggedly went after this party when we were in government”, had not conducted audits over five years, and had not permitted the company to seek redress from an outside auditing firm. I trust the Parliamentary oversight committee of this office will conduct a full investigation,” he added. Opposition leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin pointed out that three years of BLDC finances were under the purview of the Progressive Labour Party’s administration. Colonel Burch responded that it was “still inexcusable that, five years later, the accounting still has not been submitted”.
September 15. The cash back for communities programme has been put on hold after its funds were used to cover other government expenses, Parliament heard yesterday. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, told The Royal Gazette that several community groups had been promised grants, only to be told that the confiscated assets fund was out of money. Jeff Baron, the former minister, responded that it was “unfortunate that this has gone political — but that is the joust and parry of the House of Assembly”. While worthy charities and sporting organisations had been identified and a Cabinet paper drawn up, he said that the document had never been signed. “The paper was done in the same week that the election was called,” Mr Baron said. “I was told that it was not appropriate to proceed during that period. There were some different opinions, but ultimately that was the reason why.” Saying he had “absolutely no idea about any promises”, Mr Baron added: “The paper was never approved, but if a charity called me to ask about their status I would have no problem telling them that their charity qualified and that I intended on advancing the Cabinet paper for them to receive funds.” Mr Baron recalled that the fund had contained $300,000 in early June, which Mr Caines confirmed in Parliament, asking: “How come we only have $100,000 left now?” However, Trevor Moniz, the Shadow Attorney-General, responded that the fund was “constantly changing” as assets came in and were paid back out. “It is not purely for cash back for communities,” Mr Moniz told Parliament, accusing the Progressive Labour Party of misleading the House. MPs heard that as of 2015 the fund had contained $10.7 million — $6 million of which had been paid out to the United States under the island’s mutual legal assistance obligations. A further $3.5 million had gone to government departments, David Burt said. The diversions of funds also included a $111,000 legal fee that was paid to the American firm Cooley LLC to pursue the Bermuda Government’s case against the Lahey Clinic. But the need to freeze the community grant was blamed on a $730,000 payout to cover the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee. Mr Caines said a moratorium had been imposed for the fund to be replenished — and there was no way of saying when it would be topped back up. “That will give little comfort or succor to the organisations that will suffer,” Mr Caines told this newspaper. While the minister conceded that there had been nothing improper in the former administration’s use of the funds, he said its ethos had been to help the community. “A concern arises where the fund was used to pay legal fees,” Mr Caines said. “While that is not illegal, it’s questionable, because the Attorney-General has a budget and a prescribed way of paying for legal expenses.” Promises had been made under the One Bermuda Alliance to “several organisations”, which Mr Caines declined to name.
September 15. Senators may get the chance to make or break Wayne Furbert’s Bill to reverse the legalization of gay marriage, according to lawyers interested in the draft law. Mark Pettingill and Rod Attride-Stirling, who argued the case that led to same-sex marriage becoming legal, told The Royal Gazette it was not certain the Bill could be presented to the Governor for assent without the approval of Senate. A constitutional technicality may mean it has to get permission from the island’s 11 senators, according to Mr Pettingill, while Mr Attride-Stirling said any amendments to the original Bill would also require it to go back before Senate. Mr Pettingill said it would be a conscience vote for the five Progressive Labour Party and three One Bermuda Alliance senators, while the three independents would “have to look honestly at the human rights law”. He added: “It’s not a shoo-in. It’s not a PLP Bill.” Mr Furbert’s Private Members’ Bill was first passed in the House of Assembly in July last year, but was rejected in Senate by six votes to five. It was retabled in the next session of Parliament, but was not debated by MPs before Parliament was dissolved three months ago. Section 38 (2) of the Bermuda Constitution allows Bills passed by the House of Assembly in “two successive sessions” to be presented to the Governor for assent, even if rejected by the Senate in each of those sessions. But Mr Pettingill claimed government backbencher Mr Furbert could no longer benefit from that constitutional clause. The former attorney-general said: “The Constitution refers to two successive sessions of the House. I think on any reading of it, it is arguable that this is the third successive session. The Bill originally passed on July 8, 2016, so that would be the first session in which it was laid. The second session, therefore, would be the session which ended in June this year. The current session would be the third. The Bill is bound to go back to the Senate. From the time he first laid the Bill, we are now into the third successive session.” The former OBA politician added: “Were the Speaker to not really look very carefully at that, that might be subject to a constitutional challenge. The issue could be raised that the procedure in Parliament, in not sending the Bill to the Senate, was unconstitutional.” Separate to that is the issue of whether Mr Furbert will retable the exact same Bill that was given the green light by MPs. The legislation, the Human Rights Amendment Act 2016, was to amend the Human Rights Act 1981 “to preserve the institution of marriage” by restricting it to opposite-sex couples. Mr Attride-Stirling said Section 38 (2) of the Constitution, which does away with the need for Senate approval, would apply only to an identical Bill. He explained: “Under the Constitution, if any amendments are made, they will have to go through the whole process again.” Since Mr Furbert’s Bill was approved by MPs, a number of gay couples have tied the knot in Bermuda, in the wake of Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. Mr Attride-Stirling said the status of those marriages was not addressed by Mr Furbert’s Bill, so the proposed legislation would need amending. “The legislation should have a grandfathering clause to protect the existing marriages. Is it his intention to make those marriages void? Whatever his intent, there is now a question mark over the legislation, which must be clarified.” The lawyer said the Furbert Bill would also create potential problems for those married gay couples if they wanted to divorce. Mr Attride-Stirling added: “There would be restrictions on their ability to access divorce without other amendments to the law. They wouldn’t, for example, be able to get a no-contest divorce after two years apart because the law makes reference only to husbands and wives in that regard. There are dozens of references in our legislation to husbands and wives. If the Furbert Bill is to be retabled, it would require some further drafting.” Mr Pettingill and Mr Attride-Stirling questioned last week whether John Rankin, the Governor, would sign off on the Bill if it made it through Parliament. A Government House spokesman said on Wednesday: “The Governor is unavailable for comment. The Governor will continue to act in accordance with his responsibilities under the Constitution.” The six senators who rejected Mr Furbert’s Bill labeled it regressive and an infringement on Bermuda’s human rights laws. Only one of those, independent James Jardine, remains in the Upper Chamber. Fellow independent Joan Dillas-Wright voted in favour. The OBA senate leader, Nandi Outerbridge, voted against the Bill in the House of Assembly when she was an MP.
September 15. Premier David Burt has offered his personal congratulations to cancer researcher Carika Weldon. The Premier, who met with Dr Weldon at the Cabinet Office, said in a statement: “At a very young age, Dr Weldon has played and continues to play a significant role in advancing the fight against cancer. It was a pleasure to meet with such an excellent role model for our youth and I wish her all the best for the future.” Dr Weldon, who lectures in Biomedical Science at De Montfort University in Leicester, Britain, will make a presentation at the ThinkFest event at the BHS Auditorium on Sunday. Mr Burt said: “The discussion with Dr Weldon was very informative. I look forward to learning more about her research when I attend her lecture at ThinkFest this weekend. It is always inspiring to meet Bermudians who are making considerable impact in their fields internationally. It is even more inspiring when they choose to serve the Bermuda community by returning and contributing their knowledge.” Dr Weldon joined the faculty as the youngest lecturer in the history of the university, after obtaining her BSc (Hons) Medical Biochemistry in 2011 and her PhD in Biochemistry in 2015 from the University of Leicester. At age 21, as she embarked on her doctoral research and, according to the Cabinet press release, “uncovered a promising new direction in cancer treatment”. She now runs her own lab and is in demand globally to present on her work. At ThinkFest this Sunday, she will deliver an interactive lecture on alternative splicing and the role it plays in finding novel cancer therapies. She will also discuss the methods and results of her research so far.
September 15. National Security Minister Wayne Caines told MPs today that a Royal Bermuda Regiment contingent left Bermuda this afternoon to help in relief efforts in hurricane-hammered Turks & Caicos. Mr Caines, a former officer in the RBR, said: “This call for aid could not go unheard. Bermudians of every walk of life can trace a common West Indian heritage. These are our brothers and sisters in need and it is right that we heed their call for assistance and send them the very best we have to offer. This Bermuda contingent goes with our prayers for their safety and for the speedy recovery of the Islands so tragically impacted by this hurricane.” A platoon-strength detachment of 30 soldiers, as well as six police officers, left this afternoon on an RAF Hercules transport plane for Providenciales in Turks & Caicos. The RBR contingent includes soldiers with specialist skills in chainsaw use and construction, as well as medics. They will join more than 750 UK Royal Marines, British Army soldiers and police officers sent to the Caribbean island chain to help with disaster recovery. The Royal Navy has already deployed Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay, which was on station in the Caribbean and equipped and trained for disaster relief. The RN flagship HMS Ocean, diverted from an operation in the Mediterranean, has loaded up with stores in Gibraltar and is steaming towards the region. Mr Caines said: “These teams from our security services have mobilized quickly and have answered a call to serve beyond these shores in what will be trying circumstances. “Bermuda has a history of helping our regional partners and the Government is extremely proud to support this effort. The training and time invested in these men and women will be proven worthwhile. I have every confidence they will represent the best of Bermuda and will significantly contribute to the humanitarian effort required to support those impacted by the recent storm.” The police team is expected to move on from Turks & Caicos to the British Virgin Islands, where they will work with UK and Cayman Islands officers sent to help BVI police with internal security. Mr Caines added that the deployment would not affect the ability of the RBR or police to respond to a hurricane crisis at home.
September 15. Insurers are expected to pay out between $32 billion and $50 billion to policyholders affected by Hurricane Irma in the US and Caribbean. That is the estimate of Air Worldwide, the Boston-based risk modelling solutions company. The company believes industry-insured losses in the US resulting from Irma will range from $25 billion to $35 billion, while for the Caribbean the range will be between $7 billion and $15 billion. Irma was a Category 5 hurricane, the most powerful recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, when it hit the island of Barbuda in the eastern Caribbean on September 6. It then struck a number of other islands, including St Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, St Martin/St Maarten, St Barts, the British and US Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, and Cuba. Irma was a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall at the southern tip of Florida on September 10, before tracking along the state’s western coast. In a statement, Air said: “Most of Florida was in peril due to the massive size of the storm, as hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from the eye, and tropical storm — force winds extended more than 400 miles, covering the entire state and driving storm surge into both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.” Air’s estimated industry-insured losses for the United States resulting from Hurricane Irma include wind and storm surge damage to onshore residential, commercial, and industrial properties and their contents; and auto. Air’s US estimates do not include losses paid out by the National Flood Insurance Programme; losses resulting from the compromise of existing defences; losses to uninsured properties; losses to infrastructure; losses to inland marine, marine cargo and hull, and pleasure boats; or losses from hazardous waste cleanup, vandalism, or civil commotion, whether directly or indirectly caused by the event. While for the Caribbean, Air’s losses include wind and precipitation-induced flooding damage to onshore residential, commercial, and industrial properties and their contents, auto, and time element coverage, but do not include losses to infrastructure; losses from hazardous waste cleanup, vandalism, or civil commotion whether directly or indirectly caused by the event; demand surge; losses to offshore properties; pleasure boats, and marine craft; losses resulting from the compromise of existing defences; and losses to uninsured properties.
September 15. Insurance industry minds are grappling with ever-evolving cyber-risks and resulting liabilities, including mounting levels of regulations and increasingly costly disruption caused by cyber-attacks. An international cyber-attack at the end of June hit a number of global companies and caused major insured losses. The loss at one of the affected companies is still being calculated, but could be close to $1 billion. Meanwhile, various global regulations, including some with fines as high as 4 per cent of a company’s global annual turnover, are causing uncertainty for companies and insurers. These were two key talking points for a panel of insurance industry executives at the Bermuda Captive Conference, held at the Fairmont Southampton this week. One of the panelists was Kerr Kennedy, executive director, advisory, at EY Bermuda. He ran through a list of regulators from the US to Asia-Pacific, including China, Australia and Japan, and Europe, who have introduced cyber security regulations or are in the process of doing so. Significantly, two will come into force next year in Europe, one being the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. Mr Kennedy warned: “It has teeth. From a fines perspective it is 4 per cent of annual turnover or €20 million, whichever is the higher, if you are found to fall foul of the requirements.” The data protection regulation aims to give more ownership of a person’s personal data back to the owner of the data themselves as opposed to companies. It is centered on the EU, but its implications are global. Any company or organization which processes, collects or transmits personal data of any EU resident will fall into the scope of the regulation, which comes into effect on May 25, 2018. Mr Kennedy said: “It has been recognized that companies have not been doing enough to get ready for this.” He mentioned a survey that had 31 per cent of respondent companies stating they were already compliant, but further investigation showed that only 2 per cent actually were. Another panelist, John Masters, assistant vice-president, financial lines, AIG Bermuda, referred to a meeting with a top information security officer at Aon, who stated that on day one of the GDPR no one would be 100 per cent compliant. Mr Masters said for a global company such as a bank or energy producer with annual turnover of $100 billion, a 4 per cent fine would be “huge money”. He added: “Clients are concerned about how GDPR is going to be enforced. It leads to uncertainty on the insurance side; are fines resulting from GDPR going to be insurable or not?” Mark Owen, vice-president, insurance services, Aon Captive and Insurance Management, wondered about global standardization of regulations. With individual states, countries, and economic blocs implementing their own regulations, global companies face the challenge of being aware of and meeting the different compliancy thresholds. Mr Owen said the barrage of legislation creates uncertainty. However, he noted that companies could benefit from placing some of their cyber-risk liability into their own captive. “Innovation is the biggest thing. As the market develops you can work with that and put it in the captive. One of the biggest things is when something happens you need money pretty much straight away in order to deal with a significant loss and putting teams on the ground. You have to have the ability to manage the losses. A captive gives you the scope to do that; it can pay for a lot of that very quickly.” He said a further benefit from a captive featuring some cyber liability component is having “skin in the game”, giving a company an added incentive to reduce its risk. And a company can share the overall risk liability with an insurer. “You can put the first element of that risk through the captive and the markets sit behind with a full understanding of how that is being developed. That’s how you can harness the market as well as using the captive to take some of that risk,” Mr Owen said. Andrew Halls, senior underwriter with JLT Insurance Management (Bermuda), said when there is a captive involved in a cyber programme the company’s related insurance rates often start to decrease. He said “every little thing helps” and added that net retained risks in a captive tend to be first-party coverage, giving the captive owner the ability to pay quickly and have better control of their claim. The expanding breath and depth of cyber-attacks and resulting insured losses was also discussed. Mr Masters mentioned the impact of the NotPetya computer virus on pharmaceutical company Merck. The company experienced a network cyber-attack on June 27 this year that led to disruption of its worldwide operations, including manufacturing, research and sales operations. In its most recent earnings statement, the company said it still does not understand the full magnitude of the impact as it is in the process of restoring manufacturing operations. Merck was among a number of companies whose global operations were disrupted by the cyber-attack. Others affected included FedEx, AP Moller-Maersk and Mondelez. Speaking about Merck, Mr Masters said: “They have a huge property programme in place that does not exclude business interruption coverage relating from a cyber event. They have cyber liability in place, so likely that will respond first, but then the property programme will be on the hook. Who knows, it could be a $700, $800, $900 million, or a billion-dollar loss to the market which, when it was putting that property programme in place, was not contemplating the cyber exposure, or if so the market was not pricing for it.” Referring to risk aggregation, where cyber and property coverage is combined, he said: “There was not enough contemplation of those events that could happen that could lead to an unforeseen billion-dollar loss in the market. This is the first of many. It will be interesting to see how the market evolves within the next 12 to 18 months.” The panel moderator was Noel Pearman, senior vice-president and cyber product leader at XL Catlin.
September 15. RAF airmen today (FRI) marked the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s Warwick Camp headquarters. The RAF contingent — the service’s boxing team — is on the island to take part in an international military boxing event at the Berkeley Institute gym tomorrow night. RAF Group Captain Patrick O’Donnell and his team joined RBR soldiers for a ceremony on Warwick Camp’s parade square to mark the day of the massive 1940 air battle after which Nazi Germany realized they could not win air supremacy over Britain and cancelled plans to invade. The ceremony was also attended by boxers from the Jamaica Defence Force and cadets from the US Naval Academy, who will also take part in the Berkeley fight night. Group Captain O’Donnell said the ceremony also marked Bermuda’s contribution in two World Wars and the servicemen from the island who never came home. He added: “While we were here, we thought we should acknowledge Bermuda’s contribution in treasure and blood in the First and Second World Wars with our annual homage to those who gave their lives in the Battle of Britain.” And he singled out Bermudian RAF Flying Officer Grant Ede, who was killed in June, 1943 in the Battle of Norway. Group Captain O’Donnell said: “It’s really important to the military from the UK, on the rare occasions we make visits to Bermuda, to mark the contribution the island has always made in our time of need and to pay our respects to the Royal Bermuda Regiment who are our brothers-in-arms.” He added the airmen, in addition to training for Saturday’s fights, had visited the ex-RAF base on Darrell’s Island and the former Royal Naval Dockyard and island schools. He added: “It would be a crime if we came here and all our guys left with was an understanding of the gyms and the beaches. Bermudians have been so friendly and the Regiment has given us levels of hospitality beyond our expectations. The boxing team are quite young and for them to come somewhere like this, not just to box but to visit four different schools to provide leadership exercises has been fantastic. Things genuinely could not have gone better and we hope tomorrow’s show will be a great event.” RBR Major Ben Beasley, a former RAF officer before he returned home, added: “This is a huge event for us and the fact the RAF shared such a solemn occasion with the RBR is incredible. We continue our strong links with the British military — including the operation we’re on now, flying out to Turks & Caicos with the RAF and being re-supplied by the Royal Navy.” Major Beasley added that the Berkeley event would also be used to collect donations for hurricane relief in the Caribbean, where Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc. Some tickets for the event are still available at ptix.bm/boxing or from the RBR HQ at Warwick Camp. Headquarters can be contacted on 238 1045.
September 15. William Boyle, a former Hamilton mayor who grew the family shoe shop into a chain of businesses, has died at the age of 82. His life will be marked with a memorial service at the Anglican Cathedral on Monday and all seven of the family stores will close for the day. Mr Boyle’s son Richard said Mr Boyle’s four children viewed him as “a family man first, friends second, and business probably came third. He did a great job, but that’s not what drove him; he enjoyed life, he loved his wife, Ann, his children, and his 11 grandchildren. He had his priorities in the right spot.” Another son, Courtland, recalled him as deeply proud of the family name on his businesses, while daughter, Tori Powell, said their father “loved having his boys to continue the business”, with his third son, Graham, also involved. Known to his many friends as Bill, Mr Boyle took the helm at the W. J. Boyle and Son shoe company at an early age when his father Norman died when he was still in college. Mr Boyle finished his education, then went on to manage the family firm. Mr Boyle enjoyed interaction with his customers and committed to public service; he served on the Corporation of Hamilton in a variety of capacities. He was elected mayor in 1994, succeeding Cecil Dismont, and held the post until his retirement in 1997. Mr Boyle told The Royal Gazette after he became mayor: “Hamilton is the heart of Bermuda and I hope to make the whole Corporation of Hamilton more visible to the public.” Under Mr Boyle’s watch, a strategic plan was drafted for the city’s development. Hamilton also built its multi-storey car park at Bulls Head and the city installed crime-fighting security cameras. Mr Boyle’s public service included support for the Salvation Army. A member of the Rotary Club, he also served on the Chamber of Commerce. He was also an avid sportsman, playing tennis and football. Monday’s service in Mr Boyle’s memory will be held at 4pm, with donations to the Salvation Army requested in lieu of flowers. Boyle’s was founded in 1884 by Mr Boyle’s grandfather, William James Boyle, who represented St George’s first as a parliamentary representative and then as mayor. The company has served for generations as the island’s quintessential shoe shop.
September 15. Bermudians in Britain were urged to be alert of their surroundings after a terror attack in London yesterday. Police launched a manhunt after an explosion on a District Line train from Wimbledon during the morning rush hour left at least 20 people injured. The Government of Bermuda London Office stated on social media: “The London Office would like to advise Bermudians in the UK to remain vigilant of their surroundings following the events in London. “Please be reminded the London Office is here to assist Bermudians in the UK. In incidents such as today, we welcome Bermudians to utilise the London Office should they require any assistance in liaising with family or seeking guidance.” Meanwhile a Government House spokesman said: “We were appalled to hear about the attack in Parsons Green this morning and our thoughts are with those affected.” The incident — the fifth terror attack in Britain this year — happened at Parsons Green underground station in the west of the capital at about 8.20am. Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said most of the injured suffered “flash burns” from the explosion. Others were reportedly injured in the “stampede” as they tried to escape. Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “cowardly” attack, which she said had “intended to cause significant harm”. According to media reports, the area surrounding the station was evacuated after the homemade bomb was detonated on the commuter train and security services were said to have identified a suspect.
September 15. Touching down in Bermuda this week, Andrew Sheldon’s thoughts drifted back 46 years to one of the most traumatic moments in his life. It was July 1971 and Andrew, 17 at the time and visiting the island with a Canadian church group, was involved in a desperate but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to save a friend after the pair were pulled out to sea in a rip current. Nearly half a century may have passed since Ronald Andruchow’s drowning, but for Mr Sheldon the memories of that fateful day on July 27 have remained with him ever since, and prompted him to return to Bermuda to “close the circle. I need to go and find that cove, maybe even go in the water again,” Dr Sheldon said. “A lot has happened in the last 46 years in my life, but it has always been there, and has popped up from time to time. I know I did everything I could to save Ron, but there’s also a guilt there too that I think we all shared. Ron was a slight, but lovely guy and his unwillingness to go in the water made him the brunt of some jokes. There was a moment about a year ago when I had a kind of meltdown over what had happened and it made me realize I had to come back to Bermuda and maybe close the circle.” Reverend Canon Sheldon, 63, who hails from Toronto in Canada where he is a professor in pastoral theology, was part of a group of about 20 people that travelled to Bermuda in the summer of 1971 with the Pentecostal Church. Mr Andruchow, who came from British Columbia, was just 24 years old when he died. “We did work with other churches and also with local children,” he said. “We were in Bermuda for two weeks and after every day we would all go down to this cove in Warwick called Stonehole Bay to swim. I remember the day of Ron’s drowning very vividly; it was the day before we were supposed to leave. The two of us and another man went down and began to swim. Then, suddenly, Ron and I were sucked out to sea by this huge rip; Ron was trying to grab hold of me and had wrapped his legs and arms around my body, but I managed to get him onto a nearby reef where we could stand. He was hysterical and it was a nightmare situation to be in, but I felt the best chance of us both making it was for me to swim back to shore and get help. I told Ron to stay put and set off. I barely made it back, and had hoped he would just stay where he was. But he didn’t; for some reason he did not stay on the reef and his body was later found underneath the reef. We had to leave the next day but I remember what made me really angry was that the church just thought they could smile and pray it away. That did not work for me.” Dr Sheldon visited The Royal Gazette offices yesterday to go through the newspapers archives and see the front page story that we carried on July 28, 1971 relating to Mr Andruchow’s death. The report by Al Seymour provides an account from an 11-year-old eyewitness who describes how Mr Andruchow was knocked off the reef by a large wave. Dr Sheldon said: “It was interesting to read about the 11-year-old’s account in the newspaper. She saw that he was knocked off the reef. So, at least my memory of getting him on the reef is accurate and now I know what happened to him. It’s more a sense of comfort in knowing that he was actually on that reef and I was able to help that happen. And while it’s heartbreaking to hear how he came to come off the reef, it is a bit of a relief to know. My life went sideways for a few years after his death; I got kicked out of two schools and ended up in England with my grandmother. I guess, looking back, I began running from something, although I did not quite know what I was running from. I’m glad I have made it back to Bermuda after all this time. Maybe I should have come back earlier.”
September 14. The prospect of liquidators recovering millions of dollars that went “missing” during financial negotiations to build the Par-la-Ville hotel have moved a step closer after a judgment by London’s High Court. Three claimants launched civil proceedings against businessman Robert McKellar in a bid to retrieve $12.5 million that they say Mr McKellar used to buy a luxury Aston Martin car, an engagement ring and two countryside properties in the south of England. Now a High Court Judge has rejected Mr McKellar’s defence to the allegations of “unjust enrichment” and said he has no real prospect of successfully defending the claim, so the case should not go to trial. The $12.5 million was transferred from Par-la-Ville Hotel and Residences Ltd through a trust to Mr McKellar’s firm, Argyle UAE Ltd, to help arrange financing for the multimillion-dollar Hamilton hotel project that never got off the ground. Liquidators for PLVHR and Argyle Limited, a Gibraltar-based firm run by Mr McKellar, as well as receivers for the trustees of the Skyline Trust, set up to enable the funding arrangement, had alleged “unjust enrichment” among other claims against Mr McKellar, Argyle UAE Ltd and his wife, Susan McKellar. In a summary judgment handed down earlier this summer Deputy High Court Judge Roger Wyland said that Argyle UAE and Mr McKellar had “no reasonable grounds” or “arguable case” for defending the claim for unjust enrichment. “I find that the first (Argyle UAE Ltd) and second (Robert McKellar) defendants’ defence to the unjust enrichment claim discloses no reasonable grounds for defending the claim and that their defence should be struck out,” Mr Justice Wyland said. “The first and second defendants have no real prospect of successfully defending that claim and there is no other compelling reason why the issue should be disposed of at trial.” However Mr Justice Wyland ruled that Mrs McKellar did have a “real prospect of successfully defending the claim in unjust enrichment” and he did not grant a summary judgment against her. Mike Morrison, managing director of KPMG Advisory Ltd, one of the joint provisional liquidators of PLVHR and joint receiver of the Skyline Trust, told The Royal Gazette: “The claimants are pleased to note that the High Court ruled in their favour in a summary judgment application against the first two defendants on July 27, 2017. The first two defendants have now lodged an application for permission to appeal that judgment.” If that appeal is unsuccessful the three claimants can enforce the judgment and look to recover the funds. The joint liquidators and receivers embarked on legal proceedings against Argyle UAE Limited, Mr McKellar and Mrs McKellar last September to recover $12.5 million that was transferred to the defendants. The $12.5 million came from an $18 million bridging loan made by Mexico Infrastructure Finance to PLVHR after a raft of legal fees and expenses had been satisfied to help fund the hotel development. In August they obtained an injunction against Mr McKellar and Argyle UAE Ltd freezing their assets worldwide to a total value of $12.4 million. A second proprietary order prevented Mr McKellar from selling his two homes in East Sussex, England, and an Aston Martin Vanquish motor car. In response to the injunctions, Mr McKellar provided sworn affidavits outlining how he received two sums of $499,999 and $500,000 between October and November 2014 into a Barclays Bank account in London and a further $11.5 million into an Argyle UAE account in the Cayman Islands. He says he converted the $999,999 into sterling and put the money into a personal HSBC account “as director’s remuneration to him as director of Argyle UAE”. The claimants allege he used £73,000 of the money transferred to the HSBC account to buy an engagement ring for Mrs McKellar. Mr McKellar’s affidavits show that of the $11.5 million sum, he converted $328,158 into sterling and bought a £210,985 Aston Martin Vanquish by way of a director loan to him personally. They also claim he transferred $9.9 million into an Argyle UAE account in Zurich and converted more than $8 million of that sum into sterling to buy two properties in East Sussex worth £2,675,000 and £1,250,000, as well as paying for $1.3 million worth of work to be done on one of the properties. In a nine-page defence, Mr McKellar and Argyle UAE Ltd claimed he was entitled to the $12.5 million as a “fee” and provided several defences as to why he claimed he was entitled to the money. Meanwhile, Mrs McKellar admitted that Mr McKellar gave her an engagement ring and they jointly own one of the East Sussex properties. However, she made “no admissions” relating to the claimants’ allegations and said she would “abide by such order as the court shall make”.
September 14. The Bermuda Union of Teachers yesterday said it was “encouraged” by Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch’s moves to fix persistent problems with mould in public schools. Colonel Burch, the Minister for Public Works, paid a visit to Dellwood Middle School to view first-hand the mould problems that led to the school being closed to pupils. The union said it was pleased by the visit and by the minister’s view that the process of addressing the needs of schools must be more efficient. A union spokesman said: “The Bermuda Union of Teachers is saddened that the start of school for students and staff of Dellwood Middle School has been interrupted. We, however, have been encouraged by these two things. First, the Minister of Works and Engineering himself, Minister Colonel Burch, has walked through the building to see first-hand the needs of the school so that they can be addressed. The minister has also stated on numerous occasions that the process of addressing the needs of the schools in the future will be more efficient and effective. We eagerly look forward to this. Second, we know that the teaching staff are resilient, can adapt and being the professionals that they are, will ensure that their students will sail through this situation and come through stronger and closer with each other then before.” Colonel Burch said: “The most important task at hand is to work through new issues identified yesterday at Dellwood and have them addressed. A full complement of all stakeholders visited Dellwood and conducted a full assessment of the school and implemented a plan for addressing issues still outstanding. A fuller statement on the state and remedies will be issued in due course.”
September 14. The Bermuda Bar Council has accused lawyer Eugene Johnston of improper conduct in a legal dispute between the Corporation of Hamilton and the Ministry of Home Affairs. Lawyer Jeffrey Elkinson alleged that Mr Johnston had failed to turn over documents after being removed as counsel in the case at a disciplinary tribunal last week. Mr Johnston denied the allegation and said that he had placed a lien on the documents because the Corporation owed him more than $60,000. He also argued that Graeme Outerbridge, the Mayor of Hamilton at the time, did not have the power to remove him as counsel. The hearing heard that Mr Johnston and J2 Chambers had been hired to represent the Corporation. In 2014, following the high-profile collapse of the Par-la-Ville hotel project, the Bermuda Government seized financial control of the Corporation which sparked a constitutional challenge by the municipality. In December of that year, Mr Outerbridge sent Mr Johnston a letter to tell him that Marshall Diel & Myers would replace him as counsel and asked that he turn over all documents to them. Mr Elkinson said that representatives for MDM made requests for the case files but that Mr Johnston failed to respond. He said: “It’s not only the fact that he didn’t do what was requested by his client or MDM, he didn’t even bother responding to their e-mails and letters.” When the constitutional complaint reached the Supreme Court in early 2015, both Mr Johnston and MDM appeared in court and claimed to represent the corporation. While MDM sought to end the constitutional challenge, Mr Johnston sought to continue it. A complaint to the Bar Council over the files was made and a tribunal was appointed, but during a hearing last April Mr Johnston said that there was a lien on the documents. Mr Elkinson said Mr Johnston later wrote a letter denying any wrongdoing but stating that the documents would be prepared and “hopefully” made available to MDM by June 1 last year. He added: “There was no delivery of files by June 1, 2016. There was never any delivery by June 1, 2017,” he said. Mark Diel of MDM told the tribunal the Corporation launched proceedings against J2 Chambers in the Supreme Court earlier this year to recover the files. As a result, they received an order that the sum of money alleged to be owed in the lien would be held by the court and the files would be delivered to MDM. But Mr Diel said: “We still did not receive the files as ordered so we had to issue contempt proceedings.” He added that the files were received by the firm around three weeks ago. Mr Diel questioned the nature of the lien, saying that J2 Chambers had received a $250,000 retainer from the Corporation and that when the files were received, they showed spending after the date that Mr Outerbridge had informed Mr Johnston that he was no longer representing the Corporation. However during cross-examination Mr Johnston questioned if Mr Outerbridge had the power to take him off the record as he had been hired by the Corporation. Mr Diel said he recalled that there had been a “factional dispute” in the Corporation at the time. Mr Johnston suggested that the Corporation must have known about the $61,149 debt they had run up with J2 Chambers as far back as January of 2015. Mr Diel said he remembered that J2 had requested a meeting during that period, but could not recall the reason. He added: “I remember there was something about you wanting to meet. I don’t remember you complaining at that stage that they owed money.” The hearing is expected to continue sometime next month.
September 14. A 32-year-old cruise ship worker who took a drug to cause her own miscarriage walked free from court after a judge said society would not be served by a harsh punishment. Arlene Cauyo Peralta, a Filipina national, was given a three-month conditional discharge at Supreme Court this week after she admitted taking misoprostol on August 6 while in Bermuda to induce a miscarriage. Peralta’s partner Rakesh Anand Shetty, an Indian citizen who was also a crew member on the Norwegian Dawn, was also given a three-month conditional discharge after he pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact. Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves said that it was a “sad situation” and that the “law has always recognized that justice should be tempered by mercy”. He added there was no reason why the two should be detained any further and that Bermuda society would not be served by harsher penalties. Mr Justice Greaves said: “In the circumstances the court does find some great degree of sympathy. Frankly, I favour an absolute discharge in these circumstances. However, it has been put that a conditional discharge is not unreasonable. I cannot disagree with that. It does not need to be long. They are not likely to commit any further offences.” The offence was discovered after Shetty, 35, was stopped by Norwegian Dawn security staff as he tried to take the 22-week fetus off the cruise liner in his rucksack on August 8. The discovery sparked a police investigation that ended in both Peralta and Shetty being charged with criminal offences. They pleaded guilty to the charges on Monday before Mr Justice Greaves. Misoprostol, first developed for the treatment and prevention of stomach ulcers, is also used by medical practitioners to induce abortions. The court heard that both Peralta and Shetty worked on board the Norwegian Dawn as waiters when Peralta became pregnant. She told police that she had bought the misoprostol in Mexico legally in April. But she only took the drug to cause the miscarriage when the ship was berthed in Bermuda. During Monday’s sentencing Peralta apologized for her actions saying: “I did not think to do anything wrong here in Bermuda. I was really confused because I love my job and I don’t want to go home because I am thinking about my future and family and his [Shetty’s] future.”
September 14. When Keith Harper visited the island in May, he didn’t come for the beaches. He came for the gravestones. Mr Harper, who grew up in Liverpool, England, said he had a fascination with cemeteries and history, which inspired him to create a cemetery website and make a series of video documentaries about the burial grounds he has visited. He added: “This was my third trip to Bermuda. On each visit, I have rented a scooter and visited as many cemeteries as I can find. I’ve been interested in cemeteries most of my life. I remember, as a kid, being fascinated to read the inscriptions and look at the ornate carvings and symbology on gravestones in our local cemeteries. Cemeteries contain a lot of history. As an adult, I enjoy researching cemeteries and learning about notable people who are buried in their community cemeteries. It’s fascinating to me and I like being able to tell their stories.” He said that his most recent visit took place because he was working on a delivery crew, taking a 62ft yacht from Tortola to Rhode Island. During the voyage they decided to stop on the island to refuel and sit out some bad weather. Mr Harper added the island’s gravestones were a stark reminder of its battle against yellow fever. He said: “These yellow fever gravestones help tell the history of the towns that were touched by the tragedy. I am also interested in finding unique gravestones. For example in St. Paul’s Church Cemetery, I found a zinc grave marker. This is a metal grave marker known as a white bronze grave marker. These metal markers are quite common in the United States. However, they are quite rare outside the US.”
September 14. Jose was expected to strengthen into a hurricane again today after being downgraded to a tropical storm yesterday. The system — still deemed a potential threat — was forecast to turn north tomorrow and pass to Bermuda’s west early on Monday morning. At noon, the storm’s closest point within 72 hours was forecast to be 377 nautical miles to the west at 4am on Monday. But the BWS warned that the storm may move closer after this time. The Bermuda Weather Service said: “Jose is expected to become a hurricane again by this evening, then turn northward tomorrow. This system is now passing slightly further away to the west than in yesterday morning’s forecast but remains a potential threat to Bermuda.” Jose was 423 nautical miles to the south-southwest of Bermuda at noon and heading west-northwest at 9mph with maximum sustained winds near 70mph. Meanwhile, Tropical Depression 14 has formed in the Atlantic but the BWS said the system is not deemed a threat “at this time”.
September 14.Walter Saul, a prominent Rotarian who guided many young Bermudians into studies abroad, is to be remembered in a celebration of life service on Saturday. The head of operations at Bermuda Pest Control, Mr Saul died last month just before his 60th birthday. His widow, Sidnea “Cindy” Saul, described him as “a wonderful man that loved unconditionally, very charismatic, with a lot of wit and good humour”. Those traits were evident when they first met, as Mr Saul recounted in a typically light hearted 1997 interview for the Mid-Ocean News. “I was at a pest control seminar in Florida — I was actually at a bikini contest,” Mr Saul recalled. “She wasn’t in it, of course. I saw her and I sent a waitress over with a message: will you marry me? She sent a message back saying: yes, if it is tomorrow. I still don’t know if she was kidding.” The couple tied the knot two days later, in 1989, and were together ever since. Born in the United States, Mr Saul settled on the pest control business at age 21, after catching two mice in one trap at a grocery store job, and deciding he had a knack. Trained at Pensacola Pest Control College in Florida, Mr Saul became the island’s informal expert on cockroaches, ants, spiders and other pests. But he also held a genuine fascination for insect life, keeping bug replicas in his office. At Sandys Rotary Club, Mr Saul became the inbound and outbound student exchange coordinator, shepherding local students abroad — and finding hosts for incoming youngsters. “I like seeing the Bermuda students get excited about the exchange, then come back after a year with their horizons broadened,” he said of the role. "They all have a great time, too. I get enjoyment out of their enjoyment.” Mrs Saul said she had never seen her husband lose his temper, remembering him as “kind, caring, and very sensitive to other peoples’ needs”, and enjoying jokes with their son, Abraham. Family and friends will hold a special service for Mr Saul at 3pm on Saturday in the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium at CedarBridge Academy. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Pals in his memory.
September 14. A weekend boat cruise is banking on Bermuda’s big heart to raise funds for those impacted by Hurricane Irma. On Saturday evening, Rising Son Cruises and Island Tour Centre will team up for the “Fundraising with Filante” cruise. Steve Smith, owner and operator of Rising Son Cruises, said he and his wife came up with the idea for the event after seeing the destruction caused by the storm in the Caribbean - specifically, a social media post from friends in the British Virgin Islands who had lost “absolutely everything”. The massive storm has left a number of regions decimated and dozens of people dead in its wake across the Caribbean and United States, spurring several Bermuda-born initiatives to try and lend a helping hand to those in need. Their ship, Rising Son II, had spent many winter seasons in the region with its previous owner Beez Evans, Mr Smith said. “We were lucky enough to spend six amazing months on the beautiful island of Tortola working, surfing and enjoying all it had to offer. Tortola holds a special place in our hearts and always will. My wife and I visited Antigua a few times earlier this year and ended up leasing and sailing Filante from Antigua to Bermuda for the summer.” Seeing the damage done to the region also hit home in another way, Mr Smith said. “Rising Son II actually wrecked as a result of Hurricane Fay in 2014 at the beginning of our first year of ownership almost destroying our sole income. As Bermudians we all know very well how these storms can change lives in an instant. We were fortunate enough to rebuild our boat and continue our business. Unfortunately, others all over the Caribbean may not be so lucky and we feel this is the least we can do to show our love and support as it has been shown to us in the past.” Drinks and hors d’oeuvre on the cruise will be provided thanks to donations by Gosling’s and Fourways Inn. The cruise will depart from Albouy’s Point at 6pm. Tickets for the event are $150, with 100 per cent of the proceeds being split between two charities. “We would love to take advantage of Bermuda’s generosity and resources to help those less fortunate,” Mr Smith said. “A little can go a long way and if we reach our max capacity of 65 passengers we can raise almost $10,000.” Funds raised by the cruise will be matched by the Calvin Ayre Foundation. For its part, local restaurant Bermuda Bistro at the Beach said that $10 from each lobster and each bottle of wine sold for the remainder of the month would be donated to the Turks and Caicos Hurricane Relief Fund. “Hurricane Irma has affected so many lives, it’s time to support and help one another,” a message on the Front Street restaurant’s Facebook page said. Mr Smith added: “Hopefully our cruise will sell out and raise enough funds to change lives and turn the tides for those in need. We love our island and trust that its heart is big enough to help our Caribbean friends.”
September 13. A number of initiatives outlined in last week’s Throne Speech will be funded through existing money, Premier David Burt said yesterday. The Premier discussed some of the pledges made on Friday at a press conference held at The Cabinet Building. The initiatives included the establishment of both a tax reform commission and an economic diversification unit, as well as the re-establishment of the Bermuda Think Tank, and reformation of the Parliamentary Committee, among others. Mr Burt said: “I would like to be clear, the Throne Speech is about people and not money for money’s sake.” Asked how the Government would pay for the outlined initiatives while maintaining the pledge to balance the budget by 2019, Mr Burt said: “A lot of the items which we have pledged don’t actually require money.” He added: “So when we’re talking about the overall budget, which is issued on an annual basis, the commitments that are inside those budgets will be met. The projects and plans that we have here will be funded out of those resources. So we’re not looking to expend extra funds, but the role of Government is to reprioritize funding, and there’s been places and times where we’ve found some funding which can be stopped and can be used for things to accomplish this Government’s priorities.” Mr Burt said the budget must be balanced before there could be any discussion about debt reduction. And he added a balanced budget would need economic growth. “In a large way, economic growth in this country has been stymied by what I would say is interests within Government that have not allowed our economy to function as well as it could. That is going to be different inside the Progressive Labour Party Government.” Mr Burt said that through collaboration — including with the Opposition — Government would “create the avenues and conditions that produce economic empowerment. Growing the economy is central to our plan, because it will provide jobs for Bermudians and empower us to help one another more. Simply put, if Bermuda does not work for its people, it will not work for anyone else.”
September 13. A tax on sugar introduced in Mexico in 2013 cut sales of sodas by 12 per cent — now the Bermuda Diabetes Association hopes a similar policy could do the same for Bermuda. It comes after the Throne Speech revealed that the Government would begin a consultation for the introduction of a sugar tax on the sale of certain foods and beverages in Bermuda. Diabetes educator and chairwoman of the Bermuda Diabetes Association, Debbie Jones, said: “The sugar debate is huge and we seriously have to look at this and help the public understand that this is not one more way of a government finding money but that it is borne out of a government wanting the best for its people. Every country, every health authority has the responsibility for its citizens and to ensure that they are safe and healthy. Putting a tax on sugar may seem draconian, but I can’t see any other way of making the public aware of the importance of limiting sugar.” Pointing to the island’s obesity problem and rising rates of diabetes, she said the island needs to be serious about helping to make the public healthy. “We simply cannot afford the rising costs of healthcare especially when with some simple changes like exercising every day and drinking water could have such a positive impact.” Ms Jones said the World Health Organisation recommends that women should have no more than six teaspoons of added sugar and men no more than nine. She added: “One soda has ten teaspoons of added sugar. A sugar tax may not be popular in some sectors, but the positive gain for the health of our public outweighs this hands down.” Ms Jones explained that a sugar tax is seen as a deterrent to drinking sodas. “From 2000 to 2006 diabetes had doubled in Mexico and obesity among children aged 5 to 11 had risen by 40 per cent. By December 2014, sugary soda sales were down by 12 per cent and Mexicans were buying 17 per cent less sweetened soda. Mexico is now campaigning to increase the sugar tax on sugary beverages and lower the price of bottled water.” According to Ms Jones, studies have shown that a 35 per cent tax on regular soft drinks resulted in sales of these beverages going down by 26 per cent. She said Bermuda should follow New Zealand’s example, where “water is available in all restaurants and cafés for the public to help themselves at no charge. We need to encourage the general public to drink water. Water needs to be available, accessible and affordable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if arriving guests to the island could be given a water bottle and a map of hydration stations, paid for from the tax on sugary drinks. Bermuda would not only be encouraging a healthy lifestyle, but would also be playing its part in cutting down on plastic.” The UK announced a sugar tax in the budget of March last year, which is expected to raise the equivalent of more than $691 million a year. The levy is squarely aimed at high-sugar drinks, particularly fizzy drinks, which are popular among teenagers. Pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks will be excluded and the smallest producers will have an exemption from the scheme. The tax will be imposed on companies according to the volume of the sugar-sweetened drinks they produce or import. There are two tax bands, one for total sugar content above 5g per 100 millilitres and a higher band for the most sugary drinks with more than 8g per 100 millilitres. The tax will be levied at the equivalent of 24 cents and 32 cents per litre for the highest sugar drinks. Examples of drinks which would at present fall under the higher rate include full-strength Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Lucozade Energy and Irn-Bru. The lower rate would catch drinks such as Dr Pepper, Fanta, Sprite and Schweppes Indian tonic water.
September 13. A proposed sugar tax should not concentrate on sodas, the head of an island soft drinks distributor said yesterday. Bruce Barritt, general manager of John Barritt & Son warned that a fresh tax on soft drinks could impact business and jobs. He said: “If the Government’s intention is to tax sugar, we hope that there will be scrutiny of all food categories that contain sugar as opposed to singling out beverages which already have significant taxes applied to them.” Mr Barritt added that any new costs to the company from a tax would need to be covered. He said: “This could take the form of increased prices, reduced marketing support and changes in our staffing and community support programmes.” Mr Barritt was speaking after the Throne Speech last week said the Government would start consultation on a sugar tax on “certain foods and beverages”. The speech, the Government’s blueprint for the new session of Parliament, added: “While unhealthy foods are often appealing due to their lower prices, the cost of treatment is significantly higher than the cost of prevention.” Mr Barritt said sweetened, flavoured and carbonated soft drinks were already hit with 35 per cent duty on their invoice cost. He added that Barritt's had stopped bottling and canning operations on the island six years ago. Mr Barritt said: “There is no large-scale local production of soft drinks any more. So what are commonly referred to as ‘sodas’ are all imported and subject to this 35 per cent tax.” Mr Barritt said that he had yet to see details of any proposed new tax. But he added: “Because pre-packaged beverages are an easy product to track, they will likely be top of the taxman’s list.” Mr Barritt said he hoped the firm would be invited to take part in consultations on the proposed tax. He added he was unsure how other drinks, including juices with naturally occurring sugars and diet soft drinks sweetened without the use of sugar, would be treated under a new tax. The Government’s election platform explained that revenue from a sugar tax would be put towards “health education and early intervention”. Mr Barritt said that revenue collected should be monitored so that the effectiveness of the tax could be properly evaluated. He added: “If the intent of the sugar tax is to help the Bermudian population live longer, healthier lives, then the revenues collected should be earmarked for programmes that fit these criteria.” Mr Barritt said the company endorsed the idea of people living healthier lifestyles and added that it offered a number of low and no-calorie beverage options for consumers. Last night, a ministry spokeswoman said: “The Ministry of Health is excited to be leading on this significant health initiative, which has already begun to show evidence of effectiveness in other countries that have implemented it.” The spokeswoman said such initiatives were “primarily aimed at reducing sugar consumption to improve health status and combat life-threatening and expensive chronic, non-communicable diseases. There are successful models in the US and the UK to implement a sugar tax, and Bermuda will look to the established international experience to develop proposals that suit local needs, and to undertake consultation in the upcoming year. In the meantime, other initiatives to combat chronic conditions will also be progressed to ensure healthy choices are the easier choices for everyone in Bermuda.”
September 13. Shadow education minister Cole Simons said the Ministry of Education has no refurbishment or remediation plan for public schools after Dellwood Middle School was closed off in areas to treat mould yesterday. Mr Simons added that, when he was education minister before July’s election, there was no “proper plan” in place and said he did not expect it to be fixed quickly. Mr Simons was speaking after education minister Diallo Rabain and public works minister Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch pledged at a press conference last month that a “rigorous” plan for schools would be introduced and include “year-round maintenance” schedules. But Mr Simons said: “Having sat as the Minister of Education for just under six months, I do not expect for these mould issues to go away any time soon. The Ministry of Education does not have a refurbishment plan or a remediation plan, for each of our schools, and their campuses.” Dellwood students returned to the school yesterday, two days later than the official school schedule, but were only given limited access due to ongoing works including the treatment of mould. A report by an independent company said the work had been completed, which led Government health and safety officer to clear it for occupancy. But it emerged this week that more work needed to be done in some areas of the school so students have been housed at the Salvation Army and will be sent to TN Tatem Middle School and Clearwater Middle School on Monday and Tuesday next week. No indication has been given as to when Dellwood will be open. This incidence of mould is among other health and safety issues in schools that plagued the One Bermuda Alliance’s administration. In June, students at TN Tatem Middle School were sent back to school after the building had been treated for mould, but were later told that more work needed to be done and they would have to attend Clearwater instead. Mr Simons said: “We must refine the day-to-day remediation and maintenance programme for each of our schools, so that the leadership team in each school can strategically address the custodial and remedial issues when they first present themselves. We cannot begin to address these challenges when they are out of hand. Our first line of defence for this situation will be our school custodians, principals, and works and engineering’s school infrastructure inspectors.” The PLP invited the press to tour Prospect Primary School earlier this month to show the progress that had been made on work there. Mr Rabain told the media he blamed the OBA for not investing in education. He said: “It is unfortunate that the previous government did not allocate the funding needed to address these issues when they were identified in June.” Former finance minister Bob Richards set aside $3.2 million for school maintenance in his February 2017 budget. The school re-organisation report released by Mr Simons’s predecessor Wayne Scott highlighted major works that needed to be completed in the majority of public primary schools. Mr Rabain said at a press conference last month that a rigorous plan was to be drawn up to fix building and air-quality problems in schools. He added that reports on structural, mechanical, electrical and health and safety building inspections of all schools will be prepared to ensure a “complete picture” of the condition of schools in the future. The Royal Gazette sent a list of questions to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Public Works. These included whether Government would continue to use the services of the independent company that released the later reversed bill of health for Dellwood. Ministers were quizzed whether it was the same company that gave the green light for TN Tatem to open in June, only for the decision to be reversed. Other questions related to the cost of extra work at Dellwood, how Dellwood pupils would be transported to Clearwater and TN Tatem and if there were unsafe levels of mould remaining at any other public schools. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch declined to comment in response to questions on a separate story on Dellwood, however, he said: “A fuller statement on the state and remedies will be issued in due course.” The Ministry of Education did not respond by the time we went to press.
September 13. The West Indies Association in Bermuda is to step up its fundraising as the threat of hurricane season continues to hang over the region. The group expressed its sadness for the devastation caused throughout by Hurricane Irma, and warned more could follow in a season forecast to be active. It said it was joining forces with the Bermuda Government, businesses and community groups to raise funds towards humanitarian efforts. A Caribbean Summer Cruise has been arranged for Saturday, September 23, to launch the drive. The Association said in a statement: “The WIA (Bermuda) notes with sadness and concern the devastation and loss of life that has occurred in several Caribbean countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, St Martin, the British and US Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, and Cuba in the wake of Hurricane Irma. WIA wishes to remind the public that while the devastation wrought by these hurricanes has been extensive, it is still early in the hurricane season which is predicted to be an active one. Therefore, fundraising will require continued and sustained effort throughout the season and beyond. We are currently gathering and collating information as to the needs of those who have been affected so far and the recovery efforts under way so as to determine priority needs and how best we might assist the humanitarian and rebuilding efforts going on in these countries. We have been contacted by the Government of Bermuda and look forward to working with the Government, businesses and community groups and organisations as we have done in the past to raise funds to assist affected countries.” Boarding for the Caribbean Summer Cruise will begin at 7pm from Albuoy’s Point, with the cruise departing at 8pm, returning at midnight. Early bird tickets are on sale at $60 per ticket, including dinner, and can be obtained from management committee members or The Edge at 25 Reid Street. The Association added: “We look forward to adding Bermuda proudly to the list of countries and Caribbean and international agencies that are providing much needed donations and supplies. Please support our local fundraising efforts.”
September 13. A detachment of Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers is readying for a mercy mission to hurricane-devastated UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean. Disaster recovery experts from the RBR’s Gun and Assault Pioneers, as well as Special Constables, will join Bermuda Police Service officers and fly out to a staging post in Barbados as soon as air transport can be arranged. Governor John Rankin and Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson surveyed preparations at Warwick Camp yesterday, where a team of 28 soldiers with two officers packed away for what Executive Officer Major Corey Smalley described as specialist post-hurricane relief. Mr Rankin said he was proud to see Bermuda’s volunteers headed to join the UK effort, which has about 700 troops on the ground at present with some 50 police. They embed with the 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, soldiers from the British Army’s Royal Engineers who support the elite Royal Marines 3 Commando. The British Virgin Islands, one of Bermuda’s fellow UK Overseas Territories, was hammered by Hurricane Irma, leaving at least four dead and widespread devastation in its wake. Six local police officers will head off to assist the BVI with internal security. Anguilla and Turks and Caicos, also UK Overseas Territories, also suffered severe damage as Irma crossed the region before hitting Florida.RBR Adjutant Captain Duncan Simons said Bermuda’s soldiers would be dispatched to the territory in most need. He added: “The contingent is ready to go as soon as airlift is secured.” Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay, which is stationed in the Caribbean and Bermuda area with hurricane relief as part of its mandate, has already unloaded tons of supplies in affected areas. The Royal Navy flagship, HMS Ocean, which carries specialist troops from the Royal Marines and helicopters, has been redeployed from the Mediterranean and is steaming towards the Caribbean. Anticipating tough conditions on the ground, Major Smalley said the team would go over first aid, chainsaw operation, and dealing with the media. “The idea is to get the islands to a point in which they can start to have a little bit of normality,” he added.
September 13. Bermuda Healthcare Services and Brown-Darrell Clinic will be hosting its quarterly “Docs for Dinner” event at Café Lido tomorrow. The guest speaker is Jay Alexander Graham, an abdominal transplant surgeon in the Bronx at Montefiore Medical Centre, who will be presenting on the topic “Renal Transplant Surgery in The Urban Setting”. Certified by the American Board of Surgery, Dr Graham earned his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. He then completed a general surgery residency at Georgetown University Hospital and research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. He joined Montefiore after completing his abdominal transplant fellowship at Columbia University-New York Presbyterian Hospital. The author of more than 25 peer-review manuscripts and eight book chapters, he continues to pursue academic research with five internal review board approved protocols. He specialises in liver, kidney and pancreas transplantation and has a passion for improving patient’s lives through treating end-organ failure, according to a press release for the event. More than 30 doctors are expected to attend the presentation and receive two Continuing Medical Education credits. Registration and cocktails will begin at 7pm, with dinner at 7.30pm and presentations to follow. For more information, call the Brown-Darrell Clinic on 297-3332 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 13. Hurricane Jose’s closest projected point of approach to Bermuda over the next three days has come and gone, the Bermuda Weather Service said yesterday. The category one storm, meandering south of the island, nonetheless remains a potential threat to Bermuda. It is forecast to head northwest over the weekend, by which time it is expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm. However, as of last night, its closest point to Bermuda, 313 nautical miles to the south-southwest, had already passed. At 6am, Jose was 377 nautical miles to the island’s south and heading southeast at about 8mph as it makes its “clockwise loop over open water”. The weather service said Jose could bring isolated showers and a chance of thunder on Thursday evening. “Seas will remain slight to moderate with building southerly swells from Hurricane Jose on Thursday and Friday. Hurricane Jose is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm on Friday as it turns north-westward. Tropical Storm Jose will likely remain a potential threat to Bermuda through Sunday.” According to BWS, the threshold for being deemed a potential threat is 400 nautical miles.
September 13. International mail will be delayed due to Hurricane Irma, island residents are being warned. According to the Bermuda Post Office, mail originating from the Caribbean and Florida has been “significantly impacted”. Local mail service, however, has not been affected. “The BPO will continue to monitor developments and update the public accordingly,” a release this afternoon said.
September 12. Speculation that the Bermuda Government was considering independence has been dismissed. “The position is this; it was not in our platform, we have not discussed it,” Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, said yesterday. Mr Simmons was speaking after a question on the subject was asked by Grainne Richmond, moderator for the opening panel of the Bermuda Captive Conference at the Fairmont Southampton. Mr Simmons said: “I was asked this question earlier this month, and I had to be reminded that as a minister you can’t have a personal opinion any more — you have a government position. “The mandate that we operate under, and I’ve mentioned it to several stakeholders, is no surprises. Business does not like surprises, and as much as possible we want to have collaborative dialogue together going forward and not learn about government policy on the front page of the Gazette.” The issue was front page news a week ago after Jason Hayward, a government senator and president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said independence should be viewed as a viable option. He made his remarks to crowds at a Labour Day event on September 4. Yesterday, in stating the Government’s position before delegates at the multi-day captive insurance conference, Mr Simmons added: “It is critical to us that we project stability and that we work with each other.” He added that if independence ever became a necessity, it was “something that we would have to work on together”.
September 12. The psychological effects of Hurricane Irma on residents in the Caribbean were discussed at an emergency meeting of Caricom. David Burt, the Premier, participated in the videoconference on Saturday for the first time, alongside Cabinet Secretary Derrick Binns and Kimberley Durrant, UK Representative for the Government of Bermuda. The meeting was convened by the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, to debate the impact of Irma on Caricom nations and neighboring islands. A press release from the Bermuda Government stated: “Concern was expressed about the long-term psychological effects of the situation, particularly the serious dislocation and sense of loss of the people of those countries that were impacted. “It was also stressed that these disasters emphasized the economic vulnerability of the region given the cost of recovery and the impact on economic activity of the affected countries.” Mr Burt stated: “I was pleased to engage in this, my first dialogue with fellow Caricom heads of Government. It was an appropriate opportunity to demonstrate the Bermuda Government’s commitment to renew its participation in Caricom.”
September 12. Bermuda residents were called on yesterday to dig deep to help people in countries devastated by Hurricane Irma. The Bermuda Red Cross and the Salvation Army are looking for cash donations to help with relief efforts in the Caribbean and the United States. Bermuda Red Cross executive director Ann Spencer-Arscott said: “We can certainly appreciate what they have gone through. We have to remember how fortunate we are — there are people around the world who are less fortunate. If we can rally round and help our sister islands, we can at least make them feel that they are being supported and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The more people can do in the way of making a donation, the better.” She added that $7,550 has been raised and that funds would go towards purchasing supplies for affected areas. Premier David Burt pledged that the Bermuda Government would match donations up to $25,000. Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade, devastated parts of the Caribbean last week before barreling into Florida over the weekend. Media reports said that up to 40 died after the Category 5 hurricane made landfall in Barbuda and then tore a devastating path across Caribbean countries and territories. Ms Spencer-Arscott explained that the charity is looking only for cash at the moment because the storage and manpower to send items is not available. She said volunteers are focused on clearing the affected areas and ensuring people are safe before they start to rebuild. But she added that the Bermuda Red Cross is also looking at how it could work with the Royal Bermuda Regiment troops who are set to be sent to the region. “The biggest problem right now is communication.” She said the British Red Cross had set up a website for family links, where people can register family as missing and check back for updates. The Salvation Army has also mobilized relief efforts, with the USA Southern Territory co-ordinating “unprecedented disaster responses on numerous fronts”. All emergency disaster assets across the USA and Canada have been activated, and almost a third of a million meals have already been provided to survivors of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. But divisional commander Major Frank Pittman warned that resources will now have to cover a much wider area as the focus turns to Florida. He said: “When I look at the US and the Caribbean islands from a Bermuda perspective, we see them as our neighbours. We being an island and them being islands, I think we can associate with them and feel their pain and their agony at this time, probably because we’ve been there — but thankfully not to that extent. We urge everyone to support and help our brothers and sisters from other countries that are struggling.” He said that at the moment the Salvation Army needed cash donations as sending supplies was impossible because of transport problems. But he added that the Salvation Army hoped to send members from Bermuda to help in the affected areas “as time progresses”. A release from the Salvation Army’s international headquarters said the organisation is working with the government of Antigua and Barbuda to provide emergency food supplies to those who have fled Barbuda. The island of about 2,000 people was left “barely inhabitable”, with 95 per cent of buildings damaged. Prime Minister Gaston Browne said reconstruction would cost $100 million. A state of emergency has been declared for the British Virgin Islands and widespread damage was also reported in Anguilla, the US Virgin Islands, St Martin and St Barthelemy, Turks and Caicos and Puerto Rico. The UK has faced criticism that it has been slower to respond to Irma than other countries with interests in the region. British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday upped the country’s aid package for the region to £32 million. Defence minister Michael Fallon said that hundreds of troops, engineers and other additional resources would also be provided. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay is already in the area, helping the people of the BVI by delivering supplies and medical support. And Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean was yesterday diverted from the Mediterranean to Gibraltar to pick up tons of supplies before heading to the Caribbean. Haiti and the Dominican Republic were also battered by the storm although there was not as much damage as was feared. Officials in Cuba said there had been “significant damage” and at least ten people had died. After battering the Caribbean, Irma hit Florida as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday before weakening to a tropical storm. International media reports linked at least four deaths to the storm. Florida suffered widespread flooding and six million homes in the state were without electricity yesterday afternoon. In the islands of the Florida Keys, officials have warned of a “humanitarian crisis”.
How to help
September 12. This year’s Christmas Boat Parade is to be organised by the City of Hamilton. Ed Benevides, the City’s chief operating officer, said the Corporation was “delighted” to take the reins. He added: “This is one of the most highly anticipated social events in Bermuda, held at such a festive time of year. The city worked with the charity to ensure that we could handle the requirements and deliver a first-rate event for our local community and visitors with the continued support of the event sponsors.” The parade had been a biennial labour of love for the business community, and the 2015 event drew a crowd of thousands. It will remain under the Bermuda Boat Parade Charity, but the City has taken over its organisation and execution. Ian Coles, spokesman for the charity, thanked the City for stepping in. He said: “Since the first parade almost 20 years ago, it has been the same small group who put on this magical event and we felt it important for the longevity of the parade that a well-established organisation such as the City of Hamilton should take it over in order to guarantee the parade will be around for many, many years to come.” Mr Coles added: “We also welcome the new ideas that the City has to grow the event. It’s a huge benefit to the boat parade participants, spectators and the community as a whole to have the highly professional, full-time team at City Hall behind the event and we know the Christmas Boat Parade is going to prosper under this new leadership. We will be working alongside the City this year to share our experience and to ensure a smooth handover and we remain involved in the Bermuda Boat Parade Charity.” All entrants will be eligible for a prize. The festive show in the harbour will be held on Saturday, December 9, with the deadline for entries set for November 15. Entry forms can be collected from the City Hall offices, or downloaded from the City’s website under the Explore Hamilton Event Calendar tab. Anyone interested in taking part can also e-mail the City on email@example.com to request an electronic copy of the entry form, or for further information.
September 12. HSCM Bermuda, a two-year-old firm that invests in insurance-linked assets, has formed an investing partnership with a Lloyd’s managing agency Sciemus. As part of the new partnership, Sciemus will be renamed Argon Underwriting, subject to regulatory approval from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. Sciemus, is a specialty Lloyd’s MGA in the space, power, renewable energy, cyber and mining industries. HSCM Bermuda was founded by Michael Millette, a former partner in Goldman Sachs, who was a founding member of Goldman’s reinsurance structured finance group. The company has offices in Stamford, Connecticut and Bermuda, and invests in reinsurance and insurance-linked assets across the life, health, property and casualty sectors. As part of the investment, Tim Tetlow, HSCM Bermuda’s chief operating officer, is expected to join the board of Sciemus. Rick Welsh, Sciemus’s chief executive officer, said the aim was to develop Argon into a globally recognized insurer of specialty risk. “The increasing convergence between traditional insurance, reinsurance and the capital markets is creating an opportunity in core economic sectors that represents both traditional and emerging risk that is lightly correlated to property cat,” Mr Welsh said. “Our approach to modelling and data science enables us to be more creative and dynamic in our risk transfer and distribution, particularly in industries such as space, power, renewable energy, cyber and natural resources. HSCM Bermuda shares this vision and we are excited about exploring these opportunities with them — particularly, in the burgeoning insurance-linked securities market.” Mr Tetlow said: “HSCM Bermuda is proud to partner with Rick and his team as we share their vision that superior data analytics can be harnessed to produce superior returns, and that the convergence of capital markets and insurance will only continue.”
September 12. Hurricane Jose, meandering over the Atlantic Ocean, nonetheless remains a potential threat to Bermuda. At noon, the storm’s closest point was expected to be 329 nautical miles to the south-southwest of Bermuda at 8pm today. According to the Bermuda Weather Service, the threshold for being deemed a potential threat is 400 nautical miles. Jose was downgraded to a category one storm this morning and was forecast to become a tropical storm later today. The system is still expected to make a “clockwise loop over open water” and the BWS said it would then become a hurricane again. The long-term forecast added that Jose is then expected to start a northwesterly path to the east of the Bahamas on Friday.
September 12. The total fare for a school minibus service could hit $630,000, the Government said yesterday. According to a transport ministry spokesman, the Department of Public Transportation estimates that the cost will run from between $176,400 to $630,000. “Minibuses are hired on an ‘as needed’ basis,” the spokesman said. Transport minister Walter Roban announced the initiative last week. At the time, he said the move would help “alleviate the pressure on the regular bus fleet” which was in a “state of disrepair” that had “reduced the number of buses available to school and commuter routes”. Mr Roban said the minibuses would be contracted through the Bermuda Minibus Association. According to the spokesman, BMA was selected following an RFP process to the minibus associations. “Only one vendor met the requirements,” he said. The contract with BMA is fixed-term, the spokesman said, with the vehicles operated by private drivers. The minibuses will be dispatched from the east and west ends of the island in the mornings and from the two public high schools — CedarBridge Academy and Berkeley Institute — in the afternoons, Mr Roban said. Leonard Santucci, chairman of the board at CedarBridge, said that from all indications the first day of the minibus service had run smoothly. “To the best of my understanding, what the Government has facilitated transpired quite nicely,” he said. Dr Santucci said the means by which students arrived to class each day was a concern to the school. “We do not want to encourage students to necessarily get into private vehicles, which might constitute a security risk,” he said. At the same time, Dr Santucci said the school was “sympathetic to the plight” of the Department of Public Transportation and the Government with regards to the availability of working buses. He said that while he supported the use of minibuses as a temporary solution for transporting students, he wanted to see the responsibility back on public buses soon. “We say that also from the perspective that whenever minibuses are being utilised, it is at an additional cost to the Government purse. We are very cautious when it comes to unnecessary expenditure. But at the same time we’re caught in a fix, because it’s something beyond everybody’s control.” Last month, it was revealed that 72 out of the island’s fleet of 105 buses were off the roads after the breakdown of six vehicles in a single morning. At last week’s press conference, Mr Roban said 54 buses were still out of service. In Friday’s Throne Speech, the new government said the previous government had left 14 mechanic positions vacant “which caused the lack of sufficient buses to meet demand. In order to increase reliability of published routes, to instill confidence in the service, and to reduce overtime paid to repair ageing buses, the Government will invest in new buses and will immediately fill six vacant maintenance positions,” it pledged. At last week’s press conference, Mr Roban said that he expected Bermuda would take possession of four new buses “within a few months”.
September 11. Despite Friday’s shortened Parliamentary proceedings that finished just before 1pm David Burt introduced three pieces of legislation to the House of Assembly. The Premier tabled The Companies Amendment (No 2) Act 2017, The Payroll Tax Amendment (No 3) Act 2017 and the USA Bermuda Tax Convention (No 3) Act 2017 — although no further details of the legislation were provided. A spokesman for the Ministry of Finance later provided more information on the three bills. The Companies Act amendment referred to the change made in the last Budget to raise company licence fees — from $1,995 to $25,000 — specifically for those companies without a physical presence on the island. This was intended to be a defence for Bermuda in the tax-haven debate, as it targets those subsidiaries with postbox addresses, used by multinational corporations to minimise their tax bills. The amendment will carve out exclusions from the fee hike for companies in specific lines of business, namely the ownership, commercial management or operation of ships or aircraft; pharmaceutical operations; research and development in bioscience or biomedicine; or charity. The Payroll Tax Amendment aims to clarify the definition of what compensation is subject to payroll tax, after a previous amendment earlier this year referred to “gross earnings” for the employee’s portion of payroll tax. The amendment will make clear that the definition of “remuneration” in the Payroll Tax Act 1995 will apply to both employer’s and employee’s shares. Therefore “any wages, salary, leave pay, commission, gratuity, fee, bonus, perquisite or allowance” will be subject to the tax. Referring to the USA Bermuda Tax Convention (No 3) Act 2017, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance said the new legislation “proposes to amend the Act’s regulations-making provision from that of the affirmative resolution procedure to that of the negative resolution procedure as a proactive step, should the USA subsequently invite Bermuda to do something that required Bermuda to make further Regulations or amend the current Regulations under the USA-Bermuda Tax Convention Act 1986. The Premier and Minister of Finance also proposes to amend the Act to provide that a contravention or failure to comply with the terms and conditions of an arrangement for the automatic exchange of information under the Act might be subjected to a civil penalty as prescribed by regulations.” Meanwhile Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, introduced a further two proposed statutes: The Proceeds of Crime Amendment (No 2) Act and the Quarantine Amendment Act 2017. The new legislation could be debated by MPs as early as next Friday. Ms Wilson also laid down the Quarantine (Maritime and Air) Regulations 2017 for consideration of the House.
September 11. The new Progressive Labour Party government is to end military conscription. Governor John Rankin, who delivered the Throne Speech on behalf of government, said: “The Government will amend the Defence Act 1965 in consultation with the Governor to officially end conscription to the Royal Bermuda Regiment within this legislative session.” The Royal Bermuda Regiment has not used conscription for two years and relied on volunteers instead after the previous One Bermuda Alliance government suspended mandatory call-ups. But the OBA was criticised for not striking conscription off the books altogether. The Progressive Labour Party said in the run-up to the 2012 election that it would “move away” from mandatory conscription if re-elected. The OBA also pledged to eliminate conscription, but came under fire after it was revealed that the Defence Amendment Bill 2015 still allowed it “when voluntary enlistment leaves a shortfall in the required number of members”. But Michael Dunkley, then Premier, said that the OBA had delivered on its commitment as it was sure the RBR would attract enough volunteers to fill its role. The speech also said that the RBR will take over responsibility for inshore maritime patrolling from the Bermuda Police Service, with statutes being changed to allow soldiers to carry out “some law enforcement functions”. Mr Rankin said: “These changes augment the special constable training and designation earned by soldiers and will return police officers currently performing this function to core policing duties.”
September 11. The Government plans to create a new police authority to help set priorities for the service. The Governor, John Rankin, who delivered proposals for the new session of Parliament, said the Commissioner of Police would keep operational control. But he added the proposed authority would bring together the Government, Government House, police and laymen to determine policing priorities and the funding required. The Throne Speech also promised that changes were planned for the Police Complaints Authority, and that a parliamentary committee to investigate the clash between protesters and police on December 2 last year would be set up. The Police Complaints Authority investigated the disorder in which police used pepper spray on demonstrators and concluded that officers involved did not commit misconduct. Mr Rankin said: “In the wake of the events of December 2, 2016, this government has determined that a greater balance must be struck in favour of those who rightly question the actions of the police. Therefore, during this session, legislation will be introduced to give ordinary citizens greater confidence in the independence of the Police Complaints Authority. These amendments will enable truly independent investigations in the case of complaints regarding police conduct. The Government will also establish a parliamentary committee to look into the events of December 2 to bring closure to this dark day in our country’s history.” The Government also announced plans to provide financial support for gang members who want to break away from involvement so they can further their education or learn a trade. The speech also reiterated promises to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis, develop a strategy to deal with cybercrime, appoint a gang-violence reduction co-ordinator and address drinking and driving by introducing tougher penalties and sobriety checkpoints.
September 11. Premier David Burt’s town hall meeting to discuss the Throne Speech has been postponed until Monday next week. The event will now take place at Berkeley Institute, from 7.30pm, when the Premier will be joined by ministerial colleagues to make a presentation and receive questions from the audience. It had originally been scheduled for tonight at CedarBridge Academy.
September 11. Hurricane José remains a potential threat to Bermuda this afternoon after moving within 500 nautical miles south of the island. The storm’s closest point in the next 72 hours is expected to be 358 nautical miles to the south-southwest of Bermuda at 10am tomorrow, according to the noon update from the Bermuda Weather Service. At noon, José was at Category 2 strength, but by this afternoon it is forecast to have weakened to Category 1. The Weather Service said José is forecast to continue tracking northwest before making a tight, clockwise loop back to the southeast, followed by another turn west, which would take it away from the island. The threshold for being deemed a potential threat is 400 nautical miles. José at noon was 466 nautical miles south-southwest of Bermuda and headed north at 9mph with maximum sustained winds of 103mph and higher gusts. Alison Hill, CEO at the Argus Group, said in a statement released today: “We encourage everyone to be vigilant and ensure that their insurance policies are up to date. While Hurricane José is expected to pass by 350 nautical miles from Bermuda, it’s important to be cautious and to keep up-to-date on any last-minute weather changes.” She urged people to call Customer Service Centre on 298-0888 for support.
September 11. BF&M Ltd reported net income of $13.9 million for the first half of 2017 — up from $13.2 million in the first half of 2016. The profit represented a 10 per cent return on shareholders’ equity. John Wight, BF&M’s chief executive officer, said: “Operating results were strong, driven by favorable claims experience and positive net fair value gains on investments and reserves, despite the impact of lost 2017 reinsurance profit commission due to 2016 hurricanes Matthew in the Bahamas and Nicole in Bermuda.” BF&M operates in 15 jurisdictions, including Bermuda and many Caribbean jurisdictions. Equity attributable to shareholders at June 30, 2017 was $275.2 million. General fund assets totaled $1.2 billion of which $120.7 million was held in cash and cash equivalents. Gross premiums written for the period were $175.8 million, reflecting a decrease of 4 per cent from the corresponding 2016 period as a result of a reduction in premiums on certain commercial properties. The reduction had “little to no impact on the company’s bottom line”, BF&M said. The fair value of investments for the period rose $8.3 million, compared to $18.9 million in 2016. “As a result of the company’s disciplined asset liability matching policy which looks to limit volatility of reported earnings as a result of interest rate swings, the company reported a $0.1 million net gain on the difference between the fair value of investments which support certain liabilities and reported reserves,” BF&M added. A $2 million gain, compared to a $1.2 million gain in 2016, was reported on the company’s other investments. Commission and other income increased from the prior year by 10 per cent to $22.4 million. The insurer said 2016 hurricanes continue to negatively impact commission income this year. But higher levels of proportional reinsurance ceded and profit share reported on non-property business offset the impact. Short-term claims and adjustment expenses increased 2 per cent to $12.3 million. Life and health policy benefits decreased by 26 per cent to $55.9 million. “Life and health policy benefits” includes changes in life insurance reserves which increased significantly in the first half of 2016 compared with a much smaller increase in 2017. These reserve movements were primarily driven by differences in market interest rates over the respective periods. Operating expenses were in line with the prior year at $33.2 million.
September 11. Bermuda’s world-leading captive insurance market can continue to improve and in the process be of mutual benefit to the business community and the island. That was part of the message from Premier David Burt as he gave the opening speech of the Bermuda Captive Conference at the Fairmont Southampton. The Premier also stated the Bermuda Government’s intention to play its part in ensuring the island maintains it pre-eminent position as the domicile of choice for captive insurers. “Bermuda has the most significant concentration of captive insurance to be found anywhere,” he said, noting the island is home to almost 800 captive insurance companies supporting many Fortune 500 companies, and generating $55 billion in annual gross written premiums. It is a market that has long been a symbol of global excellence to corporations around the world and which has provided captive services for half a century.” Mr Burt, who is also Minister of Finance, mentioned the contribution the industry makes to the island in terms of employment, fee income for the Government and the Bermuda Monetary Authority, and the support it provides for local businesses. “There is no doubt that the captive market is of compelling importance to Bermuda. It has been a sterling part of our reputation for five decades and provides future opportunities for continued growth and employment for Bermudians. The Government intends to continue to collaborate with regulators and the captive community to retain this important industry’s global stature so it may continue to bring significant benefits to Bermuda.” With the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the US dominating the news, Mr Burt broadened his opening remarks to delegates to include the island’s mainstream insurance and reinsurance companies and the role they will play in assisting the communities of Texas, Florida and elsewhere recover from the impact of the storms. “It has been heart-wrenching to see the images of destruction. It is already projected that Bermuda’s reinsurers will make cash claim payments of at least $15 billion to their US clients in Texas and Florida from just these two hurricanes by year end. In the coming weeks and months Bermuda will demonstrate its enormous value in making US consumer markets more competitive, keeping prices low and speeding economic recovery.” Mr Burt said insurance and reinsurance companies not only benefit financially from being based in Bermuda, but have created a structure that allows them to quickly assist in restoring the lives of those affected by natural disasters. In closing, he praised the work of the Bermuda Monetary Authority. “Strong and useful regulation is critical to today’s financial markets.” The Premier expressed a commitment to continuing the collaborative approach that has served the island and the insurance sector. He said: “By working together with industry stakeholders, the Government believes the Bermuda market can go even further to serve the needs of the corporate world to all of our mutual benefits.”
September 11. The captive insurance industry contributes $174 million annually to the island’s economy, according to new research. The study, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Bermuda Insurance Management Association (Bima) indicates the importance of the sector. The sector directly employs at least 557 people in Bermuda, the study indicated, and generates minimum fee income of some $139 million every year. An additional $35 million is contributed annually by captives to the Bermuda Government, regulators, local suppliers and commercial property owners, as well as hotels and other business hospitality vendors. Captive insurers are subsidiaries of corporations that cover some of their parent companies’ risks. Bermuda is the oldest and longest-established captive domicile, the study confirmed, with a total 776 active licensed captive insurers in 2016. Results of the survey will be presented at this week’s Bermuda Captive Conference, during one of the programme’s “Bermuda Shorts” industry updates on Tuesday afternoon. The conference kicked off today and runs through Wednesday at Fairmont Southampton. “We commissioned the survey because we felt it was important to understand our industry’s economic impact on Bermuda as the island continues to maintain its position as the world’s leading captive domicile,” said Bima president Grainne Richmond. Bermuda’s captives generate $55.3 billion in annual gross written premiums. The study found that 2016 showed stability on 2015, with registration levels consistent with the overall captive market. New registrants came mainly from the traditional US market, but also included some from Latin America, a key emerging market. “The survey underscores the value of our captive market in terms of the number of jobs it creates, as well as the substantial financial contribution it makes to the local economy every year via fees and other spending,” said Ms Richmond. “Our captive insurance managers and service providers may be less visible around Hamilton than Bermuda’s globally recognized commercial reinsurers, but they work diligently behind the scenes to retain and grow this valuable sector.” Service revenue generated by captive companies totaled $139 million, in the form of management, legal and corporate secretarial, actuarial, audit, investment management and banking fees. A further $35 million included $16.4 million in payroll tax and social insurance contributions; $315,000 in work-permit fee income; $5.3 million in annual business fees to the Bermuda Monetary Authority; $6.74 million in commercial rent; $3 million in hotel revenue; $1.8 million in restaurant and food spend; and an estimated $200,000 per year on local taxis. Notably, the survey found every new captive formation on the island benefits numerous local stakeholders, including the Registrar of Companies, Bermuda Monetary Authority, insurance management companies, banks, audit and law firms. Those benefits are derived during the entire life of the captive company, Ms Richmond noted. Ancillary revenue also fuels the island’s business tourism. The study found corporate visitors brought in by the industry contributed 7,100 hotel nights per year; these included directors of companies, audit committee members, overseas-based risk managers, as well as brokers and other onshore service providers. Visits were typically for the purpose of completing corporate governance activities such as annual general meetings, writing new or renewals of business, meeting with service providers and the regulator, as well as meeting with reinsurance companies used by captive insurers. The annual Captive Conference — Bermuda’s largest industry event — is also a significant economic contributor, with 800-plus attendees accounting for close to 1,000 hotel nights this year. The 2016 conference spent approximately $860,000, paid to local support services, according to the study. A breakdown of captive-industry employment found most jobs were occupied by accountants, followed by administrative and support staff, lawyers and corporate secretaries, and other roles. Of 557 people directly employed in the industry, 48 per cent were Bermudian. As well as direct spending via captive companies, their employees also made significant economic contributions. Individuals contributed through home rentals and spending at supermarkets and retail stores, for example, plus use of local services such as schools, banks, leisure centres, public transportation and utilities. David Gibbons, partner and captive insurance leader at PwC Bermuda and chairman of Bermuda Captive Conference, said: “The results highlight the significant impact the captive market has on Bermuda’s economy. The survey also shows the continued importance of the time the private sector and Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) have invested in protecting and growing the industry, both in traditional markets (US and Europe) as well as Latin America and Canada.”
September 11. Moving with the times, children’s book author and illustrator Daron Lowe has branched out into the world of digital apps. He has updated his earlier story creation Kiesha the Mermaid and turned it into an interactive book that can be used on mobile phones, tablets and Kindle devices. The Kiesha the Mermaid app is available from the Apple App Store and online retailer Amazon. It is Mr Lowe’s first entry into the world of apps. However, he is no stranger to multimedia technology. As a trained graphic designer he has produced animated DVDs in the past, along with printed children’s books with the titles Bermuda Fun Book, The Flood and Jonah and the Great Fish. A DVD and coloring book featuring Kiesha came out in 2007. The new app, which works on Apple and Android devices, is aimed at children aged three to five. It can also be used by parents to read to their children. It is interactive, so by touching the screen fish and animals can be made to move, there are sound effects such as ocean waves and splashing, and the story can be enjoyed either as a silent read-along or by listening to it being narrated. Creating children’s storybooks, DVDs, and now a phone app, is a creative side pursuit for Mr Lowe. He works in the addiction community and also does pastoral work. He appreciates having downtime to immerse himself in projects like Kiesha the Mermaid. “One of the things I find when I’m creating is that I’m able to enter the world I’m working; it’s therapeutic. I come up with ideas and it is rewarding,” he said. Mr Lowe used his skills as a graphic designer to design and produce all the imagery used in the app. The computer coding to make Kiesha the Mermaid, an interactive experience, was provided through a US company. Character voices were provided by Mr Lowe’s wife Hyacinth, and daughter Patience. The accompanying music was created by Ray Edness. The app is more than an interactive story, there is also an on-screen jigsaw puzzle featuring Kiesha in her underwater world. Mr Lowe sees the app as both entertainment and education; he uses the phrase edutainment. “There is a little girl using her imagination, and some of her friends join her. She discovers that her underwater garden is being destroyed. The story shows we have to protect the environment. Hopefully it will encourage young people and Bermuda to look after our environment, because it’s the only one we have.” In order to make the app relevant and appealing beyond the Bermuda market, Kiesha does not state where she is from. “That is so all children can relate to her,” said Mr Lowe. However there are clues. As Kiesha tells her story, the background clearly shows Bermuda’s distinctive white-roofed houses, longtails flying in the sky, and the fish species are those found around Bermuda’s coral reefs, such as parrot fish, hind, butterfly fish and tang. Before being released the app was beta-tested by youngsters, including a niece and nephew of Mr Lowe, and the children of family and friends. The app came out in June and costs $2.99. “We are presenting it for back to school, and if there are any representatives of a preschool that uses iPads to teach kids who are interested, I would be happy to send them a promotion code to have one copy for the kids. I can be contacted through the website or on e-mail. All I would ask is if that they could leave a comment and review.” The Kiesha the Mermaid activity book released a few years ago is still available at local book stores, and Mr Lowe hopes the app will create more interest in it. Mr Lowe is also contemplating another foray into the world of story apps. “Everything else is using tech, and we talk about using tech for producing things for learning. I’m looking to see how this app goes.”
September 11. Saltus Grammar School is planning for its years ahead under the guidance of Deryn Lavell, the new head of school. Ms Lavell, who comes with 38 years’ education experience in Canada and the United Arab Emirates, has immersed herself in the community after her recent arrival on the island. Calling herself “a learner at heart”, Ms Lavell said she was eager to explore and discover, adding: “So far, I can’t get over how warm and welcoming everyone has been.” Ms Lavell is said to have an ambitious agenda for her first term, including the implementation of a strategic planning process to guide the school’s priorities for the coming years — as requested by the Saltus board of governors. In assessing the school’s needs, she said she planned to do “more listening than talking. I want to know what’s important to the Saltus community and get a sense of what they believe should be our priorities,” she added. “That includes students as well as faculty, staff and parents. I want to hear from all perspectives.” Ms Lavell cited the school’s examination results and university acceptances as evidence of Saltus’ “position of strength”. Priorities will include increased demand in the area of science, technology, engineering and maths, as well as problem-solving capabilities.
September 9. A sugar tax could be back on the agenda to help tackle the island’s health problems. Governor John Rankin, who delivered the Throne Speech to mark the start of Parliament, said: “While unhealthy foods are often appealing due to their lower prices, the cost of treatment is significantly higher than the cost of prevention. Accordingly, the Government will begin a consultation for the introduction of a sugar tax on the sale of some foods and drinks in Bermuda.” Bermuda Diabetes Association’s diabetes educator Sara McKittrick said a sugar tax on sweetened drinks would be a step in the right direction and that it had successfully reduced sales in other countries. She added: “We need to recognise that we are leading — and not in a good way — in terms of rates of overweight and obesity and type two diabetes, and the costs associated with managing complications of diabetes. Sugar-sweetened drinks are often identified as a culprit in health and obesity campaigns because they provide a concentrated amount of sugar in a small volume and it’s easy to drink a whole serving.” But she also emphasized the need to reinvest some of the revenue from a sugar tax into educating people on how to live a healthier life and to make it easier to choose healthy options, for example by installing water stations. “We would want the decrease in sales to lead to a change in behaviour, which is the harder thing to do. But it’s a start.” There have been repeated calls for a sugar tax — health minister Kim Wilson, then Shadow Minister of Health, told the House of Assembly in 2014 that a duty on unhealthy items could help to reduce obesity-related illnesses and raise revenue. Former independent MP Mark Pettingill repeated the call in March but Jeanne Atherden, who was health minister at the time, told MPs that while the idea was still being explored, the Bermuda Government was focused on changing behaviour rather than making sugar a revenue source. Mr Rankin noted that the community must also reduce habits that lead to high rates of chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension in Bermuda. He said: “The Government will engage all sectors of society in a co-ordinated, strategic plan to halt the rise in obesity and diabetes in Bermuda.” Mr Rankin added the Government would lead the way by encouraging its employees to make healthy choices, and that it would offer programmes, incentives and education to support a healthier public service. He said that the Government would also launch a review of healthcare costs and would “seek to extract savings throughout the entire healthcare system”. And he stated government would introduce the Radiation Therapy Act so that FutureCare patients and those covered under Government’s Health Insurance Plan can access “local life-saving radiation treatments”. Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre welcomed the announcement and added that this would help cover the operating cost of the new Radiation Treatment Unit, which has been providing cancer treatment and symptom management to residents in Bermuda since May. BCHC said it is committed to continue providing this therapy, and other cancer detection services, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. It added: “As a covered benefit for HIP and FutureCare patients, the Health Insurance Department’s reimbursement will greatly assist the Centre to help cover the unit’s operating cost. We are very grateful for the Bermuda Government’s ongoing support for this initiative and service and in their commitment to provide improved comprehensive cancer care locally.” Mr Rankin said the Government would also “institute a regime” that protects care home residents by amending the Residential Care Homes and Nursing Homes Act 1999 to provide standards, sanctions and regulations. Age Concern executive director Claudette Fleming said work to amend the Act had been going for some time and that “it is important that it continues so that amendments are approved as soon as possible”. Dr Fleming said the charity would also continue to partner with the Government to tackle chronic disease challenges among older persons. She said: “I do not believe the chronic disease challenges among older persons was mentioned in any political platform. However, we are in agreement that the issue is a matter of national importance if Bermudians of all ages are to enjoy maximum physical well-being.” While other platform promises “will need considerable research and planning in order to be fully operationalized”, she said Age Concern looked forward to hearing more about these in the near future. Dr Fleming added that this included finding out more about how workplace age discrimination legislation and the provision of long-term care would be addressed, specifically government’s funding, service provision and financing role in addressing long-term care.
September 9. Bermudians left waiting on “crumbs” from the island’s economic recovery will have “a seat at the table to share the full meal”, the Progressive Labour Party vowed as legislators returned to Parliament. Pledging to “face the issues of division in our country head-on”, the Throne Speech offered a “ripple-effect economics” in contrast to the trickle-down model ascribed to the former government. Helping agency Family Centre, as well as the Coalition for the Protection of Children, welcomed the proposals, which included support for a Parliamentary Committee to bring recommendations before MPs for the implementation of a living wage. Martha Dismont, executive director at Family Centre, called herself “encouraged by the tone of the new government, and its focus on the needs of the people”. The speech, which closed with a call for collective effort to ensure that “we grow the economic pie for all”, offered a raft of initiatives to level the island’s playing field. Measures included enhanced consumer protection for persons dealing with debt collection agencies; a Price Control Commission to seek “innovative ways to reduce the cost of living in Bermuda”, and a Tax Reform Commission, pledged earlier this year as one of the first actions to be taken by the PLP if returned to government. The new administration also called for pension reforms to address disparities that made it more costly to employ Bermudians — and even proposed a financial safety net for Bermudians seeking to “break from their dependence on gangs” and return to school or learn a trade. Ms Dismont said: “This government is very intentional in ensuring that the people of Bermuda are taken care of, one way or another — how they are going to do it is, as always, the million-dollar question. Different governments have talked about some of this, but found it difficult to implement. They are definitely saying all the right things — let’s see what can be done, and how they can use us to help.” Long a proponent of introducing a living wage, Ms Dismont said price controls could offer an equal solace to people who “still can’t afford to live in Bermuda”. Kelly Hunt, the executive director at the Coalition, applauded reforms to Financial Assistance, which will include supporting clients who found part-time work. Agreeing that a renew of the programme was necessary, Ms Hunt added: “There is a harsh reality that the cost of living in Bermuda is much too high, which inhibits a person’s self-esteem and belief that they can be self-sufficient. The Coalition supports a comprehensive review and believes that by allowing individuals to access higher education, without fear of penalty, will support in increasing self-worth and the overall goal of sustainable self-sufficiency. We support a more individualized approach to the assessment of needs. However, we would like to see a collaborative approach with other government agencies and community organisations, in order to further assist with creating a more holistic and realistic approach to addressing individual needs.” Yesterday’s Throne Speech noted that Bermuda had, last year, been ranked “the most expensive country in which to live”, and Ms Hunt said that exploring price controls, “particularly with necessity items, will be imperative in reducing disparities”. Added Ms Hunt: “Overall, we are encouraged by the Government’s commitment to the aforementioned issues that need to be addressed in Bermuda. “We look forward to seeing action items relating to these commitments that track areas where families struggle and require assistance. We believe that how we care for children and their families, protect their welfare, and prepare them for the future are the most important issues we face during our lifetime. The Coalition is pledging to work with this administration in the formulation of goals and strategies which address the root cause of issues that will impact future generations.”
September 9. It was the fairer sex who stole the sartorial spotlight at this year’s reading of the Throne Speech yesterday. The ladies in attendance on the lawn of Cabinet Office yesterday opted largely for a mix of colorful prints, including many florals. And, despite the heat, black was also a popular choice. Headgear, as always, was widely visible with a mix of both big brimmed and smaller hats, as well as frilly and feathery fascinators. Shades of pink were a popular choice among the Progressive Labour Party’s female members. Renée Ming, former senator and now St George’s MP, wore a bright pink two-piece outfit, while health minister Kim Wilson wore a bright pink dress topped off by a pink floppy hat complete with feather. And first-time MP Tinee Furbert chose pink accessories to complement a blue dress. Crystal Caesar was a standout, sporting a peach hat and bag to match the peach tones of her floral print dress. Former MP Nandi Outerbridge was also notable in a black dress adorned with clear stones around the neckline. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Opposition leader, picked a primarily bright orange floral print dress and a matching orange fascinator. Susan Jackson opted for red accessories to accompany a light-colored dress with a floral print. A sea of foldable paper fans fluttered constantly under the white top of the tent in an effort to provide a reprieve from the heat generated by the late morning sun. The men, sartorially speaking, stuck largely to staples, including dark two and three-button suits and ties. Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security, was a noteworthy standout in a sharp two-button blue checked suit complemented by a blue tie, and former senator turned OBA MP Jeff Baron opted for a brown tie with polka dots to accompany his tan two-button suit. The announcement that first-time MP Chris Famous was sporting a Berkeley tie drew applause from the crowd on the lawn. Diallo Rabain, Minister of Education, struck true to his trademark bow tie look — this time with polka dots. In the crowd, a smattering of PLP green T-shirts could be seen on bystanders. A sign that read “Long may you reign PLP” was also visible. The soundtrack to the event was largely muted, as the Royal Bermuda Regiment Band was not in attendance due to the timing of this year’s speech. The Throne Speech itself was received in relative silence, with Governor John Rankin’s reading peppered with polite applause from the crowd. His announcement, however, that arrears of child support payments on the island now amounted to nearly $48 million drew audible gasps from the audience.
September 9. Dennis Lister Jr and Dennis Lister III became the first father and son to sit in the House of Assembly at the same time. The two made history yesterday as the new PLP government reopened Parliament after the Throne Speech. Dennis Lister seconded the nomination of his father by David Burt, the Premier, as Speaker of the House. Dennis Lister stood by the Premier and his father as the veteran Progressive Labour Party politician took the Speaker’s oath and was officially sworn in. Once he had taken his position, Dennis Lister Jr addressed MPs saying he was humbled by the support his constituents had shown him over the years. He urged Parliamentarians to “always represent the people” and thanked them of the “privilege” of being chosen for the position of speaker. After the new Speaker was officially appointed, Mr Burt took the Premier’s oath before Patricia Gordon-Pamplin was sworn in as the Opposition leader. All remaining 22 Government MPs then took it in turn to take their Parliamentary oaths, followed by eight of the 12 One Bermuda Alliance MPs. Absent from the Opposition ranks yesterday were former premier Michael Dunkley, Jeanne Atherden, Trevor Moniz and Craig Cannonier. Meanwhile in the Cabinet Office, Joan Dillas-Wright was appointed president of the Senate, while independent senator James Jardine was named vice-president.
September 9. The Devonshire Recreational Club was filled with an air of hope and positivity yesterday evening as supporters of the Progressive Labour Party came out to celebrate the government’s landslide victory. Families and friends gathered for an evening of entertainment at the club which has itself thrown its support behind political movements of the past and has long held affiliations with the PLP. Following a prayer by the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, the party kicked off on the sports field with a full line up of home-grown music and entertainment from the likes of Last Call, Hind Sight and Live Wire as well as international soca artist Teddyson John. Representing his party wearing the PLP’s new T-shirt emblazoned with “Landslide — 24/12”, PLP MP Zane DeSilva said he was at the event to celebrate with his “family”. He said: “This is all my family. It is the PLP family and I say that with sincerity. Since I have been a PLP member and, of course, been a Member of Parliament, this has become my family. I am excited, I think the people spoke and it gives me great joy and pride. We have a lot of work ahead. The team that we have is going to consult with people. All of the PLP will be leaning on our people for advice every week. We are not going to be able to please everybody all the time but our heart is in the right place.” Reverend Tweed said he was there to celebrate a new era of hope in Bermuda. He told The Royal Gazette: “The people found their voice on July 18 and they demonstrated with their vote. They demanded that they had leadership that listens and represents their interests. They endured neglect, they endured being silenced by government, they endured being disenfranchised in their own country. So all of the efforts over the last several years have now been vindicated and we stand at this tremendous moment filled with potential and hope. It is a wonderful thing to see a country where the spirit of hope has been reborn. We are going to be committed to working in solidarity with our leaders and our brothers and sisters in government in order to help make Bermuda what it can become.” Bermuda Industrial Union boss Chris Furbert added: “When the country came together and decided that the OBA was not representing the interests of the people, the people spoke volumes. PLP ended up with 24 seats and the OBA had 12 seats — it was a real clear majority.” Wilbert Warner attended the festivities with his family and said that while the PLP had their work cut out for them, the country was better off in its hands. He said: “It has been a tough last four years. Most of the population were disappointed with the performance of the One Bermuda Alliance and how they related to the population, I think it was a clear choice.” Asked whether he believed the PLP could bridge the gap between the “two Bermudas” the party centred its campaigning around, Mr Warner added: “We have a legacy of 400 years of settlement and it’s not going to happen in four years but some inroads can be made. One side can’t do it all — it has to come from both sides and hopefully we will see that. With the OBA in government there was no impetus or drive to challenge the concept of two Bermuda’s because they were comfortable. I am hopeful — it is 2017 — I have been around for quite a while, things are not how they were 30 or 40 years ago but hopefully it will be better in ten or 15 years for the country as a whole.” Sharon Burgess, kitted out in full PLP-themed get up, said she felt the PLP was the party of the people. She said: “They are connected. It is a family and I think it is going to work. I really believe it. I’ve been a supporter all my life, my grandmother, may she rest in peace, she was the backbone. I have voted for PLP since I was 18. They believe in labour and the people — I really feel they are about the people. They are concerned about us and the country.” Gregory “Bumphead” Smith said while he had faith in the future of the country under the party he has supported all his life, the people must continue to hold them to their promises. He said: “They are going to bring people together, it is going to stop all of that racial divide. Their work is cut out for them but they have a good platform. We have got to give them a chance. Let’s move together as one. The main thing is that we have got to hold them accountable for what they promise but it is not all just on them, it is on us as individuals. It’s not about what the country can do for us, it’s what we can do for the country. We’re here to enjoy the festive occasion and see people we haven’t seen in a while and wish them well.”
September 8. A living-wage policy is on the cards as the new Progressive Labour Party government outlined its plans for its first year in power. The Governor, John Rankin, who delivered the Throne Speech to mark the start of Parliament yesterday, said: “To ensure that workers can live in dignity and are not working simply to remain in poverty, the Government will support a new parliamentary committee to complete the work that was started in the last Parliament to examine the living wage. This committee will present Parliament with recommendations for a living wage in Bermuda.” A tax reform commission is also to be set up, including MPs from both parties, the business world and trade unions and the Bermuda Bar, in a bid to streamline the island’s tax system and recommend reforms “that enhance Bermuda’s international competitiveness and increase tax compliance”. The new administration said it would “selectively release information pertaining to sex offenders to members of the public”. Mr Rankin said: “Offenders and the disclosure of their information will be managed according to the risk they pose to the public. Since the election, the new government has created a protocol on disclosure of information identifying a sex offender and this will be distributed among stakeholders to formalize a systematic approach to minimizing the risks posed to the public by high-risk offenders.” The Government also vowed to bring in new ways of tackling gang warfare, including a gang violence reduction co-ordinator and financial support for gang members who want to break free of the lifestyle and learn a trade or go into education. At the same time, the financial assistance system will be reviewed, with new rules to make recipients of aid improve their employment prospects. Mr Rankin said: “This review will require able-bodied, unemployed persons who are receiving assistance to upgrade their education and skills to facilitate their return to the workforce. Financial assistance should encourage people to find work; therefore, people who take a part-time position will not find themselves penalized. This government will reform financial assistance to reduce abuse, discourage dependency and ensure that work pays.” Legislation will be introduced to decriminalize cannabis possession of the amount under 7 grams. Mr Rankin said: “The criminalisation of our citizens for minor, non-violent possession of cannabis is an open sore on our society, damaging the lives of hundreds of Bermudians, young and old. This is also an issue of fairness as black people in our society are far more likely to be arrested, charged and convicted for cannabis possession than white people.” The menace of drink-driving is also set for a crackdown with sobriety checkpoints and increased penalties for people caught over the limit on the roads. The Government is to look at the introduction of a “sugar tax” on the sale of some foods and drinks. Mr Rankin said: “While unhealthy foods are often appealing due to their lower prices, the cost of treatment is significantly higher than the cost of prevention.” He added: “Food prices are too high in Bermuda and the high cost is even more evident when one wants to feed their family healthier options. Bringing down the cost of food will require a collective effort and original thinking to be successful and sustainable. Accordingly, the Government will grant the Price Control Commission additional powers and scope to find innovative ways to reduce the cost of living in Bermuda.” The Government added it was committed to changes in the island’s immigration policies. Mr Rankin said employers are not legally forced to provide the same pension benefits to expatriate workers as they give to Bermudians, which makes it more expensive to employ Bermudians. He added: “In collaboration with employers and the Bermuda Trade Union Congress, this government will update pension legislation to require equal treatment for Bermudian and expatriate workers while also updating labour legislation to ensure that labour disputes are handled more effectively and labour rights are protected.” A bipartisan committee on immigration reform was formed in a bid to overhaul legislation dating back to 1956. The Government said it would beef up the Police Complaints Authority in a bid to “give ordinary citizens greater confidence” in its independence. A parliamentary committee will be established to look at the disorder of December 2 last year, when pepper spray was deployed against demonstrators outside Parliament. A Bill to create a Police Authority will also be introduced to establish police priorities and funding needs. Conscription into the military, which has not been used for several years, will be abolished, while the Royal Bermuda Regiment will take over Marine Police duties and free officers for other duties. The Government said that “limited lending options” and austerity measures had hit hard. Mr Rankin said: “Therefore, during this session, the Government will explore the best means by which to expand banking options available to Bermudians and increase the opportunities available to finance their legitimate aspirations in this society.” Debt collection agencies, as well as legalized loan sharks, will be policed under new consumer protection legislation. In addition, banking insurance services and other financials services will also be governed by the new rules. The Government added it would introduce a new loans guarantee scheme for community and sports clubs to “upgrade their facilities, develop programmes to serve our youth, spur entrepreneurship and ensure greater community outreach in their parishes and neighborhoods”. The island’s America’s Cup authority, the ACBDA, will become the Bermuda Event Authority to build on the experience of hosting the international sailing competition. Mr Rankin said: “However, the new authority will be constituted to utilise a far more diverse and inclusive approach to finding, attracting and managing events. Bermuda is more than golf, rugby and sailing and there exists the capacity to grow events that attract, younger, more cosmopolitan and more diverse visitors to our shores.” Mr Rankin added: “Bermuda can do better. Bermuda can transform our education system to prepare the next generation of CEOs and tradesmen. Bermuda can diversify our economy to create new jobs and encourage economic growth. Bermuda can heal our social fabric to restore peace and rebuild our sense of community. However, Bermuda will only do better when all segments of our society work together to ensure that Bermuda becomes more fair, more just and more equitable.”
September 8. Reading of the Throne Speech and Opening of Parliament. To loud cheers, PLP MPs are introduced one at a time to the crowd on Cabinet Grounds, beginning with new Mr Lister and Mr Burt. To polite applause, OBA MPs follow. New Government MP Tineé Furbert and new Opposition MP Ben Smith are dispatched to the Cabinet Grounds to collect the Black Rod. In the House of Assembly new Speaker Dennis Lister Jr takes his oaths of allegiance as the new Speaker of the House, flanked by his son, the new MP Dennis Lister III, and David Burt, the Premier. He tells the House: “We must always represent the people. Thank you for this privilege.” Other Government and Opposition MPs are sworn in at Sessions House, before making their way to Cabinet Grounds for the Throne Speech. Governor John Rankin delivered the Progressive Labour Party’s first Throne Speech in nearly five years. For the Royal Gazette's full story, visit http://www.royalgazette.com/politics/article/20170908/throne-speech-focuses-on-departure-from-past. Some personal words from Mr Burt to finish, read by Mr Rankin: “I welcome the initiatives in this speech aimed at supporting young people in Bermuda to fulfil their potential. I also particularly welcome the initiatives which look to reduce the threats to safety of all Bermudians from both violence and the all too many accidents on the roads.” Wrapping up, reference is made to a quote from former premier Alex Scott: “Bermuda works best when it works together.” The new Government will lead that collective effort, the PLP pledges, to ensure that “we grow the economic pie for all, that we increase opportunity for all, and that we build a better and fairer Bermuda for all”. Throne Speech items summarized:
Led by the Black Rod, MPs headed back to the House of Assembly. Premier Burt introduced three pieces of legislation: the Companies Amendment (No 2) Act 2017, The Payroll Tax Amendment (No 3) Act 2017 and the USA Bermuda Tax Convention (No 3) Act 2017. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, tables the Proceeds of Crime Amendment Act (No 2) Act 2017 and the Quarantine Amendment Act 2017. The House was adjourned until next Friday.
September 8. Catastrophe-bond investors are at risk of seeing some of their capital wiped out by Hurricane Irma if the deadly storm hits Florida. S&P Global Ratings said yesterday it had identified 13 catastrophe bonds at risk. Bermuda is the epicentre of the catastrophe-bond market. The bonds, which reinsurers use to bolster their capacity for covering risks, are tied to specified types of catastrophe and offer investors a return in exchange for the risk of losing some, or all, of their principal if an event occurs. The insurance-linked securities market, which has boomed in recent years has seldom been tested by a major catastrophe. S&P’s bulletin came out yesterday as hundreds of millions more dollars were wiped off the market value of Bermudian reinsurers in New York trading, as Irma remained on track to hit southern Florida on Sunday. Shares of Blue Capital Reinsurance Holdings, a collateralised property-catastrophe reinsurer and subsidiary of Endurance, and itself part of the Sompo International Group, plunged more than 14 per cent. In a statement through the Bermuda Stock Exchange yesterday, Blue Capital said it had suspended its share buyback programme. “The company makes this decision based on the potential impact to its investments from a US landfall of Hurricane Irma, although it will not know what, if any, material impact there may be until it has completed its normal post-event procedures,” Blue Capital stated. Aspen Insurance Holdings dived 10.3 per cent amid the carnage, while Validus Holdings took a 7.2 per cent hit, Everest Re fell 6.8 per cent and XL Catlin was down 5.1 per cent. Artemis.bm, a website run by Steve Evans, an expert, who closely tracks the insurance-linked securities market, pointed out that the potential for a Miami area direct hit had been calculated as a $131 billion realistic disaster scenario by Lloyd’s of London. Late last year financial regulator the Bermuda Monetary Authority estimated that a Miami-Dade hurricane would cost $125 billion, of which Bermudian companies’ share would be 11 per cent, or $13.4 billion, while losses from an onshore Gulf windstorm would be $107 billion, of which Bermuda’s share would be 17 per cent, or $18.6 billion. “The reinsurance and insurance-linked securities market would take a significant share of such an impact,” Artemis reported. “Many primary insurers would exhaust their reinsurance arrangements, including a number of catastrophe bonds and ILS structures as this is exactly the magnitude of loss that the ILS market’s capacity is deployed to protect against. “How impactful it would be to ILS interests is impossible to speculate, but it’s safe to assume that a Cat 4 or Cat 5 landfall on the path shown would cause a significant loss to ILS funds and their investors.” The 13 cat bonds at risk, according to S&P, which are exposed at varying levels, include two classes of Kilimanjaro Re 2014 notes, five classes of Residential Reinsurance notes from 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, Tradewynd Re 2013 notes and four issuances of Horseshoe Re II. A note from Morgan Stanley analysts suggested that traditional reinsurers should be able to survive the hit from Irma. “While the uncertainty of Irma losses remains an overhang to the group in the near term, we think the market is discounting a one-in-100-year loss event, for some reinsurers. We believe the industry balance sheet should be able to withstand such a catastrophic scenario. Historically, property and casualty stocks tend to under-perform immediately following major losses, but outperform subsequently as losses become certain and investors’ focus shifts to stabilising and improving pricing.”
September 8. Shares of Bermudian reinsurers rebounded strongly today after seeing billions of dollars wiped of their stock market value earlier in the week. The BSX Insurance Index soared 69.18 points, or 4 per cent, to close on 1,799.67. The index was still down 3 per cent for the week. Investors have fled shares of reinsurers exposed to property catastrophe risk in Florida, where Category 4 Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall on Sunday. But yesterday, the worst impacted stocks caught a bid, as XL Catlin rose 5.8 per cent, Everest Re 5 per cent, Axis 4.7 per cent, Aspen 4.7 per cent, Validus Holdings 4.4 per cent and RenaissanceRe 4.1 per cent. There was no trading on the Bermuda Stock Exchange. The Royal Gazette/BSX Index closed the week on 1,982.79. Butterfield Bank’s shares closed at $32.50. The bank’s New York Stock Exchange-listed shares rose 21 cents, or 0.67 per cent, to close on $31.76.
September 8. A change to the UK system to work out the amount of compensation paid out to accident victims could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to several Bermuda reinsurers. The British Government yesterday announced it was changing the method it uses for working out the so-called Ogden rate — a change likely to reduce the amount paid out in claims by insurers. The rate is taken into account by UK courts when they make compensation awards. It estimates the return accident victims could make by investing the sum conservatively. Thus, the higher the discount rate, the lower the award would need to be. Earlier this year, the UK sharply reduced the Ogden rate from 2.5 per cent to negative 0.75 per cent. The 325-basis-point decrease was effectively “a casualty catastrophe”, according to rating agency Standard & Poor’s. S&P estimated the resulting global losses at between $6.5 billion and $9 billion, of which 80 per cent would be borne by reinsurers. In the first quarter, Bermudian reinsurers took a hit of $260 million from the change. Companies including XL Catlin, Axis Capital, Argo Group and PartnerRe all announced impacts in the tens of millions of dollars and insurance premiums for policies to cover accidents rose. Under the new system announced yesterday, the rate will be set according to “low-risk” investments, rather than the previously used “very low risk”. As a result the discount rate will rise to between 0 and 1 per cent, although the proposals still have to be approved by UK lawmakers. Bradley Kading, president of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, welcomed yesterday’s news. “It is a positive change, a more realistic discount rate,” Mr Kading said. Huw Evans, director-general of the Association of British Insurers, welcomed the announcement, saying: “This is a welcome reform proposal to deliver a personal injury discount rate that is fairer for claimants, customers and taxpayers alike. “The reforms would see the discount rate better reflect how claimants actually invest their compensation in reality and will provide a sound basis for setting the rate in the future.”
September 8. Hurricane José rose to Category 4 this morning, but the Bermuda Weather Service said it was still not a threat to the island “at this time”. The storm’s closest point of approach in the next 72 hours was expected to be 505 nautical miles to the island’s south-southwest, according to the BWS noon update. But forecasters warned the storm could come closer after that time. The service’s long-term forecast said José “might have become a potential threat” by Monday or Tuesday although the storm is expected to weaken by then. But it added that forecast models still show a variety of possibilities, especially for the exact track of José in the long range. The American-based National Hurricane Centre said the storm reached Category 3 strength yesterday afternoon which made it the third major hurricane of the season. In a subsequent update at 11am this morning, the NHC said the “extremely dangerous” storm had reached Category 4. José at noon was about 1,047 nautical miles south-southeast of Bermuda and headed west-northwest at 18mph with maximum sustained winds of 150mph and higher gusts.
September 8. Bermuda Skyport will support, as needed, flights to the British Virgin Islands to send support in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, according to a statement issued this afternoon. The effort is in conjunction with the Royal Air force. Additionally, Skyport will waive all normal airport fees for landing, parking and overnight stays for these aircraft. Aaron Adderley, president of Bermuda Skyport, said the organisation “would like to do what we can to help our sister islands to our south in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma”. “It’s the least we can do, and I wish we could do more,” Mr Adderley added. LF Wade International Airport will be prepared to possibly receive or consider three separate types of aircraft from the RAF if the intended destination airports in the BVI are unable to be reached or provide jet fuel service in the days following the hurricanes. The RAF aircraft that could be seen parked at the airport as they transit to and from the UK could be the A332 Voyager, the C-17 Globemaster and the A400 Atlas. All three aircraft can carry extensive cargo to include needed supplies or support personnel to the islands receiving damage from the two active hurricanes to the south of Bermuda. In related support, Skyport is working with British Airways to have one or two aircraft normally based for operations at Miami International Airport to be flown to Bermuda for overnight parking and servicing. With only aircrew on-board, the flights will position in Bermuda to reduce the risk of possible damage caused by Hurricane Irma. The news came after American Airlines flights were today cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, which is now moving through the eastern Caribbean to threaten the Florida peninsula. AA 1325, which would have left LF Wade International Airport for Miami at 9am today, did not fly, along with AA 308, this afternoon’s service from Miami. Also called off was AA 224 from Philadelphia, which had been scheduled to arrive in Bermuda at 2.10pm — and AA 225, the return flight. Airlines are reportedly scrambling to get passengers and aircraft out of the storm’s path, with a wave of weekend cancellations expected as Irma continues.
September 8. Bermuda is set to fly its soldiers on a mercy mission to British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean devastated by Hurricane Irma. In a message of solidarity to the islands hit and others braced for impact, David Burt, the Premier, offered to deploy the Royal Bermuda Regiment in a disaster recovery effort. Mr Burt said assistance from the island would be sent in consultation with the Governor, John Rankin, once the potential threat of Hurricane Jose had passed the island. He added that he had attempted to contact leaders of the affected territories, and described Irma’s path of destruction as an “enormous catastrophe”. Mr Burt said: “While Bermuda may not be situated in the Caribbean, we share a connection and a bond. Today, we feel their pain, as we are all family.” He said the Government had liaised with the Bermuda Red Cross to collaborate on relief efforts. This afternoon Mr Rankin said that Government House have been monitoring the devastation caused by the storm. “As Prime Minister Theresa May made clear today, RFA Mounts Bay has been providing valuable assistance to Anguilla and BVI, including ensuring airfields are serviceable so military aircraft can be flown in with supplies. Offers of help from the Bermuda Police Service and Royal Bermuda Regiment have been gratefully received though of course these are being considered carefully in the light of any future risk to Bermuda posed by Hurricane Jose.” He added that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had set up a hotline for anyone concerned about friends and relatives affected by Hurricane Irma. That hotline number is (44) (0) 207-008-0000. The statements came as Bermudians feared for the safety of friends and family in the Caribbean after one of the worst storms in history barreled through the region. Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in Barbuda and Saint Martin, leaving at least nine dead, before it moved on to lash the northern coast of Hispaniola and threatened Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. Bermudian businessman and actor Gavin Wilson attempted to contact his friend, Ken Morgan, who lives in Tortola — the largest of the British Virgin Islands — but has heard nothing back. Mr Wilson explained that Mr Morgan used to live in Bermuda, where he worked at Butterfield Bank, and is a regular visitor to the island. He added: “It’s very worrying. What worries me most is that his house is 800ft above water on a mountain.” Mr Wilson said Mr Morgan had hunkered down in a small cottage on his property and they “e-mailed back and forth a bit” on Wednesday. But he has not been able to reach him since, as communications were “non-existent”. Progressive Labour Party MP Christopher Famous has also not heard from his sister, Roslyn Famous, and his two aunts who also live in Tortola. He said: “We haven’t had word from anyone in Tortola for 24 hours.” But Mr Famous said that was likely due to a loss of communications rather than loss of life and said he is not “overly worried”. He added: “It’s a small community — had something happened to her, they would have got word out.” Mr Famous added that he had been part of a 20-strong team of regiment soldiers sent to the BVI after a hurricane hit in 1989. He said: “From what I am seeing so far, the devastation is three times worse than in 1989.” Dave Joseph, from Antigua, said damage to the island had been “fairly minimal”. Mr Joseph, whose girlfriend’s family lives in Bermuda, said their main concern was their sister island Barbuda, which was “devastated”. He added 90 to 95 per cent of the buildings on Barbuda had been damaged after the storm made landfall in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Mr Joseph said the country felt the brunt of the storm between midnight and 2am. He added that there was lots of wind, but not as much rain as anticipated. Mr Joseph said most of the rain fell between 6am and 10am and there was some flooding after the storm passed, but communications systems were coming back on around midday yesterday. Mr Joseph also said the local Government had started pouring supplies into Barbuda and encouraged anyone who wanted to evacuate the island to go to Antigua. Bermudian Von-Rica Dickenson, who lives in Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, said the area had not been affected by the storm, but that people were bracing for Hurricane Jose. She added: “We are fine, we are dry. We didn’t even have flooding or mudslides or anything like that.” Ms Dickenson, who has lived in Nevis since 2012, said she had not heard any reports of damage. She added some stores opened yesterday morning and “everybody was functioning as normal”. Irma was forecast to continue westward between Cuba and the Bahamas through today — with a likely advance on southern Florida around tomorrow afternoon. The Caribbean-wide insurance risk insurance fund CCFIF SPC, to which Bermuda contributes, yesterday said it had earmarked $15.6 million for payments to Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, St Kitts and Nevis. The group said further payments on excess rainfall policies would be looked at over the next few days.
September 8. Wayne Furbert’s bid to reverse the legalization of gay marriage could put the United Kingdom in breach of its international obligations, according to lawyer Mark Pettingill. Mr Pettingill, one of the lawyers who successfully litigated the case that led to same-sex marriage becoming legal, predicted the Governor may withhold assent for the Private Member’s Bill expected to be tabled by Mr Furbert in Parliament today. The proposed legislation seeks to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples and, if approved, would make Bermuda the first country in the world to do an about-turn on the issue. On the eve of the new government’s first Throne Speech, in which it may outline its plans for a gay marriage alternative, Mr Pettingill said: “The British Government is faced with a very significant issue. Mr Furbert’s particular amendment would put the UK in breach of its international obligations. The Governor, in assenting, has to look at the position.” Bermuda’s Constitution, under section 35, enables the Governor to “reserve for Her Majesty’s pleasure” any Bill inconsistent with the obligations of the British Government towards any other international organisation. One such body is the European Court of Human Rights, which has ruled there must be state recognition and protection for same-sex couples, although not necessarily through marriage. Mr Pettingill claimed approval for Mr Furbert’s Bill would put the UK in breach of that, even if Bermuda had plans for an alternative framework giving the same rights as marriage. “The problem with that is that it’s already been done. The framework is in place. People have married under a certain scheme. You can’t go ahead and say ‘we are going to remove that scheme’ and later try to impose another scheme. You are going to leave a void in the law.” Mr Pettingill said the Governor, in deciding whether to give assent, would also consider whether the Bill was consistent with the Constitution, which gives every person in Bermuda the right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and the protection of the law. Fellow lawyer Rod Attride-Stirling, who represented the Human Rights Commission in the same-sex marriage Supreme Court case, agreed the Bill could create legal problems, particularly regarding same-sex couples who have married here since the May 5 ruling. “If you look at the Bill, on its face, it would render all same-sex marriages void,” he said. “It doesn’t include a grandfathering clause to protect the existing ones. I would be surprised if the Governor were to sign it. The Bill in its present form takes away crystallized rights retroactively. That is unconstitutional which makes it legally inappropriate for the Governor to sign it.” Same-sex marriage opponent Charles Jeffers said it would be wrong for the Governor to act against “the will of the people” and refuse assent. “I don’t care what they do in Britain,” he said. “I do not believe that a governor should be taking a position that’s contrary to the views of our Parliament and to the people whom they represent. I have relatives, I have friends who are gay and I am certainly not going to shun them because they are gay. But I am not sure this is a human rights issue.” LGBT civil rights organisation Human Rights Campaign confirmed yesterday that if Mr Furbert’s Bill became law, Bermuda would be the first country to reverse a decision to allow same-sex marriage. Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global, said: “To do so… would be similar to what transpired here in the United States in California — where marriage equality began and was taken away through a ballot measure that was ultimately overturned by the US Supreme Court. This created mass chaos and harm, especially for legally wed same-sex couples and their families.”
September 8. A gay couple set to wed today in Bermuda asked the “vocal minority” who oppose same-sex marriage to put aside their “fear and fundamentalism” and be “open and kind” to all their fellow citizens. Bermudian Bruce Whayman and his fiancé, Roland Maertens, who live together in Australia, where same-sex marriage is not allowed, have chosen to come to Mr Whayman’s home country to tie the knot at the Registry General’s office in front of family and friends. Although the marriage will not be recognized in Australia, the couple told The Royal Gazette it was important to them to officially commit to one another and take advantage of the “courageous decision” by Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons, which legalized gay marriage here on May 5. Mr Whayman and Mr Maertens, the first gay couple to make their Bermuda wedding plans public, want to send a message to those trying to have Mrs Justice Simmons’s decision reversed, including government backbencher Wayne Furbert and the charity Preserve Marriage, as well as support young gay Bermudians. Mr Whayman, 50, said: “People need to see that we are people. We are here, we are just like you. We want to get married here. People need to start talking to each other, particularly the religious faction in our society.” The organic food truck owner added: “Just live and let live, really. That’s what it comes down to. You have to be kind to one another. We all have to live in the same place. We are all going to see each other fairly regularly, I would imagine. Why would you make things so awkward for yourself and for other people? Bermudians have this wonderful ability to come together in a crisis and something like this, which is not a crisis at all, is clearly dividing or there is an intent to divide the community on such a trivial issue. “It’s an important issue for us. It’s not a huge issue for the country.” His 48-year-old fiancé, who works for a travel agency, added: “The first countries that changed the law on gay marriage were Holland and Belgium and no doubt there was a more liberal climate. But there were conservative elements there that will always remain conservative, but society hasn’t collapsed. Everything continues as normal. We are not a threat to anybody. It’s just a little bit of a pity that people can’t be open and kind, as their religions profess to be. We remain law-abiding citizens, taxpayers, we buy products in everyone’s stores. I was in the army. We are good civil citizens. In a secular state, we should have the same rights and responsibilities. We are not lesser citizens.” The couple met a year-and-a-half ago in Queensland and decided to get married after Mr Maertens, who has dual Australian/Belgian citizenship, proposed. They originally intended to wed in Brussels, but the paperwork proved time-consuming because documents needed translation. Mr Whayman, who left Bermuda in 1995 but still has family here, said Mrs Justice Simmons made her ruling in the case against the Government brought by Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé Greg DeRoche as the two were looking at their options. He added: “Charles-Etta Simmons made that courageous decision; she did the right thing. I thought, if she’s gone out on a limb to do that for people, we really should think about doing it there.” He described how he encountered homophobia on the island as a young man and left because he wanted to be free to explore his sexuality. “Mr Whayman said: “You can’t do that in Bermuda - leaving was the best thing I ever did in my life, for sure. But there are a lot of other people who live here who won’t or don’t have those opportunities.” The couple said they believed the majority of people in Bermuda did not have a strong opinion on same-sex marriage — a view borne out by last year’s referendum on the issue, when less than 47 per cent of the electorate voted. The non-binding poll revealed that 32 per cent of the electorate was against same-sex marriage and 15 per cent was in favour. In Australia, the Government is to hold a nationwide non-binding postal vote on the issue next week, with critics describing it as a costly, divisive poll. Mr Whayman said a “vocal minority” there and here was targeting gay people and trying to impose its religious beliefs on the whole of society. Mr Maertens added: “It’s fear and fundamentalism and not the spirit of forgiving Christianity, as I understand it.” They couple said they hoped to encourage young gay Bermudians by talking publicly about their wedding and prompt MPs, who return to Parliament today, to think before voting on Mr Furbert’s Private Member’s Bill, which seeks to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples. Mr Whayman added: “We are looking forward to tomorrow — a very auspicious day. It’s so important for Roland and I to have this interview so that younger people that are coming along after us can read about us and maybe have some courage if they want to do the same thing and be free.”
September 8. The Spirit of Bermuda sail training vessel was involved in a collision with the ferry Resolute last night. The incident occurred just after 9pm in Dundonald Channel, Sandys. No casualties were reported. All fare-paying passengers on the Resolute and those on board the Spirit were taken off the vessels. A spokesman at Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre told The Royal Gazette last night: “There are continuing efforts to free the vessels. Neither vessel is taking on water — the collision occurred above the water line. “They are still attached to each other and there are ongoing efforts with Marine and Ports and other local vessels assisting. Marine Police are also on scene. There are a lot of resources actively working to free the vessels. The bow of the Spirit is somehow attached to the Resolute. Beyond that, how this happened is really unclear at this time.” According to a police spokesman, civilian craft transported passengers safely to shore. Inquiries are being conducted by the marine police.
September 8. Next week’s Bermuda Captive Conference will go ahead as scheduled, organisers stressed today. In a statement, organisers of the conference, which will run from September 10 to 13 at the Fairmont Southampton hotel, said no hurricanes are forecast to affect the island during the event. The conference is expected to attract around 800 delegates, many of them coming in from overseas. “According to the US National Hurricane Centre, José is about 1,000 nautical miles to our south and currently tracking to bypass the island. It is not forecast to affect Bermuda during the conference,” the statement said. Irma, which is expected to make landfall in Florida on Sunday, is not a threat to Bermuda, forecasters say. Any delegate whose flight has been cancelled and is unable to attend the conference is asked to contact Rhona Emmerson on 1-441-2952626 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
September 8. Dellwood Middle School is to open to students on Wednesday despite Ministry of Education plans to relocate pupils to alternative buildings in Hamilton. The school has been undergoing major works including mould remediation. Yesterday, education minister Diallo Rabain said: “I met with the principal, parents and staff to inform them that the Ministry of Health and the Government Health and Safety Officer have cleared the areas of concern for occupancy after receiving the air quality report carried out by an independent company. The repair work that was initially scheduled for six weeks has successfully been completed in four weeks, allowing for the school to reopen on Wednesday, September 13. Dellwood Middle School teachers will be able to access the school on Friday to allow them to take inventory of classroom needs. Teachers will use Monday and Tuesday to finalise classrooms and plan lessons for students.” Mr Rabain added: “Finishing touches will continue this week and into next, but the essentials for teaching and learning will be in place for a successful school opening and school year.” He thanked the Ministry of Public Works, the education facilities team, health department officers, custodians and contractors for their hard work. Mr Rabain added: “I am grateful for the support of the Dellwood principal, Tina Duke, the PTSA and staff who have made every effort to ensure that our students have minimal disruption to their learning.”
September 8. Wayne Caines last night met with dozens of the island’s religious leaders to discuss strategies to address the cause of violence in Bermuda. During the meeting at the Heritage Worship Centre, Mr Caines, the Minister of National Security, said participants formed working groups to talk about what they could do to address the issues that cause gang violence and gun violence in both the short and long term. Saying that many churches and religious communities are providing services aimed at addressing the core issues, through the meeting he hoped to create a registry of those services. He said they were also hoping to find additional “safe places” for people to go on the island if needed. “Right now there are a few safe places where people can go if they are in a situation where they don’t feel safe. Right now there are four places, and we are trying to get some more.”
September 7. Veteran MP Dennis Lister Jr, the Progressive Labour Party’s choice for Speaker of the House when Parliament resumes tomorrow, has pledged to forge “togetherness” in the session ahead. “I will allow a free flow of debate and provide the Members respect,” Mr Lister told The Royal Gazette. “There is a certain decorum I would expect them to have on the floor of Parliament.” The first orders of business, before the new PLP government moves on to the Throne Speech, will be legislators’ endorsement of the Speaker — followed by the swearing-in of the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and the other MPs, and Derrick Burgess as Deputy Speaker. Recent years in the House were often heated, with former Speaker Randy Horton occasionally chastising MPs for their conduct after debates turned rancorous. Asked if he anticipated a cooler ride than that of his predecessor, Mr Lister said: “Not to speculate, but one would expect the orders of business would be conducted in a more orderly fashion, with the large majority that the Government has.” While the PLP’s solid 24-12 electoral win over the One Bermuda Alliance will give the ruling party greater latitude, Mr Lister said it was still incumbent on the new Opposition to “keep the public informed and Parliament informed” on matters brought to the floor. In an interview last month with this newspaper, Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, had suggested that marathon parliamentary debates be curtailed as the “quality of the discussion went downhill” going into the small hours. Mr Lister declined to say whether he backed the suggestion. “Put it this way,” he added. “As the new Speaker, part of my intention is to look at the rules of Parliament, and see where those rules need to be modernized ... I will carry out a full review of all procedures.” Although Mr Lister and Mr Burgess were selected by the party’s caucus last week, the choices were not announced until Tuesday night. Mr Lister said the “nonstop calls and congratulations” had come in since. I am graced to have the support of my party and my constituents,” he said.
September 7. Several of the Progressive Labour Party’s newest MPs say their focus will be on fulfilling the work of the people when Parliament resumes this week. Christopher Famous, Tinee Furbert and Renée Ming are among the new party MPs that will sit when the House of Assembly resumes tomorrow. Mr Famous captured Devonshire East from former finance minister Bob Richards 513 to 419. In St George’s South, Ms Furbert beat Suzann Roberts-Holshouser 652 to 429, while former senator Ms Ming defeated Kenneth Bascome 590 to 365 for St George’s North. Sitting down with The Royal Gazette this week, the three said their responsibility was to represent those who had put them in power. “At the end of the day, we were voted in to do the people’s work, and so that’s what I look forward to doing,” Ms Ming said. Mr Famous echoed: “Work in the House is a part of it, but there’s a lot of work outside of the House, when we’re out actually in the community doing work. That’s what I’m more looking forward to — actually being in the community with the people.” Ms Furbert said she was most looking forward to the “fellowship of the community” when the House resumed and what the Government would present in the Throne Speech. "It’s an exciting time, I think, for all of us,” she said. Ms Furbert pointed to legislation for persons with disabilities and the updating of the Mental Health Act as her top priorities. She also discussed the need for road traffic legislation pertaining to disabled parking spots around the island. Ms Ming said her focus was in St George’s, and specifically legislation related to the marina. "It’s something we’ve talked about since 2010, and we’d really like to see it happen,” she said. The updating of the Employment Act was also important, Ms Ming added. Mr Famous identified electoral reform — specifically to allow persons with mobility issues the ability to vote from home, and the examination of the possibility to allow persons on parole to vote — as priorities. “That’s one of the committees that I’ve asked the Premier to put me on,” Mr Famous said. He also said he was interested in getting more Bermudians interested in technical education, and projects to help keep the island’s roadways clear. All three MPs agreed that their availability to constituents was important. “People in our community are saying it’s great to know someone in the House,” Ms Furbert said. “I think that’s very important to our community in making sure that we remain approachable and accessible as well.” Ms Ming echoed: “We are no different from the people we represent. At the end of the day, we’re all just the same. We’re the same people that we were on July 17 that we are on July 19 going forward,” Mr Famous said. “We just have more responsibility and more ability to help others.” As for their political aspirations, the focus, for now, appears to be on the job in front of them. To say I want to be Premier or I want to be a Minister per se, today, that’s not my ambition or my goal,” Ms Furbert said. "My goal right now is to serve the community in whatever capacity I can as an MP, so that I can learn a little bit more.”
September 7. Traffic diversions will be in place tomorrow while crowds gather for the Convening of Parliament ceremony. David Burt, the Premier, will join MPs and senators as Governor John Rankin reads the Government’s legislative agenda for the year ahead. Members of the public are invited to attend the event which gets under way at about 10.30am. Sections of roads to be temporarily closed:
Traffic diversions will also be in effect at the junctions:
Motorists travelling along East Broadway (Crow Lane) into the City of Hamilton are advised to use Spurling Hill, before reaching the traffic diversion at the junction of Front Street and King Street. For the official notice and additional information on parking restrictions, visit http://www.cityofhamilton.bm/Traffic_Notice___Convening_of_Parliament.pdf. Live coverage of the Convening of Parliament will begin at 10.30 am on CITV (OneComm Channel 2 and WOW Channel102). Coverage will also be featured live on the Department of Communication’s Facebook page.
September 7. Hurricane José has reached Category 3 strength, but the Bermuda Weather Service said it is not a threat to the island “at this time”. As of 6pm storm’s closest point of approach within the next 72 hours was expected to be 599 nautical miles south at 6pm on Sunday. However, the BWS warned the system could come closer after that time. According to the US-based National Hurricane Centre, the storm reached Category 3 strength this afternoon, making it the third major hurricane of the 2017 season. At 6pm, José was about 1,214 nautical miles southeast of Bermuda and was headed west-northwest at 18mph, boasting maximum sustained winds of 120mph with higher gusts. A hurricane watch has been issued for the dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, while a tropical storm watch is in effect for Anguilla, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saba and Sint Eustatius. The news came as Category 5 Hurricane Irma — one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic — caused widespread destruction across the Caribbean, reducing buildings to rubble and leaving at least nine people dead. Packing winds of 185mph, the storm made landfall in Antigua and Barbuda early yesterday. While Antigua escaped major damage, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said Barbuda had been left “barely habitable”. Irma also caused major damage in Saint Martin — an island comprised of French territory Saint-Martin and the Dutch section Sint-Maarten — and the nearby French territory Saint-Barthelemy. Meanwhile, more than half of Puerto Rico’s three million residents were without power and at least one death has been reported in Anguilla, while the British Virgin Islands were also battered by the storm. The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Cuba and the Bahamas are also in Irma’s path and there is a possibility it will hit Florida over the weekend. Mandatory evacuations of vast areas of coastal South Florida began yesterday. Irma is expected to weaken over the next few days, but the NHC said the storm could remain Category 5 until sometime tomorrow. The BWS said the storm is not considered a threat to Bermuda “at this time”, with its closest point of approach within 72 hours having past. As with Hurricane José, however, the BWS warn that the storm could come closer after the 72 hour window passes. Hurricane Irma, which is so strong it is even showing up on seismometers for measuring earthquakes, follows in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which caused catastrophic flooding in Texas since it made landfall as a Category 4 storm on August 25. James Dodgson, director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said Hurricane Irma is being kept away from the island by a strong Bermuda-Azores ridge of high pressure. He explained: “This has the associated impact of steering Irma on its current west-northwestward track just north of the Greater Antilles and towards the Florida peninsula.” While he said José is being steered by the same ridge, a weakness in the ridge is forecast to develop this weekend, potentially allowing the storm to make a northward shift. Mr Dodgson added: “At this stage it is too early to say if José will continue on that track or will in fact deviate from that track. Model consistency and confidence is currently poor in the long-range forecast projections for José.” And he urged the public to keep a close eye on BWS forecasts at www.weather.bm and tropical update bulletins as the hurricane season continues. Meteorologists are also watching Hurricane Katia, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico and reached hurricane strength yesterday afternoon. The National Hurricane Centre said the storm was yesterday moving towards the east-southeast at around 3mph and should gradually turn southeastward during the next 24 hours. On the forecast track, the centre of Katia is expected to remain offshore of Mexico through Friday morning. Mr Dodgson said that the Atlantic is now at the height of the hurricane season, with all of the “nascent ingredients” just right for storm development. He added: “This season has also been forecast to be more active than average due to two main factors — anomalously warm sea surface temperatures as well as reduced wind shear in the main tropical regions where hurricanes form. Increased wind shear prevents tropical cyclones from developing and maturing as it literally rips apart the forming system. With the latest early August official NOAA Atlantic hurricane season forecast update calling for up to as many as 19 named storms, we still have some way to go, as even with developing Tropical Storm Katia, that only brings the named storm tally to 11 so far. The official season continues for almost another three months, until the end of November.” He said it was not unusual to have multiple major storms active in a short span of time. Mr Dodgson added that four Category 4 storms were recorded in 2010 between late August and September.
September 7. Bermuda’s first non-segregated school is celebrating 120 years of education, The Berkeley Institute, the idea of 11 “founding fathers”, opened its doors on September 6, 1897 — and it has stuck to its original plan to provide a first-class education to any pupil prepared to try their best. New principal Keisha Douglas, the school’s eighth head teacher and herself a former pupil, said: “The founding fathers would be excited to know that we truly remain a senior school for all and it is our vision to be first choice for everybody. We continue along that path with our programming and with our staffing — enticing persons over and realizing that we continue, after 120 years, to produce role-model citizens who go to the highest heights in Bermuda and worldwide.” Top businessmen and a string of Bermuda premiers, including Paula Cox, Ewart Brown, Alex Scott, Dame Jennifer Smith and Dame Pamela Gordon-Banks, have all worn Berkeley’s distinctive green and gold. Ms Douglas said: “Not everyone will be a premier, a doctor or a lawyer, but we are still ensuring success for all by finding their strengths. It is amazing how we evolved to give everyone access. From a principal’s perspective, our goal is to keep that legacy and pride at the fore. Our history and legacy will never change. That is the only thing that can ever stay constant and current. We will be around for a long time — we are going nowhere. Our goal is that everyone will have a pathway to success and live out the dream of our founding fathers. We are providing a first-class education for all.” The school first opened at Samaritan’s Lodge on Court Street, Hamilton, then land on St John’s Road, Pembroke, in 1899 was bought for a new and larger school, which opened in 1902. The latest incarnation, in nearby Berkeley Road, opened in 2006. The school was named after Bishop George Berkeley — an Anglican priest from Dysart, Ireland, who wanted to establish a school in the colonies. But his original project collapsed after funding failed to materialize. Around 100 years later, the Reverend William Dowding revived Berkeley’s dream of establishing an interracial school but financial support for Rev Dowding’s short-lived interracial St Paul’s College also evaporated. The Berkeley Educational Society was formed and met on October 6, 1879 at the home of businessman and landowner Samuel David Robinson. Members campaigned to raise funds for the school and they became known as Berkeley Institute’s founding fathers. And they achieved their dream of a new school for all, despite 18 years of struggle — not least with a reluctant white establishment in still-segregated Bermuda. The school’s motto Respice Finem — Keep the end in view — still stands as a tribute to their determination. Chairman of the board of governors Craig Bridgewater, who is a managing director at professional services firm KPMG, said new pupils were made aware of the struggle to found the school. He said: “For the students coming in, we have the Berkeley Project where they have to write about what it is like to be Berkeleyite. The students have to research the history of Berkeley — the founding fathers, who they were and so on and whoever writes the best essay gets to present that at a prize giving. From day one — the whole Berkeley spirit, the green and the gold school colours and the history of Berkeley — is instilled. Even wearing your uniform properly is important. We incorporate that from day one — from orientation — and keep that going.” And Ms Douglas added that former pupils also acted as an unofficial school police to ensure present pupils lived up to the school’s high standards. She said: “It’s true — Berkeleyites will call up the principal and tell us about someone’s tie not being on properly — they take it very seriously. It is part of that pride. That is what we are about — building up a nation. We don’t apologise for our greatness — we never have. When I attended Berkeley from 1985 to 1990, we were told every day that we were the best. We believed it and we carried ourselves accordingly. No one could tell us anything different.” Ms Douglas, ex-principal of Clearwater Middle School, said former Berkeley Institute principal, maths teacher and anti-segregation campaigner Dr Clifford Maxwell set her on her career path. She added: “My dream was to be a nursery teacher. But Dr Maxwell said I had to teach mathematics because I was able to galvanize all my friends and help them to understand the subject. I attribute everything I have become to him.” And quality of teaching remains a major part of the school’s ethos. Ms Douglas said: “It makes a big difference — we have to have top teachers in order to continue with top programmes. We have to ensure pathway for success for all students of all abilities now that we are comprehensive. We have teachers who know all about the guidelines to get students top scholarships.” Another key ingredient is a programming schedule that helps to connect Bermuda to the rest of the world. Mr Bridgewater said: “We have to meet guidelines around the curriculum but we reserve the right to go over and above that. There was always a focus on internationally recognizable qualifications — we did our RSAs and GCEs and now there are the IGCSEs — because we are trying to create global citizenship. Over the last few years under former principal Dr Phyllis Curtis-Tweed we focused on bedding down our international qualifications so there was a big focus on advanced placement for college and dual enrolment with the Bermuda College.” Ms Douglas added: “I can go to any continent and mention Berkeley Institute and they know what it means. I believe that we are, and will continue to be, first choice. It takes strong leadership and programming married with our staff and our ability to have a board that governors and that can make changes.”
Head Teacher Douglas mentioned earlier describes herself as a “lifelong Berkeleyite” having studied at the school, taught there for 20 years and who now takes the helm as its principal. She began her career at the school as a mathematics teacher and rose through the ranks taking positions as head of a year group, head of math, deputy principal and acting principal. She “left the building” for two years to become principal at Clearwater Middle School before applying for the top job at Berkeley. Ms Douglas holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Mathematical Sciences, and a Master of Arts degree in Instruction and Curriculum. Asked what her reaction was when she learned she had been chosen to become principal at Berkeley, Ms Douglas told us: “It was a journey of all journeys to bring me back to this ultimate goal and dream.”
September 7. Dangerous surf conditions have prompted a warning about swimming at South Shore beaches. The warning issued by the Ministry of Public Works follows lifeguards at Horseshoe Bay raising the red flag at the beach earlier today. The flag indicates dangerous rip conditions and rough waves. The Ministry urged the public to use “extreme caution” when swimming at any South Shore beach. “Other South Shore beaches will be closely monitored by park rangers over the next several days and the public will be updated accordingly,” a Ministry spokeswoman said in a release this afternoon.
September 6. Dennis Lister Jr, the longest-serving Progressive Labour Party MP, has been chosen as the new Speaker of the House after a meeting last week of the PLP caucus. The PLP Parliamentary Group also endorsed the second longest-serving PLP Member of Parliament, Derrick Burgess, to serve as Deputy Speaker. Last night’s announcement came as legislators prepare for a return to the House of Assembly on Friday, when the Throne Speech will be delivered under the new PLP Government. Mr Lister, whose parliamentary career began in 1989, represents Sandys North Central, while Hamilton East MP Mr Burgess, a former president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, became an MP in a 1998 by-election. The new Speaker replaces Randy Horton, who was appointed to the post in February 2013, with One Bermuda Alliance MP Suzann Roberts-Holshouser as deputy. David Burt, the Premier, praised the pair for their “unmatched dedication to our community over their decades of service”. “I have immeasurable confidence in their ability to lead and discharge the duties their positions require with respect and integrity,” Mr Burt added. “I know they will diligently handle all matters put before them in the House of Assembly and they will continue to work in accordance with the guiding principles of fairness and justice.”
September 6. Former premier Alex Scott believes Bermuda’s new political climate could set the stage for another review over independence. Mr Scott was a strong advocate for splitting ties with Britain during his tenure from 2003 to 2006, but did not push for a referendum, as he concluded Bermudians were not ready to make the leap However, after Senator Jason Hayward, of the Progressive Labour Party, called for independence to be high on the political agenda during Labour Day celebrations, Mr Scott told The Royal Gazette: “Mr Hayward is indicative of someone who holds a very important position who thinks we should review at least this subject — and there may be others. This is now a different time and a different political place to that which existed when I was premier.” The PLP, which has viewed independence historically as a long-term goal, claimed 59 per cent of the popular vote in a landslide General Election victory on July 18, and now has 24 seats to the One Bermuda Alliance’s 12 — comfortably the largest majority it has ever enjoyed. Asked whether he believes there is support within the governing party for independence, Mr Scott said that would be a question for David Burt, the Premier. Mr Burt declined to comment on the matter when approached by this newspaper. A referendum in 1995 revealed an overwhelming lack of support for independence — some 73 per cent voted against it — but Mr Scott re-ignited the conversation during his premiership with a series of debates and a report from the Bermuda Independence Commission. Yesterday, Mr Scott described the airport deal as a prime example of where Bermuda could have benefited from being independent. “We have something like the issue of whether we develop the airport as the former government committed Bermuda to and — Great Britain as far as we can determine — agreed with the government of the day and ratified that going forward. It was for Britain to decide yea or nay. There was strong feeling against it in Bermuda but the government of the day chose to ignore the very large body of opinion against developing the airport as the OBA had prescribed, and the British went along with them. We cannot truly be a democratic community as long as another parliament can hold the deciding determination over what we do. Bermuda is not an unfettered democracy — it is not one that is complete. Our future is not totally in our hands.” In 2005, the Commission noted Bermudians were divided over independence, and called for public meetings and parliamentary debates on the issue. Mr Scott said its report should be revisited. He said: “Independence is a subject that warrants review from time to time. The notion of self-determination or independence was taken up by myself and my administration when I was premier for discussion and consideration. As a consequence, there was a robust report written by an independent and diverse committee that concluded — when one considers the mechanics of self-determination — that there was no reason that Bermuda should not proceed to independence. There is no political or economic reason, that committee concluded at the time, to inhibit Bermuda. If one reads the report it might be helpful for any interested Bermudian to go through it. It is very comprehensive. It ended up with us having in our possession a blueprint for the way forward if one wants to seriously consider it. It would be helpful to revisit that report and then update it — then we can consider its conclusion in the light of our current status and position. Then it is left — as the British have identified and I have always maintained — that it is up to Bermudians.” Asked whether he would like to see another referendum, Mr Scott added: “It could be decided at the next General Election. The government of the day could put it on their agenda at the next General Election. If the government won the election with significant and workable majorities as we have now, we could then — if it was so determined — make it an item for a referendum or consider other options. It is for the majority of Bermudians to demonstrate their willingness to move in that direction.” Governor John Rankin declined to comment on independence when contacted by this newspaper.
September 6. Tropical Storm Jose has reached hurricane strength, but the system is not a threat to Bermuda “at this time”, according to the Bermuda Weather Service. The storm’s closest point of approach within the next 72 hours is expected to be 836 nautical miles south-southeast at 6pm on Saturday. However the BWS warned the system could come closer after that time. According to the US-based National Hurricane Centre, additional strengthening is expected, and Jose could be approaching major hurricane strength on Friday. At 6pm, Jose was about 1,517 nautical miles southeast of Bermuda and was headed west-northwest at 16mph, boasting maximum sustained winds of 75mph with higher gusts. According to the NHC, a slightly faster west to west-northwest motion is expected during the next two days. Meanwhile, Category 5 Hurricane Irma — one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic — made landfall in Barbuda early this morning. Packing winds of 185mph, the system battered the tiny island of about 2,000 people before moving towards Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin, where it destroyed major buildings and caused serious flooding. Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba are also in Irma’s path and there is a possibility it will hit Florida over the weekend. A mandatory evacuation order was given for the Florida Keys. The BWS said the storm is not considered a threat to Bermuda “at this time”. At 6pm today, its closest point of approach within 72 hours was said to be 758 nautical miles to the south-southwest at 2pm tomorrow. It may get closer after that point. Hurricane Irma, which is so strong it is even showing up on seismometers for measuring earthquakes, follows in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which caused catastrophic flooding in Texas since it made landfall as a Category 4 storm on August 25. Meteorologists are also tracking Hurricane Katia, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico and reached hurricane strength this afternoon. According to the NHC, the system is moving towards the east-southeast near 3mph and should gradually turn southeastward during the next 24 hours. On the forecast track, the centre of Katia is expected to remain offshore of Mexico through Friday morning. However, a Hurricane Watch is in effect for the state of Vera Cruz.
September 6. Billions of dollars have been wiped off the value of Bermuda-based insurers and reinsurers as concern grows about the potential impact of Hurricane Irma. Yesterday was the worst day for insurance stocks collectively in 2017 as the scale of the losses from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the potential damage from Irma, the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane on record, sent share prices tumbling. Bermuda-based companies saw sharp declines in the value of their stocks, many falling between 4 per cent and 10 per cent. Maiden Holdings plunged 10.27 per cent, Aspen Insurance dropped 9.36 per cent, Validus Holdings was down 8.82 per cent, Axis Capital fell 7.45 per cent and RenaissanceRe dropped 7.14 per cent. The collective market capitalisation of those five companies alone was, as a consequence, shaved by more than $1 billion. Meanwhile shares of XL, Argo, Everest Re, and Blue Capital Reinsurance were all between 5 per cent and 7 per cent lower. Smaller declines were recorded by other insurers and reinsurers. The mounting insured losses from Harvey, which tore through coastal areas of Texas last month bringing devastating flooding to a wide area, including Houston, is part of the reason for the falling value of insurance sector stocks. But added to this is the fear of what damage Irma might cause to densely populated areas of Florida should it strike the state as it tracks west across the northern Caribbean. It is a Category 5 hurricane packing winds of 175 miles per hour, and some analysts are predicting it could be the most costly hurricane in US history, beating the record of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and northern Cuba are currently projected to be hit by Irma. Jay Gelb, of Barclays, in a research note, wrote: “Given the potential magnitude of this storm as well as the potential to impact a highly populated area, we think Irma’s insured damage in Florida could be the largest ever in the US perhaps equivalent to Hurricane Katrina.” Katrina’s insured damage was $50 billion adjusted for inflation. Mr Gelb’s note were reported by CNBC. “We would view Irma as more of a risk to the traditional reinsurers as well as third-party providers of reinsurance capital,” noted Mr Gelb. “Of the companies we cover, reinsurers expected to have among the largest exposures to a Florida hurricane could include Everest Group.” He added: “From the insurance industry’s perspective, we would expect a substantial hurricane possibly impacting Florida as well as just after Hurricane Harvey to possibly halt further reinsurance price declines for the first time in many years. However, insurers’ earnings and book values would also be expected to suffer a large hit.” Meanwhile, the pressure on global property casualty reinsurers, including the prolonged depressed pricing environment, will mean only those strong enough to adapt or evolve will survive, according to S&P Global Ratings. In a report yesterday it noted: “Strong enterprise risk management, disciplined underwriting thus far, and robust capital adequacy have helped most reinsurers withstand competitive pressures. However, reinsurance pricing has continued its downward trajectory, constantly testing the sector’s wherewithal, with expected decreases of zero per cent to five per cent into 2018.” Taoufik Gharib, S&P Global Ratings credit analyst, said: “We forecast the global P/C reinsurance industry’s operating performance deteriorating with a combined ratio of 96 per cent to 100 per cent and return on equity of 6 per cent to 8 per cent in 2017.” He said conditions have made mergers and acquisitions a viable option for some reinsurers to stay relevant, but warned it is not a cure-all. Mr Gharib added: “If reinsurers’ profitability falls sustainably below their cost of capital, we will likely revise our outlook on the sector to negative.”
Hurricane Irma. Worst-ever hurricane to date in damage to Caribbean islands
September 6. Bank of Bermuda Foundation has launched a new website that will soon enable online funding applications, while also unveiling what it describes as “bold new goals for grant-making”. The changes, which have been two years in the making, are described as being part of a “more deliberate approach” to supporting the Bermuda community. The foundation’s long-term vision for Bermuda is that “all people are healthy, independent, financially secure and connected to community, with equitable opportunities for all”. The foundation’s new grant-making strategy focuses on four new areas of funding: economic participation, education, healthy families and connected communities. The new website offers extensive information on the foundation’s funding guidelines and details the new areas in which it intends to focus its grant-making. The website also provides clear information about the process of applying for grants. Designed and developed locally by Sebastian Matcham of Subtropik, the new website provides information on the foundation’s background, the people involved and the process of developing the foundation’s new direction. Soon the site will also feature an online grant application system, enabling local organisations to make paper-free applications. Tom Conyers, the foundation’s chairman, added: “Our areas of funding, consistent with our vision, represent a focus on economic equity; education for independent thinking and productive engagement; health and well-being for all age groups and an inclusive and welcoming community. The new website provides an in-depth guide to our new grant-making goals and assists potential grantees through the application process online.” The non-profit sector has been included in several ongoing presentations this year, introducing the new grant-making system and has responded eagerly to the Foundation’s new goals. With a December 1 deadline for the first round of applications for 2018 grants, non-profit organisations are urged to visit the new website to learn more about the new focus areas for grant-making and the new application form. Application form orientation is scheduled for early October and all non-profits are invited to attend. Under the new restructure, the foundation is supported by key people in spearheading the foundation’s new goals for grant-making. David Lang, managing director, oversees the overall relationships with the community and community organisations as well as the general business affairs of the foundation. Vivien Carter, programme officer, is responsible for developing resources and relationships to assist in implementing the foundation’s new direction. And Kim Pratt, senior trust officer, Butterfield Trust (Bermuda) Ltd, handles all inquiries and organizational administration. The Bank of Bermuda Foundation website can be found at www.bankofbermudafoundation.bm.
September 6. Government backbencher Wayne Furbert has backed out of a meeting with a young Bermudian who won the right for gay people to marry on the island. Mr Furbert was to meet with Winston Godwin-DeRoche and others from the LGBT community after the 27-year-old wrote an open letter to him on Facebook, challenging him on his parliamentary bid to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples. Mr Furbert replied online that he would be “more than happy” to sit down for coffee. A get-together was arranged for yesterday morning, as reported in The Royal Gazette last week, but Mr Godwin-DeRoche told this newspaper the Progressive Labour Party politician cancelled over the weekend via e-mail. “No real reason [was given], unfortunately,” he said. “He mentioned the article. I assume he doesn’t want the attention from it. I sent him a message asking him to strongly reconsider and that I believe meeting is something we can all benefit from and he has yet to respond.” Mr Furbert declined to comment when contacted by this newspaper yesterday. “That’s my decision,” he said. He also refused to discuss the Private Member’s Bill he is expected to bring to the House of Assembly when it resumes on Friday, which will seek to reverse the landmark May 5 Supreme Court ruling which legalized gay marriage in Bermuda. Home affairs minister Walton Brown has said legislation will be tabled to protect the legal rights of same-sex couples if Mr Furbert’s Bill passes and becomes law. Mr Brown said it would contain elements similar to the draft Civil Union Bill 2016, which was circulated for “consultation only” by the last government, but “obviously would not be called that”.
September 6. Bermudians caught up in the devastating flooding that has ravaged Texas spoke yesterday about their terrifying brush with Hurricane Harvey and the aftermath of the storm. David Strong told The Royal Gazette that he had lost his car in the flooding when his street was swamped with water, forcing him to move to his father’s nearby home. Meanwhile, Jeff Ryall described how he had to kick through the panels of his garden fence to prevent the water level outside his home rising to dangerous levels. Residents across Texas are battling to recover from the flooding caused by the Category 4 storm, which dumped a record-breaking amount of rain on the state at the end of last month. Mr Strong, a Bermudian who lived on the island for 25 years before moving to Cypress, Texas, in July 2013, said the bottom floor of his home was completely flooded by the storm. “I lost my car and was only just able to move back into my home at the weekend,” he said. “I have never experienced anything like that before, and there were certainly times when I was extremely worried I was going to have to call for help to get evacuated by helicopter. I was not so much worried about drowning, but more about electric wires falling and other things like snakes and alligators. At its worst, the water level on our street came up to waist high, so you had to wade through it to get out. But now things are slowly starting to return to normal. The flooding came as quickly as it went. The severity of it did not hit me until the water had receded and I went for a drive and saw the damage it had done. I was certainly one of the lucky ones.” At least 33 people are known to have died across Texas, while thousands of people have fled their homes to emergency shelters. The rainfall in Texas set a new record for the continental US, the National Weather Service has said. A rain gauge in Cedar Bayou recorded 51.88 inches of rain from August 25 to August 30. Mr Ryall, who moved to Meyerland, Houston, in 1990, was due to fly back to Bermuda towards the end of last month to be with family but had to cancel his plans due to Hurricane Harvey. “We had one night where the rain just came down big time, it was so fast. Our back yard was filling up so quickly the water level was almost up to the back door, the street outside was looking like a river. I had to bust open my back fence just to give the water somewhere to escape. My brother-in-law, who lives nearby, has been flooded out and when I was able to drive up the road some of the routes were barely recognizable. We were lucky in many ways; the water did not come in the house at all. We just stayed where we were, and now it’s back to normal in some areas.”
September 6. John Theophilus Clarke, a ground-breaking dancer on the local and international stage, has died at the age of 85. Mr Clarke challenged racial barriers during a time of open discrimination and his performances included touring with Les Ballets Negres, Europe’s first all-black dance troupe. He founded his own company in Europe, The Montgomery Dancers, later establishing a dance school back in Bermuda — as well as working in the family business, Wrights Candy Shop, a popular St George’s store. Fellow performer Sandra Butterfield, a contemporary of Mr Clarke’s along with her husband Bryan, recalled him as “creative, brilliant, charming, funny, stubborn, generous, gentle”. Calling him “an icon for sure”, Ms Butterfield said there could be “no duplication” of her longtime friend. Mr Clarke was born in Britain to Ellen Trew Wright from Bermuda and John Theophilus Clarke Sr from Georgetown, Guyana. He grew up in the Wright family homestead of Hillcrest in Old Maid’s Lane, St George’s. His introduction to dance came early, though Gregory Gordon, an American dance instructor who coached many local performers. Mr Gordon’s production of The Boat in the Bottle afforded Mr Clarke his first taste of the stage. Law ran in the family, and in 1949, at the age of 15, he was sent to London to study at University Tutorial College. But he left a year later to pursue dance, studying modern ballet and acrobatics. Health may have factored in that decision: according to his daughter, Belinda Clarke, Mr Clarke had been hit by chronic bronchitis. “A doctor said he would benefit from physical activity, and dancing was that,” Ms Clarke said. She described her father as “a showman in everything he did — the way he walked and presented himself and told stories”. In the troupe Les Ballet Negres, Mr Clarke was pushed to his physical limit in performances that enthralled postwar audiences. A London reviewer said the group danced with “every fibre of the body and every flicker and flame of the spirit”. The company finished in 1953. Mr Clarke joined the ranks of Katherine Dunham’s company, performing in Rome, Naples and Turin. Dunham was a pioneer in black theatrical dance and was also known for her social activism. He performed under the direction of innovative French ballet director Ronald Petitt, as well as Burt Stimmel, and shared the spotlight with Josephine Baker — a dancer who had distinguished herself as the world’s first globally famed black entertainer. Later, Mr Clarke assembled The Montgomery Dancers ballet troupe. In 1955, he briefly married Bianca Cavallini, a Swedish dancer and singer who performed alongside him. He spent the last five years of his dance career overseas in Milan, Italy, before returning to Bermuda in April 1957. He performed in the leading houses in London, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Germany, Scandinavia and Holland operating under the stage name of John Montgomery. Locally, he ran his own dance school in the Arcadia Block, and continued to perform, while Wright’s Candy Shop was “part of everyone’s experience, coming home from school and getting a pineapple slush”, his daughter said. “John performed in the Holiday Island Review in many of Bermuda’s hotels with Kenny Bean,” Ms Clarke added. “He also danced with Dee Dee Simmons, Juliette Bean and Barbara Tatem in the Fiery Limbo Dancers. He added to Bermuda a rich and exciting style of dance that entertained locals and tourists in the nightclub and hotel venues.” According to family lore, Mr Clarke confronted segregation at local venues in the 1960s, when black entertainers were told to enter hotels by the back door. “One night, John told his company they were going in the front door — and they did,” Ms Clarke said. “No one said a word. That was typical of John to buck the status quo, particularly where racial inequity was concerned.” Mr Clarke also crossed the island’s racial divide in his personal life, marrying a white woman, Ingrid Clarke, in 1961. They were together for 25 years. “Black entertainers held Bermuda together in the 1960s — they worked hard over long hours, they got paid less, and they were told to use the back door,” his daughter said. “They persevered because they loved what they did.” Fittingly, Mr Clarke ran into his future wife on the back stairs at the Castle Harbour Hotel while “late as usual”, Ms Clarke said — and impulsively asked her out. They married within a year. Mourning her father with siblings Sita Ingram, Bianca Clarke, Joshua Mayho, Guisti Clarke, Maha Clarke and Veronica Clarke, Ms Clarke called him “incredibly creative. He always wanted us to grab life and give it a good shake, in whatever we did — it didn’t matter that we were girls. He pushed us beyond our limits, to be the very best.” Along with the Butterfields, contemporaries of Mr Clarke included Gene and Pinky Steede, Kenny and Kathy Bean, Herbert Smith, Vernon “Ghandi” Burgess, Stan Seymour, Sydney Bean and Lance Hayward. Popular clubs outside the hotel circuit were the Forty Thieves Club where Mr Clarke’s close friend Winston “Super” Lottimore was the bouncer, and the Clayhouse Inn.
September 6. An American visitor who “accidentally” travelled to Bermuda with 38 rounds of ammunition in his luggage has been fined $300. Johnny Jefferson flew to Bermuda last month from Houston to escape Hurricane Harvey, Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday. Jefferson was leaving the island on September 1 when airport security detected the bullets in his bag. The 55-year-old was arrested and told officers that he thought he had left the ammunition in a different bag with his gun in Memphis. He admitted possessing ammunition and told the court: “This was an innocent mistake. I had no idea the ammunition was in my bag when I came to Bermuda. Since this is my first offence, I ask you to have mercy on me.” Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo told Jefferson that he accepted his explanation. He added: “I am glad that Bermuda was able to give you some safety from Hurricane Harvey. But unfortunately we don’t want ammunition coming into this country. We take it very seriously.”
September 6. A 26-year-old Southampton man was today accused of killing a woman by driving a boat dangerously. Andrew Lake was charged in Magistrates’ Court with unlawfully killing Mary McKee, of New Zealand, by driving a boat in a dangerous manner on June 1. He was also charged with causing actual bodily harm to Mrs McKee’s husband Arthur McKee and grievous bodily harm to Charlie Watson by driving a power craft in a dangerous manner in Pembroke on the same date. The defendant was not required to enter a plea because the charges are indictable and must be heard in Supreme Court. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo released Mr Lake on $70,000 bail on the condition he surrenders his passport, not leave the jurisdiction without the court’s permission and report to Hamilton Police Station every Wednesday. The case was adjourned to the December arraignments session.
September 5. Independence for Bermuda should be high on the list of priorities for the Progressive Labour Party after its landslide election victory, Senator Jason Hayward told Labour Day crowds yesterday. The head of the Bermuda Public Services Union said the introduction of a living wage and unemployment insurance had to be addressed, and that independence must be considered. Mr Hayward said: “We have to come to the conclusion that we live in a system that is not designed for a segment of the population to get ahead. We have seen the middle class deteriorate, we have seen our communities deteriorate, we have seen our family structures deteriorate. Some will say all by design. So if I want to stand here on this Labour Day as a free worker, we must really be free. We have to shift the conversation and remove ourselves from this colonial rule. We have to now look at independence as a viable option for our people so we can set our own agenda, so we can create our own system and so we can see our people get ahead.” Mr Hayward was speaking outside Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters in Hamilton before workers marched through the city to mark Labour Day. He told a crowd of several hundred that the scale of the PLP victory had raised concerns that the new government would be unaccountable for its actions. Mr Hayward said: “That landslide victory brought concern to many, both PLP supporters and non-supporters. Some people are of the notion that a landslide victory means that the PLP now rules, or has the ability to rule, in some sort of dictatorial style. Some are scared, because the OBA are now feeble and anaemic, that the PLP will run forth with its agenda with no real accountability. There is nothing farther from the truth. The labour unions in this country have always held governments accountable, friend or foe.” But Mr Hayward said: “What it does bring is an opportunity for the PLP to move forward with a labour agenda unapologetically; an agenda that reduces the system that breeds income inequality, the lack of opportunity in this country for many.” He added that the labour agenda put forward by the Bermuda Trade Union Congress called for unemployment insurance, a workforce development system to match people with jobs, guaranteed cost of living increases and the introduction of a livable wage. “I was invited to the Chamber of Commerce to sit on a panel to discuss a livable wage. My response was the talking is done and now is the time for implementation.” Walton Brown, Minister for Home Affairs and Labour, told the crowds in Union Square that labour issues would be on the agenda when the House returned this week. He said workers had played a vital role in the development of the country and that the PLP had already moved forward with efforts to create a stronger relationship between the government and workers, along with trade unions and employers. “We have already met with the entertainers’ union to ensure that entertainers get a place of priority in their own country. We have already fixed some of the challenges with the work permit policy, a policy that said employers no longer needed to submit police certificates for contract workers. Meanwhile, Aecon has a policy that says no Bermudian with a criminal conviction can work on the airport’s construction phase. We needed to fix that. This government will address some of the fundamental problems with the workplace. Employers are now increasingly hiring people only as contracted labour. They do that to avoid paying any benefits, which affects the workers as time goes on. We are fixing that.” Mr Brown added that the government would consult the people, the unions and employers on all issues with the objective of creating a community in which workers are respected, valued and contribute to a better Bermuda. He said: “In the next session, we will be looking at all the labour laws to see what changes can be made and should be made to ensure that workers rights are protected, are advanced, and we have a society that respects that.” Chris Furbert, president of the BIU, said that Bermudians had suffered 80 per cent of job losses under the OBA, while expatriate workers made up the remaining 20 per cent. Mr Furbert added: “It shouldn’t have been 80/20. There’s no way they can justify that. BIU had attempted to work with the OBA in their first years in office, but that the OBA had attacked Mr Hayward and clergyman Nicholas Tweed. On July 18, the house of cards came tumbling down.” Shannon James, president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, said the island had endured a storm and now needs to come together — and singled out the work of volunteers to get the island’s schools ready to open for the new school term. Premier David Burt was earlier the keynote speaker at the BIU’s Labour Day banquet, held on Friday night. Mr Burt pledged to look at the “historical injustices of stolen lands” and to get to the bottom of what happened during the airport protest on December 2 last year. Delivering his first major speech as Premier, he also vowed to implement a living wage and emphasized the importance of solidarity to “harness the forces of economic empowerment. With our election victory, we have won the tools to make change, and that is the power to change laws and to control the public purse. But that alone will not make the change to ensure that children and grandchildren of today’s workers will become the producers tomorrow. Now that the people have chosen to put their trust and belief in us, that our collective leadership can work together, we have to demonstrate to them what solidarity can achieve.” Mr Burt also emphasized that the new government’s objective is “not a revenge mission. But Justice must still be done. So we must examine the historical injustices of stolen lands to ensure that some families finally get their justice. And we must ensure that we get to the bottom of the horrors of December 2, 2016, where workers and seniors were viciously assaulted, and find out what happened — and the truth because our people deserve no less.”
September 5. Gombeys, mermaids and even Godzilla graced Horseshoe Bay on Saturday at the Bermuda Sand Sculpture Competition. A total of 46 teams took part in the event, including five children’s teams, 11 family teams, eight teenager teams and 21 adult teams. A spokeswoman for the event said: “Many of the adult teams joined from such groups as The St George’s Rotary Club, we had three teams from Bermuda Institute of Ocean Studies work-study students, and five teams from the Bermuda College arts programme headed by teacher Michael Walsh.” She added: “Showers at 4pm did nothing to dampen the mood, they just helped dampen the sand as our judges arrived on the beach to start the hardest part of their day — picking winners from so many beautiful pieces.” The overall winner was the Fairmont Southampton team, led by kitchen artist Ernie Ogalesco, which took the honours with their sculpture Gombey on a Break. Jay O’Connor won the adult prize for Man in Ring, while Camille Chin-Gurret and Andrianna Anfossi won the teenager category for their sculpture titled Beached. The Hastings family took the prize for the family category, while Ava Gabi-Maiato, Jasmin Hasselkuss and Zoe Hasselkuss won the children’s competition with In Memory of Chama.
September 5. Police are still stumped by the theft of nearly $35,000 from four Eastern Counties Cricket Association clubs two years ago. A police spokesman said: “While the case is not closed, we have made very little headway as no one to date has come forward with meaningful information and the CCTV footage on the night was not very useful in the investigation.” The money was stolen from an unlocked and unattended car parked near St David’s Primary School in June 2015. The $34,700 represented takings from cash ticket sales for a three-match series played in St David’s. But Steven Douglas, president of the Eastern Counties Cricket Association, said the clubs involved — St David’s County Cricket Club, Cleveland County Cricket Club, Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club and Flatts Victoria Recreation Club — were later reimbursed from association funds. Mr Douglas added that extra security measures had been taken in a bid to avoid future thefts. He said: “The police are the experts, and if they can’t find anything, then there is no way I can find anything. We have taken our lead from them and, as they are doing, we are looking out to see if anything pops up in any way, shape or form. The clubs were taken care of from within so they are not hard done by from that perspective. Everyone is happy with what they got thus far. We have made necessary changes and adjustments so it works in the best interests of everyone going forward. The key players that handle it fully understand how we go about it. With the help of security we have done the best that we can to ensure it doesn’t happen again.” Anyone with information on the theft should contact police.
September 5. At 10, Lowdru Robinson was amazed to learn his grandmother was white. Until a classmate called her a “white codfish”, he’d never thought about it. “She was just grandma,” said the 81-year-old.And in segregated Bermuda, he found it difficult to reconcile his kindly grandmother with other white people he knew. It made him question everything he knew about race. “From that experience I developed a lifelong interest and curiosity about skin colour and how people’s lives are impacted by it,” Mr Robinson said. Today, he’s still exploring the topic through a blog The Affable Curmudgeon. Since August 2016, he’s been writing about everything from white privilege to uncelebrated inventors. He chose the blog name for the play on words. “An affable curmudgeon is one who is working towards reaching an agreement on a bad-tempered, evil problem,” he said. So far he’s had positive feedback with two university sociology professors contacting him to thank him for his writing. “One BBC television host re-tweeted information that I sent him on a blog I wrote about blacks in Britain before the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush, dating back to Roman times,” said Mr Robinson. “That included information on Queen Victoria’s black goddaughter, Sara Forbes Bonetta.” In his writings, he puts quotations around words like “race” and “race relations”, because he believes they are questionable terms standing for social constructs. “There is only the human race,” he said. “All biologists agree that humans developed in Africa and spread around the world. Everyone goes back to being African.” Mr Robinson is a former director of Community & Cultural Affairs, and Human Affairs, and retired in 1999. He now lives in Portishead, Bristol, England. As a youngster he dreamt of becoming a lawyer. “Lawyer Arnold Francis was my role model,” said Mr Robinson. But when he graduated from the Berkeley Institute, teacher training scholarships were the only financial aid options available to black Bermudians. “My intention was to do teaching, get a job, earn some money and go back to school to become a lawyer,” he said. But he fell in love with teaching. “Teaching was a good match for me,” he said. “I just loved working with students.” After studying at Ottawa Teacher’s College in Canada, the scholarship required him to teach in Bermuda for three years. He taught at Francis Patton Primary and Southampton Glebe, but left the island as soon as his time was up. “I just couldn’t stand the segregation on the island,” he said. “I had experienced the freedom of life in Canada, including being able to vote in the country’s federal election because I was British. Back in Bermuda, my father was not able to vote because he did not own any land. Trying to live in Bermuda with the continued segregation was a frustration, not only for me but my returning classmates as well.” He returned to Canada and worked as a teacher and guidance counselor at a high school in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1978 he brought a group of his students to Bermuda on an exchange trip. “When I was here, the government advertised for a director of community and cultural affairs,” said Mr Robinson. On the urging of a friend, he applied for the job, and got it. Much of his early work as director involved implementing recommendations made by the 1978 Pitt Report. The Pitt Report, drawn up after the 1977 riots, made suggestions for improving race relations. Mr Robinson was responsible for many programmes and events we take for granted today, such as community education, seniors week and the Bermuda Day Parade. “The Pitt Report said people really needed events and activities that encouraged national pride,” said Mr Robinson. But when he first started the Bermuda Day Parade, there was community resistance. “When the last Easter parade was over, there was a mini riot that evening,” he said. “The riot really had nothing to do with the parade, but people connected it with it.” The late Eddie DeMello, Choy Aming and Dickie Green helped Mr Robinson get the first Bermuda Day Parade started in 1979. Thirty-eight years later, Mr Robinson marveled at how much the parade had grown. “I was back for it this May,” he said. “It was quite an emotional experience to see the streets just filled with people,” he said. In 1993 he became the director of another new department, Human Affairs, and was responsible for the Centre for Unity and Racial Equality, the Human Rights Commission and the Consumer Affairs Bureau, among other things. After six years, he retired and moved to China to be with his daughter Lolita Schmalenberg and her family. “It was an amazing experience,” he said. “I spent 14 years there and loved it. In China I worked as a teacher in a couple of international schools. I ended up working with business managers, working on their English.” While he was in China he met someone who told him about Bristol, England. “I visited it a couple of times and liked it,” he said. He moved there in 2013. Today one of his passions is golf. He learnt to play through one of the community education programmes that he helped to start. Mr Robinson is also a passionate reader and has more than 2,000 books in his home library. “My mother taught me to read when I was four, by using comic books,” he said. “I haven’t stopped reading since.” In Bristol, he lives in Portishead, near the entrance to the Bristol Channel. “I can see Wales from my balcony,” he said. “I can see all the ships going to Bristol Harbour. Everywhere I have lived I have always lived near the water.” Mr Robinson has four grandchildren and twin great-granddaughters.
September 5. A 47-year-old man has denied being part of a plot to smuggle cocaine into Bermuda. Rudolph Travers Clarke pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to import a controlled drug into Bermuda in January at Supreme Court arraignments. Mr Clarke also denied a further charge of possessing a controlled drug with intent to supply. He was remanded in custody
September 5. Category 4 Hurricane Irma is expected to pass 875 miles south of Bermuda on Thursday morning. But the Bermuda Weather Service’s 6pm update last night warned that the storm, due to be closest at 11am, could move closer to the island after that. Irma — packing maximum winds of more than 132mph with gusts in excess of 161mph — is predicted to pass through the Caribbean in the next few days. On its present track, it is likely to impact on Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla and Puerto Rico. The Dominican Republic and Cuba are also in its projected path. Yesterday, Irma was about 1,319 miles south east of Bermuda
September 3. Opposition Leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin today called on employers to enforce equal opportunities in the workplace in her Labour Day message. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “Labour Day is a time when all of our citizens can be heralded for their part in creating a Bermuda that works. Whether citizens are retirees who previously contributed, current workers who are presently bearing the brunt of the economic stimulus that is very necessary for stability of the country or the next generation intending to join the workforce and preparing themselves to do so - we applaud their efforts.” Ms Gordon-Pamplin, who took over as leader of the One Bermuda Alliance from Michael Dunkley after July’s election defeat, was speaking as the island prepared to mark Labour Day tomorrow. She said: “The working population has been the foundation on which our beautiful country has been built. It is appreciated that while every worker has not enjoyed the measure of respect or reward that is fair, their efforts nonetheless are crucial to Bermuda’s success. As we look forward to a day in which we can celebrate our labour force, we encourage employers to enforce equitable treatment, examining the requirements of the position, and not of the ethnicity of the position holder. We also encourage employees to give fair effort for the contracted remuneration. As some companies have redirected their business plans, we have seen resulting redundancies which has led to hardship for many families. It is incumbent upon all employers to ensure that our Bermudian workers in particular are embraced in a meaningful way in hiring decisions, as we believe a stable and happy workforce translates into a stable and happy community. On behalf of my colleagues at the One Bermuda Alliance, I wish everyone a Happy Labour Day.”
September 3. Bermuda’s future leaders have urged the community to come together and be the change they want to see in the world. The four participants in the Future Leaders programme who spoke at the 36th Bermuda Industrial Union Labour Day banquet on Friday also asked their elders not to underestimate the potential of young people and to recognise the contribution they can make to society. The three-week summer service Future Leaders scheme saw students explore topics including activism, racism, gang violence and poverty. Robert Thomas spoke about crime, poverty and inequality and the last was still something “we don’t really talk about”. But he added that problems like a the wage gap between black people and white people, as well as between women and men, were “things we need to know as young people and have in our minds because as we grow up we will be the ones who make a difference in these social issues”. Mr Thomas explained that as part of the programme, the participants visited the Salvation Army Shelter and he was surprised to hear that “most people” stayed at the shelter for 15 years. He added: “People in Bermuda are struggling, people in Bermuda are going through hard times and, yes, we may be sitting here in our suits and enjoying this beautiful dinner but some people don’t have this privilege. We as Bermuda need to realize that some people are in struggle and some people are in poverty and we, as young people, need to know this and we cannot be excluded from these statistics because these are the statistics that we are going to be changing.” He also said that crime had been rampant since the programme had started. Mr Thomas added that talking about how crime starts and what can be done about it, “really empowered us because crime is such a huge thing and it’s really intimidating but we are not as small and insignificant as we may feel. We are powerful, we are amazing, we have the capability to solve these issues and all it takes is for us to change together as a community and solve these issues together.” Z’Ajae Lee spoke about how examining identity and privilege allowed the young “to look into the world very differently”. She shared a speech she wrote on the social tensions in the world that questioned where the disconnect between blacks and whites began and how the gaps could be bridged. She added: “I think that we all as a society have to unite. I understand that our history can never be forgotten. But we have to learn to let go and live towards a united front of peace.” She said this needs to start by stopping children from “thinking that they aren’t able to fit in and they have to stick with what they know. What has been handed to us is a broken world filled with separation that is being upheld by both sides of the fence. We have to uplift both sides of the community to create a better one, to break down walls and build bridges.” Chervonne Hodsoll spoke about leadership and the community leaders the course participants met. She added: “As young people, we are often overlooked as though we can’t possibly be the future of our communities. Whether it’s through changing policies like what we did with the Department of Youth and Sport, or through building bridges like what we did with the Chewstick Foundation, we as future leaders have demonstrated that we all have the power to make a difference.” And Ka’Ri Richards spoke about how philanthropy can lead to social change because “charity alone cannot overturn injustice. At the beginning of the programme I was informed about all of the world’s problems and now I know that there are ways that the problems can be resolved. I have realized there is so much more that everybody could do to improve the world but not many people have the knowledge about the world and its problems. But also, we as a nation have become sleepwalkers and go along with the social norms. So, we must break the cycle of cynicism and practice the cycle of hope and repeat until a better world results. We must be the change we wish to see in the world, advocate on it and take action.” Mr Roberts also thanked the BIU, which sponsored some of the participants, for its support. He said: “We no longer feel like these tiny morsels who can’t make a difference. We feel powerful, we feel empowered and none of this would have been able to happen without the BIU’s support into this programme. It is now up to you, all of you, to acknowledge that we as young people have a contribution that we bring to society. It is now up to you to acknowledge the capability we hold as young people. We don’t just stick our heads in our mobile phones, we don’t just go on our laptops, we don’t just ride our bikes along the streets and cause mayhem. We are much greater. Don’t scream out my failures and whisper my accomplishments. We are much greater and powerful than proven to be. So please don’t underestimate us but include us, acknowledge us. You are the change you wish to see in the world — it changes with the youth and it changes now.”
September 2. Premier David Burt pledged last night to examine the “historical injustices of stolen lands” and to get to the bottom of what happened during the airport protest on December 2 last year. Delivering his first major speech as Premier at the Bermuda Industrial Union’s 36th Labour Day Banquet, Mr Burt also vowed to implement a living wage and emphasized the importance of solidarity to “harness the forces of economic empowerment”. Mr Burt, who was the keynote speaker at the event at the Fairmont Southampton, said: “With our election victory, we have won the tools to make change, and that is the power to change laws and to control the public purse. But that alone will not make the change to ensure that children and grandchildren of today’s workers will become the producers tomorrow. The labour movement and the [Progressive] Labour Party have a chance to write a new script for Bermuda. We can show this country that the lesson of solidarity is unity — unity of vision and unity of purpose. Now that the people have chosen to put their trust and belief in us, that our collective leadership can work together, we have to demonstrate to them what solidarity can achieve.” Mr Burt also emphasized that the new government’s objective is “not a revenge mission”. But he added: “Justice must still be done. So we must examine the historical injustices of stolen lands to ensure that some families finally get their justice. And we must ensure that we get to the bottom of the horrors of December 2, 2016, where workers and seniors were viciously assaulted, and find out what happened — and the truth because our people deserve no less. Our fellow Bermudians are trusting us. They are trusting that the solidarity that produced marches and demonstration, that demanded respect and change, will produce a Bermuda that works for all of us. The haves will continue to keep theirs, but the have-nots will be helped by this government to earn theirs, too. He added: “This government is firmly committed to demolishing the elements in Bermuda that have maintained the ‘two Bermudas’. We will weed out the bias and the racism that have held this country in its grip for too long, that has cut off potential, that has ruined access to opportunities by providing a less than high-quality education, unfulfilling jobs and little ability to earn enough to own a piece of the rock.” Mr Burt reiterated that the PLP government would improve the education system, provide better training and invest in lifelong learning for all Bermudians, and provide more access to capital to boost entrepreneurs. He reiterated the importance of supporting young entrepreneurs and those businesses “that reflect our values. As a community of workers, we will not accomplish our dream of economic empowerment until we understand that through solidarity we must empower each other by using our collective efforts and begin to harness the forces of co-operative economics. Fighting among each other will not get us what we need to do and that is the fact that in this country the workers and we must implement a living wage. We must reduce the cost of living in this country and we must ensure that all people — no matter the colour of their skin, their gender or their physical abilities — will get the same wage for the same work. We must ensure that employers give the same benefits to all their staff.” Mr Burt also spoke about the events that led up to the landslide election victory on July 18, including the protest surrounding Pathways to Status, the former government’s position on furlough days, the sacking of unionized employees from the Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club and subsequent dismissal of Bermuda Chamber of Commerce executive director Joanne MacPhee after she shouted at passing protesters to get back to work. He also paid tribute to the leaders of the People’s Campaign — BIU president Chris Furbert, Bermuda Public Services Union president Senator Jason Hayward and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed — “who came when our hour came”. Mr Burt added: “The effectiveness of marching is really about the effectiveness of solidarity. If you are connected with the workers, the builders of the economy and of the country, then chances are you can resolve issues by talking, negotiating and emphasizing, and marching is not necessary. During the campaign, it was clear that the PLP thought Bermudians should be working before or even alongside non-Bermudians. The other guys [One Bermuda Alliance] thought non-Bermudians were the only priority. So when I say labour won, it’s no small thing.” Mr Burt added: “Up until July 18, your thoughts about Bermudians in the workplace, the feelings you had when you saw injustice, the values that your parents had instilled in you well before July 18, you were the revolutionary, the rebel, the troublemaker, who just wouldn’t shut up and do their job and they were the Establishment. Those days are over. Being Bermudian and working in Bermuda, and using all your potential and being properly rewarded for it, is not revolutionary. That is the way it should be, so welcome to the new Establishment.” He concluded: “Let tonight be the beginning of the rebirth of labour in Bermuda. The union is active, the Government is labour, our mandate is strong and we can be the best labour movement that the world has seen. We will do it together in solidarity. United we stand, divided we fall.”
Premier's Labour Day message
September 2. Despite roadblocks reported by some Bermudians renting cars in Massachusetts, others are describing only green lights. Last week, The Royal Gazette detailed how Bermudian husband and wife Eric and Carol Bell had decided against a trip to see family members near Boston owing to the state refusing to accept Bermuda driving licences. Following the story, several readers reported that their licences had not presented a problem when they recently rented cars. Zoe Mulholland said she had no issues last month. “At the time I didn’t even remember the issue Bermudians have with renting a car,” she said in an e-mail. Ms Mulholland said she made the online reservation with Budget two days before her trip on August 10. She was prompted to provide the information that her licence was issued in Bermuda. She also used a Bermuda credit card to book and pay. Ms Mulholland said: “I did not have an issue at all at the rental counter.” Another Bermudian, who asked not to be named, also rented with no problems. The female driver also made her reservation online through rentalcars.com for a vehicle from Dollar. The reservation was made using a Bermuda credit card about one month before her trip this month. The Bermuda Ministry of Transport earlier said that clearing up the licence issue would take “ongoing dialogue with overseas authorities and further Cabinet discussion for the new government”. Massachusetts’ decision to refuse to recognise Bermuda licences made headlines last year. A spokesman for the transport ministry said at the time that the Government was working alongside other bodies on the issue “as a matter of urgency” towards an “expeditious solution”. And a spokesman for the ministry in May said that a “thorough review” had been undertaken. Since first coming to light, a number of people have reported problems renting cars in the state. The US Consul General’s office in Bermuda said: “The problem stems from the fact that Bermuda has never signed any international treaty that provides driving privileges abroad for its citizens.”
September 2. The co-owner of a St George’s pharmacy gutted by a blaze today vowed to pick up the pieces of the business and carry on. Garth Rothwell, a former Mayor of St George’s, said: “Obviously, it’s a big disappointment — it happened and we wish it hadn’t happened.” Mr Rothwell, who owns Robertson’s Drugstore with four sisters, added: “We’re getting together tomorrow — it depends on what we find. We will probably have to relocate for a while and refurbish the building and get back in as soon as we can.” The drugstore, founded by Mr Rothwell’s grandfather Freddy Robertson, has been in the family for nearly 100 years. Mr Rothwell said: “The building is pretty badly damaged — the roof has gone and all of the upstairs has been gutted. But we have a concrete floor, so we just have to wait until we get into it to see the extent of the damage.” And he added: “We will sort it out — we’re a tough lot.” Mr Rothwell said the cause of the fire, which appeared to start on the upper floor, was being probed by fire service experts. He added: “We don’t know for sure, but the smoke initially seemed to come from the air conditioner and that was the bit that was on fire. We feel that’s where it originated, but it’s early days yet.” He was speaking after smoke was seen coming from the building just before noon today. Firefighters fought to contain the blaze, but the fire caused the building’s roof to collapse and threatened nearby buildings. Police this afternoon closed off the area around the Water Street building. Officers acted after firefighters had battled the blaze since around noon. The roof of the building collapsed and a police spokesman said “it appears the fire is spreading to adjacent buildings.” He added: “The Bermuda Police Service is asking for the public to avoid the area around Robertson’s pharmacy. It is a very active scene and the area is closed to vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic.” The spokesman said that onlookers were hindering emergency operations. He added: “Please avoid this area until further notice.” Traffic police diverted traffic away from the area. And the police spokesman said: “Persons living and working in the area should expect some delays and inconvenience.” A Fire Service spokeswoman said they were alerted to the fire by an alarm system and calls from the public at around 11.50am. She added: “On arrival we found flames emitting from an air conditioning unit and thick black smoke erupting from multiple windows and eaves surrounding the upper level of the building.” The spokeswoman at the time advised the public to use caution on York Street and the surrounding area as crews worked to put out the fire. She added: “There are no injuries at this time. An investigation into the fire will commence once firefighters have completely extinguished the fire. It is the second time the pharmacy has been hit by fire. Robertson’s was destroyed almost exactly 40 years ago in a blaze in April, 1977.
September 2. Bacteria levels at Bermuda’s beaches are well within environmental guidelines, according to the latest figures from health watchdogs. A report by the Department of Health revealed some spikes in enterococci, a group of bacteria used as an indicator of pollution or faecal contaminants, but levels remained well within US limits. The US guidelines recommend that the 30-day geometric mean does not exceed 35 colony forming units of enterococci per 100 millilitres. Results between April 30 and August 20 show enterococci levels well below that limit, although levels at two beaches temporarily exceeded 15 CFU per 100ml over the course of the summer. The first and largest peak was recorded at Snorkel Park on the week of May 21, when testing showed a mean of nearly 20 CFU per 100ml. Levels at the beach fell throughout June, reaching a low of 5 CFU per 100ml before rising again in subsequent weeks. The second highest spike occurred at the east end of Horseshoe Bay on the week of July 30, with levels again approaching 20 CFU per 100ml before falling. CFU levels at the centre of the beach and at the west end remained lower, as did the results from Warwick Long Bay. In the east end, enterococci levels at Tobacco Bay exceeded 10 CFU per 100ml twice, while waters at Shelly Bay reached 5 CFU per 100 millilitres between May 28 and June 11. Levels at Clearwater Beach, John Smith’s Bay and Grotto Bay did not exceed 5 CFU per 100ml. Centrally located testing sites — including Elbow Beach and Grape Bay — showed consistently low bacteria levels throughout the summer, with no results over 5 CFU per 100ml. The Department of Health has regularly tested seawater from across the island since 2014, using US Environmental Protection Agency methodology for recreational water quality for marine water, and posted results on their website. Problems with bacteria in the islands waters arose after a 2013 water quality study revealed levels of enterococci well above US guidelines — although only during rare and sustained weather patterns. The report led to an official warning about Bermuda’s beaches on the US State Department’s website. Enterococci can enter the sea from a variety of sources, including storm water run-off, animal and seabird waste, failing septic systems, sewage effluent, boating waste and from bathers.
September 2. The return of a regular cruise ship and frequent tenders from Dockyard has had a hugely positive effect on the community of St George, according to Mayor Quinell Francis. But the town’s mayor is quick to stress the vital importance of progress on two other fronts: the marina development and the St Regis hotel, before a true revival can be hailed in the East End. She admits that the delays on the marina project have been frustrating, while the lack of progress on the hotel development in recent weeks has also been a concern. “Initially I was concerned that progress with the new hotel seemed to have slowed down, but within the last week I have seen an increase in activity down there,” Ms Francis said. “We have also seen portable office containers put down there too which is a good sign. They are still working on the road between Coots Pond Road and Barry Road. There is no indication at the moment when the road will be complete. In our conversations with the developer, they are still very positive about moving forward; they have acknowledged the road has taken longer than anticipated. We are still optimistic it’s going to happen; it’s something we have been waiting for, for a long time. The last meeting we had with the developer was before the election; but I feel we are being kept up-to-date with what is going on and we have scheduled a meeting for next week.” Ms Francis acknowledged that the Corporation was still “financially strapped” and looking at ways of becoming more financially independent. In the past year, major renovation work has been completed to Penno’s Wharf and also Hunter’s Wharf thanks to the $1.48 million grant provided under the previous administration. “We met with municipalities minister Walton Brown last week and provided a list of priorities; the marina development is obviously at the top of that, second is working on the underground infrastructure of the town,” the mayor said. “The new Cabinet will have to briefed on the marina and then we hope that legislation approving the 42-year-lease will go before the House of Assembly in this coming session. We have spoken with MP Renée Ming and as well as Mr Brown, and I believe the two of them are on board with the importance of this project. Once we get the legislation through, the plans can be submitted and we can move forward with the developers. If this all happens I hope that the marina can be ready for the beginning of the next summer season. The process has been very frustrating.” This week work began on improvements to Ordnance Island, the bridge and also Market Wharf. The project is expected to take between four to six weeks and will cost about $550,000, which comes from Unesco funds. The Corporation also plans to embark on upgrades to Somers Gardens and the Upper Town Hall, which has been closed since Hurricane Fabian. “We are extremely pleased with the work that has been done,” Ms Francis said. “A new roof was put on the Penno’s warehouse and we have already had interest about the building. We hope to get a tenant in there soon.” She added: “Overall the summer season has been a very positive one; the increase in cruise ships and the NCL tender have been excellent for St George’s. We definitely see more visitors coming to the town, and that’s a step in the right direction. The Millennium and the Bo Hengy II have worked really well in tandem bringing in people from Dockyard. The Bo Hengy was out of service for about a month and we did notice a decline in visitors during that time; but now it is back running we can see an increase in passengers coming to St George’s. I feel we have handled the return of a regular cruise ship well; we have had entrepreneurs put on different activities. The package is definitely improving for our visitors.”
September 2. Preserve Marriage’s reinstatement as a charity has re-ignited questions over its funding, but Bermuda’s laws do not require the information to be disclosed. The group, which is against same-sex marriage and civil unions, has never revealed its financial backers and its lawyer told a court hearing this year that some “expressly” did not want their names “exposed”. Bermudian journalist Clare O’Connor, who works for Forbes, raised the question last week in a Facebook comment. She claimed that an unnamed “prominent Bermuda-based business leader” was “funding the Preserve Marriage bigots” and said “his shareholders have a right to know”. And one objector to the organisation’s application to have its charitable status renewed this year asked the island’s Charity Commissioners to examine financial support for the group. The objector, whose identity was withheld under public access to information rules, wrote: “They are bringing hatefulness into Bermuda and bad publicity. Where are they getting money from to support them? Was this ever investigated?” Preserve Marriage — like other charities — is not obliged to reveal the sources of its funding. It an offence for charities to fail to disclose funds received from public, government or private sources under the 2014 Charities Act, but the legislation does not require those sources to be identified. It is understood that the Charity Commissioners, when considering applications, do not usually request such information unless there is cause for concern. Preserve Marriage successfully applied for charitable status in April last year. But its application to have the status renewed was denied in May by the Charity Commissioners in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling which made gay marriage legal. The commissioners gave three reasons for the refusal, which were that the group’s purposes:
The organisation appealed against the decision and home affairs minister Walton Brown upheld the appeal this week. In a letter to Preserve Marriage, the minister said advocating for marriage to be defined as a union between a man and a woman had not been declared unlawful and he saw no difference between the charitable purposes or primary objectives set out in the group’s original status application and its renewal application. Preserve Marriage filed a financial statement of its accounts and an annual report with the Registrar-General earlier this year, in accordance with the Charities Act. But the documents, seen by The Royal Gazette, provide no clue as to who is funding the charity. According to its statement of accounts, Preserve Marriage’s net assets at the end of 2016 were $1,020. Donations totaled $165,054 last year and the group spent $155,330 on community education and $8,704 on supporting activities. Preserve Marriage said some of its donors had given more than $5,000 — though it had not received any “unusual or substantial one-off donations” — and that it had a well-established relationship with its donors. Several of Preserve Marriage’s leading members are church figures, such as deputy chairman Gary Simons, a pastor with Cornerstone Bible Fellowship, and treasurer Mark Hall, from Word of Life Fellowship. Some funding has come from churches and that is likely to include donations from Cornerstone, which suggests its parishioners pay a tithe — one-tenth of their income — to the church. Preserve Marriage was involved in the Supreme Court case earlier this year which led to the landmark ruling allowing gay people to marry. The successful plaintiffs, gay couple Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche, sought legal costs against the group and its third-party funders. But Preserve Marriage’s lawyer Delroy Duncan told the court: “You have a limited liability company which was a charity that people gave to, some under a cloak of confidentiality, some expressly saying ‘we do not want our names exposed. Some of those funders include churches and members of the community.” And Mr Duncan described the funders as “a lot of people throughout this community”. Mr Godwin and Mr DeRoche are no longer seeking costs from the third-party funders. The judgment in favour of gay marriage is under appeal by both Preserve Marriage and a separate group which is supportive of its aims. The separate group is led by former MP Maxwell Burgess and the notice of appeal filed with the court by him included a list of “second appellants” which featured the signatures of more than 8,000 Preserve Marriage supporters. Those who signed consented to their names being included as appellants and they could be held liable for legal costs if the appeal fails. No one from Preserve Marriage could be contacted for comment.
September 1. Premier David Burt will open this month’s Bermuda Captive Conference, which is poised to surpass last year’s record-setter with 1,000 hotel-room nights booked to date by overseas delegates. Officially launching the thirteenth year of Bermuda’s largest international business event, the Premier, accompanied by Jamahl Simmons, Economic Development Minister, will welcome conference attendees at the Fairmont Southampton on September 11. After presenting the annual Fred Reiss Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr Burt will also announce this year’s inductees to the Bermuda Captive Hall of Fame, an honour awarded to companies that have committed at least 25 years to the island’s market. Mr Simmons will later join industry leaders in an introductory session on trends and innovation. “The Government of Bermuda is dedicated to helping maintain a dynamic Bermuda captive market, and we are pleased to support one of the greatest international business conferences on the captive insurance calendar,” said Mr Burt. “The attendees will find the conference to be an engaging experience of learning and opportunity, and I look forward to participating.” With just two weeks to go, the conference has already seen a record number of hotel-room nights, currently at 1,000, and organisers expect the total number of registered delegates to surpass last year’s record of 800. Notably this year, the conference programme was extended to three full conference days from 2½ previously; leisure activities are planned for an additional fourth day on September 10, allowing delegates to network socially before industry sessions kick off the following morning. The longer itinerary, bookended by opening and closing beach receptions, includes a golf tournament at the Port Royal Golf Club and a nature walk. “The response so far means we have more overseas delegates than ever before, more captive owners and risk managers, more representatives from either existing captives or companies looking to set up captives — and they’re staying on the island longer,” said conference chairman David Gibbons, adding that while most attendees are travelling from the United States, delegates have also registered from the UK, Canada, Latin America and Europe. Countries represented include Argentina, Aruba, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the UK and US. Bermuda’s captive insurance market continues to be over 80 per cent from the US and that is reflected in the delegates,” said Mr Gibbons. “However, we see growing interest from Canada and have quite a few people coming to the conference for the first time from there. Our Latin American session continues to generate interest among existing and new LatAm business. And we’ve certainly seen an increase in interest from Europe as Solvency II becomes an option, thanks to Bermuda’s full equivalency.” The three-day agenda features a mix of moderated panels and roundtables focusing on hot topics like insurtech, cyber-risk, employee benefits, claims handling, and investment strategies. Bermuda is the top global captive jurisdiction, home to close to 800 captive insurance companies supporting primarily Fortune 500 corporations in the US and generating over $55 billion in annual gross written premiums. “As well as providing existing captive clients with the tools they need, this conference is a great platform for captive owners and prospective captive audiences to learn about the possibilities and trends; Bermuda’s suite of service providers adds great value to that conversation,” said Jereme Ramsay, conference Marketing chairman and Business Development Manager at Bermuda Business Development Agency. “The conference follows a very busy summer season on the island and kicks off this fall’s full calendar of industry events. That speaks to our market’s impressive expertise, and each event of this kind also provides a substantial boost to Bermuda’s hospitality industry.” Mr Simmons will take part in an introductory session focusing on innovation and business trends worldwide. Joining him will be Bermuda Monetary Authority CEO Jeremy Cox; BDA chairman and former Appleby managing director Kiernan Bell; Alan Gier, global director of Risk Management & Insurance at General Motors and president of the Bermuda Captive Owners Association; and Grainne Richmond, president of the Bermuda Insurance Management Association. Other key figures will participate in a chock-a-block agenda of panels and roundtables over the three days. Another big-name session on Monday reviews Bermuda’s commercial insurance and reinsurance market in relation to the global economy. Moderated by Liberty Mutual Management (Bermuda) president Peter Willitts, the session features Todd Cunningham, head of strategic risk solutions and Captive Services, Zurich North America; Steve Horton, senior vice-president, financial lines manager, Iron-Starr Excess Agency; and Patrick Tannock, chief executive officer, XL Bermuda Ltd, Insurance and chairman of the Association of Bermuda International Companies. A workshop on forming a Bermuda captive will also be held — featuring the team behind this year’s incorporation of the world’s first student-run captive by Indiana’s Butler University. “The key thing is, we’re focusing on innovation and the future of the market,” said Mr Gibbons. “Bermuda as the number-one captive domicile has always played a major part in determining the industry’s future and that obviously plays hand-in-hand with our reinsurance partners here as the whole Bermuda market continues to develop cutting-edge industry solutions. “Importantly, we have a lot of sessions on investments this year,” he added, “which we think is appropriate with all the global political and economic changes, and reactions to that as investors continue to be relatively risk-averse while looking for returns.” Other session highlights include:
Michael Burns, a leading Bermudian corporate lawyer, will receive the second Fred Reiss Lifetime Achievement Award at Monday morning’s opening presentation. Conference keynote speaker will be Bermudian anthropologist and marine heritage expert Dr Philippe Rouja, recently featured in a CNN travel video about the island, who will highlight Bermuda’s shipwreck history at Tuesday’s luncheon in the hotel’s Mid-Ocean Amphitheatre. The conference was shifted from its regular calendar slot in June to September due to this summer’s America’s Cup; it returns to June in 2018. For more information on the conference, contact (441) 295-2626, email@example.com or go to http://bermudacaptiveconference.com/
September 1. Hurricane Harvey will be the most costly natural disaster in US history, predicts AccuWeather. It believes the impact on the country’s gross domestic product will be $190 million, and as a result will force the Federal Reserve to postpone the next increase in interest rates. Harvey, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Rockport, Texas last weekend, has brought catastrophic flooding to a wide area, including Houston, the fourth largest city in the US. More than 20 people have died as a result of the storm and subsequent flooding. Joel Myers, president of US-based weather forecasting company AccuWeather, said: “This is the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history. AccuWeather has raised its estimate of the impact to the nation’s gross national product, or GDP, to $190 billion or a full one per cent, which exceeds totals of economic impact of Katrina and Sandy combined. “The GDP is $19 trillion currently. Business leaders and the Federal Reserve, major banks, insurance companies, etc, should begin to factor in the negative impact this catastrophe will have on business, corporate earnings and employment. “The disaster is just beginning in certain areas. Parts of Houston will be uninhabitable for weeks and possibly months due to water damage, mould, disease-ridden water and all that will follow this 1,000-year flood.” Earlier this week, catastrophe modelling firm RMS estimated economic losses from the storm could be as high as $70 billion to $90 billion. Another modelling firm Air Worldwide has estimated insured property losses from wind and storm surge to be in the region of $1.2 billion to $3 billion.
Hurricane Harvey flooding. RG photo. See above story
September 1. Supermarkets should have fresh produce today and fully stocked shelves by next week. The island started to run out of fresh produce after the Oleander cargo ship was marooned in New Jersey due to a breakdown earlier this week. But repairs to the main engine of the container ship were completed on Tuesday and the vessel is expected to arrive in Bermuda on Sunday morning. Warren Jones, CEO of Stevedoring Service’s parent company Polaris Holding, which runs Hamilton docks, said the firm’s team was on standby to unload the Oleander when it arrives on Sunday. Mr Jones said: “Our guys understand their commitment to the community of Bermuda whenever a ship is in port — whatever time it comes alongside they are on-deck. The only difference with Sunday is that she will arrive at 8am instead of 5.30pm and the team will put 16 hours on the boat as opposed to the normal five hours on a Sunday. The other change will be that Monday is Labour Day. However, if the Oleander arrives as scheduled, the perishables will be off and delivered before the end of daylight on Sunday.” The Bermuda Islander arrived on the island yesterday morning and helped to restore produce levels in grocery stores. Carlos Veloso, the produce manager at Supermart, said that customers today should expect to see 90 per cent of their usual products. “Things are starting to look back to normal,” Mr Veloso said. However, due to the upcoming Labour Day holiday, the supermarket had to resort to air-freight shipments to ensure residents have the food they need for the long weekend. “We had to fly in lemons. We couldn’t do without lemons on the weekend,” Mr Veloso said. “The only difference will be the pricing of produce delivered by air. I’m paying seventy dollars for a case of strawberries instead of thirty. A few people complain but a lot of people know that there is a boat issue,” Mr Veloso said. "We’re keeping our margins low and We’re just trying to get by this week.”
September 1. A young Bermudian man who won the right for gay people to marry on the island is to meet the government MP behind a bid to have the decision reversed. Winston Godwin-DeRoche, whose successful challenge to the law in the Supreme Court led to a landmark ruling in May, posted an open letter to the Progressive Labour Party backbencher Wayne Furbert on Facebook on Wednesday. Mr Godwin-DeRoche asked Mr Furbert how he could “actively work to deny the LGBT community the same rights you were denied and fought for based on your skin colour in the 1960s”. The letter has resulted in a meeting between the two men next Tuesday. Other members of the LGBT community are expected to attend. Meanwhile, British media have picked up on the possibility that Bermuda could become the first country in the world to “re-ban same-sex marriage” if Mr Furbert’s Private Member’s Bill to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples is successful. The Pink News and Gay Times both ran stories this week on the topic. Gay Times wrote: “If same-sex marriage is re-banned in the country, it would be a massive problem for cruise liners in the area, who have already taken bookings for weddings.” Bermuda Tourism Authority spokesman Glenn Jones said: “The Bermuda Tourism Authority markets Bermuda as hospitable, warm and a place welcoming to all people. We hope Bermuda’s policies live up to that promise.” Mr Godwin-DeRoche, 27, whose letter is printed in full in the Op-Ed section on page 5 today, told The Royal Gazette he reached out to Mr Furbert in the hope of getting “just a response on a human level”. He said: “At the end of the day, we are both black Bermudians. Obviously, he’s experienced a lot more of the racial aspect of things, growing up in the time period he did.” But he added: “It’s comparing apples to apples when you compare race to the same-sex marriage issue. It’s completely the same issue.” Mr Godwin-DeRoche brought his civil case with his Canadian fiancé, Greg, with whom he has since tied the knot in Canada. The lawsuit led to a ruling by Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons that legalized same-sex marriage. The decision is now being appealed by the charity Preserve Marriage and its supporters, including Mr Furbert. In his letter to Mr Furbert, Mr Godwin-DeRoche wrote that he and the politician were probably similar people with opposing views on life and that such differences were fine but said “problems arise when we are told our differences, the very things that make us who we are, make us second-class citizens. Problems arise when we are told you cannot have the same rights because you are gay”. He added: “I would like you to pause and replace the word ‘gay’ with ‘black’ or, quite frankly, with any race, nationality or ‘difference’ that you are born with and have no control over.” Mr Godwin-DeRoche wrote: “At one time, blacks had to also fight for their rights to be heard and recognized. The race issues faced in the 1960s [and earlier] are the gay rights issues we are facing at present. I am certain you, as well as the larger Bermudian community, are aware of what it has taken for race relations to get to the point of where they are now, including the riots of 1977, which we were so recently reminded of. Experiencing what you have, how can you actively work to deny the LGBT community the same rights you were denied and fought for based on your skin colour in the 1960s?” He said he and his fiancé took the decision to take legal action after they were denied the right to marry here. Mr Godwin-DeRoche added that their decision was based on the same principles the black community believed in before desegregation. “We all deserve equal rights and protection under the law, including marriage. Introducing this Private Member’s Bill will not only effectively exclude same-sex couples from the right to marriage, which you so enjoy, it will also send a message to the world about what sort of country Bermuda can be. Should this Bill be passed, Bermuda would be the only country to grant same-sex marriage and have it revoked.” He finished by asking Mr Furbert to meet him for coffee and “answer why does same-sex marriage truly offend you”. He wrote: “I consciously chose to leave religion and the Bible out of this letter. Please do me the same courtesy because, when it comes to human rights, religion has no bearing.” Mr Furbert responded online: “Hi Winston, I am not going to reply via this media but would be more than happy to sit down with you for coffee. Let’s do it ASAP.” Greg Godwin-DeRoche then chipped in and told Mr Furbert: “I don’t think I will be available to be in Bermuda but if I am, I will be there with my husband. I would love to learn more about your stance on discrimination. I don’t feel there is a logical response to discriminating one group of people, yet upholding laws and values for all or any other group. Discrimination is just that, regardless if it is race, gender, religion or sexuality.”
September 1. Robert Newhouse, who played a prominent role in the transformation of the Bermuda insurance market in the 1980s, has died after a brief illness. Mr Newhouse spent the bulk of his career with insurance brokers Marsh & McLennan Cos. He was one a group of MMC brokers, whose idea it was to form Ace (now Chubb) in 1985 and Excel (now XL Catlin) in 1986. That group included Robert Clements, who passed away in 2010. Mr Newhouse’s obituary in the New York Times described him as “one of the architects of the Bermuda insurance industry and instrumental in creating and managing such companies as Ace, Excel, Axis, Mid Ocean and numerous others”. He went on to serve on the boards of several of the companies he helped to create. The obituary added: “He passed away peacefully with his family around him and his wife’s picture in his hands”. Mr Newhouse graduated from the Hill School and attended Princeton University. He served as an officer in the US Navy during the Second World War. Having started out in the insurance industry in 1954, he spent 36 years with MMC, serving as a senior executive for Guy Carpenter & Co and retiring as vice-chairman of the parent company, MMC. Dan Glaser, chief executive officer of MMC, said: “It was with great sadness that we learnt of the recent passing of Robert Newhouse, who retired as vice-chairman of MMC in 1990. During his 36-year career at MMC, Bob was a transformative leader in our company’s history, an iconic executive in our industry and a true gentleman. On behalf of all of our colleagues at MMC, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Bob’s family, and celebrate his life and many contributions.” Mr Newhouse was also an active consultant to Stone Point Capital, an MMC spin-off company specialising in private-equity investments, until his death. The formation of Ace and Excel was a response to the US excess liability insurance crisis of the 1980s. According to Held Captive: A History of International Insurance in Bermuda by Cathy Duffy, Mr Newhouse was a highly skilled broker who played a key role in the design of Ace. It was also his idea to add directors’ and officers’ insurance to the concept, in order to expand the number of customers. Evan Greenberg, chairman and CEO of Chubb, said: “Chubb mourns the loss of Robert ‘Bob’ Newhouse Jr, one of the founding fathers and early directors of Ace Ltd, Chubb’s legacy company. We pay tribute to Bob’s visionary leadership as an architect of the Bermuda insurance industry. On behalf of his friends and colleagues at Chubb, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to Bob’s family.” And Mike McGavick, CEO of XL Catlin, said: “We are saddened by the passing of insurance industry visionary and veteran Bob Newhouse. “Without Bob and industry icon the late Robert Clements, XL Catlin would not exist today. Bob Newhouse was not only instrumental in the formation of XL and other companies within the industry, he was also transformer of the Bermuda market through his innovative leadership and insightful advice on company boards well after his retirement. We are for ever grateful to Bob for his invaluable contributions and extend our condolences to his sons Robert III, Stephan and Paul and the entire family.” Mr Newhouse’s wife of 69 years, Patricia, died in 2014. He is survived by his three sons and their wives, Robert Newhouse III and Laurie, Stephan Newhouse and Judy and Paul Newhouse and Diane as well as six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
September 1. Gang members in prison could be suffering from severe mental health problems. Sebastian Henagulph, forensic psychiatrist at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute and Westgate Correctional Facility, cited British research that reported gang membership can lead to mental illness. Dr Henagulph said: “It’s a two-way thing. A lot of people who end up in prison have antisocial personality disorder or other personality disorders. Usually 5 to 10 per cent of the population has a personality disorder, but if you go into a prison, you’ll find 60 to 80 per cent with a personality disorder.” One study found that nearly 90 per cent of gang members had antisocial personality disorder, compared with 30 per cent of violent men with no gang affiliations and only 10 per cent of non-violent men. “Some people get involved in these gangs because of the general stressful environments they’re in,” Dr Henagulph said. He added that the racial divide played a part in gangs in Bermuda, with the majority made up of young black men. “It tends to be people on the margins of society. The disenfranchised don’t have money and don’t see hope in their lives, and drift into the gang lifestyle. I would see it more as a socioeconomic issue here in Bermuda, and it is the same in the United States — historically, the black population has been at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. Generally, most of us deal with stress in a healthy way whereas other people might not have these same coping skills and resort to drugs and alcohol, blaming other people and fighting other people.” Research by Public Health England suggested that young people may be drawn to gangs for a sense of support, self-worth and belonging, particularly if they are from broken homes. The British study said: “Supporting mental well-being in vulnerable young people is therefore a multi-agency interest and is fundamental to preventing gang-related violence.” Dr Henagulph added that in addition to poor mental health contributing to gang affiliation, membership could contribute to a deterioration in mental condition. “Some of the people in gangs, because of the violence they’re committing and the stressful environments they’re in, are paranoid all the time because someone is actually probably coming to get them. Just being in the gang gives you anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and high rates of suicide.” But Dr Henagulph, backed by other mental health organisations on the island, said the entire mental healthcare system was out of date and that there was insufficient research on illness rates, while prisons lacked suitable treatment programmes. Jodi Lewis of the Bermuda Mental Health Foundation, said: “Our legislation is outdated and our system in Bermuda is archaic.” She added that mental healthcare needed a complete overhaul. "The high rate of re-offending in Bermuda proved offenders were not being helped, while repeat offenders cost the taxpayer. It’s costly to send someone back to prison. Jail might not be the best place.” Dr Henagulph said: “Keeping someone locked up in prison for 20 years is expensive, whereas people whose mental health is related to their offending can be sent to a hospital where they can be treated and be better in two or three years and come out and function in society.” The psychiatrist, who spent 12 years working in hospitals in the UK with large multidisciplinary teams on call around the clock, said a forensic wing at MWI should be considered. He said: “We have patients upstairs in MWI who are vulnerable and you don’t want people with lots of antisocial personality traits coming into the hospital. It would be detrimental to the people that we already have here.” He added that an agreement had been struck earlier this year to send some patients to St Andrew’s Healthcare in the UK for treatment and other options were being considered. The former government opened the Mental Health Treatment Court last year, with the aim of using psychiatric care where needed by offenders. Dr Henagulph said that prison officers would benefit from better training in mental health and that a course run by the BHB was introduced last year. He added: “The more people that have that sort of training to be able to pick things up and tell us that this person might need some help makes it a lot easier than things getting out of hand before people step in. Westgate mental health professionals had a heavy workload. We could use more resources. I have the clinic up there once a week and we can just about manage the caseload.” However, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lamb, the Commissioner for Corrections, said gang affiliation and mental health were separate issues. “In one or two instances there might be some psychological mental health issues but not for the most part. They are two separate issues. Staff are keenly aware of signs of psychological issues.”
September 1. The Bermuda Union of Teachers voted yesterday to abandon a work to rule for the start of the new school term. The breakthrough came after a significant development in negotiations over terms and conditions with the education department. The union said it had made headway on scale posts, one of three sticking points that were raised by teachers before the summer vacation. Scale posts are speciality subjects some teachers deliver in addition to their normal teaching duties. The union was able to negotiate with the Commissioner of Education and education department personnel to reach an agreement. As part of the agreement, there will be reduced responsibilities for teachers holding scale posts under a new job description. The other two issues — the workload of deputy principals at the primary level, and a change in the foreword to the collective bargaining agreement to include “modern and relevant” learning — are expected to be settled in the next few weeks.
September 1. Multiple boats caught fire early at Riddell’s Bay public dock in the early hours of Friday morning. The Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service responded to reports at about 12.30am, sending four vehicles and ten personnel to deal with the blaze. A spokeswoman said an investigation into the cause of the fire would take place first thing yesterday morning.September 1. Two cruise ship passengers were arrested yesterday in connection with a violent incident in Dockyard in the early hours of the morning that left a pair of island teenagers in hospital with serious injuries. Police said a fight broke out between three passengers from the Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship and two local males after an alleged jewellery theft. The two locals — aged 19 and 17 — were taken to hospital with what police described as serious head and facial injuries. A police spokesman said: “A 26-year-old female and 23-year-old male from the cruise ship have been arrested in connection with this matter.” Police were not able to say what charges the pair may face. Parts of the incident were captured in multiple videos that were circulating on social media by yesterday afternoon. The police spokesman said: “That footage will play a role in the investigation.” He added that anyone with information that could help the inquiry should contact police.
September 1. LF Wade International Airport was evacuated yesterday afternoon after a fire alarm went off. Staff and passengers were allowed back into the building after the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service did a security sweep and gave the all clear. A Skyport airport duty officer said: “At 3.01pm, the Life Safety System audible alarm was activated in the airport and emergency services were called. The building was immediately evacuated by staff and passengers as the matter was being investigated. Bermuda Fire and Rescue Services arrived on the scene at 3:16pm to assess the situation. After a thorough investigation of the affected area and a security sweep, the all clear was given at 3.35pm when staff and passengers were allowed to re-enter the building." The duty officer said that the cause was being investigated. There was no impact on flights.
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September 20, 2017.
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