Ten individuals receive national honours

Businessmen Martin Ellis Franklin and George Ryan have been conferred with Knighthoods.

The two, one of whom is well known to the Antigua and Barbuda public were bestowed these honours during the country’s ceremonial parade on Independence Day.

George Ryan, the most of the two, was recognised for his contribution to business and community service and received the Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (KCN).

In his citation, the speaker noted that Ryan has assisted in the construction of several government buildings which are still standing today.

He was born in Montserrat and at the age of 16 moved to Antigua where he later would establish himself as a construction tycoon, building a number of churches and schools in Antigua and Barbuda.

AUDIO – Ryan on knighthood

Meanwhile, Franklin was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Nation (KGCN) for his contribution to economic development, heritage restoration, business and community service.

Among his achievements is donating two million dollars to the restoration of the Government House, one million dollars of his own money to the Barbuda efforts and making available annual scholarships for Antiguans and Barbudans.

Franklin who is an economic envoy for the county is also responsible for the total restoration and refurbishment of the Fiennes institute donating a whopping three million dollars.

AUDIO – Franklin on knighthood

The knighthood is Antigua and Barbuda’s second highest award. Only the National Hero award is above it.

Meanwhile, health officials Chief Medical Officer Dr Rhonda Sealey Thomas and Dr Dane Abbott were among the ten nationals who were awarded honours at the ceremonial parade on Thursday.

The CMO and Gynecologist Dr. Abbott were conferred the honour of Officer of the Most Illustrious Order of Merit (OM) for contributions in healthcare. That same honour was awarded to now Educator and Principal of the Princess Margaret Secondary School Dr. Colin Greene and Lornette King-Francis of the Girl’s Brigade an educator for more than 40 years.

The other awardees included; Hotelier Robert “Rob” Barrett he is now Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (CN), for his contribution in the field of tourism and community service; while Janet Oliver Bachelor-Francis and Eileen Vanessa Francis, were named Officers of the Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage (OH).

Bachelor Francis for her contribution to cultural development and community service and Francis for her contribution to music.

Robinson’s lawyer threatens further legal action over 2nd suspension

Richard Cheltenham, the lawyer representing police Commissioner Wendel Robinson has issued a letter to the Police Service Commission threatening to take further legal action if the Commissioner is not reinstated to his post with immediate effect.

They are seeking exemplary and aggravated damages against the Commission.

In a letter dated October 30th, 2018, Cheltenham accused the PSC of disrespecting /disregarding a judgement of the High Court and referred to the second suspension of Robinson as “an abuse of state power” and an “attempt to erode the rule of law in Antigua and Barbuda.

Last Friday, Justice Godfrey Smith ruled that the Police Discipline Regulations under which Robinson was initially suspended do not apply to officers above the rank of inspectors.

Now, Robinson’s lawyer is contending that the grounds of this second suspension are also laid under that regulation which the judge has ruled inapplicable to the Commissioner.

In the letter to the PSC, Cheltenham gave the deadline of Friday November 2nd to be told who signed the letter of suspension as it was not signed by the Chairman of the commission or even a member for that.

He also states that the charges were laid by special constables who have no authority to lay or prosecute disciplinary charges under the law of the state.

He referred to the charges as being invalid and void ab initio and could not support the Commission’s October 26th suspension.

The lawyer also claims that to date (October 30th. 2018) no copy of the investigative report had been made available to his client, nor did they afford him the right to be heard before suspending him a second time.

Cheletenham says the PSC also did not afford Robinson the most basic elemental requirements when it failed to advise the Commissioner of the disciplinary procedure to be applied against him and have only said that his client will be advised “in due course”.

In addition, he claims that his client was given an indefinite suspension as the document did not state specifically the time frame of the suspension.

National Housing Project asked to terminate non-performing workers

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has asked the National Housing Programme to terminate lackadaisical workers.

He says there are a number of persons who were hired to work on the on-going housing projects, who simply show up when they want or not at all.

AUDIO – PM on housing project[1]

And speaking of housing projects, the government is going full fledge ahead with the Boobey Alley/Perry Bay Urban renewal project.

The 100 million dollar investment will move residents from the Perry Bay area to newly built properties in Boobey Alley.

The prime minister made these pronouncements faced with opposition to the housing project in the area.

AUDIO – PM on housing project[2]

Barbuda Land Act suit to be heard in January 2019

The government is preparing itself to challenge a law suit that has been brought against it by several members of the Barbuda Council.

The suit which was filed in the High Court on October 18th

It challenges two pieces of legislation which make the long standing communal practice of land ownership on Barbuda null and void.

The amendment was met with much opposition from the Barbuda Council when it was repealed in parliament earlier this year and replaced by the Crown Lands Regulation Amendment Act 2018.

The chairman of the Barbuda Council, Trevor Walker said then that they would contest the government’s decision to pass this bill.

AUDIO – Kamalie on land act

The lawsuit for the Barbuda Land Act is expected to be heard for the first time on January 15th 2019.

Attorney at law Justin Simon QC has moved on behalf of Trevor Walker, Wayde Burton, Mackenzie Frank and the rest of the Barbuda Council to file a lawsuit against the Antigua and Barbuda Government.

The suit claims that the changes which were made to the Barbuda Land Act 2007 are illegal.

They are therefore asking the court to maintain that land in Barbuda which is vested in the Governor General, be held on behalf of Barbuda people and that these lands be once again owned in common by the people of Barbuda.

They say the Crown Lands Regulation Bill violates sections of the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda, which negate the independence of the Barbuda Council in the exercise of its duties, powers, and functions.

But Attorney General Steadroy Cutie Benjamin tells ZDK their claims hold no basis. In fact he says he is surprised by the lawsuit which he claims are without any merit.

The government will be represented by Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan and Carla Brookes Harris, the Deputy Solicitor General.

Funnel Cloud Catches the Attention of Residents

Residents who witnessed the formation of a funnel cloud near the west of St John’s on Saturday morning, were left in awe as the system seemed to be growing in size.

A funnel cloud is funnel-shaped cloud of condensed water droplets, associated with a rotating column of wind and extending from the base of a cloud.

It is what happens before a water sprout or tornado forms.  A funnel cloud does not reach the ground or a water surface but if it does it can become a tornado.

Some can be just as dangerous as tornadoes. Climatologist Dale Destin says the level of danger can be the same as a storm or hurricane but over a much smaller area and over a short time (less than an hour, often minutes).

Residents have since reported seeing an even bigger funnel cloud near Factory Road.

Based on reports coming, in Destin warned that conditions appear conducive for tornadic activity and asked that precaution be taken. In the event the cloud becomes a tornado residents are asked to take precautions to protect life and property.

First month of snail bounty hunting removes 200,000 snails

Snail bounty hunters seem to be making progress with their new initiative when they collected almost 20 thousand pounds of snails in their first month.

According to the Plant Protection Unit, Bounty Hunters concentrated on 18 snail-infested locations and collected a total of 19,742 lbs of snails in September.

The majority of the collections were from Paynters (4,346 lbs), Fitches Creek/Burma (3,315 lbs), Cedar Valley (3,133 lbs), All Saints (2,350 lbs), and Pigotts (1,841 lbs).

The Unit says the first month’s effort can be said to have removed approximately 200,000 snails from the environment.

In April of 2018, the Cabinet approved the sum of EC$100,000 towards a Giant African Snail Bounty Initiative.  The payout was one dollar per pound of snail.

As a result of the initiative, a system for daily collection and disposal of the snails has been developed – a collaboration with the Central Board of Health and the National Solid Waste Management Authority.

The Unit reports that forty (40) of the 75 registrants went on to sign contracts, with at least 50% falling within the 18 – 35 age category.

PSC hands out second suspension letter to Robinson

Reports reaching ZDK suggest that the Police Service Commission has not accepted the suspended commissioner back into the ranks of the Royal Police Force.

The PSC reportedly met in an emergency meeting and determined there that Robinson was still on suspension.

They later issued him another letter of suspension and informed Atlee Rodney, the acting police commissioner that his role still stood.

This comes after Justice Godfrey Smith handed down a ruling in favour of suspended Commissioner of Police Wendel Robinson.

Smith ruled in the High Court this morning that Robinson be reinstated with immediate effect, thereby quashing the April 5th 2018 suspension by the Police Service Commission.

Top Cop Wins Wrongful Suspension Case

Suspended Commissioner of Police Wendel Robinson has won the right to be reinstated as Police Commissioner of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.

Justice Godfrey Smith gave that ruling earlier this morning via Skype in the High Court.

The judge quashed the April 5th 2018 suspension by the Police Service Commission (PSC) and ruled that Robinson be reinstated with immediate effect.

It was also reported that Robinson won legal costs.

Earlier this month, Robinson had told state TV that he was optimistic that he would win his case against the Police Service Commission who had suspended him following allegations of sexual misconduct by three of his colleagues.

Shortly after his suspension in April, Robinson hired the services of Barbados attorney Richard Cheltenham to defend his right to be reinstated as head of the force.

Robinson had threatened to take legal action against the chairman of the PSC Kelvin John because according to him and his lawyer the April 5th suspension order was unlawful and could not be supported.

He maintained that he should have gotten a preliminary hearing to be briefed about the allegations that had been brought against him.

In the letter to the chairman, Robinson said they Commission did not give any reason or adequate reason for his suspension.

Two weeks ago the PSC charged Robinson with two counts of discreditable conduct and one count of Oppressive conduct

These charges follow an investigation by the Caricom Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).

In August, a three member team was asked to look into claims that Robinson sexually harassed three male colleagues and another man who was seeking entry into the police force.