Residents seeing opportunity in community meetings

“It’s better for people to know what’s going on than to not know and misjudge,” Ammika Roberts said.

That sober reflection is what brought Roberts, a resident of the Buccoo/Mt. Pleasant electoral district, to Thursday’s (March 17) Face to Face community meeting at the Lowlands Multi-Purpose Facility. Roberts, who is in her early twenties, says she usually comes to community meetings in her area because of her interest in issues affecting the district.

The community meeting was the fourth of 13 in the series being held in the island’s 12 electoral districts, which will run until July.

For Roberts, true development can only take place in the district with the THA representatives and their constituencies working hand-in-hand. “It takes more than one hand to clap,” she said.

It’s the same message the Tobago House of Assembly continues to highlight—that all voices matter in furthering the island’s development, and that Tobagonians should hold their THA representatives accountable.

“I have a responsibility to come and report to our employers,” THA Chief Secretary Orville London said during his address at the meeting. He said it is the people who have elected each representative to serve the island.

The residents all had their chance to seek information from the THA Secretaries in attendance, who fielded questions from the audience pertaining to their respective portfolios, including infrastructure, tourism, business and even corruption.

Selwyn Archer attended the meeting to hear about development plans for the community. Another resident, Walt Collins, wanted to “bring up ideas to help improve the area, like garbage collection and road repairs.”

After accounting for his three years in office, area representative and Assistant Secretary of the Division of Community Development and Culture Ancil Dennis, told the audience that success isn’t possible “without the collaboration, without the cooperation of all the people in the electoral district.”

Although satisfied with several accomplishments under his watch, Dennis said he still has “unfinished business.”

During a previous meeting at the Goodwood Primary School, London indicated that he hoped for two things as a result of the talks around the communities: one, that the quality of the conversation between the public and their representatives will be enhanced; and two, that the conversation will continue after the meeting.

It’s a sentiment Roberts, and several other expectant residents at the meeting, are hopeful their community will continue to benefit from.

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