THE EDITOR: The joint letter from my colleagues at the TT Society of Planners and the TT Institute of Architects raised very important criticisms of the current wave of urban development projects, with the chronic levels of unacceptable secrecy and fake consultations.
On the secrecy issue, the State reportedly refused the JCC's freedom of information request for the Port of Spain revitalisation plan on the basis that it did not originate in that ministry and that this was a series of privately conceived projects.
Those are not lawful exemption grounds under the FOIA as the public is entitled to receive information “in the possession of public authorities,” so there is no requirement for the State to originate that plan.
The fake consultation issue is a long-term and valid concern which was especially noted as the 17th recommendation of the Uff Report (2009):
“…User groups and other interest groups should be properly consulted on decisions regarding public building projects, to ensure that relevant views can be expressed at the appropriate time and taken into account before decisions are made…” (emphasis mine).
Of course, the sitting Prime Minister was the leading voice calling for that commission of enquiry and indeed played a major role as a witness. We need to insist on the maintenance of proper consultation if we are to use our limited development options for equitable outcomes.
Port of Spain