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PLP considering judicial review of Town Centre Mall resolution

The opposition is considering seeking a judicial review of the resolution to lease the Town Centre Mall for the relocation of the General Post Office, Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Brave Davis said yesterday.

He said the opposition is meeting with lawyers to determine the way forward on the matter.

This development comes after former Attorney General Alfred Sears called into question the legitimacy of the resolution after recent revelations that St. Anne’s MP Brent Symonette, who owns the mall with his brother, may have participated in talks with the prime minister about the lease before it went before Cabinet.

“We are awaiting the advice of our lawyers as to what’s the proper steps or further steps we can take in connection with the Town Centre lease,” Davis said.

He added, “I hope to have a meeting with them all tomorrow (Tuesday).”

The General Post Office was relocated to Town Centre Mall in May following longstanding complaints over conditions at the former East Hill Street location.

The resolution to lease the space was passed in the House of Assembly on October 24, 2018.

Symonette declared his interest in the property a week after the resolution was tabled in Parliament, but Sears has questioned whether that disclosure should have taken place before the resolution was tabled.

The issue of the post office again came to the forefront in recent weeks with Symonette’s resignation from Cabinet, which he said was unrelated to conflict of interest claims concerning the post office and the award of several government contracts to Bahamas Hot Mix, a company in which Symonette’s children’s trust owns a minority share.

While Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis had insisted that Symonette was not involved in any discussions regarding the post office’s relocation to Town Centre Mall, Symonette revealed in an interview with Shenique Miller on the ZNS network on July 2, that he and the prime minister discussed the terms of the lease when Minnis called him on the matter. He did not say when the call was made, but indicated it came ahead of the government’s resolution to lease the space.

Symonette’s revelation differed from the wording of the resolution, which said that Symonette took part in no discussions surrounding the decision to lease his property.

Moreover, The Tribune reported last week that Basil McIntosh, an engineer whose company assessed the Phil’s Food store building, which was at one time being considered as a location for the post office, did not understand why the government abandoned plans to use the building. He noted that the report indicated that there were no significant structural issues with the building.

However, the resolution itself stated that the government “only recently discovered that the latent (hidden) structural defects and other technical issues would require a massive expenditure of taxpayer dollars in conducting extensive renovations to the entire building which would take at least a year or more”.

Sears said the new information raises the question of whether the House was misled.

He said should the resolution be declared null and void, Symonette could be ordered by a court to vacate his seat in the House.

Rachel Knowles

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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