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Monday 17 December 2018
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Background

Background To The Establishment of Constituency Councils

 

Introduction

In January 2008 the Government of Barbados received the mandate to set up a Constituency Council in every Constituency in Barbados.

The term Constituency was used in the title to refer to a geographical area of residence. The numbers of persons for whom services are provided within Constituencies in Barbados tend to be more or less equal and so make the task more manageable and comparable.

Since then the Government has been working on how best to set up these Councils which are intended to bring Government closer to the people and in so doing meet the needs of residents of Barbados more effectively and efficiently.

 

Methodology

In keeping with its policy of Good Governance, the Government has reached out to the general public to gather information on what the people of Barbados would ideally like these Constituency Councils to do. The methodology used included:

  • Thirteen (13) Town Hall Meetings (Click for audio and images) with at least one held in each Parish of Barbados
  • Two Focus Group Discussions – one with young people affiliated with the Barbados Youth Development Council and the other with post-graduate students of the Business, Government and Society Department of the University of the West Indies.
  • Plenary discussions with leaders of Community-Based Organizations.
  • In-depth Interviews with representatives of key stakeholder organizations.
  • Completed questionnaires.
Feedback From The Public


The level of support for Constituency Councils was generally high. People welcomed them as means of addressing the problems of:

  • Social isolation
  • Economic deprivation
  • Political apathy and distrust
  • Unnecessary delays in getting simple things done.
june15_2The policy of the Government is to give representation to all categories of residents in Constituencies, particularly the most vulnerable. Research and experience showed that Local Government elections normally result in the most powerful groups winning the elections and pursuing their own interests. It was agreed that the best method of ensuring that the various categories of residents of an area got representation on the Constituency Councils was to ask organizations or groups of people to nominate their leaders for consideration to sit on the Constituency Councils. It was therefore decided that nomination would be the preferred option. A minority of respondents expressed concern about this process of allowing local leaders to emerge and to represent all sections of the communities within Constituencies.

The definition of Constituency Councils that derived from the consultation was as follows:

A Constituency Council will be a legally established body of local representatives, who have been nominated by their “constituents” and given the authority to voice the concerns of the diverse residents of the Constituency; to maintain links with Central Government and other agencies; and to effectively and efficiently manage resources for the development of the given Constituency.
Similarly the core functions of Constituency Councils were listed as:
  1. Building relevant data bases.
  2. Identifying the priority needs of the Constituency.
  3. Advising Central Government on Programmes and Projects to be pursued.
  4. Supporting and building the capacity of local organizations to achieve their goals.
  5. Executing, when necessary, identified priority programmes and projects.
  6. Facilitating the flow of information to and from Central Government that is relevant to every day life in the Constituency.

Respondents argued that Constituency Councils could make a difference in the lives of ordinary residents of Barbados by sticking to the principles of Good Governance, namely:

  • Participation
  • Rule of law
  • Transparency (clear and fair rules and regulations)
  • Responsiveness (to the needs of all stakeholders)
  • Consensus oriented
  • Equity and inclusiveness
  • Effectiveness and efficiency
  • Accountability

The respondents listed certain organization that should nominate leaders to sit on the Constituency Councils. These included but were not limited to:

  • Faith Based Organizations
  • Political Parties with representation in the House of Assembly
  • Emergency Management Organizations
  • Youth Organizations
  • Sports Organizations
  • Seniors Clubs/Retired Persons’ Organizations
  • Women’s Organizations
  • Men’s Organizations
  • Recognized Community Leaders
Are you and your organization willing to serve in the capacity?