Parliamentary Representative for the Town of St George, Nickolas Steele has said that he is open to discussions with the Willie Redhead Foundation on saving York House that was left badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
The minister’s remarks were made at a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministerial Complex last week Tuesday following concerns raised by the foundation in response to statements made by Works minister, Gregory Bowen that the remains would most likely be demolished.
Since the passage of Hurricane Ivan, the remains of York house have been left in heavy thickset bushes.
The foundation has sent a letter to Minister Steele who is the Parliamentary Representative for the Town of St. George on the preservation of the York House.
According to Steele, on receipt of the letter, he immediately requested a meeting with a delegation from the foundation to engage them in a dialogue as to their concerns.
“… We are open to hear what their possible solutions may be and I for one will like to see the York House restored to its splendour,” the MP told reporters.
“…I’m hoping they have a solution that is physically possible and is economically viable and if it is I will be the first to fly the flag for them as well,” he said.
Attorney General, Cajeton Hood said the building as it is, creates a potential liability to government because the State will be deemed in law to be the occupier in case of an accident.
“I know the minister is concerned, the Cabinet is concerned, that something must be done very quickly,” he said, adding that, “what will be done we can’t say at this point in time because the Minister is engaging persons”.
Hood stated that some high court judges have raised concerns about the dilapidated building and its hazardous tendencies.
“Persons pass close to that building and some people even venture under the building during their passage to and from court. The judges have raised concerns, what if something happen, we’ll be liable and the public need to understand that something will be done as quickly as we can have it done,” he said.
During the press briefing, Minister Steele disclosed that government was in discussions with a number of Commonwealth countries to secure assistance for the building of a new Parliament building for the island.
“We have been in communication with the Australian government, with New Zealand government, the UAE as well as other potential donors or friendly governments on moving forward. We will be going ahead according to schedule (with the rebuilding),” said Steele.
Australia, which agreed to donate 5 million Australian dollars for the project, has recently pulled out from the project.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to contribute US$5 million towards the rebuilding.
According to Minister Steele, the reason why he is looking in particular at other Commonwealth nations for assistance and advice on the project is due to the fact that Grenada is also is a member of the Commonwealth.
“One of the reasons as far as we are concerned (that) Australia saw it appropriate to assist Grenada with the construction of the Parliament building is that Australia was recognising Grenada as a developing Commonwealth nation and Australia as a more developed Commonwealth nation offered assistance there in our Parliament building,” he said.
“Now that the Australians have expressed as I have phrased it, their inability to follow through on that commitment, I have reached out to other significant Commonwealth nations to seek advice and assistance as to a way forward because I think Grenada has a good position within Commonwealth nations to say that one of our primary institutions of democracy needs to be rebuilt,” he added.
The senior government Minister expressed confidence that despite the pull out of Australia, there would not be a delay in starting construction work on the project.
He gave assurances that once the government has a commitment from some other country with respect to the rest of money needed to complete the building, the public will be informed.