NDP denied use of school at Owia
June 22, 2018
NDP denied use of school at Owia

An arrowroot forum planned for Owia has been postponed after the organizers were denied permission to use the Owia Government School for the event.

The forum was to be held on June 19 by the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).

In a release issued on Tuesday, the NDP said the Ministry of Education denied the Party permission to use the Owia Government School which was “the most suitable facility in the community for such a large public event.”

“It is unacceptable in a free, democratic society, that the main political party that forms the official Opposition in Parliament, be denied the use of the public school building for such an important event. The Arrowroot Forum is intended to be of benefit to farmers and, indeed, the country in general. 

“Efforts were made to secure an alternate suitable venue, but for various reasons including the climate of fear that pervades this country, we were unable to do so in time for today’s event.

Therefore, the Arrowroot Forum has been rescheduled for a later date in Owia, details of which will follow in a timely manner,” the release from the NDP said.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on the Shake Up programme on We FM on Wednesday said the NDP was denied use of the school to protect State property from “vandalism” and “downright nastiness.”

The Prime Minister said a freeze has been placed on the use of schools for private functions until a new policy being prepared by the Ministry of Education on the use of schools and learning resource centres has been approved by Cabinet.

“What happened at the Greiggs Primary School in Lauders must not be allowed to happen again,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Greiggs Primary School had to be closed for two days after it was used by the NDP for a convention on June 3. Portable toilets that had been used at the convention were left in place up to two days later, causing an unbearable stench. Bags of garbage were also not removed in a timely manner.

“This is not something against the NDP, this is protecting State property from the kind of vandalism… and downright nastiness exhibited by those who are responsible for the use of the school and the clean up of it,” Gonsalves said.

An earlier release from the NDP said the objectives of the Arrowroot forum were, among other things, to: provide a platform for arrowroot farmers to voice their plight and identify the challenges and current issues within the industry that impact their lives; bring the problems of the Arrowroot farmers to the nation; listen to the concerns and solicit ideas from the farmers on how to revitalize the arrowroot industry.