Attorney General Huw Shepheard appears to be delaying action on the historical and ecological sites long overdue for transfer to the Turks and Caicos National Trust, whose mandate requires it to preserve them.
Attorney General Huw Shepheard
The transfer of the sites in question was stalled throughout the 2003-2009 Progressive National Party (PNP) administration and also during the interim government. While there have been recent promises by current Premier Rufus Ewing to move on this, it appears he is actually going the same direction as the former Michael Misick administration by creating and transferring land to a National Park Service totally controlled by the government. Those familiar with the Trust's mandate indicate the National Parks are also the responsibility of the National Trust.
One example during the Michael Misick era was Fort George Cay, a historical site, which Misick and McAllister Hanchell attempted to convert to a dolphin-aquarium tourist attraction.
Shepheard had promised to have a study of the sites prepared in May and Ewing has said the AG has not brought the study to the recent cabinet meetings. Ewing, however, went further and revisited the question of transferring the important preservation sites, saying the Trust may not have the resources to handle the sites. However, the same problem applies to the government itself.
Ethlynn Gibbs Williams, who heads the National Trust, has announced that, when the sites are transferred, she will apply for funding from outside sources to preserve the sites and convert them to areas that can be visited by locals and tourists to enjoy.
The AG appears to have responsibility for this matter, as all Crown land is now under his office. However, due to a change in Crown land policy, the transfers will now take the form of a 99-year lease and not actual ownership.