By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
AS HEAVY criticism continues that Urban Renewal 2.0 has done little to control crime in the country, co-chair Cynthia “Mother” Pratt says people have not allowed the programme enough time to work.
Speaking after the shooting of seven people, which claimed the life of one of them at an inner city community event, Mrs Pratt told The Tribune she was confident that UR would bear fruit as it matured.
However, she said, Bahamians should realise that UR is not the solution to crime. Mrs Pratt said the job of tackling illegal activity in the country was the responsibility of everyone, with the government at the helm of the effort.
“All of us,” she said, “have to deal with this. Crime was here under the FNM government and it is here now and it was during the previous PLP government. When I was in the chair, I was blamed for crime. The crime rate was my fault and no one else’s, so the Opposition said.
“The government must take the lead as every government in my opinion should do. The Minister of National Security (Bernard Nottage) and the police cannot do it all on their own.
“In my opinion, people haven’t let Urban Renewal mature enough to have an affect on crime.”
She questioned whether critics of the programme realised the magnitude of social deficiencies that plague communities and influence the ongoing spate of crimes in the country.
“Things go through phases. But when we go out there and into the streets of Nassau and wherever else, there are many bits and pieces that contribute to what is going on now. There is illiteracy, broken homes, low self esteem, babies having babies.
“While we work on those things, people must know that UR will work, it will develop and it will grow. We are seeing it work in the communities. It is making a difference today,” Mrs Pratt said.
In this year‘s budget, the government allocated $10 million to UR which is to fund small home repairs in inner city communities.
However, the FNM has said that Urban Renewal is a slush fund. They have called on the government to make public how taxpayer dollars alloted for UR have been spent.