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Penny Beckles-Robinson

Charles Kong Soo

Former MP Penny Beckles-Robinson brought home the win in Arima for the People’s National Movement (PNM) in the 2007 general elections. The People’s Partnership’s Rodger Samuel, Congress of the People (COP) prevented a PNM tic-tac-toe victory in the 2010 general elections.

Incumbent MP and Education Minister Anthony Garcia brought home the bacon and the borough for the PNM in the 2015 general elections.

This time around, the PNM has selected Beckles-Robinson to contest the seat on August 10 at the polls.

United National Congress (UNC) candidate Flora Singh, leader of the National Coalition for Transformation (NCT) Nalini Dial and the Progressive Empowerment Party’s (PEP) Sharon Hernandez have all thrown their hat in the political ring to challenge Beckles-Robinson for the borough.

Residents in the community face several challenges such as unemployment, business development, water woes, with crime being one of their major concerns, the spate of murders, actor and playwright Raymond Choo Kong’s killing remains unsolved. After several murders of business people, a series of armed robberies, home invasions and break-ins, members of the Arima Businessmen Association president (ABA) have been clamouring for Firearm User’s Licenses (FULs) from the Police CommissionerGary Griffith.

Guardian Media contacted the respective candidates to ask them what were their policy plans for Arima and how they intended to go about improving the area.

Beckles-Robinson was keeping the PNM’s plans for the borough close to her chest as she did not respond to Guardian Media’s initial telephone calls and WhatsApp messages from Tuesday. She replied via whatsapp on Wednesday that she had been in the field every day and will comment ASAP. There was no response up to yesterday.

The UNC’s Flora Singh said she would respond Tuesday night after her walkabout, but had not done so up to yesterday.

PEP candidate Sharon Hernandez on Tuesday referred Guardian Media to Michelle Davis, from the party’s media management and was told to contact her.

Davis, in turn, replied via WhatsApp that she forwarded the same questions to the candidate and “will revert answers and send once approved.” There was no response up to yesterday.

Dial said, “On our walkabout in Arima proper on Tuesday, we heard a lot of complaints about crime relating to break-ins and home invasions and it has to be dealt with.

“Crime is destroying businesses and families. There are too many robberies, break-ins, and worse, murders. Many business people are buying CCTV cameras, they only work if there are quick response and detection from the police but the criminals are so boldfaced some are not hiding their faces or shifting the angle of the cameras.

“An effective collaborative plan of action between police, homeowners and the business community must be immediately instigated.

“More community policing, neighbourhood watch groups and patrols are needed. Social intervention and mentorship programmes to get the youths out of criminal activities to be productive and law-abiding citizens are also imperative.”