Another Affordable Housing tussle

Another incident at the Eastern Avenue Affordable Housing Initiative site between former Cabinet minister Frank McField and National Housing and Community Development Trust manager Roger Bodden on Tuesday has led to the Mr. Bodden filing a report of assault with the police.

The altercation occurred after Mr. Bodden instructed workers to turn off the water supply to homes occupied by Mr. McField’s company Capital Trucking and by Staunch Ltd.

‘I was called by one of my workers, who said the water had been cut off,’ Mr. McField said. ‘I went there as a result of that, to see what I could do.

‘Roger was at the house of Staunch, having already finished turning off the water at our house.

‘He started cursing from the time he saw me and came up to me and got very, very close to my face, and put his chest up to mine.’

‘I pushed him back a little, but not enough to make him stumble or anything. I didn’t strike him or hit him,’ Mr. McField said, adding that there were many witnesses to the incident.

Mr. McField admitted that Capital Trucking owed money on the house it is renting, but said that when he tried to pay the back rent in August, Mr. Bodden ripped up the cheque. He has not tried to pay the rent again since that time, he said.

Mr. Bodden cut off the water to the Capital Trucking house in August, but was told by police that the matter would have to go through the courts, Mr. McField said.

‘I’ve had no other notices from the Housing Trust since then,’ said Mr. McField. ‘Because of Roger doing what he did, I was waiting to see what the new (NHCDT) board was going to do about our lease, and whether they would name someone else we could take our cheque to and not tear it up.’

Mr. McField said he had called and left a message for new NHCDT chairman Leonard Ebanks about the matter, but had not heard back from him.

Staunch Ltd. workers were also caught up in the fray.

Several returned from work Tuesday evening to find the water cut off in their house and a security guard posted near the water valve that supplies the home.

The Auditor General’s recent report on the NHCDT noted that Staunch Ltd. had owed $11,500 through the end of July on the four houses it was renting, but that it had paid that amount on 9 August.

Since that time, Staunch has vacated all but one of the homes.

Staunch owner Reynard Moxam said Wednesday he thought his company was paid up through the end of August and that he knew of no reason water would be cut off to house his company is renting.

The Security Centre Ltd. president and CEO Stuart Bostock confirmed his company’s presence at the site on Tuesday.

‘We were hired by National Housing and Community Development Trust about two weeks ago to provide security at various locations,’ he said, adding that SCL provides services for other government departments as well.

Mr. Bostock said he was contacted by Mr. Bodden shortly after noon Tuesday and told that actions had been taken against an AHI tenant and asked to provide security services at the site.

The task given to SCL by Mr. Bodden was to monitor the water valve of the Staunch house and to report any attempts to turn it back on, Mr. Bostock said.

The security guard on site said he was scheduled to stay there until 6 am the next morning.

‘We were obliged to do what we were asked to,’ said Mr. Bostock.

After 6 pm, however, Mr. Bostock said he spoke with the Sergeant Durk Banks of the Royal Cayman Islands Police and with Kearney Gomez of the Ministry of Planning and was told ‘to stand down’ from his assignment.

Water service to the Staunch house was restored after 7pm.

Mr. McField said water could not be restored right away to the Capital Trucking house because repairs had to be made to the pipes that had been cut.

Sergeant Banks said he could not comment on the matter because there was an investigation under way.

Mr. Bodden also said he could not comment on the matter.

NHCDT chairman Leonard Ebanks said he had been made aware of the incident, but that he was still investigating the matter himself, which he called ‘unfortunate’.

Mr. Ebanks did say that Mr. McField could pay any back rent owed on the Capital Trucking house into the NHCDT office.

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