Newlands, Savannah: Voters flag traffic, education as top issues

With electorates just short of 1,500 voters apiece, Newlands and Savannah rank among the larger constituencies in the Cayman Islands and both are being keenly watched by local political pundits.

In Newlands, the margin of victory for incumbent Alva Suckoo back in 2017 was 15 votes. In that election, he faced two challengers, both of whom – Wayne Panton and Raul Gonzalez – are running again this year. Roydell Carter has also entered that race.

On the other side of the boundary, in Savannah, Malcolm Eden, son of incumbent Anthony Eden who is not seeking re-election, faces Heather Bodden and Jeanna Williams.

For this week’s Voter Voices, we headed into those communities to hear what issues the voters want prioritised by their next MPs.

Traffic woes remain a headache

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Traffic was number one on Newlands resident Terry Nathan’s list of grievances.

“The problem we have in the morning is traffic… I mean, without school traffic [it] is good, but when school is going on, traffic is real bad coming from the east, going to town. I think the roundabout that they’re having right now, they need to fix it properly,” he said.

He suggested that a lane be blocked off to give Newlands residents a right of way and drivers coming from the east another, instead of the current three-lane set-up for all motorists.

Newlands resident Arnold Ebanks shared Nathan’s concern.

“Traffic is bad. You cannot cross the road sometimes,” he said.

Ebanks also said residents in the Newlands community need to be kept safe on the roadway as he pointed to the death of a pedestrian who was killed crossing the road back in December.

“You got to be careful on the road. It was … 5:30 in the morning, he [the pedestrian] was going to work… Traffic is bad, you can’t cross the road too good. You need a pedestrian crossing,” he said.

Newlands resident Clayton Powell said he is worried by the increase in collisions, particularly at the East-West Arterial and Hirst Road junction.

“We have a motor vehicle accident, probably every seven to 10 days at that location. So we probably need to figure out how to resolve that issue,” he said.
Powell also worried about flooding in the area, a concern shared by other local residents.

He said it was time for solutions.

“For years I’ve heard them talk about the issues and they’ve come up with many solutions. When are we going to actually implement those solutions to resolve the issues?” he asked.

Education, opportunities wanted

For Joanie Mills, a Savannah voter, the big problem is work opportunities for young Caymanians.

She said she wants candidates to “open more opportunities for the youth and to make cost of living better for them as well”.

Caroline Neale-Allenger, a fellow Savannah resident, said, for her, education remains a top priority.

“The education system in Cayman needs to be revamped. When I went to school here… I had a very good education here. It is not the same anymore,” she said.

Neale-Allenger said she wants to hear what candidates will do to reform education so that Caymanian “children and grandchildren will have a better future”.

Savannah resident Amjed Zureigat said the issue for him is “same old, same old”.

“I think we need to see new ideas and new faces. This election is all about changing the past because we have made some mistakes in the past… We need to see young faces in this election given a chance,” he said.

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