Current Affairs

Current Affairs




PM to intervene again in Bluefields impasse
Jamaica Gleaner
published: Monday | December 16, 2002

By Cedric Johnson, Freelance Writer


THE PROPOSED divestment of the Bluefields Beach by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), which over the last six months has evoked strong emotions among members of the general public is still a hot issue on the agenda of the Westmoreland Parish Council.

When the matter came up for discussion at last Thursday's meeting, Mayor Ralph Anglin disclosed that Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has indicated to him in a telephone conversation earlier this week that he will once again intervene in the matter in another attempt to settle the ongoing impasse.

"The Prime Minister has realised that this ugly situation has been continuing for too long and might be going too far so he will be calling an early meeting among the disputing parties and himself. We look forward to this," Mayor Anglin said.

The move follows closely on the heels of the exchange of correspondence between UDC Chair-man Dr. Vin Lawrence and Mayor Anglin after negotiations initiated by the Prime Minister between both parties broke down. The main problem was that the UDC had offered the beach park along with the beach itself for the Westmoreland Parish Council to operate. The Council rejected the offer on the grounds that the beach park has not been a successful venture.

After the collapse of the talks two months ago Dr. Lawrence in a tersely-worded letter to the Council said the UDC "would not find it acceptable to offer for operation the beach without the park facilities." He added that since the Westmoreland Parish Council did not accept the offer, the UDC "would have no alternative but to negotiate with others for the management of these facilities."

Mayor Anglin and other members of the Parish Council said they viewed the tone and content of Lawrence's letter objectionable. "Let him know that the battle will continue. We are prepared to lead a demonstration, we are ready to go to court, even to the Privy Council to prevent the divestment of the beach which is part of our people's heritage," Anglin said.

Meanwhile, in a strong letter to the UDC boss, Anglin said the Council will ensure that the public has continued access to the beach. "We will not sit and allow it to be privatised."

The UDC owns the property on which the beach park complex is built. Bluefields which happens to be one of the more popular public beaches in Western Jamaica falls in the constituency of Prime Minister Patterson who is also the Minister with portfolio responsibility for UDC.