Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Portia intervenes in St Ann council dispute
Observer Reporter
Tuesday, October 07, 2003



SIMPSON MILLER... asked to intervene

OCHO RIOS, St Ann -- Despite the intervention of Local Government Minister Portia Simpson Miller in the dispute over the composition of the St Ann Parish Council's subcommittees, the issue has not been completely settled.

An agreement was reached, last week, that would see at least one councillor from the People's National Party (PNP) on every subcommittee of the Jamaica labour Party-controlled (JLP) local government body. But the PNP's Ocho Rios representative, Carol Jackson, is still waiting to see if the changes will actually be implemented.

GISCOMBE... I have not done anything different than what the previous mayor did during his term

"Basically there was an understanding that the committees couldn't continue the way they were set up and the mayor (Delroy Giscombe), himself, said he was going to have that rectified," she told the Observer. "I'm yet to see how 'rectified' it has become, because we still haven't gotten anything in writing or haven't convened a meeting since, to see what the changes will bring."

Last month, Jackson and some of her PNP colleagues complained that they were being sidelined and prevented from making a meaningful contribution in the affairs of the council. Arguing that they were not adequately represented on the council's subcommittees and not being given a chance to speak on certain key issues, Jackson called for Simpson Miller to intervene.

JACKSON... I'm yet to see how 'rectified' it has become

The minister convened a meeting at her Hagley Park office in Kingston last week and the mayor agreed to her suggestions. According to him, the issue has been settled.

"Everything has been resolved," Giscombe said.

"We are looking into making changes and this was discussed at the meeting and we agreed to make changes to the benefit of the people of St Ann and not any individual. What I do hope is that everybody would be satisfied at the end," he added.

Under the newly implemented system, he said, the PNP will have access to all the council's committees and therefore no one can accuse the JLP members of being less than transparent.

"We are not doing anything that we have to hide; we are dealing with transparency, so I have no problem opening up for everybody, although it was not done like this (when the council was under PNP control)," Giscombe added.

He had agreed to the changes, he said, in order to improve the parish, despite suffering the same fate while in opposition.

"I have been here five years and I have not done anything different than what the previous mayor did during his term," the mayor argued. "What we are trying to do is to get the parish looking much better than how it is today, and it requires effort from both sides; it has to be a joint effort."

During last month's council meeting, the dispute between the councillors from the two major political parties reached a head when Jackson led a walkout of five of the seven PNP councillors. They left the room in protest against the council's refusal to allow Jackson to have her say on the issue of computers stolen from the council office shortly after the local government elections in June.

Councillors Glover Gordon, Lydia Richards, Ivan Anderson and Lloyd Garrick supported her and walked. Two others, Vinette Robb and Winston Brown, remained at the meeting.

According to Jackson, the issue of the computers is of vital importance, as recent comments in the press regarding the missing computers, which had been attributed to the mayor, had serious implications that need to be discussed at the council level.

It was not immediately clear if the matter will again be raised at the next council meeting.