Current Affairs

Current Affairs


No impropriety in land lease, says PNP councillor
Observer Reporter
Friday, October 10, 2003



MITCHELL... persons in this council have come here with a vendetta

WESTERN BUREAU -- People's National Party councillor, Gerard Mitchell, yesterday tackled, head-on, rumours that a councillor in the previous PNP-led St James Parish Council had acted improperly by sub-leasing lands to a hotel chain.

Saying the accusations, which have been making the rounds in Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) circles, were aimed at him, Mitchell spelled out the arrangement he had entered into with the prominent hotel chain.

"I want to make it clear that in 1990 (eight years before being elected councillor) the St James Parish Council approved a 25-year lease to me for the Providence Beach.... because it seems to me that there are persons in this council who have come here with a vendetta ...", the former deputy mayor declared at yesterday's monthly council meeting.

During Monday's presentation of the JLP's probe into the controversial Bogue Lands issue, councillor Charles Sinclair had indicated that Providence Beach was one of the properties under the microscope. The JLP have also hinted of big revelations to come, as they unveil aspects of the findings of their probe.

Yesterday, Mitchell told the council that the accusations regarding Providence Beach were directed at him; and he argued that there were people in the local government body who were trying to tarnish his reputation and question his integrity.

In explaining the lease agreement with the council, Mitchell said that after the lease was granted to him in 1990, teh hotel chain had an interest in using a portion of the land for a "particular purpose".

"The parish council indicated... that they had approved a lease to me and that any arrangement for a sub-lease should be through me," Mitchell said.

He added that he met with a representatives from the hotel and worked out a lease agreement and it was agreed that monies derived from the arrangement would be ploughed back into the facility.

This agreement, Mitchell said, was kept until he was elected to the council in 1998; and on his election as a councillor, he relinquished the lease on the property.