Give us a say!

SPANISH TOWN, St Catherine — Chairman of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation Councillor Norman Scott (People’s National Party, Greendale Division) wants local authorities represented on the Constitutional Reform Committee.

This, he said, would ensure that locally elected officials have a say in the changes being made and ensure they retain the power they now possess.

“It is unfortunate that a representative was not included from the onset. I hope that it was a simple oversight, and not a deliberate act of bypassing the local government and the councillors,” he noted.

Scott, who is also the mayor of Spanish Town, was speaking during Thursday’s monthly meeting of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation.

His comments were supported by other councillors in attendance.

In March, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced a 15-member Constitutional Reform Committee as the country moves toward full republican status. The committee is comprised of parliamentarians, members of the Senate, the legal fraternity, civil society, religious and other groups.

Scott is fearful that if councillors do not have a say in the consultations, government officials may attempt to “dwindle down” the powers of local authorities.

“The time has come for councillors to be recognised; this is the oldest form of governance in this country,” he argued. “And while we are simply edged into the constitution, we want to be deeply enshrined in the constitution. No party can use their simple majority to change or remove any municipal corporation… It must be some referendum or complete parliamentary process to remove any part of the Local Government Act.”

Members of the public have been encouraged to get involved in the process of constitutional reform, with town hall meetings held in several parishes and involving many stakeholder groups.