MoBay councillor raps Spanish Town mayor over Clifton issue

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Councillor Charles Sinclair (Jamaica Labour Party, Montego Bay North Eastern Division) has called on mayor of Spanish Town Norman Scott to tender his resignation as head of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation.

Sinclair, who is also a government senator, made this charge during Thursday’s sitting of the St James Municipal Corporation (SJMC). According to Sinclair, the mayor has been participating in “cheap politics” since the Government’s demolition of illegal structures in Clifton, St Catherine, last Thursday.

“The chairman of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation is leading a team of [individuals] who say they want to sue the Government because the Government intervened and say the structures were there illegal,” Sinclair said.

“The Government, in protecting its property for the purpose of development, is going to be sued by somebody who is a chairman of a municipal corporation. Something don’t sit too right with that,” the councillor added.

In noting that he finds the mayor’s action to be a “great conflict of interest”, Sinclair said he should exercise principle by stepping down.

“I am not looking no popularity, but principle is principle, and if Mr Norman Scott has any principle, Mr Norman Scott should tender his resignation as mayor and chairman of St Catherine Parish Council. I am saying to him that he has put himself in [this position] because of…cheap politics,” Sinclair said.

Sinclair further pointed out that it is a change in legislation that has forced him to call on Mayor Scott to step down as previously the minister of local government had that authority.

“It is unfortunate that we ended up changing the Parish Councils Act because under the Act, the person who had the title of mayor had the title given to you by the minister of local government,” he explained.

Sinclair added: “The Local Governance Act changed it, but if it were, I would have called on the minister to remove the title of mayor from him because of his foolish action up there. He should take my advice – principle over cheap politics and resign as mayor of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation.”

In recognising the roles mayors and municipal corporations have across the country, Sinclair expressed disappointment in what he described as a lack of “good order” in the stance reportedly taken by the chairman.

“The chairman is the person who heads the municipal corporation and they have a mandate to ensure good order. They have responsibility for building [and] subdivisions. The new Building Act was passed in 2018, I believe. The amendment to the Building Act started in the PNP Administration, but it was eventually passed in 2018. I was shocked when this issue arose in St Catherine where you had what, obviously, is persons who have gone on to [someone’s] property and have taken it over,” Sinclair said on Thursday.

Senator Sinclair also chided Mayor Scott for wanting to engage in the legal battle though the buildings were illegal.

At the same time, Sinclair said, “HAJ, on its own property in St Catherine, sought to commence a development and the mayor, who is the head of the municipality in Portmore, say that they don’t have a permit.

The chairman said that they must stop because the municipality did not give them a permit. But his next-door neighbour Norman Scott is saying that he is suing the Government even though he didn’t get a building plan for any of the structures that were there,” Sinclair said.

Last Wednesday Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Parliament that, “The National Security Council, in reviewing the [Greater Bernard Lodge] development plan, has observed an insidious and growing threat in the area, where alleged gangsters were capturing lands in the area adjoining the Clifton community, creating their own informal subdivision, and selling the lands under the false pretext of ownership or building on it themselves.

“This illegal capturing and building on public or private land will not be tolerated. We will not allow criminal gangs to create communities in the country,” added Holness.

The demolition of the unfinished structures, ordered by Holness, created a firestorm last week with some people attacking the Government for its action, while supporters of the Holness Administration and others argued that it is time for action against the illegal capturing of land to build squatter settlements.

The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has since announced that it will be assisting the residents with legal fees to take action against the Government.

According to the PNP, the action of the Government represents a blatant disregard for the tenets of the United Nations Convention on Human Rights and supporting international conventions to which Jamaica is a party.

Generated by Feedzy