Home » News
Councils starved of resources
King, Staff Reporter
OF the island's Parish Councils remain greatly underfunded.
This is hampering their ability to deliver essential services
such as street lighting, minor water supplies, providing and
maintaining parochial roadways and drains and bridges.
is a shortage of tools, equipment, and office spaces, administrators
of the Parish Councils told the The Sunday Gleaner.
Binns, Superintendent of Roads and Works and Acting Mayor
of Spanish Town, said there were some things a parochial authority
needed in order to function effectively among them,
a mayor's parlour, separate from his or her office, an office
for the deputy mayor, and a council chamber or meeting room.
would need more equipment to effectively do our road maintenance.
We would need to have equipment, for instance, one truck and
a roller with a crew of 10 men and a supervisor," he
is also in need of a drop-side tipper body truck, to facilitate
road maintenance, with at least a four-man crew in addition
to its driver, he said. The equipment is needed to remove
landslides and to clean up silt and debris along roadways,
he told The Sunday Gleaner.
present, because it does not have the equipment, the St. Catherine
Parish Council delegates the responsibility of fixing roads
to others in the form of contracts or task work.
some Parish Councils, the Government's efforts to provide
facelifts for decrepit Parish Council buildings across the
island could not have come sooner.
the Parish Infrastructure Development Programme (PIDP), which
is a joint programme between the Inter-American Development
Bank (IDB) and the Jamaican Government, US$6.4 million of
US$50 million, is to be spent improving the deplorable conditions
of Parish Council offices islandwide.
to Patrick Wong, technical director in the Ministry of Local
Government and Community Development, "They (Parish Council
buildings) are in a deplorable condition and do not provide
proper working environments for staff. A lot of them are historical
buildings that we have allowed to deteriorate.
St. Ann, they get to the council's chamber through a window
because it is easier for the administrative staff to access
the building that way."
pointed out that each council's needs have to be assessed
individually because of certain uniqueness. In some cases,
he said, that a new structure will have to be built as many
existing structures do not allow for modifications because
of their heritage.
told The Sunday Gleaner, "The council must be able to
conduct its business without fear of restriction."
Ann's Bay Mayor, Charles Tait, agrees. "Of course it
is a little cramped. We are generally in need of a council
building. In the case of a court day (the council meets on
a Thursday which is always a court day) the place is crowded,"
he said. "With the noise that some politicians make,
which is oftentimes anti-court ... we could get into conflicts
with them," he said.
situation is made worse because of the type of structure of
is wooden floor. The movement of chairs and feet can disturb
the court," he pointed out.
Wong stated that under the PIDP each council will be equipped
with a council chamber which, in the case of the Kingston
and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) and the St. James Parish
Council, will accomodate 60 councillors.
the other Parish Councils it will seat 40 councillors. The
councils will also get a caucus room or small meeting room,
a mayor's parlour and an office for the deputy mayor.
far, only two Parish Councils, the KSAC and the St. James
Parish Council, have been refurbished under the PIDP while
approximately $1.2 million of the $6. 4 million has been spent.
Work has begun on the Manchester Parish Council.
the case of the St. Elizabeth Parish Council, Black River
Mayor Daphne Holmes said, "Our council's physical structure
is very bad. The administrative office is downstairs the court
St. Elizabeth Parish Council is one of six councils (St. Thomas,
St. Ann, Trelawny, Westmoreland and Clarendon are the others)
that share a building with the Resident Magistrate Court.
tradition, in the case of three other parishes, St. Ann, Westmoreland
and St. Thomas has made for contentious relationships over
Holmes gave an illustration. "They were having circuit
court upstairs, downstairs they were having Resident Magistrate
court. Our staff was talking and a police came to shut up
Holmes lamented the need for space and added that it was an
embarrassment to describe the state of the parlour which she
occupies. When pressed, she described it as antiquated and
said that the entire building that housed the council left
much to be desired.
pointed out that the authorities have tried in the past to
make it habitable for the staff.
the fact that various aspects of the council's operation are
scattered all over the town makes for the inefficient use
of time, she said.
example, a part of the Road and Works Department, the Accounts
Department and the council's meeting room are housed in separate
for the Westmoreland Parish Council, Patricia Sinclair, when
questioned, told The Sunday Gleaner that the disharmonious
relationship between that council and the court has culminated
in the latter "pushing" them out.
Westmoreland PC has been renting the Anglican Church Hall
for thier monthly meetings as a result.
Gordon, Secretary/Manager of the St. Thomas Parish Council
spoke about a similiar problem.
Council is housed in the same building as the Morant Bay Court
House we are on the ground floor," Mr. Gordon explains,
adding that "the court floor is our roof and noise from
the court disturbs us."
to him, "There are lapses in the maintenance of courts
offices which affect us. When they don't fix their bathroom
upstairs, it leaks down here."
Gordon said that leaks from the courts office destroyed a
computer unit in December. The Hanover Parish Council is also
in a better position owing to on-going refurbishing exercises.
They are also to benefit from the up-grading of Parish Councils
across the island under the PIDP programme.