JLP tails up in St Ann

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Erica Virtue Se­nior Sun­day Gleaner Writer

Party prom­ises to re­verse PNP con­trol of coun­cil

JLP sup­port­ers in Golden Grove, St Ann, dance to mu­sic from a cam­paign ve­hi­cle in the parish. PNP leader Por­tia Simp­son Miller was very caus­tic at a meet­ing in St Ann. Del­roy Kelly, JLP coun­cil­lor can­di­date in the Moneague di­vi­sion, poses with a sup­porter at Golden Grove in St Ann.

IT WAS the day af­ter Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party (PNP) Pres­i­dent Por­tia Simp­son Miller threat­ened to come back to St Ann af­ter she was heck­led by sup­port­ers in the Clare­mont di­vi­sion, which is rep­re­sented by Lam­bert Weir in the parish coun­cil.

The party leader said she would not tol­er­ate dis­re­spect from any­one, af­ter a ‘Com­rade’ threat­ened to mash up the meet­ing which was be­ing held to sup­port the push to re­tain the St Ann Parish Coun­cil. The heck­ling was per­sis­tent and the PNP leader re­sorted to com­ments un­be­com­ing of a party leader and for­mer prime min­is­ter, for which she has since ex­pressed re­grets.

Clare­mont is a di­vi­sion in the St Ann South East con­stituency rep­re­sented by Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment (MP) Lisa Hanna. The MP and at least three of her coun­cilors are at war, and the po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere in the con­stituency is best de­scribed as toxic, nox­ious and po­lit­i­cally ma­li­cious.

Now the jan­gling po­lit­i­cal dis­cord in the con­stituency sent the rul­ing Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP) on a mo­tor­cade through St Ann South East, the day af­ter Por­tia de­clared war.

When The Sun­day Gleaner team vis­ited shortly af­ter, Lloyd Gar­rick, coun­cil­lor in the Moneague di­vi­sion, was “too busy” to speak. Gar­rick, Ly­dia Richards (Ben­son­ton) and Weir are at swords with Hanna.

At the time, none of the con­tro­ver­sial $600 mil­lion bush-clear­ing pro­gramme was ob­served in Hanna’s con­stituency, and that was just over a week to go be­fore to­mor­row’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions. How­ever, bush­ing was ob­vi­ous in some ar­eas of the St Ann North East con­stituency rep­re­sented by Shahine Robin­son. With tails up, green flags were tagged on trees, light poles and build­ings.

PO­LIT­I­CAL BLOOD

Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Des­mond McKen­zie smells po­lit­i­cal blood.

“We are aware of the po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment in the con­stituency and as good politi­cians, we aim to cap­i­talise on that. And it’s no se­cret, this is a coun­cil we have tar­geted. And the way things are go­ing, we feel very con­fi­dent that we can over­haul some of the 11 di­vi­sions held by the PNP to get a ma­jor­ity. I think we can do it,” said McKen­zie dur­ing a brief stop at Golden Grove in the parish.

The only sign of PNP life in that part of the con­stituency was a ve­hi­cle which had pho­to­graphs of PNP Coun­cil­lor Ian Bell. McKen­zie said it was run­ning a cam­paign in the trenches. His Cabi­net col­league Robin­son said she was there to lend sup­port to the coun­cil­lors and was part of the thrust to take back con­trol of the coun­cil.

The lo­cal gov­ern­ment min­is­ter said the party was buoyed by the voter turnout in sev­eral di­vi­sions in the last gen­eral elec­tion.

Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment in St

Ann North West, Dr Day­ton Camp­bell, said the JLP will have to fight hard to re­gain the coun­cil.

“Let us not be fooled by this ar­gu­ment about win­ning a di­vi­sion in gen­eral elec­tion. Per­sons have lost di­vi­sions in the gen­eral elec­tions and have won them in the lo­cal elec­tions. The op­po­site of that ar­gu­ment is also true. You can lose a di­vi­sion in the gen­eral elec­tion and win in the lo­cal,” he ar­gued.

Camp­bell said none of his three coun­cil­lors knew “any­thing about the de­for­esta­tion monies be­ing spent in the parish”.

“The coun­cil­lors/care­tak­ers were the ones who se­lected the peo­ple, and took them to the sites them­selves. My coun­cil­lors are the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and they knew noth­ing of the bush­ing. I am told that $43 mil­lion work is un­der way in the parish, but only the JLP St Ann, Ja­maica

sup­port­ers and can­di­dates know about what is to be done and how much money is be­ing spent,” Camp­bell said.

“I am the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive and I cer­tainly did not know a thing about what is go­ing on. But yes, I am aware that this coun­cil is a tar­get, but I don’t see how they will win it. I ex­pect us to get back 11 di­vi­sions, may not be the same di­vi­sions we have now but I don’t ex­pect us to lose the coun­cil.”

Ac­cord­ing to the MP, any di­vi­sion won or lost by un­der 200 votes is up for grabs. The PNP’s 112 ma­jor­ity in Bam­boo and 102 in Sturge Town could be up for grabs, as well as the JLP’s 42 ma­jor­ity in Alexan­dria. The other 13 di­vi­sions all have larger ma­jori­ties.

RES­I­DENTS’ CON­CERNS

Bad roads in sev­eral ar­eas, build­ing breaches, in­clud­ing some with over­hang in the roads, con­ges­tion, and undis­ci­plined taxi op­er­a­tors are among the con­cerns raised by res­i­dents. How­ever, im­prove­ment work was ob­served along a few me­tres of road en­ter­ing Golden Grove.

The JLP’s can­di­date for the Moneague di­vi­sion, Del­roy Kelly, faces in­cum­bent Lloyd Gar­rick and in­de­pen­dent can­di­date Ver­non Wil­liams. In the 2012 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, Gar­rick re­ceived 73.8 per cent of the votes, which trans­lated into 1,665 votes to the JLP’s 551. Still, Kelly feels he can do it.

“I know we can. Yes, it is a big num­ber to pull back, but we can. And we are en­cour­aged by re­sults of the last gen­eral elec­tion and hope to pull it off,” Kelly shared.

ST ANN DI­VI­SIONS

Moneague Ben­son­ton Clare­mont Beecher Town Ex­change Ocho Rios Lime Hall St Ann’s Bay Bam­boo Sturge Town Dry Har­bour Brown’s Town Gi­bral­tar Alexan­dria Calder­wood Boro­bridge

PHO­TOS BY IAN ALLEN/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work un­der way on a sec­tion of Golden Grove road in St Ann.

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