Belnavis in a bind - 10 JLP councillors ask mayor to resign
Michael Belnavis, the mayor and chairman of the St Ann’s Bay Municipal Corporation, is faced with a decision to relinquish his position or could possibly be unceremoniously toppled from his high seat.
With a no-confidence motion from five People’s National Party (PNP) councillors at the St Ann Municipal Corporation hanging over the head of Belnavis as the sword of Damocles, 10 of his own Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) colleagues have called on him to step down.
Minority leader at the corporation, the PNP’s Winston Brown, said the call by the JLP councillors for Belnavis to resign was an ‘endorsement’ of the motion of no confidence filed on Thursday to remove the mayor. He said the motion will be raised at the next meeting of the corporation on Thursday.
“I’m not surprised. I was looking forward to that. We served a no-confidence motion yesterday (Thursday) that if he did not resign before next week Thursday’s monthly meeting, we were going to move a no-confidence (motion) against him,” Brown said.
Met with minister
The JLP councillors asked Belnavis to stand down at a meeting yesterday which was attended by Local Government and Community Development Minister and deputy leader of the JLP, Desmond McKenzie.
After the meeting, McKenzie issued a press release stating, in part, that “the unanimous conclusion was that it was in the best interest of the municipal corporation, to have the mayor step aside while the matters ventilated in the public domain are investigated”.
The release further stated: “It is important to note that the councillors did not in any way accuse the mayor of impropriety, but strongly felt that the present atmosphere took attention away from the regulatory and development agenda that the Municipal Corporation should be focused on”.
Pressure has been mounting on Belnavis to resign with the municipally led by him shrouded in controversy over a $46-million sanitisation contract for Ocho Rios and more recently revelations that the St Anns’ Bay mayor is a director of a private company that captured government land and constructed a building in contravention of the country’s laws.
Belnavis could not be reached for comment but when The Gleaner contacted one of the councillors after the meeting, he said they were barred from speaking publicly about the issue.
“We will see what happens. I think that the correct thing will prevail. It is hopeful he will do the correct thing at this time,” said the JLP councillor who asked not to be named.
Councillor for the Bamboo division, Sydney Stewart, who is currently the deputy mayor, is expected to be appointed mayor if Belnavis demits office.