Portmore parish status a move to hijack power – deputy mayor
Deputy Mayor Alric Campbell has characterised the Holness adminstration’s proposal to designate Portmore as Jamaica’s 15th parish as a gerrymandering ploy to seize political control of the St Catherine Municipal Council.
Campbell, an affiliate of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) who represents the Edgewater division, said that beyond the political implications, there would be economic repercussions if the Portmore Municipal Council were severed from its St Catherine counterpart.
“We know that this move is purely partisan to ensure that in the next local government elections, the Jamaica Labour Party has control of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation,” he said.
The PNP has a one-seat majority in the 41-councillor St Catherine Municipal Corporation – 21 for the PNP to the JLP’s 20.
But with 10 councillors from Portmore constituting the PNP’s majority, severing the municipality from St Catherine would give the JLP a clear majority.
Campbell said that Portmore’s municipal status was a pilot project that should have been subject to review under an agenda of local government reform.
“Instead of moving ahead with parish designation, we should be doing the review now to see if the municipal concept is working and whether other areas in Jamaica could be given municipal status,” Campbell said.
The deputy mayor gave a bleak assessment of economic survival of the municipal council if Portmore acquires parish status.
“We presently get our resources from the Parochial Revenue Fund, and since the majority of that revenue comes from Greater St Catherine and are then divided, if we were to be severed, our allocation would be greatly diminished, rendering the Portmore Municipal Council incapable of sustaining itself,” Campbell argued.
He said that Portmore would not be able to collect enough revenue in the municipality to manage the council without central government covering the shortfall – an eventuality he said residents should not bank on.
A joint select committee of Parliament chaired by St Catherine South Central Member of Parliament Andrew Wheatley has been reviewing proposals for Portmore to be upgraded to a parish.
– Ruddy Mathison