Inside the Municipal Corporations | Councillors throw jabs over local government minister
Tempers flared at the Clarendon Municipal Corporation's monthly sitting last Thursday, with councillors calling for their colleague, Milton Brown, to withdraw and apologise for a claim that his colleagues were attacking Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie.
Several People's National Party councillors sought to question the amount of funding being allocated to each councillor for education and housing for their division as stipulated by the Local Government Minister recently. Councillor for the Milk River division Carlton Bailey raised the issue by questioning the rationale behind the proposed $500,000 allotment to each councillor and what it includes in terms of assistance for education and indigent housing for their respective divisions.
However, the proceedings were to get worse before getting better as the councillor for the Mineral Heights division, Milton Brown, in a statement relating to the uneven distribution of funds among the municipal corporations, referred to a question from Councillor Scean Barnswell as 'a subtle attack on the minister'.
Councillors Bailey and Barnswell took offence to the statement, claiming he was merely seeking clarification on the matter raised by Bailey and vowed that the meeting would not be allowed to continue if the chairman of the corporation, Winston Maragh, did not instruct the councillor to withdraw the statement.
Adamant that he would not apologise, Brown began to defend the claim that 'his' minister was being subtly attacked by the members.
As the members of both sides roared, each defending their side of the argument, the chairman was brought to his feet in a bid to control the fiery tempers. After several points of order from both sides, the chairman reiterated that CEO Rowhan Blake had indicated earlier that the mayor would be meeting with the minister the next day and that further clarification would be sought on the matter, which would then be communicated to the councillors.
Finally, Brown rose to his feet, hands in the air, saying: "I withdraw, I withdraw."
In offering a solution to the matter, Anthony O'Connor, councillor for the Crofts Hill Division, suggested that in future, a direct correspondence be issued from the Ministry of Local Government to all councillors with what he referred to as a breakdown of the allocation for each division so as to avoid misinformation and misconceptions in the future.