Tue | May 30, 2023

Portmore groups want more time to explore parish status

Published:Friday | February 10, 2023 | 12:49 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Map showing the proposed parish boundary for Portmore.
Map showing the proposed parish boundary for Portmore.

The Portmore Teachers’ Association, one of the 11 groups that make up the the Portmore Advisory Council (PAC), while not being averse to the St Catherine municipality becoming Jamaica’s 15th parish, is requesting that more consultation be done so that two hot-button issues can be properly addressed.

The PAC was established during the run-up to Portmore becoming a municipality in 2003.

Donovan Edwards, vice chairman of the PAC and immediate past president of the Portmore Teachers’ Association, said that of the six groups represented at a recent meeting of the PAC, called to discuss the proposed parish status for Portmore, the Portmore Teachers’ Association indicated that there should be a revision to the proposed parish boundary and the plan to eliminate the direct election of a mayor.

In his report to the monthly general meeting of the Portmore Municipal Council, Wednesday night, Edwards said five other groups represented at the meeting, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Joint Citizens’ Association, the Hellshire Leadership Council, the police, and the Disabilities Association were still having discussions with their members and will report at a later date.

Edwards said the teachers pointed out that they are not against Portmore becoming a parish, but they are totally against the boundaries as proposed, and the scrapping of the direct election of a mayor.

“The group say they would like to see the boundaries extend to the Hellshire Hills down to the Portland Heights and seacoast areas, and also to take in the industrial belt to include the Grace Kennedy establishment around to Lakes Pen and include Wisynco,” Edwards said.

These areas are not included in the proposed parish boundary.

“In addition, the teachers are saying that with regard to the direct election of mayor, they don’t see the need for a change and they want it to continue because it is a unique concept,” Edwards added.

The Municipal Council in January’s general meeting unanimously passed a motion to seek an extension of the time period set by the Ministry of Local Government for the council to provide suggestions before a draft bill to amend the Counties and Parishes Act of 1867, making Portmore Jamaica’s 15th parish is tabled in Parliament.

During a spirited debate on the issue, councillors requested the extension to have further consultations with community groups. Jamaica Labour Party councillor Courtney Edwards argued against the extension, but did not indicate which way he wanted to vote.

A letter was subsequently send to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government advising of the council’s decision to seek an extension until the end of April.

The ministry in a response letter, stated that they are in receipt of the council’s request, but declined to say if the requested extension will be granted.