Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Charles Sinclair | PNP hypocrisy on beach access

Published:Monday | August 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Having read the contributed article in The Gleaner of Saturday, August 18, 2018, titled 'Social partnership on beach access', by Sophia Frazer-Binns, I concluded that the opposition senator and the People's National Party (PNP) have either found the road to Damascus or are hell-bent on making comments to give themselves relevance.

In the article, Senator Frazer-Binns stated that a future PNP administration would "endeavour to enter into social partnership ... (and) open and honest communication among all Jamaicans, especially those in communities in proximity to beaches".

Recent history across Jamaica indicates it was the PNP administration, of which she is a part, which caused many of the better beaches to now be inaccessible to locals and visitors who may not be guests at all-inclusive hotels, and private developments that have "gobbled" up said beaches.

In Montego Bay, St James, the Rose Hall Beach and Damali Beach were incorporated within the all-inclusive development of two hotel chains. The residents of Lilliput, Barrett Town, Coral Gardens and Ironshore were never consulted.

It was under the PNP administration in 2015 that Puerto Seco Beach in St Ann was leased to a private company. Today, there is the general complaint of the imposition of a high entrance fee, in effect curtailing many average Jamaicans reasonable access to the beach. The residents of Runaway Bay, Discovery Bay, Brown's Town and other surrounding communities were not consulted.

In 2014-15, Cornwall Beach, which was one of the better beaches in Montego Bay, used primarily by locals, was placed in the hands of another private development, with no, or no reasonable, access to locals. The manner in which it was done raised many questions at the time, which still remain unanswered.

Strangely enough, Senator Frazer-Binns was then a government senator who sat in proximity to Senator Noel Sloley (from Montego Bay) in the Senate and must have had knowledge of the move to deny locals reasonable access to that facility. The issue was well publicised in the media, including the Gleaner.

The PNP Cabinet led by then Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller sanctioned the then PNP-led St James Parish Council and Mayor Glendon Harris to 'divest' itself of that prime public resource, the best beach in the city. The present leader of the Opposition and PNP president was a member of that Cabinet.

 

HYPOCRISY

 

What hypocrisy! Where was the senator's voice at that time when she and her party held the reins of power? Is it that social partnership was not part of her mantra then? The residents of St James only found out that Nicodemus passed through the parish one night and in the blink of an eye, access for locals to Cornwall Beach was gone.

Now in Opposition, Senator Frazer-Binns is demanding social partnership. What a difference a movement across the aisle makes!

I am happy to hear the Honourable Andrew Holness making it abundantly clear that his administration already had the beach policy in general, to include public access, under review. It is anticipated that same will be made available for public participation in short order. I trust Senator Frazer-Binns will, at the appropriate time, place on the table her party's recently transformed views.

- Charles Sinclair is a government senator and councillor. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com andsinclairc77@yahoo.com.