Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Talk is Over - Why Manchester's Growth Plan Never Flourished

Published:Wednesday | February 8, 2017 | 2:00 AM
Anthony Freckleton
Angella Edwards
Desmond Harrison
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For years, Manchester has been hailed for being proactive in its pursuit to document its plan to move the parish forward, but, equally, it has been scrutinised for its failure to implement some of the plans stipulated within timelines.

But why is there a delay? And when will things change?

At a recently held Gleaner Municipal Corporation Forum in the parish, stakeholders sought to provide insight on the true nature of the problem.

"Years ago, the council and MPDC (Manchester Parish Development Committee) did a plan, but for the parish to grow, it has to expand, and without the implementation, we won't see any expansion," said councillor of the Christiana division, Desmond Harrison.

"No money," says president of the MPDC, Anthony Freckleton. That's the reason for the failure to implement the plan.

He further said, "Successive governments have (through the bauxite levy) collected billions of dollars which have been transferred from the Capital Development Fund to the Consolidated Fund. Those billions of dollars is what we need to expand everything we are talking about."

His solution is that "... a cap be put on the amount that can be transferred, and just like every other fund, selecting a board to run it."

Echoing his sentiments, mayor of Mandeville, Donovan Mitchell, stated, "We want a dedicated fund to help the municipal corporation and the residents that we serve. Manchester has been ravaged by all three bauxite companies: Jamalco, Windalco and Alpart. The Government of the day needs to ensure talks are had to formalise strategies for moving forward."

Mitchell said that he was in the process of seeking counsel from the Ministry of Finance on how the technical staff at the municipal corporation could be increased.

Local Economic Development Officer Angella Edwards said the council was seeking to expedite the process of the growth agenda.

"We have been putting some strategies in place ... . We developed a local sustainable development strategy for the parish, and along with that strategy is an action plan. A committee has since been formed to watch over the implementation of the strategy," she said.

Freckleton is hoping that a collaborative approach will be taken with the Social Development Commission, HEART NTA and other agencies, in ensuring the plans work.