Lucea mayor has plans to address squatting in Hanover
Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels says he has a plan of action to deal with the squatter problem in Hopewell, Hanover.
Pointing out that squatting in the area started several years ago, Samuels said that his administration had initiated formal discussions on the matter since he came into office. He is, therefore, taking issue with a claim by Devon Brown, the councillor of the Hopewell division, that the Hanover Municipal Corporation is not treating the matter with the seriousness it deserves.
Brown, the Jamaica Labour Party's minority leader in the People's National Party (PNP)-controlled corporation, recently told The Gleaner that he was powerless to do anything about the squatter situation because whenever he tried to raise the issue at meetings, he was always met with silence.
However, when contacted, Samuels, who is chairman of the municipal corporation, accused Brown of not speaking the truth.
"The statement, or the answer, that the councillor gave is a blatant lie," said Samuels.
TEAM SENT OUT
"We decided that we are going to fix it. We have done all that is necessary to take the actions that we ought to take in regularising the whole thing," said Samuels. "It came to us at a meeting. We took the decision to bring in the enforcement team, which subsequently went out there and served summonses."
At a recent community meeting in Hopewell, where Brown was in attendance, residents lashed out against the growing incidence of squatting along the community's main road in the vicinity of the Orchard Beach. The residents blamed Brown and the municipal corporation for allowing the situation to fester.
However, the councillor told the residents that he had tried to raise the issue at meetings of the corporation, but he was outvoted by the PNP majority. He recommended that the residents write directly to the minister of local government to get action on the matter.
Meanwhile, Craig Oates, manager of the compliance and enforcement department at the Hanover Municipal Corporation, told The Gleaner that every building along the Hopewell Orchard strip with any form of illegality had been visited. In addition, summonses and the necessary legal notifications had been served. He added that lawyers representing the corporation had also visited the area and plans were afoot to take legal action against the offenders.
"In furtherance of that, the corporation has also written to the National Water Commission, the Jamaica Public Service, and other utility companies for them to disconnect any service that has been provided to persons along the strip," said Oates.