Thu | Jan 21, 2021

Enforcement Department in Hanover under investigation - Manager says he is shackled by CEO

Published:Saturday | October 5, 2019 | 12:05 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

The Enforcement Department at the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) has been shackled by the corporation and can no longer function outside of Lucea, the parish capital, without the permission of chief executive officer (CEO) David Gardner.

The surprising news was revealed during Thursday’s Physical Planning and Environment Committee, where questions were raised about the inactivity of the department and claims of irregularities in its functions, which had spanned the entire parish.

Among the irregularities highlighted was the failure of the Enforcement Department to act on the instructions that were given at the committee’s September meeting to embark on a parish-wide illegal sign removal.

When Craig Oates, the enforcement manager, was questioned about the department’s inactivity, he revealed that he was given written instructions by the CEO that the department was under investigation and should limit itself only to activities in Lucea unless otherwise instructed.

“I have been informed by the CEO in writing, from sometime in August, that there are some concerns, and that until that is rectified, the work of the enforcement team should be confined in the town of Lucea unless the CEO specifically instructs me to do otherwise,” said Oates. “My hands are tied.”

Oates went on to point out that because of the CEO’s instructions, there is a backlog of work to be done in his department, to include summonses to be served and inquiries to be made about a number of reported and identified irregularities taking place across the parish.

“My hands are tied,” reiterated Oates, adding that he was bound by the instructions given to him by the CEO and was, therefore, not in a position to carry out normal duties.

The current situation places the Physical Planning and Environment Committee in dilemma as at present, a number of buildings are being constructed illegally across the parish, including the building of a house on a bridge in the district of Welcome, which is seriously affecting activities on the adjoining road.

On Thursday, The Gleaner made several attempts without success to contact the CEO about the circumstances surrounding the investigation of the compliance department and the status of the investigations.