Western stakeholders demand more from newly elected councillors
With the change in the composition of the respective municipal councils in western Jamaica, some stakeholders say they are hoping the councillors will take a new approach to governance - not only focusing on parochial matters but encourage economic development.
Elaine Bradley, who sits on the Negril Resort Board, said she is expecting that the new faces in the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation will bring new ideas to the table and balance to the municipality, which had consisted totally of People's National Party (PNP) councillors during the last term.
"We are hoping that new voices will bring about some good changes to Westmoreland because we have seen none so far - and that the changes that will come will develop Westmoreland on a whole, but Negril especially, in a better way. I am hoping that the new voices in the council now will actually represent what the prime minister says they must do; instead of sitting in the council they go into the communities so that the people on the ground can see it physically rather than hearing about it," Bradley told The Sunday Gleaner.
Looking to the young councillors
President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, Gloria Henry, said she was looking to the young councillors who got elected for the first time to chart the course for the redevelopment of downtown Montego Bay.
"I note that there are some young persons in the composition and I am looking forward to engaging with them very early. I think it is about time we rewrite the narrative for downtown Montego Bay towards renewal, towards improvement, towards growth, towards inclusiveness, towards modernisation, towards innovation. And I hope that this predominantly young cadre of persons will rise to the challenge to make a difference in Montego Bay and for the whole community of St James," Henry said.
"Now that they are a municipal corporation, they need to be emboldened with their plans and strategies to impact the constituents of St James. Downtown Montego Bay is the centre of economic activities in St James and if we can improve downtown, we certainly can impact the other communities. I want to see action on the agro-parks that have been promised and I think the council needs to ensure it's not just infrastructure but that economic growth is a part of the paradigm that they need to address."
For Carla Ledgister, chairperson of the Trelawny Inter-Agency Network, the new composition of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation should spark robust interactions, which would be in the interest of the people.
"There are recurring items on the council's books that must be addressed and taken off the agenda. We are expecting a robust council, and that the PNP members will be vigorous in their interactions there. It is early days yet, but I expect the councillors to keep their word and that the prime minister's promise of prosperity will trickle down to everybody and opportunities will be created, especially for the youth," Ledgister said.
But over in Hanover, Nerris Hawthorne, chairman of the Lucea Development Initiative, was not so upbeat.
"I don't think it is going to make a lot of difference. The one difference that might be noticeable is that since the town of Lucea is held by a Labour councillor, the town may be looked at more favourably. Other than that, I don't see where it will make a lot of difference," Hawthorne said.