Inside the Municipal Corporation | Manchester councilors furious at public health department
While 11 food-handling establishments, including abattoirs, were rendered closed recently, and some have since been reopened, chairman of the local board of health, Mayor Donovan Mitchell, is furious that the board has not been furnished with information from the public health department about the locations of these establishments and the reasons for their closure.
"... We don't know about these things until we have a meeting, and we don't get names of these places. If it is that we should not know, I don't have a problem, but if we ought to know ... it can't be so ... . I sent my driver to pick up lunch from one of these places and he told me the whole place lock down ... ," he said.
Mitchell added that he could not advise the public or inform members of the media, when he has no information.
However, he was told there is a procedure to be followed.
"Our regulation does not allow us to divulge specific information ... . However, there are other regulations, the Access to Information Act, and you can make a request to the relevant persons ... ," said Deputy Chief Public Health Inspector Dahlia Plunkett.
WASTE OF TIME
To this, Mitchell retorted: "With all due respect, this is the local board of health and, by virtue of the act, this gives us some rights and privileges. It would not make any sense that you waste your time to come in to sit and talk with us if you can't divulge any information."
He quickly revealed that once armed with the necessary information, he would be able to act based on occurrences he has witnessed.
"I know for a fact that some of those restaurants you have closed have bars and they are open at night and they are selling, and if we got the information that you closed somewhere by order of the Public Act until further notice ... you are talking about the public's health."
Councillor of the Christiana division and former chairman of the local board of health, Desmond Harrison, called for the board to be denounced if things continued in like manner.
Mitchell made a request that a letter be sent to Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, as well as divisions under the ministry, seeking clarification on the roles and responsibilities of the board.