Sat | Feb 16, 2019

Early adjournment as councillors clash in St Thomas Municipal Corporation

Published:Thursday | April 12, 2018 | 1:15 PM
Councillor Marsha Francis (right) on her feet as Jamaica Labour Party councillors prepare to leave the meeting room - Shanna Monteith photo

Shanna Monteith, Gleaner Writer

The St Thomas Municipal Corporation was brought to an abrupt end this morning after an argument escalated among the mayor of Morant Bay Michael Hue and councillors of the People's National Party (PNP) who attempted to have the standing orders suspended.

Immediately following the usual devotion at the start of the proceedings, Councillor of the Cedar Valley division Marsha Francis, stood and asked for the suspension of the standing order to address what she called "an important issue" affecting the parish.

Hue, however, said her request could not be entertained at the time and ordered that the meeting continue as set out on the agenda.

Francis ignored Hue's statement and continued to ask for a vote on the matter which was supported by her PNP colleagues, who hold a 5-4 advantage in the council.

The seat count was originally 5-5 but last month the Supreme Court declared the Yallahs division vacant and ordered a by-election because it found that Dean Jones was not qualified to be a councillor.

A by-election is to be held on April 27.

Meanwhile, tensions rose this morning when Mayor Hue ruled that the reading of the minutes be taken and asked Francis to take her seat, saying she was bringing the meeting into disrepute.

Francis refused to sit, asking the mayor for time to address the council.

She insisted that she would not be intimidated by the mayor and moved to ask CEO Judith McKenzie to intervene but was ignored.

By this time, Hue was time standing.

"I have asked you not once or twice to sit down because you are bringing the meeting into disrepute. I have made my ruling as chairman and it's my right so to do. It will not be taken at this time," Hue said.

After Francis' insistence that she would not sit, the mayor adjourned the sitting.

Councillors of the Jamaica Labour Party, the CEO, secretaries and several agency representatives then left the room.

Francis then nominated councillor of the White Horses division, Hubert Williams to sit in the chair as Chairman of the council, the motion was supported by the other PNP councillors and Williams proceeded to take the chair, and continued the meeting with his peers.

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