Falmouth mayor says administration has top marks ... but challenger gives failing grade
As the November 28 date for the local government election draws near, the two aspirants for the position of councillor for the Falmouth division in the Trelawny Municipal Corporation have provided sharply contrasting views of the current administration's work in the parish.
Garth Wilkinson, chairman of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation and current councillor of the Falmouth division, says his administration has done a praiseworthy job in terms of infrastructural work during its time in power.
"We have had a lot of things to be thankful for ... we have managed the affairs of the people of Trelawny, in that we have done more roads than any other administration before our time. In terms of infrastructure work that has been done, there is the putting in of sidewalks in the town of Falmouth ... and I have to acknowledge the work we did with the Burwood Beach, the only public beach in the parish," Wilkinson, who is also the mayor of Falmouth, said.
Wilkinson also pointed to water catchment rehabilitation work done in south Trelawny, the progression of work on the Falmouth market, and commendations given to the corporation by Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie.
"In terms of minor water supply, we have repaired and refurbished most of the catchment tanks in south Trelawny. Councillor Paul Patmore (an independent councillor in the current administration) started a project with a water treatment plant in Lorrimers, that the council has encouraged, and we have partnered with him and made sure to enhance the work he started up there," said Wilkinson.
Market to open in January
"We restarted the market, which was on the books to be completed before the Falmouth shipping port was built; and now we are far ahead in getting that market done, and it is slated for completion, based on our projections, by early January," Wilkinson continued. "Minister McKenzie came here; we were assessed, and we were judged as the best-run parish council in the island. Everybody has given us a high mark in how we have managed our work; we are the most financially prudent and disciplined council in Jamaica. The work this administration has done is second to none."
However, Wilkinson's review was challenged by his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) challenger for the Falmouth division, Courtney Fowler, who pointed to several issues within the town of Falmouth as proof that the corporation has fallen short of the mark.
"Because I am an 'area man', I know the whole of the division. The place is in a bad situation," Fowler declared emphatically. "If I come into power (as councillor), the drains have to be set up differently because the drains need to be dug deeper so that the water can travel better; and the garbage collection is not doing anything much."
Fowler also asserted that the aesthetic appearance of Falmouth is impacted by the presence of people sleeping on the streets at night, and the use of an area near the municipal corporation building as a toilet, which he insists will negatively affect the town's tourism product.
"It is a tourist town, and yet you have too much people in the square at night-time," Fowler argued. "People are sleeping on the piazza at night-time and have nowhere to go. The mayor is bypassing those things, but we can't bypass those things."
Fowler continued. "At the side of the courthouse, there is a lot of faeces and people use it like it is a toilet. People go over there and urinate; you cannot have a place like the mayor's office and the courthouse together (on the same building), and those kinds of things going on at the side of the courthouse. Falmouth needs a step-up and a helping hand by different people ... . we in the system, we have to clean up the dirty water running in the place so that the tourists can have better enjoyment."