THE EDITOR, Sir:
The municipality of Portmore was established on May 22, 2003 and will thus celebrate 10 years in existence this year. Under the Municipal Act, the memorandum of objects and reasons states that the Government has proposed the establishment of municipalities in recognition of the need for a strong and vibrant local government.
It was aimed to enable the citizenry to fully and directly participate in, and contribute to, the management and development of local communities. This memorandum was further supported by the eloquently written Municipal Charter.
At the time, all this sounded very good, but 10 years later, the very Government that established the Portmore municipality has shafted the community so many times, we are now at the point where we accept the saying that 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'. Portmore is experiencing this hell in the number of housing developments taking place within its borders.
There is no end in sight and the Portmore Municipal Council, which under the Municipal Act (2003) Section 17 subsection (r) is responsible for regulating the construction of buildings in towns and imposing suitable conditions and restrictions as to the size and design of houses to be built, has been reduced to a mere rubber-stamper of housing projects.
Our municipal council has no power or authority to decide what goes on with regards to housing development in Portmore. Recent housing developments such as Cedar Grove, Portmore Country Club II, Westmeade Meadows never came to the council for approval, as central government used clauses under the Housing Act to bypass the council.
To add salt to the wound, the Portmore Municipal Council recently turned down a project in Greater Portmore that was to be undertaken by the 'developer of Portmore', West Indies Home Contractors Ltd (WIHCON). Lo and behold, an appeal was made to the relevant Cabinet minister and the council's decision was overruled.
If the Portmore Municipal Council is in no position to approve or disapprove, what's the use of going to it in the first place? This particular project by WIHCON is against the will of the community, and this has been stated in all the forums that the developer has come in contact with residents.
When the Portmore Municipal Council speaks, it seems no one in central government listens. There is no word from the member of parliament, at least not publicly. There is no word from the minister of local government and community development to whom all parish councillors report to. It seems as if the councillors are left on their own.
When this low regard for the Portmore Municipal Council is demonstrated, it leaves us, as citizens, to wonder if after 10 years and municipality status, where we are going as a community.
Greater Portmore Joint Council