Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:
The Portland Parish Council has embarked on a campaign to clamp down on illegal shops and vending between Anchovy and Passley Gardens, with a view to collect more revenue.
The illegal shops and stalls, some of which are poorly constructed, were the topic of discussion during the monthly sitting of the parish council held on Thursday, following the serving of hundreds of notices to the illegal business owners and operators by the council last week.
"These shops and stalls are been constructed at an alarming rate," argued Benny White, mayor of Port Antonio.
White added: "Our warnings were ignored and in light of that, we issued approximately 250 notices to stalls and shop owners, which were constructed illegally along that thoroughfare extending for more than five miles. We urge their cooperation for them to remove those structures, and failure to do so will result in them been demolished," said White.
Move to regularise
They have been given a month to respond to the notices. The mayor also noted that although the constructions were done illegally, without authorisation from the council, consideration will be given to illegal shops and stalls that are well constructed and meet the standard set by the council to come in and get regularised.
The mayor's comments were endorse by other councilors, who all agreed that the council could earn much-needed revenue from the operators of those illegal businesses once they are giving the opportunity to become regularised.
But while agreeing that the move to have the illegal shops and stalls operators conform, which would generate funds to the council, the question was raised by opposing councilors as to why such construction was allowed to go on at an alarming rate with virtual impunity.
In his response, Mayor White explained that while the concern raised by Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councilors was genuine, it was discovered that such constructions took place at night as the buildings were built out of ply boards, which can easily be constructed in a matter of hours.
The Portland Parish Council comprises five Peoples National Party and four JLP councillors.