Erica Virtue and Tyrone Reid, Senior Gleaner Writers
Chairman of the Clarendon Parish Council and mayor of May Pen, Scean Barnswell, has charged that political interference led to the messy situation involving the illegally rented shops at the refurbished Spalding Market.
Barnswell is pointing fingers at his fellow Comrade, Richard Azan, the member of parliament for North West Clarendon and minister of state in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing.
The shops were constructed and rented by the contractor who was engaged to refurbish the market without the knowledge of the council, which is led by Barnswell.
"It is just some of the things that happen where persons are of the view that they can flout the law and do what they can do without going through the proper channel. I think that political interference was also a main cause of this," said Barnswell, a councillor attached to the ruling People's National Party.
"I would see it as that because the council which has responsibility for that wasn't informed or involved in the decision-making," he added.
According to Barnswell, the state minister will have to provide some answers. The mayor claimed that when the council met with the contractor, John Bryant, he claimed that "the minister (Azan) asked him to construct them because there was a need".
Arrangement has to end
Barnswell also revealed that the council's legal representative has written to Bryant advising him that the unlawful arrangement had to end.
According to Barnswell, the idea of constructing the shops was a good thing done the wrong way.
"The shops were needed, but it was undertaken in the wrong way. There is a need for it there in Spalding," he said.
That is a view shared by Azan.
"The idea for the shops came about when we discussed the issue of removing the vendors from the roadside because, as you know, Spalding is small and it gets very congested," Azan told The Sunday Gleaner.
According to Azan, he has been very involved in the redevelopment of the market and recently he used his own money to put two more lights in the yard so that the vendors could stay at the shops later in the evening.
"But I believe dirty politics is at play and if this is going to create a problem for me, by asking an investor to put up shops to ease the problem of congestion, I will be the first to ask him to remove them with immediate effect, and we can all go back to what it was," declared Azan.