THE EDITOR, Sir:
I read with amazement and disbelief comments attributed to the mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Glendon Harris, in the article appearing in The Sunday Gleaner of September 22, 2013, under the headline 'MoBay's brothel, Shelter Bridge ... where sex, poverty and hopelessness hold sway'.
The article made mention of a situation taking place under and in the vicinity of the bridge along the Howard Cooke Boulevard. It raised issues of illegal structures, littering, homelessness, health concerns with persons defecating into the Montego Bay River, at a point a stone's throw away from the Montego Bay Harbour, among others.
The article attributed the following comments to the mayor:
Montego Bay Mayor Glendon Harris said what was happening under the bridge was outside the remit of the parish council.
"There is nothing on the books to deal with this particular issue," said Harris in explaining the decision not to intervene.
As a councillor of the St James Parish Council, I find those comments reprehensible and a clear abdication of duty by the mayor.
The local authority, the St James Parish Council, has the following duties and responsibilities: dealing with illegal structures (Town and Country Planning Act and Building Act), littering (National Solid Waste Management Act, Public Health Act, Public Health Nuisance Regulations), health issues (Public Health Act and accompanying regulations), homelessness and poverty alleviation (Poor Relief Act). Please note that the council is the local board of health and the mayor is the chairman of that board.
Dealing with the homeless
In addition, the council has established a night shelter for the homeless which was expanded in the last administration. Also, partnerships were forged with several partners to deal with the homeless and persons experiencing challenging personal circumstances such as those named in the article to rescue, care for, rehabilitate and reintegrate them with their families and communities.
Furthermore, the council is the primary manager of the city and the parish, and must, if needs be, bring the relevant stakeholders to the table to deal with the issues.
I, therefore, call on the mayor to review and retract his comments and to attend to the situation post haste. Hiding one's head in the sand just does not cut it.
Montego Bay, St James