Sun | May 28, 2023

Ashley created crisis within a crisis

Published:Wednesday | April 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Steve Ashley created "a crisis within a crisis" when he caused the board to remove Jennifer Edwards as head of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), leading Local Government Minister Noel Arscott to lose faith in his leadership of the board of directors.

"My confidence in him has been shaken by the way the situation of the fire ...; that he compounded the issue of the executive director at the same time, and I expressed it in no uncertain terms that it is impossible to understand that you have the biggest fire that you have had to deal with and the board was consumed about the executive director," Arscott said. "And most of the members of that time were of the same opinion that you shouldn't create a crisis in the midst of a crisis. You cover one and then you deal with the other," Arscott stated.

Should have been consulted

The minister, while speaking at the weekly Jamaica House press conference yesterday, said he should have been consulted by Ashley before the decision was made not to renew Edwards' contract. He also said that Ashley was not active enough in mobilising equipment to help fight the recent fire at Riverton.

"I would expect that if you have an agency that would trigger a crisis on top of a crisis, then it cannot be that you don't consult the minister on a matter like this. It is logical that the focus would be on the fire, to get it out ... and at no time can you divert your attention from the task at hand. In the past, the chairman has been very active, trying to procure equipment, call persons just to try and get on top of it. In this case, it was totally different."

The NSWMA is currently without a board after seven of its 11 members resigned.

Arscott said that during a meeting with the Board last week, some members expressed "unease about the manner in which the non-renewal of the executive director's contract was managed in the midst of the fire".

With the board now ineffective because it does not possess the quorum required to meet and act, Arscott said he has received several expressions from persons who wish to be considered for appointment. A list of potential board members, which may include Ashley, is to be presented to the Cabinet for approval.