Tue | Aug 9, 2022

St Ann’s Bay mayor faces no-confidence acid test

Published:Tuesday | July 5, 2022 | 12:12 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Mayor of St Ann’s Bay, Sydney Stewart.
Mayor of St Ann’s Bay, Sydney Stewart.

On the heels of allegations of stolen utility poles and illegal electricity connections at the Ocho Rios playing field, and $61 million in unaccounted-for funds from the special grants and repairs fund (SGR) at the St Ann Municipal Corporation,...

On the heels of allegations of stolen utility poles and illegal electricity connections at the Ocho Rios playing field, and $61 million in unaccounted-for funds from the special grants and repairs fund (SGR) at the St Ann Municipal Corporation, Mayor Sydney Stewart is to face a no-confidence motion at next week’s monthly meeting of the council.

Speaking at a Lime Hall divisional conference on Sunday night at Steer Town Primary and Junior High School, Beecher Town division Councillor Ian Bell said that the mayor’s pattern of management has sparked the no-confidence motion.

Bell told The Gleaner on Monday that the motion will be tabled on Thursday, July 7, in order to facilitate the one-week clearance for the monthly meeting.

Efforts to get a comment from the mayor were unsuccessful on Monday. And Winsome Callum, Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS) director of corporate communications, promised to provide an update on the alleged stolen poles and illegal connection.

However, The Gleaner was able to confirm that electricity at the playing field has since been disconnected by the JPS.

“We will be moving full speed ahead to make sure that the municipal corporation’s business is managed properly under good management, not by them,” Bell said.

The Jamaica Labour Party holds 11 of the 16 divisions in the St Ann Municipal Corporation.

Meanwhile, former mayor and councillor-caretaker for the Lime Hall division, Desmond Gilmore, said there should be no whiff of unaccountability regarding the missing $61 million from the SGR.

Asserting that the corporation had several accounts, Gilmore said that the SGR represented about 20 per cent of the Parochial Fund. That money, he said, should have been put aside for emergencies.

“If we were to have a hurricane now, God forbid, that is the money to use to bring about some normalcy until you get some funds from the national coffers. That money should be in a separate account so it shouldn’t get mixed up with the general funds,” Gilmore said.

“During my tenure as mayor, that was how it was, so I don’t know why they would want to move away from this best practice.”

Gilmore confirmed with The Gleaner that he will be the PNP’s candidate in the Lime Hall division to contest against the incumbent Genevor Gordon-Bailey, who had defeated him in the last local government elections in 2016.

carl.gilchrist@gleanerjm.com