Hayles eyes 12 of 14 Westmoreland divisions for opposition party
People’s National Party (PNP) Vice President Ian Hayles has assured the top brass in the officer corps and supporters that the opposition party can retain leadership of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation by a vast majority when the local government polls are called.
Hayles believes that the political climate in the parish remains favourable to the PNP despite all three seats going to the Jamaica Labour Party in the last parliamentary election – a massive upset as the PNP had held all three seats since 1989.
The former Hanover Western member of parliament gave the assurance at the recent Frome Divisional Conference, which was attended by PNP President Mark Golding, General Secretary Dr Dayton Campbell, Deputy General Secretary Wentworth Skeffery and other senior party officials.
“Comrade Leader, there are 14 divisions in Westmoreland, and I can tell you, it looks like we can win 12 or the whole 14 in the parish,” said Hayles.
Hayles indicated that the PNP is seeking to unseat three of the five sitting Jamaica Labour Party-aligned councillors elected in the last local government polls in 2016, when the PNP won nine divisions in the parish.
Four of the five divisions the JLP won the last time around are in the Westmoreland Central constituency now represented by George Wright, who resigned from the ruling party just over a year ago in a cloud of controversy.
In one of those divisions, Frome, the PNP is hoping educator Lidden Lewis will mount a successful challenge to JLP incumbent Rudolph Uter.
“His heart is in the right place and he will do well in representing the interest of the people in the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation,” Hayles said of Lewis.
The other division the JLP had won is in Westmoreland Western, now represented at the parliamentary level by Morland Wilson.
Hayles noted that the 84-year-old PNP has begun to win back the hearts of electors in Westmoreland.
“We have a lot of work to do in this party and it’s about time we start putting in the work. It’s about time,” he said.
Last week, the party claimed that Westmoreland was still very much its political stamping ground, plotting to use the upcoming local government elections as the platform for its resurgence.
“We must send a message to the green (JLP) people who believe that them have Westmoreland lock. Westmoreland still remains PNP territory and we send that message by starting in the local government [elections],” Julian Robinson, a former PNP general secretary, told party supporters in George’s Plain last week.