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Good support for parish-visioning symposium in Clarendon

Published:Wednesday | March 17, 2010 | 12:00 AM

MAY PEN, Clarendon

Under the direction of the Office of The Prime Minister's (OPM) Department of Local Government, the Clarendon leg of the series of parish-visioning symposiums was held recently at the Versalles Hotel, May Pen, Clarendon.

With 50 agencies from various sectors in the parish participating, the symposium was held under the theme, 'Creating the Parish Vision, Community By Community, My Community, Our Parish, One Jamaica - My Vision'.

State Minister responsible for Local Government Robert Montague described the symposium as "the largest one" since the series started.

Montague explained that the Clarendon Parish Council partnered with another council in England, and they are collaborating to do a sustainable project, under The Commonwealth Local Government Emporium good-practice scheme.

20-year plan

The parish-visioning symposium came about as a result of a recommendation from the National Advisory Commission on Local Government Reform, that every parish should have a 20-year sustainable development plan.

"In getting to that recommendation, the prime minister, who is also the minister of local government, said to us we have two choices - you can employ an expert, pay them $30 million and have them have focus groups and studies, and they publish a work that is not easily understood, or go out into the communities and talk to the real experts, the people who live in the parishes, the people who live in the communities," Montague told persons gathered at the symposium.

He said the Government accepted that no one knows better about the problems than the people who live in the communities.

"They are the real experts. The prime minister says, go out there, call the people together and hear how they would want to see their community develop over the next 20 years," he added.

Today and tomorrow

Montague told the participants that planning was important and that the plans they make would affect their children's futures.

"We must understand that we are thinking about a 20-year plan, we are not thinking about today and tomorrow. We have to think about what we are going to be leaving for our children," he said.

"What we ought to do is to sit down with the young people and to engage them in a conversation. Let us begin to engage them, do not condemn them that they are worthless, because development is not about somebody sitting in an office in Kingston telling you what is good for, you all have to come together."

The symposium was organised by the Clarendon Parish Council and the Social Development Commission, and had workshops focusing on topics such as infrastructure and environment; economic development; and social services, inclusive of health, education, welfare and governance, looking at areas such as local governance, community involvement and commerce.