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Councillor Crooks 'cross it', Comrades happy

Published:Friday | March 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Western Bureau:

Businessman Lester Crooks, who won the Riverside division as an Independent candidate in Monday's local government elections, unofficially crossed the floor to the People's National Party (PNP) during yesterday's first sitting of the new Hanover Parish Council.

"I am a socialist … . I am a Michael Manley PNP," declared Crooks after he was sworn in. "I am looking forward to working with my PNP comrade brothers for the better of the parish of Hanover."

Prior to the local government elections, Crooks made a late bid to get on the PNP's ticket but was unsuccessful on account of the slow pace of the party's machinery to address his application. He subsequently contested the election as an Independent.

In the meantime, the PNP did not field a candidate in Riverside, the only division the party did not contest islandwide, and PNP supporters threw their weight behind Crooks, marshalling his election campaign.

"If you saw me on election day, you would not be surprised that I cross it today," Crooks told The Gleaner. "My symbol was the 'fist' and I wore the PNP's orange shirt on election day."

Not yet a pnp member

However, while Crooks is ready to cast his lot with the PNP, his acceptance by the party is not a foregone conclusion.

"Having him on the PNP side would make things easier for me," said Ian Hayles, the PNP member of parliament for Western Hanover, who describes himself as a personal friend of Crooks.

"His application will have to be accepted and his membership formalised before he can be accepted in the party. That part of the situation is above my head … that is bigger than me."

During the PNP's celebrations on Monday night, Hayles made what appeared to have been a Freudian slip when he declared Crooks' victory as a victory for the PNP party.

"We won all four divisions," Hayles said, counting Crooks' seat in the mix. "We took home everything."

Crooks, who previously served a term as mayor of Lucea, resigned in 2007 in the wake of a scandal involving the Hanover Parish Council giving discounted building fees to the developers of the Fiesta Hotel.

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com