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Portland Parish Council lays down the rules

Published:Friday | April 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer

PORT ANTONIO, Portland:

IN AN attempt to restore pride and dignity in the council chamber, the Portland Parish Council has put in place various rules and measures to improve, among other things, the dress code and conduct of its directors and visitors.

The new measures come in the wake of a two-day orientation session held recently, where a list of rules were outlined to members of the parish council, including councillors.

Secretary manager of the Portland Parish Council Joan Thomas explained the tardiness displayed by councillors would no longer be tolerated, noting that councillors are expected to adhere to the new rules. She also said they would be held accountable for failing to comply.

"We are trying to restore pride and dignity to the council chamber. It is not only the issue of a dress code, but how the councillors go about asking questions, how they go about proposing motions, the ringing and answering of cellphones during council meetings, and how we conduct the people's business. I am happy to see that all councillors are adhering to the rules thus far."

According to the secretary manager, the rules are not only binding on councillors, but on other members of the public, agencies of the state, other council staff, and visitors, who turn up for parish council meetings.

Heavy criticism

In the past, councillors were heavily criticised for conduct during council meetings including crosstalking, use of cellphones, malicious comments and tardiness.

But in light of the new council rules, Thomas pointed out that any councillor who arrives after the 10 a.m. start of the monthly council meeting will be penalised and will not be paid their usual travel expense.

Among the new 11-point rules now in effect are:

  • All persons should be seated five minutes before the scheduled start of the monthly meeting;
  • All questions should be lodged seven clear days before the meeting;
  • All cellphones are to be turned off and put on 'vibrate';
  • All persons attending council meetings should be properly attired (no sneakers).

rural@gleanerjm.com