Mayor of Spanish Town Councillor Norman Scott
The leadership of the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation (SCMC) has signaled its intent to seek the intervention of Prime Minister Andrew Holness after a request for an audience with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Works Agency (NWA), Everton G Hunter was denied.
At its monthly general meeting on Thursday, March 14, the council was informed in a letter from Everald Warmington, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, that all future meetings with personnel from the NWA will not be considered in light of reports of verbal abuse of the agency’s representatives at council meetings.
The outcome of the SCMC’s request was read to councilors by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andre Griffiths.
The letter, however, failed to specify when the mentioned abuses took place or which municipality was identified to be responsible.
Mayor Norman Scott and Chief Executive Officer of the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation Andre Griffiths.
“Please be informed that when I assumed the officer of State with responsibility for Works in April 2016, I gave a directive that no representative of the National Works Agency should attend any further meetings of the municipalities,” Warmington’s reply to the SCMC noted.
“The decision was taken in light of the abuse that our representatives have been subject to at such meetings. And further, the work of the National Works Agency is not within the mandate of the municipality,” the letter further explained.
The contents of the letter triggered outrage among some members of the council, who called Warmington’s response ‘disgraceful and disrespectful’.
“Your Worship, we have a right to investigate what is happening in our divisions. And to get a letter like this this morning, something is radically wrong. I am wondering what is happening. We can’t go forward without the Ministry of Works, we have to go hand-in-hand; we have a right to have them here,” said Deputy Mayor and Councillor for the Ginger Ridge Division Ralston Wilson.
“When a minister of Government sits down and dictates such a letter to this council, it is one of the biggest disrespects. I have never sat in any meeting and heard about abuse towards any member of the National Works Agency,” he added.
In the meantime, Mayor of Spanish Town Norman Scott told the council that he will be pursuing the intervention of the Office of the Prime Minister, in addition to seeking a meeting with Minister Warmington.
“We’re going to be seeking audience with the state minister and while we are doing that, we’ll be sending a letter to the Prime Minister,” the mayor stated.
According to him, a team from the SCMC will be spearheaded by Mayor Scott and minority leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) caucus Councillor for Old Harbour South Lloyd Grant.
The SCMC’s request for a meeting with E G Hunter to discuss road work projects in the parish of St. Catherine was sent to the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation in February, after the NWA CEO informed the council the he would not accept any invitations to attend future meetings.
By Gavin Riley