New Western MPs plan big
MPs target economic development
BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-a- Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 05, 2012
MONTEGO BAY, St James — ECONOMIC development and social agenda top the list of priorities on the agendas of the western region's first-time members of Parliament.
Members of Parliament-elect Lloyd B Smith, Central St James; Richard Parchment, South East St Elizabeth; Hugh Buchanan, South West St Elizabeth; Raymond Pryce, North East St Elizabeth; Patrick Atkinson, North Trelawny and Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, West Central St James respectively, were the 16 successful candidates in the region during last Thursday's General Election. The Portia Simpson Miller-led People's National Party (PNP) won 12, while the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) retained four of the parliamentary seats that were contested in the parishes of St Elizabeth, St James, Trelawny, Hanover and Westmoreland.
On the national level, the PNP won 42 of the 63 contested parliamentary seats.
Atkinson, an attorney, is promising to provide sterling representation and to "push hard" towards the provision of employment for his constituents.
"I will provide good representation. I intend to consult with the people district by district and take instructions from them, as to what it is they want," he said.
"On the issue of employment, I intend to do everything possible, especially for young persons."
The 67-year-old Atkinson who conceded that he is "a little bit awed by the responsibility that I am now faced with", expressed that he was "elated and honoured that the people could place this kind of trust in me".
Final count in the constituency showed that Atkinson amassed 10,850, while his main rival Dennis Meadows of the JLP, recorded 8,567.
Jamaica Alliance Movement candidate Ras Astor Black eked out a mere 57 votes.
Atkinson who contested the Western Westmoreland and Western St Thomas seats for the JLP on previous occasions, replaced the PNP's Patrick Harris, who successfully ran the seat in the 2002 and 2007 General Elections.
After his resounding victory on Thursday, he told the Observer West that his supporters had cautioned him that they are going to be monitoring him closely to see if he delivers.
"Mark you, they have warned me that they are going to be watching me very closely, so I have to be up to the challenge," he emphasised.
Smith, a former president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he will be giving priority attention to employment generating projects; skills training and the upgrading of various sporting facilities across his constituency.
"One of the challenges in the constituency is that many of the youngsters lack the necessary skills and training so I will be looking at projects that will assist in skills training which will ultimately lead to them being employed. I don't want to give too many details on that, but I am looking at particular projects of that nature that would be in line with the IT sector which is to be expanded in Montego Bay," he explained.
The Central St James constituency encompasses a number of inner-city communities including, Canterbury, Salt Spring and Rose Heights.
Those communities are said to have a high level of unemployment and have witnessed a number of violent crimes in recent years.
Smith also told the Observer West that he intends to use sports as a vehicle to ease the tension in the area.
"The constituency has some very volatile sections, so if I can get the sports thing going it will ease some of this," he argued.
Smith who won the seat by a margin of 74 votes over the JLP's Heroy Clarke, said within the next two weeks a non- partisan management committee for the constituency will be established to drive the planned projects.
In the neighbouring constituency of West Central St James, Ffolkes Abrahams who defeated the JLP's Clive Mullings by 663 votes, has also listed the creation of jobs and the need for skills training, among her top list of priorities for the area.
She also plans to work assiduously to obtain registered certificate of titles for informal settlers, many of whom she said, reside in the communities of Retirement, Friendship, Mount Salem and St Johns.
"The expansion and revitalisation of the Montego Bay Free Zone; the engagement of the Jamaican Diaspora in investment, as well as roads are also my priority," said Ffolkes Abrahams.
Thirty-year-old Buchanan, who defeated JLP deputy leader Dr Christopher Tufton by a majority of 13 votes in South West St Elizabeth, told the Observer West that "youth development is big on his list".
"I think for the first time the youth actually feel that they are empowered because now they have a young person as their member of Parliament. They are the ones who really put me there -- I got a lot of youth votes -- and I don't want to let them down so I really want to do a lot when it comes to youth development," said Buchanan, who is the son of former Cabinet member, the late Donald Buchanan.
He added that skills training will be the centerpiece of his thrust to assist the youth.
Constituents can also expect to see improvements in the poor road conditions, improved water supply and greater assistance to the farming and fisheries sectors, according to the MP-elect.
Meanwhile, Parchment, the member of Parliament-elect for South East St Elizabeth, emphasised that his priorities were determined by the needs of the people.
"My number one priority is to ensure that we complete the Essex Valley Water supply system which has been in the making from 2001. This must be completed in the shortest possible time, as a priority," said Parchment (PNP), who defeated the JLP's Frankin Witter.
Parchment also wants to ensure that piped water gets to the fast growing town of Junction.
"Junction which is our main town in South East St Elizabeth has been promised running water from about 30 years now and its is the only major town in Jamaica that has absolutely no running water and this has affected the development of the town," he argued.
He noted that getting running water to Junction was one of his election promise which "must be delivered".
Parchment, who is also the PNP councillor for the Myersville division in St Elizabeth, says he plans too to address the poor road conditions and the declining agricultural sector.
He also intends to have the Lovers Leap attraction, which he said was closed two years ago, reopened within the next three months and to improve the educational offerings in the constituency.
"We need one or two more high schools in South East St Elizabeth and other educational facilities and I will be working towards achieving that," he stressed.
Pryce, his colleague in the neighbouring constituency of North East St Elizabeth, for his part, pointed to agriculture and enterprise; education and training, as well as "community care", as his areas of priority.
"Community care," he said, would involve the use of culture, recreation, entertainment and sports to give new life to communities in the constituencies.
"As somebody who originates from rural Jamaica I am very mindful that if our rural communities continue to decline, then it is going to contribute to the urban drift that compounds the problems being experienced in towns such as Portmore, Kingston, Montego Bay and Spanish Town, so we are looking to use the principle of 'communitycare' to give new life to the constituency," he explained.
With regards to agriculture and enterprise, Pryce said, he would be seeking to establish a number of agro-processing industries in the constituency, pointing out that he will be drawing on his "overseas contacts" to drive the process.
In the area of education and training, the first-time MP-elect will be seeking to utilise retired nurses and teachers as well as tertiary students to assist with homework and adult learning centres.
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