EOJ now close to 6,480 signatures

EOJ now close to 6,480 signatures

JLP says it’s not perturbed, going ahead with court action

Monday, March 02, 2015

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AS the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) moves closer to the 6,480 signatures it needs to go ahead with expanding the boundaries of the Portmore municipality, attorney-at-law Shane Dalling says his clients are not perturbed and are going ahead with their application for an injunction to stop the process.

The EOJ , in a release yesterday afternoon, said more than 6,200 Portmore residents have now signed the petition. Dalling, who is also the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) caretaker for the Westchester Division, said the application made last Friday was not rejected on its own merit, but that Justice Lennox Campbell wanted to hear from the EOJ as well.

Dalling is representing JLP mayoral candidate for Portmore, Welton Shettlewood and councillor for the Independence City Division Keith Blake in the matter. "Our injunction that we need to seek from the court now is to not only stop the electoral office, but also includes preventing the minister from issuing an order to extend the boundaries.

So even if they collect the required number of signatures, we can still ask the court to bar the minister from issuing the order on the same premise that the process used, in terms of the collection of the signatures was unlawful, and any action of the minister must also be unlawful," Dalling told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

HE added: "We are actually seeking a declaration that the process being used is unlawful, null and void.

We also sought declarations, as to the power of the minister under Section Three [of the Municipality Act] to issue any order in relation to a municipality."

He said, too, that his clients were also seeking a declaration from the court that the Municipality Act does not provide for the regularisation, and or expansion of the boundaries of a municipality.

"We will also ask the court for a declaration that the process of obtaining signatures from persons living outside the boundaries of the municipality — Grange Lane, Quarry Hill, Lakes Pen, Clifton — that those areas are not allowed under the act to sign any petition.

We also asked the court to declare that this process having been unlawful, the boundaries cannot be expanded extended, even if they collect the signatures," he added.

"I doubt it," was the quip from Local Government Minister Noel Arscott when asked if he felt the claimants would be successful.

He said an "untidy situation" was created in 2010 when the new constituency was added, changing the boundaries, but said "everybody agreed that it had to be fixed".

Arscott noted that the advice given to him by Government's chief legal advisor was that any adjustments to the boundaries have to be done using the same method that was used to create those boundaries. "In this case, it is a petition.

So that's what we are trying to do".

The local government minister said the EOJ was also of the view that this is the way to proceed, and that the Jamaica Labour Party had not objected, until now.

"Those are confused persons. We are supporting the programme put forward by the EOJ to get persons to sign the petition," he stated.

Last Friday, the EOJ, in the wake of news that an injunction was being sought, said it was not its idea to collect the signatures as it was accommodating the local government ministry.

"The ECJ (Electoral Commission of Jamaica) is the agency responsible for the list of registered electors and so, on the request of the

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