KSAMC councillors clash over rat infestation report

KSAMC councillors clash over rat infestation report

Observer writer

Thursday, January 23, 2020

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COUNCILLORS on either side of the political divide clashed over a rat infestation matter in Vineyard Town, forcing an abrupt end to the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation's (KSAMC) Parish Disaster Preparedness and Public Health Committee meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting descended into a shouting match after Councillor Andrew Swaby (People's National Party, Vineyard Town Division) expressed scepticism about a rat infestation report that Chief Public Health Inspector Winnifred Meeks said she had received on inspections done by the Kingston and St Andrew Public Health Department on Antrim Road in Vineyard Town on January 18, 2020.

Meeks said the report stated that the inspectors could not gain access to 17 of the 29 premises on Antrim Road. Councillor Beverly Prince (Jamaica Labour Party, Molynes Gardens Division) eventually ended the meeting as the feuding councillors ignored her gavel.

Later Councillor Swaby told the Jamaica Observer that he had been complaining about rat infestation in that section of his division since 2017.

He said that based on the current conditions at the specific premises on Antrim Road, he was disputing the inspection report.

Swaby, in the past, had complained that the KSAMC — after a visit to the location in Vineyard Town — had been told by the Health Department that the council did not have the right to carry out enforcement.

Meeks told the Observer that because the visits to the premises by the public health inspectors were being questioned, she could not discuss the matter with the media. She said that the Public Health Department would be revisiting the matter.

Meanwhile, Councillor Dennis Gordon (People's National Party, Maxfield Park Division) questioned the manner in which the Parish Disaster Preparedness and Public Health Committee meeting was adjourned.

He said that Prince did not follow the proper procedure in adjourning the meeting as no motion or vote was taken to end it. The corporation's CEO Robert Hill told the Observer that in normal circumstances a motion to adjourn the meeting is necessary.

“The motion has to be moved, seconded and voted upon,” he said.

However, if a meeting was at a level that “in the judgement of the chairman she cannot control, she can, in her discretion, exercise the right to end it”, Hill said.

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