Supreme Court to hear injunction application on Portmore petition March 17

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS Senior staff reporter saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

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THE Supreme Court will in two weeks hear the application for an injunction to bar the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) from using a petition to have the boundaries of the municipality of Portmore expanded.


The application made by Welton Shettlewood, who is the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) mayoral candidate for Portmore and councillor for the Independence City Division Keith Blake, also seeks to, among other things, stop the minister of local government from using a ministerial order to proceed with the expansion of the boundaries.


Shane Dalling, JLP caretaker for the Westchester Division and attorney-at-law representing Blake and Shettlewood, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that a March 17 date had been set.


Reacting to the news that the EOJ has now got the number of signatures it was seeking to proceed with the adjustment to the boundaries, Dalling said, "That's no problem. We are not concerned." He said that even if the EOJ had enough signatures, any order issued by the minister based on the petition could be deemed unlawful and nullified.


The EOJ yesterday disclosed in a press release that "a preliminary count of signatures collected over the past two weeks indicates that to date, 6,655 people have signed the petition, which is more than the 6,480 required".


Director of Elections Orrette Fisher said after the final verification, the data will be sent to the ministry, which is responsible for setting municipal boundaries.


In a second release also issued yesterday, the EOJ said the Electoral Commission of Jamaica restated that it was requested by the Ministry of Local Government to administer the petition.


"The director of elections acted in accordance with the full knowledge and support of the Electoral Commission's recommendation that there should be a re-definition of the statutory boundaries of the Portmore municipality to conform to the boundaries of the three constituencies that make up Portmore," the release said.


The Government says it is seeking to regularise a number of communities, which ended up outside of the municipal boundaries after a third constituency was added to Portmore in 2010, when there was an islandwide revision of constituency boundaries.


The addition of the St Catherine East Central constituency misconfigured the alignment of the Portmore boundaries, leaving some communities in divisions such as Portmore Pines, and Greater Portmore North on the outside of those boundaries.


But the JLP is contending that the expansion of the boundaries that the government wants to undertake is not simply about returning those communities to the municipality, but that it wants to include communities which were never within Portmore, and rightfully belong in the St Catherine Parish Council.


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