Hinds gunning for seat as Hanover Eastern MP defends tenure

Hinds gunning for seat as Hanover Eastern MP defends tenure

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

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HOPEWELL, Hanover — For almost two years, former West Indies cricketer Wavell Hinds has been traversing the hills and valleys of the rural constituency of Hanover Eastern, knocking on doors and meeting and greeting constituents in a bid to secure the seat for the People's National Party (PNP).

Over the period the former left-handed batsman, who has played 45 Test matches for the West Indies, would have had first-hand knowledge of the social and economic ills facing electors who have voted eight times in favour of his party, seven for the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), and once for an independent candidate in parliamentary elections since it was first contested in 1944.

Now Hinds, who turns 44 on September 7, says he is confident of securing the marginal seat now served in Parliament by first-time Member of Parliament Dave Brown (JLP), whenever the upcoming national polls are held.

“I am confident of winning,” Hinds declared last week as he and a small group of supporters campaigned in the Haughton Grove area of the constituency.

“My confidence is aligned with a body of work, sweat and labour, and I am pretty confident of where I am today; but I am also mindful of the challenges that are ahead. I will make sure that I stay on the ground as the constituency is marginal, and so as a new candidate in a marginal seat it requires a strategic plan that aligns with what the constituents want and aligns with the People's National Party's manifesto. So I am confident, and that confidence comes from the support I get from my executive and the constituents,” he said.

If elected, Hinds plans to tackle the chronic shortage of potable water in the constituency, which he says has a number of springs and streams that could be utilised to serve the needs of constituents.

“Water is a great need right throughout the constituency,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“Areas such as Great River, Montpelier, Bamboo, Cold Spring, Elgin Town, Cascade…suffer from a lack of water, so I plan to lobby the Rural Water Supply Limited and the National Water Commission to make sure that people get potable water,” Hinds said.

He says he also plans to address the poor road conditions, which he pointed out exists in Chester Castle, Mt Peto, Haughton Grove, Old Pen, Lethe, Copse, Flower Hill, Woodsville, Patty Hill, and Cash Hill, among others.

Education is also high on the agenda as the former cricketer says he plans to twin academics with sports.

Already, he says, he has made contact with the primary and high schools in the constituency with a view of establishing a raft of initiatives.

There are three divisions in the constituency. One is Sandy Bay, represented by deputy mayor of Lucea Adriana Dehaney-Dinham of the Opposition PNP while Devon Brown, a cousin of the JLP MP, represents the Hopewell Division, and Fearon Decarish (JLP) represents the Chester Castle Division.

In the 1972 General Election, Dr Aston King, a medical practitioner in his time, won the seat for the PNP by 911 votes over three-time winner Donald Jackson of the JLP. King repeated the feat against Basil Buck of the JLP with a mere 150 votes in the 1976 election, and after he was badly beaten by Buck in 1980, returned in 1989 following the PNP's boycott of the 1983 snap election, with victory over Francis Jackson by 1,983 votes.

Dr King was replaced by Francis Tulloch in the 1993 General Election during which he defeated Dr Horace Chang, now minister of national security, by 1,687 votes.

Former PNP General Secretary Dr D K Duncan won the seat by 10 votes over the JLP's Barrington Gray in a magisterial recount in 2007, and maintained his unblemished record of never losing a seat while representing the PNP in winning by 251 votes over the JLP's Paula Kerr-Jarrett in 2011.

In the last contested election Brown had 6,380 people who voted for him, beating former Mayor of Lucea Wynter McIntosh — the then councillor for the Chester Castle Division — who polled 6,046 votes.

As was the case in the last national polls, the deplorable state of the roads and the lack of piped water in many communities in the constituency could play a major factor in determining which candidate wins the seat.

Brown, a native of the constituency, believes that he has done enough in addressing the poor road conditions and lack of potable water to be re-elected for a second term.

“In the area of roads, I have rehabilitated many roads that were in a state of disrepair for more than three decades,” the Government backbencher told the Observer.

He cited the Copse to Lethe main road, the Copse to Smithfield main road, the Bottom Land and Top Land roads in the Chester Castle area, the Cold Spring main road, Thompson Hill, Orchard Housing Scheme, the Addington to New Milns main road and Church Lane in Sandy Bay, as roads that have been rehabilitated during his tenure.

Major patching, he said, has been undertaken in communities such as Look Out, Chigwell, Success, and Rejoin.

“Nine farm roads have also been done in communities including Knockalva, Cacoon, Shettlewood and Georgia, and there are two more that will be done shortly,” added Brown.

And turning to the persistent cry for potable water, Brown acknowledged that there is a shortage of the commodity in several communities but stressed that “much progress” has been made under his watch.

“We have so far rehabilitated four catchments, we have provided water for residents in Copse but our mega project, which is the Jericho to Claremont water supply, is near completion and we expect to get the first phase — Claremont to Retrieve — to be up and running next month,” said Brown.

That project, which was started during Dr Duncan's tenure, is expected to impact several communities including Cascade, Jericho, Retrieve, Pondside, Cash Hill, and Claremont.

“The next phase of the project will be from Pondside to Cold Spring and adjoining communities, and I have already started to make representation for that,” said the MP.

Brown, who unsuccessfully contested the Montego Bay North East Division of the then St James Parish Council in the local government election of 2012, before tasting victory in Hanover Eastern, said if re-elected he plans to continue improvements to the road infrastructure, especially farm roads, and to make potable water available to more communities.

He also wants to undertake improvement works at the sports facility at the Orchard Housing Scheme in Hopewell, the bustling town in the constituency.

And, expressing confidence that he will retain the seat for his party, Brown said he strongly believes that he will win by a margin of about 700 votes.

“I am extremely confident. Before I came along nothing much was done for the constituents, and because I have put in a lot of effort since becoming MP I believe that the people are willing to give me another chance,” he argued.

According to the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, at November 30 last year there were 24,589 electors on the voters' list in Hanover Eastern — 971 more than the number on the list that was used in the 2016 General Election.

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