More Comrades at odds

Presidential race anger hits back-to-school treat in Hanover

BY MARK CUMMINGS
Editor-at-large
cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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LUCEA, Hanover — Opposition parliamentarian Ian Hayles is convinced that his support for Peter Bunting's challenge to Dr Peter Phillips for leadership of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) is the reason that the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) has refused to grant the Hanover Hope Foundation permission to stage its annual back-to-school treat for 400 students at the corporation's car park.

“It has something to do with it. The mayor (Sheridan Samuels) has come out and has been saying some things about me… but I believe that there should be a level of political maturity,” Hayles said.

Hanover Hope Foundation is the brainchild of Hayles, who is a three-term member of parliament for the Hanover Western constituency.

The foundation, which was formed about four years ago, stages three events — a back-to-school fair, a summer camp and an education symposium — annually.

This year's fair has been widely advertised for Saturday at the Hanover Municipal Corporation's car park where students of different age groups from across the parish were expected to be in attendance.

But, in a letter dated August 16, 2019 addressed to Hanover Hope Foundation committee member Katrin Casserly and signed by CEO of the corporation David Gardner — a copy of which has been obtained by the Jamaica Observer — the HMC said the corporation, “at this time is unable to honour the request for the use of the Municipal Car Park to host your back-to-school fair”.

No reason for the decision is given in the letter.

Numerous efforts to contact Samuels and Gardner yesterday were futile.

Hayles noted that it was the first time in the four-year history of the fair that the corporation has denied the charitable organisation permission to stage the event at the car park.

“As far as I know, the car park will be locked up on Saturday as no other event is planned for that venue, which is a central location for the children in the parish to go for the fair,” said a seemingly disappointed Hayles.

An upset Casserly, who is widely known across western Jamaica for her benevolence, labelled the decision by the corporation a “political vendetta”.

“There is no plausible reason, except the mayor's personal political reason which we (foundation) have fallen victim to,” she charged.

Casserly noted that the fair is sponsored by the Hanover Charities, which she chairs, Hayles and Wisynco.

“I don't know what will happen now because they are saying that we can't get the use of the car park which is a central location for the hundreds of students expected to attend. The committee members and parents are upset,” Casserly stressed.

“Some politicians, it seems, do not care about the future of our children. Why would you block the use of the car park because of political grudge?” she asked.

It is no secret that in recent months Samuels, a former constituency secretary for Hanover Western under Hayles' leadership, who is also the councillor for the Cauldwell Division in Hanover Western, and Hayles have been at loggerheads over a number of issues.

The first sign of crack in their relationship came last year when Samuels told a Hanover Municipal Corporation monthly general meeting that he had placed a stop to unauthorised work on a parochial road in the Cauldwell Division being undertaken by Hayles.

And Samuels, who has openly declared his support for Dr Phillips in the PNP leadership race, recently blasted Hayles at the party's Sandy Bay Divisional Conference in Hanover.

At that meeting, Samuels attributed the loss of the PNP in the 2016 General Election to the less than stellar performance of Hayles who was the party's Region Six chair at that time.

“We made a mistake... it was the worst we have ever seen Region Six, the worst,” Samuels charged.

In his broadside, Samuels also took a swipe at Bunting.

“There is a gentleman who is backed by those persons who think that him can assume the leadership of this party, and we cannot allow that to happen,” he declared.

He also suggested that Hayles played a hand in the resignation of former Lucea Mayor Shernet Haughton.

“Shernet was so innocent, she was set up, how can we do that to our comrade? …Shernet was working so hard in the Green Island Division and she was like a threat to the then chairman, so him get her out of the picture,” said Samuels.


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