McIntosh takes charge of Hanover PC
BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at- Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
PEOPLE'S National Party (PNP's) councillor for the Chester Castle Division, Wynter McIntosh, will today be installed as the new chairman of the Hanover Parish Council during a special sitting of the local authority at the council's municipal building in Lucea.
He will have as his deputy, Neville Claire, the sitting PNP councillor for the Lucea Division.
McIntosh's elevation to the post comes in the wake of the resignation of embattled chairman of the council and Mayor of Lucea Councillor Shernet Haughton, as well as her deputy, Lloyd Hill -- a former chairman.
For several months, Haughton, her councillors and Member of Parliament for Western Hanover Ian Hayles, have been at loggerheads over the leadership of the PNP-dominated local authority.
In March, the PNP councillors wrote a letter to Mayor Haughton expressing their lack of confidence in her leadership of the local authority. That same month, the regular monthly meeting of the Hanover Parish Council was cancelled due to a lack of quorum as the four other PNP councillors, as well as the Independent, boycotted the sitting in protest over Mayor Haughton's handling of the affairs of the local body.
A month later, however, the embattled mayor survived a no-confidence motion.
Last week, she told the Jamaica Observer West that she decided to step down because she was not getting the support from the councillors and other stakeholders.
"I really decided that I wanted to take this decision because I think that I am not getting enough support as it relates to working in the town of Lucea as the mayor, so I will just remain as a councillor, and concentrate on doing the work of the Green Island Division," she explained.
A first-time councillor Haughton won the Green Island Divison, which forms part of the constituency of Western Hanover, in the 2012 Local Government Elections, beating the Jamaica Labour Party's candidate by over 1,200 votes.
Last week, she stressed that she will remain councillor for that division.
"The people voted for me and I have to put their interest at heart, so I want to focus on the area," she argued.
Haughton's resignation came just five months after the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) commenced a probe into allegations of nepotism in the awarding of contracts at the Hanover Parish Council.
As part of the investigations, a team from the OCG reportedly seized a number of computers and files from the offices of the council.
Observer West sources said yesterday that the OCG has completed its investigations into the matter and the findings could be made public soon.
A source close to the Hanover Parish Council, who did not want to be named, told the Observer West also that what is being played out at the local authority "is a bitter struggle in the PNP for the running of the affairs of the council," which he argued, "is not new".
He recalled that in January 2010, Hill, the then chairman, was ousted, in a move orchestrated by his PNP colleagues at the council.
Weeks later, however, Hill was reinstated after a ruling by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, local political observer Chris Hylton says it is important for the incoming chairman to move with alacrity in addressing the raft of social, political and infrastructural issues dogging the town of Lucea.
"The town of Lucea is filthy, and coupled with the inadequate drainage and high levels of unemployment, Mr McIntosh will have to get to work immediately," Hylton argued.
"He (McIntosh) will also have to bridge the divisiveness in the Hanover Parish Council and must move to address the long overdue development of the historic Fort Charlotte."
The Negril Resort Board had recently blasted the Hanover Parish Council for not doing enough to improve the aesthetics of the town of Lucea, and for the delay in the development of Fort Charlotte -- a national heritage site -- into a viable tourism attraction.
It has also cited the need for the removal of the zinc fence along the main road from Riley River leading into the town's centre, and for the local authority to address the poor drainage situation in the Lucea area.
The 51-year-old McIntosh has been the elected councillor for the Chester Castle Division, located in the constituency of Eastern Hanover, since 2007.
The constituency is represented by Dr DK Duncan.
A farm manager at the Knockalva Agricultural School in the parish, McIntosh has served as chairman of the Hanover Parish Council's Poor Relief Committee, as well as vice-chair of the civic and community affairs, public health and commercial services committees.