BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
FALMOUTH, Trelawny — A legal showdown is brewing between the Trelawny Parish Council (TPC) and a group of investors over the ownership of land at the Burwood Beach in Trelawny.
Yesterday, Mayor of Falmouth and Chairman of the Trelawny Parish Council Garth Wilkinson told the Jamaica Observer West that he has instructed the council's attorneys to file an injunction in the Supreme Court barring the investors from undertaking any work on the property, which he claimed is owned by the local authority.
That action comes weeks after individuals, who gave their names as Roger and Howard Jobson, commenced work on the property, claiming that they are members of a company, who are the owners of the prime beach front land.
They claimed that the property which is commonly known as Burwood Beach is in fact named New Court.
“The property (New Court) is owned by a company of which I am director and we have a legal title for it,” Howard told the Observer West last week, as workmen worked feverishly to erect a perimeter fence on a section of the property.
But Wilkinson is insisting that the property is owned by the council which has been operating there for more than 40 years, and has vowed to protect the interest of the public.
“I will not sit by as chairman of the council and allow the beach to be taken over,” a fuming Wilkinson told the Observer West.
Claiming that the council is in possession of copies of documents to prove ownership of the land, Wilkinson explained that the adjoining property to the beach which has been used as a car park over the years is not owned by the local authority.
He stressed however, that the council is interested in purchasing that property, as it would fit nicely in the proposed development of the beach.
But the Jobsons, who said that the matter is in the hands of their attorneys, are maintaining that in addition to the property that is being used as a car park, their company is the legal owner of both parcels of land.
The impasse between the Jobsons and the council came after Wilkinson announced plans for a $22 million upgrade of the Burwood Beach, which has been in a state of disrepair for quite some time.
“Rather than leasing it out or giving it to any individual, we are going to ensure that we preserve the beach and keep it under our control,” he said then.
He added that the massive upgrading project will involve the construction of shops, sanitary conveniences, a multi-purpose court, a gazebo, restaurants, a children's play area and a bandstand.
The project, he said, is expected to begin in another few weeks.
There have long been calls for the rehabilitation of the Burwood Beach, which is the only public beach in the parish of Trelawny.
But the Trelawny Parish Council which had claimed ownership of the run-down facility had said that it was not in a position to undertake much-needed repairs at the beach, due to financial constraints.
And the local authority was apparently unwilling to put the beach, which boasts pristine white sand and is ideal for non-swimmers and persons who are desirous of learning to swim, in private hands.
Wilkinson argued that “many persons would like the Burwood beach to be privatised,” but he remained resolute that the facility should be owned by the people.
“As the only public beach we have, I thought that we had to do everything in our power to preserve it, so that's why we are going the way we are going,” said Wilkinson, adding that the people of Trelawny deserve a great beach that is actually owned by them.