MONTEGO BAY, St James — Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Lloyd B Smith has promised to lobby the Lower House of Parliament for the establishment of a Municipal Court in Montego Bay.
"I will be doing my own lobbying at the parliamentary level to ensure that it becomes a reality as soon as possible,"said Smith, who is also the Member of Parliament for St James Central.
" I think it is long overdue. The Government ought not to pussyfoot on this one. It will generate a lot of meaningful revenue for the municipality and it will also help to curb the indiscipline, the disorder and the lawlessness that now affect the city, so I am in favour of it," he explained.
Smith's promise to seek the support of his parliamentary colleagues, comes against the background of renewed calls from several quarters in St James, including the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), for the establishment of a Municipal Court in the resort city.
Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris noted that the St James Parish Council had long advocated for the setting up of the court .
" We have been mounting additional pressure to make sure that it comes through as quick as possible. We are not sure if Government will give in to us having the municipal court, but we are working on it and from all different angles," the mayor revealed.
"The municipal court has been long in coming. I remembered when Clarence Nelson was being sworn in as Custos of St James the then Minister (of Justice) A J Nicholson announced that it is with them and they were working to ensure that it becomes a reality. So we have done our part of it. It is for Central Government... the Ministry of Justice to bring the order into get it operational".
Meanwhile, former President of the MBCCI, Mark Kerr- Jarrett is recommending that the court be used in the enforcement of the Tourist Board Act, in addition to enforcing the public order and Public Health ordinances which are under the purview of the parish council.
"It could be used in the drive against tourist harassment and to restore the rule of law and discipline in the downtown areas of Montego Bay, plus enforcing all the Building Codes and the other aspects of public order that come under the parish council," said Kerr-Jarrett.
He further recommended that a stipendiary Justice of the Peace would be the presiding officer in the court for which the municipal police would be the enforcement arm.
Proceeds from the court, he said, would flow into the coffers of the St James Parish Council.
The renewed calls for the municipal court came during last week's forum organised by the MBCCI in partnership with the Observer West, and was held at the chamber's Overton Plaza headquarters in the resort city.
The forum was organised to facilitate discussions geared towards identifying workable solutions to problems stemming from illegal activities such as scamming and credit card fraud.