Health dept threatens legal action against parish council
WESTERN BUREAU: The St James Public Health Department has threatened to take legal action against the parish council for its failure to obey a closure notice issued on the People’s Arcade along Howard Cooke Boulevard in Montego Bay.
After months of warning that the absence of running water at the facility posed a serious health risk, the health department served the closure notice on the council last Friday.
They stipulated, in the letter, that the arcade should have been closed by Monday, but up to late yesterday afternoon, no attempt had been made to close the facility.
On Friday, deputy mayor of Montego Bay, Gerard Mitchell, and Member of Parliament for the area, Francis Tulloch, had a meeting with the vendors, in an attempt to avert the closure.
According to arcade manager, Dave Allen, a plan of action to reconnect the water supply was discussed at yesterday’s meeting. The supply was terminated almost a year ago because of an outstanding water bill for $260,000.
In addition to addressing the water problem, Allen said, the deputy mayor has promised that the clogged drains would be flushed, and the mounds of garbage disposed of by Western Parks and Markets over the weekend.
There was also the formation of a committee of vendors, council representatives and technical personnel, charged with overseeing the long-term beautification of the arcade.
But despite the steps taken at Friday’s meeting, chief public health inspector for the county of Cornwall, Desmond Clarke, was adamant that the facility should be closed.
“We don’t want any business to go on until the unsanitary conditions are satisfactorily addressed to the satisfaction of the St James Public Health Department,” he said. “Once the legal notice (for closure) is served, and the expiration date is past, prosecution should follow.”
He added that he did not want to get to the stage where legal action was warranted, and urged the council to enforce the notice of closure.
“If we are forced to (take legal action), we have no alternative,” he warned.
Clarke added that while he welcomed the efforts of the MP and the council, the work to improve the facility would have to be done while it is closed.
In the meantime, vendors at the Arcade have expressed concern about what the closure would mean for them.
“If the market close, we out a business, and mi nah go pon de street,” said shoe vendor, Roy Clarke. “De market really can’t lock, or road go block.”
His view was shared by a vendor who called himself “R&R”.
“It’s not going to be closed. If dem close the market, we going to take the streets. We not going tek it like that,” R&R said.