Allen Bradley says she has a lot more to do
NEGRIL, Westmoreland —Entering her second term as head of the Negril Chamber of Commerce Elaine Allen Bradley is determined to do even better than she did in the first term.
According to Allen Bradley, she is looking forward to serving with improved performance, “because I didn’t think I worked. I didn’t see any evidence, so to speak”.
Allen Bradley was speaking with the Jamaica Observer following the chamber’s annual general meeting on Tuesday at Couples Swept Away in Negril.
She did acknowledge, however, that under her watch the chamber was able to increase its membership from 40 to 70 and that she was instrumental in bringing in the new members.
“One of the things I am pleased about is that more community people are joining the chamber because, as we said, a community that works together stays together,” said Allen Bradley.
She said with the support of the community, projects slated for the resort town will move forward quicker and better and they will be protected — as the people, who are part of the process, will look after them.
Also under her watch there was an improvement in the financial status of the entity, with the financial statement showing that for the period July 2022 to June 2023 the chamber made a net profit of $1.2 million. It had reported a deficit of $900,000 the previous year.
In addition to steering the chamber into profitability, Allen Bradley can also boast that under her tenure the business group has been able to pay off its back taxes and received its tax compliance certificate in May. They have come a long way from last year when it was reported that the chamber owed Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) $2 million in taxes and interest accumulated since 2011.
Allen Bradley’s accomplishments take on added significance for some as she is the first woman to head the 40-year-old organisation as a non-business owner. This had been an issue for some that created a stir last year when the retired nurse was elected to replace Richard Wallace.
“Previously, everybody thought the chamber was just made up of business people. Now we’re finding that it’s made up of both business people and community [people], just ordinary community members. And yes, they are professionals — ordinary professional community members and they are now feeling more relaxed to come and join the chamber,” said Allen Bradley.
Encouraged by the change in the narrative, she is determined to do even more.
“I’m going to continue to work to get more community members joining the chamber,” she vowed.
She also has other projects in her cross hairs, such as the long-promised fruit and vegetable market for Negril.
“Local Government and Rural Development Minister Desmond McKenzie and the chamber of commerce are currently working assiduously to make this a reality,” said Allen Bradley.
“Over the years, all we’ve heard is words and grandiose plans and grandiose words, but in reality we have not seen anything. And when you think that Westmoreland, on a whole, is compliant with paying taxes and then we put almost 30 per cent in the coffers with tourism and yet we have got nothing to show for it, isn’t that a disgrace and a shame? It’s very shameful and it’s affecting businesses,and it’s affecting the people that live here,” she added.
She also wants to see work done on the roads.
“We have three main roads in Negril — Nonpareil Road, West End Road and [Norman Manley] Boulevard— and they are a total disgrace. We are bringing people here from First World countries and we are asking them to pay big bucks [for] staying in hotels, yet we’re bringing them into a slum. How can that be? And yet the powers that be don’t look at this thing in that way,” noted a distraught Allen Bradley.
She is also concerned that the town has outgrown the existing infrastructure.
“Some of us still suffer with getting no water in the pipes most of the time,” the chamber president bemoaned.
Negril is supplied with potable water from the Logwood Water Treatment Plant in Hanover.
The town has the distinction of being located in two parishes. Some of it is in Hanover Western while the rest is in Westmoreland Western. The larger, well known hotels are located in Hanover while the town centre is located in Westmoreland. Sometimes this complicates matters.
Despite this and other challenges, Allen Bradley is optimistic about Negril’s future.
“I think the chamber is hopeful, and I am very hopeful because there are a lot of things on the cards in the new Negril plan to help develop Negril to move forward as a First World [location],” she told the Observer.
She said the chamber will be working to ensure that the Government’s plans become reality. Among the projects planned for the resort town are a bypass road, the creation of a recreation area on the lines of Harmony Park in Montego Bay, improvements to the town, and the upgrading of Negril Aerodrome into an international airport.
Allen Bradley is supported by: first vice-president, Nola Stair; second vice-president, Damian Salmon; third vice-president, Sean Greenfield; treasurer, Sophie Grizzle Roumel; secretary, Camelisa Seaton-Rogers; along with directors Jan Samuels, Cary Wiggan, Nestor Absera, Richard Wallace, Dwayne Wiggan, Karen Lanigan, and Dwight Bell.