Mandeville a painful example of failed urban planning, public disorderWednesday, June 09, 2021
Unfortunately, the rampant chaos and total lack of regard for public order that now exists in Mandeville, the Manchester capital, is not unique to that town.
It is a blight all too evident across the island and will continue, to the country's detriment, if there is no acceptance of the value of civic pride among the populace and, just as important, the will to enforce the law.
Our attention to this issue has its foundation in a story in this week's Sunday Observer on the state of public order in Mandeville, which said that in November 2019, when Superintendent Gary Francis took charge of the constabulary's operations in Manchester, he had identified traffic congestion in the town as being among his immediate priorities.
“What should be a two-to-three-minute drive into the town is a 30-minute journey on account of the congestion,” Superintendent Francis complained at the time.
We are told that it's not for want of trying by Superintendent Francis and his team that the Mandeville town centre remains as congested as it has ever been.
Rapid growth in the number of motor vehicles operating in a small space on narrow streets, with little or no parking areas, amid a high concentration of public/private sector service locations, have rendered the situation next to impossible, it was reported.
Our Editor-at-Large Mr Garfield Myers reminded us in the story that the problem is an old one, as in 2007 — when the then eight-year-old Manchester Development Committee received the final draft of the Manchester Sustainable Development Plan for 2030 — the congestion was already being highlighted as a major difficulty.
Now, however, the problem is getting progressively worse. And we see where Mr Tony Freckleton, the current chairman of the committee, is expressing frustration.
The congestion, he argues, is proving a source of tension for the people of Mandeville and is seriously undermining production.
Mr Freckleton is correct in stating that the situation cannot be allowed to continue and that it is time to stop talking and actually do something.
His charge, we submit, needs to be taken seriously by the Local Government Ministry, the municipal corporations across the island, and the police, because this decay is islandwide.
That it has been allowed to continue speaks to a general contempt for authority, lack of enforcement of our laws, and, to a great extent, a failure of effective urban planning to ensure that our towns and cities keep pace with expansion in population and the services required by that growth.
In Mandeville's case — to quote Mr Freckleton — the existence of “14 schools within 15 minutes walking distance of the market” demonstrates a dearth of foresight.
Sustainable urban and rural development, we are told, is one of the seven guiding principles of Vision 2030. Based on what obtains in our towns and cities we have a difficulty seeing that ideal being achieved in the nine remaining years.
That, however, should not be a reason to yield. Central and local government, assisted by the relevant State agencies, must start acting now to correct this problem. Get the country to the point at which future generations will not, as Mr Freckleton said, be forced to ask, quite justifiably: “What were you doing?”
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