JLP MPs, councillors stay away from Mayor Moore's ceremonySaturday, July 31, 2021
BY ROSALEE WOOD
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Despite invitations being sent and chairs reserved for all Members of Parliament and councillors in the parish, Westmoreland Western and Eastern MPs and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors were notably absent from the opening ceremony for the new home of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation.
The official ceremony and dedication of the building named after sitting chairman of the municipal corporation, Mayor Bertel Moore, who came to office on an Opposition People's National Party (PNP) ticket, was on Thursday at 11:00 am.
“I invited all Members of Parliament for the parish. One [George Wright who is now an independent] is here, the others are not,” said Moore. “They were all invited. I tell you this, one of the JLP councillors actually made a fuss, when the resolution was made, that he did not get the opportunity to second the motion of the resolution. So I can't tell why they are not here.”
He was also puzzled, he said, by the absence of Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie. In his view, the minister's presence at a town hall meeting in Portmore should not have prevented him from attending.
“The town hall meeting was set for 6:00 pm so in my estimation he could have come,” said Moore.
The mayor also addressed the issue of the local government ministry's opposition to having the building named after him. After passing a resolution to that effect on July 16, the PNP-controlled local authority informed the ministry of its decision. As the building launch approached, the ministry was once again contacted, at which point they refused to approve the decision to name the building after Moore. According to the mayor, their letter of refusal gave no reason for their decision.
“So I wrote back to them and tell them that we will be going forward. They don't have the right to name anything. We, as a local authority, we have the right. And once we pass the requisite resolution, nobody can stop the local authority,” thundered Moore during Thursday's ceremony.
He also blasted the local government ministry for its failure to contribute towards the construction of the building, despite initial assurances from McKenzie that $10 million would have been provided to facilitate the restart of the then-stalled project. Explaining that work is still ongoing, Moore declined to say how much the project has cost so far but promised to reveal, at a later date, the cost to taxpayers.
“When the contract was signed first it was signed for [more than] $70 million, about that. The contractor did have serious problems with the foundation. They may say we overspent, but we now have a basement in this building which is now being used as a canteen,” said Moore.
Former Local Government Minister Noel Arscott, who attended the ceremony, said the initial completion date was 2016.