St. Thomas Parish Council Wants Greater Public Input In Meetings


Individuals or community groups in the Seaforth community can take their concerns to the Mayor and Councillors of the St. Thomas Parish Council at a Council meeting on Thursday, March 11, at the Seaforth Baptist Church.
Secretary/Manager of the St. Thomas Parish Council, Clinton Gordon told JIS News that a decision was taken by Councillors to change the venue of the regular Council meeting in an effort to encourage greater participation of citizens in keeping with the Local Government Reform process. Similar meetings are expected to take place in Bath, Duckenfield, Dalvey and Yallahs during the year.
Mr. Gordon said that the Council had sent notices regarding the change of venue to community associations, church and youth groups in the parish as well as notices placed in public places.
Persons or organizations that wish to make presentations at this meeting should submit these concerns in writing to the Secretary/Manager by 12:00 noon on Monday, March 1, 2004. At the meeting, he said, persons would be allowed to address only the issues they indicated.
Mr. Gordon said that persons who prepared presentations should submit them to the Secretary/Manager before March 9, in order to have copies circulated to Councillors before the meeting. He pointed out that the Council’s meeting was an opportunity for residents to express their concerns in a “non-violent and constructive way.”
“You do not need to block the road to have your demands heard. There is a democratic way and the structure allows you to do it,” he added, pointing out that the Council may not always have answers to every problem, but would be able to do “follow-ups” to issues discussed.
Mr. Gordon said that even though there was a system in place for persons or delegations to bring their issues to Council meetings, only few persons made use of it, or the same groups made repeated visits. At the same time, Mr. Gordon pointed out that the Council’s chamber at the Parish Council’s office in Morant Bay did not have enough space to accommodate a gallery.
The Secretary/Manager said he was looking forward to an increase in the number of persons attending Council meetings at the new venues announced.
“Persons in the outer towns have very little knowledge of what Parish Council does. Apart from persons who have close contact with Councillors, the mass of the population have very little knowledge of the Council’s work,” he stressed, contending that there was a misconception of how the Council functioned.
“The Council is not a private club. It’s a public institution and people must take part in governance issues,” he emphasized.

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