Councillors are being urged to address the problems of their divisions as a unified body, and to approach local and international funding agencies in seeking to assist these communities.
The call came from State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with Responsibility for Local Government Reform, Hon. Robert Montague, at a special meeting of the St. Thomas Parish Council in Morant Bay, Monday (July 6).
“We need to get serious and get business-like. For everything to work there must be co-operation. Councillors, individually, many times can’t access funding, but as Council, can access funding,” he said.
Mr. Montague noted that, for example, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has money for community development, but individual Councillors could not access it. However, the Council, on behalf of the people in the division, can approach JSIF for project funding.
State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with Responsibility for Local Government Reform, Hon. Robert Montague (left) and His Worship the Mayor of Morant Bay, Councillor Hanif Brown, note concerns voiced by Councillors at a special meeting of the St. Thomas Parish Council in Morant Bay on July 6. The meeting was part of a day of activities related to Local Government Reform, to boost ongoing efforts by the Department to improve communication and dialogue.
“Therefore, you need to work closely with the SDC (Social Development Commission) in helping to be sensitised as to the requirements of these agencies and to help you to write proposals,” he explained.
The State Minister said that a higher level of co-operation among Councillors would be required. He also pointed to agencies, such as the CHASE Fund and the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), which would welcome viable proposals from the Councils. Collaboration would also reduce the doubling up of efforts among Councils and the agencies with which they interact.
“Everybody needs to improve the relationship. It makes no sense the Council fixes a road today, and the Water Commission digs it up tomorrow. It is better for all agencies to sit down together to say, I am going to fix the road.Water Commission, JPS, what’s your plan? Let a new day dawn, in terms of the relationship between the various agencies,” he encouraged.
He said that Councillors have a responsibility to seek information for their divisions. However, he noted the response from St. Thomas has been “woefully lacking,” despite advertisements in the media asking community groups to attend a meeting at the Department of Local Government.
“You can’t just sit down and expect information to drop in your lap. So, if you see something that will benefit your community, you need to tell them,” he asserted.
The meeting was part of a day of activities related to Local Government Reform, to boost ongoing efforts by the Department to improve communication and dialogue.
The forum was hosted by His Worship the Mayor of Morant Bay, Councillor Hanif Brown, and was attended by representatives of several agencies, including: the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the Jamaica Fire Brigade, the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), the National Works Agency (NWA), the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSco), and the National Water Commission (NWC).
Following the meeting, Mr. Montague, Mayor Brown and the Councillors visited Government agencies in the parish. The activities ended with a town hall meeting.