JIS News

As part of measures to reform local government, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for the reform, Robert Montague, has said that since September last year, the payment for street lighting, solid waste collection and standpipes have been returned to the local authorities.
The Minister, who was speaking at a media round table on local government reform, yesterday (March 6), at the department of Local Government on Hagley Park Road, also noted that workshops have also been held to inform persons on the new building code.
“This (new building code) speaks not only to permits for new buildings but it also speaks to permits for old buildings, because we have some architectural gems that we just walk around and tear down as we please for modern development. From now and henceforth, you will need a permit to take down a building with architectural value,” Mr. Montague said.
The State Minister said that all 228 local government Councillors have been trained, and there have been “three cycles of training for municipal police and they have been deployed across the island, so that the parish council regulations can be enforced.”
In addition, Mr. Montague informed that there are a number of controversial issues and topics that would have to be looked at in the process of local government reform. He also noted that defining the role or responsibility of a Councillor and a Council was very important, as it would impact on the role and responsibility of a Member of Parliament.
“Some of these include routine maintenance of all roads within a municipality, because we honestly believe that tax payers do not care who the responsible agent is if there is a pot hole in the road; they just want the pot hole fixed. That is something that is on the table within the concept of the one road authority model,” Mr. Montague said.
“We are looking at defining a specific slice of the national budget and dedicating it to local government,” he added. Other plans for the reform of local government include the use of emergency responders on bikes with first aid kits. “For example, in Kingston right now, if there is an accident during rush hour, for an ambulance to wind its way through that traffic, there is a difficulty. So, we are looking at getting emergency responders on bike, so that they can get to the scene of the accident quickly and they can stabilize the patient until a more fullsome response is given,” he explained. The primary objective of local government reform is to create a strong, viable and effective system of local government, which will deepen the democratic process and facilitate the empowerment of citizens by enabling them to participate more fully and directly in the process of governance and in the management of their own affairs.

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