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The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) is in the process of revising the Act which governs the protection of the island’s heritage. The Trust has been embarking on a series of island wide consultations with members of the public on the proposed amendments to the JNHT Act in a bid to make it stronger and more effective.
The JNHT has recently seen an increase in the destruction of some historic structures by vandals who sell the red bricks to earn a living. Some sites as soon as they are cleared fall prey to the thieves. The current Act has in place a fine of between $20,000-$40,000 for demolition or alteration of a National Monument. This is not much of a deterrent, according to Legal Officer, Lisa Grant, who noted that the financial benefits to be gained by flouting the law far outweigh the fines. The new JNHT Act proposes stiffer penalties for persons who willfully destroy the heritage.
The amendments also propose to offer greater information and guidance for persons who want to modify heritage sites. These are but two of the many areas of the Act up for review and the JNHT wants to hear from the public before the amendments are made.
The consultations will be held on Tuesday, January 19, 3:00 p.m. at the Institute of Jamaica Auditorium, 12-16 East Street, Kingston; January 26 at 4:00 p.m. at Phillippo Baptist Church Hall, Spanish Town St. Catherine; January 28 at 4:00 p.m., St. Gabriel’s Anglican Church, May Pen Clarendon; February 2 at 4:00 p.m. at Wexford Court Hotel, Montego Bay St. James; February 3 at 4:00 p.m., Falmouth Town Hall, Trelawny; February 9, 4:00 p.m. at Shaw Park Hotel, St. Ann; Feb. 18, 4:00 p.m. Golf View Hotel, Mandeville Manchester.