The St. James Parish Council is reaching out to citizens through a series of Mayor’s Fora.
Speaking to JIS News at the second forum held on Thursday evening (April 16) at the Montego Bay Civic Centre, Mayor Charles Sinclair said that the sessions were aimed at promoting meaningful dialogue among citizens and representatives of key Government agencies, and providing information about the Local Government Reform process, which is on schedule to be substantially introduced in September 2009.
He said that a major component of the reform was the empowerment of citizens and communities to have a real say in the management of their affairs.
“In this process, it is expected that the citizens and communities will no longer be passive bystanders in the governance of their communities and ultimately, the country. No longer should it be that the function of the citizen is merely to go to the polls once every three or five years, but they would be actively involved in charting their own destiny,” he stated.
Citizens of St. James air their concerns at the Mayor’s Forum staged by the St. James Parish Council on April 16 at the Montego Bay Civic Centre in the parish.
He indicated that the Council was aiming to hold one meeting per quarter each year “where we are hoping to bring together in one location, most, if not all the central and local government agencies operating within the parish and to provide an opportunity for interface with the citizens, to hear their concerns and recommendations”.
According to Mayor Sinclair, the series of fora was just one medium being used to get citizens involved in the decision-making process, noting that other measures included open budgeting; opening up committee and general council meetings to the public; and having citizens’ representatives on committees, such as the Public Accounts Committee, where they could have a say in the financial and other affairs of the Parish Council.
Mayor Sinclair told JIS News that he was pleased with the large turnout of residents at the forum.
“We had citizens, who were eager to be involved in the discussions and I felt overjoyed at seeing the outcome. I think that this inspires citizen’s confidence in their Government agencies. It is not that it’s you versus us, it is all of us in this thing together and we can all work together and ensure that Montego Bay and the parish of St. James are preserved for the next generation”, he stated.
Representatives from some 18 Government agencies were in attendance at the forum and addressed concerns raised by the citizens during the question and answer segment.