JIS News

The St. Thomas Parish Council created history on Monday November 22 when it became the first local authority to launch a Customer Service Charter.
The Charter will serve to guide the code of conduct, treatment and overall service offered by the Council, as it moves to develop a closer relationship with all of its clients, particularly the residents of the parish.
Mayor of Morant Bay, Councillor Hanif Brown, who launched the charter at a ceremony held at the Morant Villa complex, said the document’s development is in keeping with the Council’s commitment to delivering high quality service.
“The people, who we serve, must not only be served, (but) they must feel a part of the service and they must grow to rate and appreciate the service that we offer. It is against the background of us being involved in a process of reform, which dictates that we, ourselves, must also be the reformed that we intend to lead from the front. We have done everything in our power to sensitise our staff to that this is business unusual,” he said.
Councillor Brown pointed out that in progressing with the reform agenda, the Council intends to approach its task holistically, and will seek to engage the input of the citizenry “to ensure that the quality of service that we give is acceptable to the public we serve.”
State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), for Local Government Hon. Robert Montague, who was the guest speaker, commended the St. Thomas Council, noting that the document is comprehensive and addresses standards in key areas such as planning, finance and administration, disaster management, social services, and the road network.
“We believe that we are at that point where we can come to the public and say, ‘judge us against these established standards’ that is what the Mayor and his staff within the Parish Council are saying,” he said, noting that the process of preparing the document involved consultations and meetings, and training of staff.
Mr. Montague urged stakeholder support for the Charter, citing it as a “working document” that should not be regarded as a symbolic object to be “put down somewhere safe.” He said that there are avenues of recourse which citizens have at their disposal, if they are dissatisfied with the level and standard of service the Council provides.
“I would invite persons to go through this document to look at the responsibilities of Council that are detailed. One of the problems that we have in Jamaica is that most persons, including councillors, and even workers at the Parish Council, do not know what are the responsibilities of the Council. This document, clearly, outlines the responsibilities and also the services that are offered and what are the laws that cover the Parish Council. There is also the standard (of service) the public should hold the Parish Council to it is included in this document,” the Minister informed.
Mr. Montague urged the Council and other stakeholders to ensure that the document is accessible to all citizens throughout the parish by distributing it to the schools and libraries, among other places so that “persons can hold the Parish Council accountable to the standards that the (they) would like to be held.”
The Charter was also endorsed by Director General in the Department of Local Government, (retired) Major Richard Reece, and Member of Parliament for East St. Thomas, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, who attended the launch.
St. Thomas is one of five local authorities that have undertaken the development of Customer Service Charters. The other councils are Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC); St. Catherine, Clarendon, and Manchester.
Minister Montague told JIS News that final drafts are currently being done on the other four charters and the Department of Local Government will liaise with the Councils on the proposed dates for their launch.

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