Montegonians, Local Gov't Authorities meet

No. 60 Monday, March 1, 2010
Stakeholders in the field of community development met last week in Montego Bay to discuss issues relating to the preparation of a 20-year local sustainable development plan for the parish of St. James.

   Matters discussed in focus sessions held at the Montego Bay Civic Centre on Wednesday February 24 ranged from infrastructure and the environment through to economic development, social services and governance.
   The St. James Parish Visioning Symposium, themed: 'My community, our parish, One Jamaica - My Vision', is a part of an island-wide attempt to commence the preparation of a 20 year Lo­cal Sustainable Development Plan (LSDP) for each Local Government jurisdiction in Jamaica.
   The national effort is aimed at providing a forum for in­formed discussion on the development of each community and parish as a whole and should lead to local government reform which reflects the true needs of the area.
   Mayor of Montego Bay and Chairman of the St. James Parish Council, Councillor Charles Sinclair, in his opening remarks at the symposium said that the staging of the event was timely as it gave stakeholders "the opportunity to work in cohesion toward a
common goal is a step in the right direction.
   "Aside from our passion for positive growth, the present economic climate, amongst other important issues, has provided us the perfect opportunity to restructure a system which has seemingly reached its end and needs serious fine­tuning," he stated.
   The mayor said that everyone has felt the negative implications of the international economic downturn, and he believed that all Jamaicans were ready to work towards a Sustainable Plan of Development, for the betterment of local communities and the' effective utilization of this nation's resources.
   "We have, for a long time, yearned to see our nation rise to levels already surpassed by smaller countries around the world; it is now time for a new beginning.
   "This visioning symposium, once carried out successfully, will greatly aid the process of Local Government Reformation, a course of action which must be realized through a variety of methods, all aimed at improving the lives of all Jamaicans," the Mayor Sinclair said.
   Noting that there can be no development or positive growth without efficient planning and action he stated moving ahead will require wise, long-term planning, Mayor Sinclair said, "the future must be approached with effective organization, in an effort to truly take Jamaica out of the realms of uncertainty, which have gripped our nation for far too long."
   Secretary Manager of the St. James Parish Council, Winston Palmer, who also addressed the gathering said that the preparation of a 20 year Local Sustainable Development Plan (L.$DP) for each Local Government jurisdiction will require the participation and cooperation of all stake­holders.
   "These symposia provide us with the platform upon which important issues can be discussed in detail and an effort made to solve problematic situations, or to make recommendations for change."
   "No longer should all decisions be made and then brought to the people. After all, one of the main aims of Local Government Reformation is to improve the relationship we share with the public, as we represent that arm of the Government that touches the lives of many Jamaicans," Mr. Palmer added.
   Expert opinions and general stakeholder input collected at the parish development symposium will be used in the creation of a future development plan for local government in the parish.
   Attendees and presenters at the symposium were Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, executives Members of Parliament, the parish customs and numerous agency representatives.

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