Minister of Local Government, Hon. Desmond McKenzie visited the St. Catherine Parish Council offices on Friday, July 29 where he engaged the Chairman, Mayor of Spanish Town, Councillor Norman Scott and his team in a prolonged tour of Parish Council facilities.

The tour incorporated the Parish Council Offices, the St. Catherine Infirmary, the newly anticipated Thetford Cemetery grounds, Church Pen, Old Harbour, which is expected to come on stream very soon and the Old Harbour Market which was on Friday, July 15, completely destroyed by fire.

The Minister pointed out that the St. Catherine Parish Council was one of those Councils that were working on its own initiatives to improve a number of situations that falls under its jurisdiction. 

For instance, the St. Catherine infirmary was one of the oldest Infirmaries in the country and from what he has seen; the Council has done a fantastic job in restoring a significant portion of the facility.  He mentioned the implementation of the energy saving solar system that was put in place which has significantly decreased the utility bill, allowing Council to continue to do the structural improvements required. 

He says the Ministry has a responsibility to support the efforts of the Parish Councils when it is obvious that the Councils are making the effort.  He said being at the Infirmary this morning and seeing what has so far been done, he must say he is proud and special commendation must be given to the Mayor and his team for a job well done.   He said there is a need for support from the Ministry of Local Government and he is committed to giving that support to the St. Catherine Parish Council to improve some of the conditions.

Minister McKenzie was quick to make mention of the public scrutiny the Council experienced some days ago. He said from the level of the Ministry, they are confident of the level of work the Councils have been doing.  So when a request is made for audit, it is not just about whether or not a gully was cleaned, instead the audit is about the potential of the Councils as it relates to staffing and what is required to ensure that the Councils operate as they should. 

He said his visit today was to lend support to the St. Catherine parish to see how best the Ministry can facilitate the Council as it relates to delivering service to the people. He said he was not a political Minister; instead he was one who will give service delivery to the people, regardless of party.

He added that he really sympathized with the members of staff of the Council for the conditions under which they work and he was giving his assurance that his Ministry is committed to do all it can to ensure that the working conditions of the  staff be looked at with priority.

The tour took the team to the Thetford Cemtery grounds in Church Pen Old Harbour, soon after, and concluded at the Old Harbour Market grounds where the Minister addressed the matter of having the Council create a new design for the Market, in order that the facility may be more accommodating for vendors.