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Resign, JLP councillors tell St Ann mayor

Saturday, July 04, 2020

JAMAICA Labour Party (JLP) councillors in the St Ann Municipal Corporation yesterday recommended that their embattled chairman, Mayor Michael Belnavis, resign.

Belnavis, the mayor of the parish and councillor for the Ocho Rios Division, is embroiled in controversy over a charging port for his electric motor car installed at the corporation's headquarters in St Ann's Bay, the parish's capital. He has also been accused of encroaching on public land to construct a private business.

Calls for his resignation have come from the Opposition People's National Party and National Integrity Action.

Yesterday, Local Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie said the JLP councillors asked Belnavis to step down during a meeting.

“The JLP councillors requested a meeting with me, and the recent controversies surrounding the St Ann Municipal Corporation, and specifically the issues involving the chairman were fully discussed at length. This meeting was attended by all 11 JLP councillors including the mayor, and the unanimous conclusion was that it was in the best interest of the municipal corporation to have the mayor step aside while the matters ventilated in the public domain are investigated,” McKenzie said in a news release.

“The councillors also strongly expressed the importance of ensuring that the municipal corporation adheres to modern principles and standards of good governance, that are foundation stones of the Local Governance Act,” McKenzie added.

“It is important to note that the councillors did not in any way accuse the mayor of impropriety, but strongly felt that the present atmosphere took attention away from the regulatory and development agenda that the municipal corporation should be focused on,” he said.

Attempts by the Jamaica Observer to get a comment from Belnavis were unsuccessful as calls to his cellphone went unanswered yesterday.