There are many institutions in the Jamaican governmental structure that are nothing but a colossal waste of money.

None more so than local government though.

I can’t recall the number of times, while moderating my talk show program, when after hearing bitter complaints about lack of service, I would query the caller about the name of their parish Councilor, only to be met with the perennial “I don’t know.

I dare say that was the reply more than 95% of the time!

This is because Councilors know that they do not have to perform, as their election normally only depends on the popularity of their party.

In fact, the job of parish councilor requires so little effort or accountability, that most holders of the job do so on an ad hoc basis while working full time elsewhere or operating a business that benefits from getting contacts with their Parish Council!

It’s the runnings.

This problem of underperformance at Parish Councils is not new though. for I recall more than four decades ago, a huge study was done on Local government and its relevance.

The conclusion was that as our population is so small, we would be better served having three County Councils with specific functions rather than the 13 parish councils which were doing virtually nothing.

I thought those findings and the recommendations for reform were spot on, but because the two political parties love having a slew of activists at the local level being paid for by the hapless taxpayer, the reforms were never implemented.

Almost a half century later and what do we get?

Insult to injury, whereby these mainly useless politicians have had their salaries increased to FIVE MILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR. (Remind me what we are paying teachers, nurses, police please).

Worse one does not even have to be able to read properly to hold this post, as demonstrated in the viral video of JLP Councilor Steve Graham attempting to read a document at an Old Harbor School graduation; https://youtu.be/LMVMSbLRHh8?si=GQQnZmnaz_339f5N.

It was downright painful to watch.

I have only returned to the topic of the uselessness local government on hearing the report that the Westmorland Parish Council is going to establish a pound to take stray animals off the roads.

But guess what, they never knew that they had a duty to do so until three motorists were killed in accidents with stray cows in Little London and several other persons critically injured, in a two-week period!

This declaration by the useless Westmorland Parish Council sent me to research an article published in August 2015 entitled “Police want parish councils to establish animal pounds.”

It begun; DSP Francis, speaking at the latest RJR Group News Forum, on Friday,  explained that, when animals are recovered from thieves, or found without owners, there are no facilities to safely keep the animals until they are claimed.

He wants the parish councils to take the lead in this regard, given the fact that “the Pound Act clearly speaks to the Parish Council in every parish having responsibility to effectively operate a pound within that jurisdiction.” (My emphasis).
He further stated; “the parish councils have failed to assume that responsibility.”

This he said in 2015 and that was not to prevent death on the roads but to deal with stealing. 

 This is only one area of their responsibility where parish councils are not performing but this is more lethal than most, as stray animals on our roads are almost normal now.

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