Over thirty (30) million dollars have been spent in the North Leeward constituency in the last five (5) years. This is according to Unity Labor Party constituency caretaker Carlos James.
James was at the time addressing a gathering of party faithfuls at his North Leeward Constituency Conference last Sunday. The opening session was shared live with the general public via radio and social media broadcasts.
A major portion of this 30 mil was expended on capital projects, “a lot of it is rebuilding and remedial work – we would have spent more in North Leeward, in the last five years, I believe, than we would have spent in the prior decade,” James explained.
A claim with which Opposition Member of Parliament Roland ‘Patel’ Matthews told ANN he wholeheartedly agrees with since “… It is evidence to what I have been saying: this constituency of North Leeward has been neglected by this ULP administration more than any other administration in the history of this country.”
Matthews sited several completed projects as compulsory “restorative works” including the new Cumberland bridge which James said cost some 13.5 million dollars and the 4.2 mil spent on bridges through partnerships with Ecuador.
Matthews also listed several projects that suffered time and possible cost overruns as they took an inordinate amount of time to be completed.
Chief amongst these were the Cumberland playing field, some fifteen years in the making and a wall that claimed at least 4 lives when it collapsed. This was constructed over 5 years, Matthews said.
In an apparent preemptive response to Matthews’ implicit allegation that the much touted expenditure is not enough to meaningfully impact the lives of North Leeward constituents, James enthusiastically reminded his listeners “there are constituencies with elected members who don’t have that kind of money being spent in their constituency… because people of North Leeward you are important…”
In an effort to underscore the value placed on the North Leeward voter, James, a lawyer by profession, attempted to refocus his audience on “… a period of rebuilding… Of reconstruction, of a period where we can create opportunities for employment, wealth creation, fostering an environment for small businesses, fisherfolk, farmers, medicinal cannabis cultivators and other entrepreneurs – so that they can all flourish. We have to now move ahead in creating that environment.”
So for the 2020-2025 term, the young James’ primary goal would be to create a new North Leeward, “where there is opportunity for all… Where everyone can benefit,” his address further revealed.
First on the James’ renaissance list would be the “redevelopment of the town here in Châteaubelair… We put in the bridge, the jetty, repair going round to Golden Grove… Now we have to move towards creating the environment where Châteaubelair looks like a town.”
To this end, his “not too far fetched” proposal is to construct an administrative complex “right in Châteaubelair where we have the wharf.” This new edifice would house a banking system, town board, customs, post office and any other governmental services that may benefit constituents.
“We would have completed every single remedial project…over the last five years” with the acknowledged exception of the Châteaubelair Fisheries Complex and the nearby Agricultural Depot.
But North Leeward residents should rest easy as James has said he is exploring the idea of having the longtime dilapidated fisheries complex refurbished while the privately owned building next door would house a packaging plant. These new resources, he opined, could be used to “export fish right here in Châteaubelair and North Leeward.”
Other new North Leeward initiatives would include housing an all female agri-processing operation at the Agricultural Depot and completing remedial works on farm access roads that are “very important to our local economy.”
James further reminded his potential constituents that there are several projects which are currently underway as a few would have begun last Wednesday. His list included PAVE in Rose Bank, the bridge in Châteaubelair and the Rose Hall sporting facility with other PAVE projects slated to commence early this week.
Mindful that the list of North Leeward constituency needs may just outweigh the available resources a shrewd James explained to those gathered “…all of these programs and projects need resources, all of them we would not be able to complete in one year, in two years but I am asking you to work with me to give me the mandate…”
Even as he expressed his commitment to retire from active politics if his bid to be North Leeward’s next elected Member of Parliament is again rejected.