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Bunting’s ‘Connection’ Drive in Central Manchester


May 4, 2015


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Bunting’s ‘connection’ drive in Central Manchester

By: Garfield Myers | Jamaica Observer

May 04, 2015

Mandeville, Manchester — As part of an effort to stay “in touch” with constituents, Member of Parliament (PNP) for Manchester Central and National Security Minister Peter Bunting has started a series of town hall meetings in his constituency.

At one such recent meeting in a church hall in Beletiro, part of the Knockpatrick Division, Bunting along with representatives of the police, fire services, utility companies and government departments met with scores of people to pass on information and listen to concerns.

“It is really in a sense bringing government closer to the people,” Bunting told Observer Central.

Bunting said that as a rural MP, burdened with a Cabinet post which keeps him tied to Kingston for much of the time, he had to find creative ways to interact with constituents.

“This (Manchester Central) is about the fifth largest constituency in the country in terms of population and persons on the voters list, so we have to try and find efficient ways to connect with people using community meetings, using social media, using email as well as maintaining regular office hours,” he said.

He noted that “every day I have staff (at the constituency office) receiving people, addressing their concerns, helping them get through with any bureaucracy, agencies of government and just providing information…”.

A chuckling Bunting rejected the suggestion that his “new phase” of community, town hall meetings was largely motivated by the fast-approaching ‘political season’.

“I don’t know when the election is, so I am always trying to represent the people,” Bunting said.

Parliamentary elections are constitutionally due by early 2017, though Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller could choose to send Jamaicans to the polls before then.

Local Government elections are also due this year, though the government could also choose to delay that poll.

St Aubyn Bartlett of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is working to unseat Bunting in the parliamentary elections.

Bunting, who has held Manchester Central for the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) since 2007, told Observer Central that in addition to day-to-day issues such as people’s complaints about bad roads, utilities and social amenities et al, town hall meetings allowed him to articulate his “vision”.

The MP said his “strategic vision” included the development of a knowledge industry as a base, utilising central Manchester ‘s impressive educational infrastructure led by the Northern Caribbean University (NCU).

Also, he pointed out, a 70,000 square foot space developed on Ward Avenue with the support of the Development Bank of Jamaica was intended to attract overseas investment and provide hundreds of jobs in the information technology (ICT) industry.

An important plank of his vision involved the evolution of a thriving health/wellness sector with planned expansion of the Mandeville Regional Hospital to a Type ‘A’ institution, Bunting said.

The MP said that $2 million from his Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is intended for the hospital expansion programme. He identified recent expansion of the privately-owned Hargreaves Memorial Hospital as an important additional development, which could provide “a whole series of spinoffs” in terms of employment.