The leadership of the People’s National Party, PNP, is facing a growing rebellion among councillors in its former political heartland of Western Westmoreland.
The dispute stems from the party’s decision to allow one of its Vice Presidents, Ian Hayles, to stand as an aspirant for the once safe PNP seat.
The four councillors in the constituency are refusing to support Hayles, who was defeated in Eastern Hanover in the 2020 General Elections.
Nationwide News has obtained a copy of a blistering letter sent by the four councillors to PNP General Secretary Dr. Dayton Campbell.
In the letter they make clear that Ian Hayles will not get their support.
More in this report from Chevon Campbell.
The letter is dated May 10, 2023.
It’s signed by Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar and Councillor for the Negril Division, Bertel Moore, Councillor for the Grange Hill Division, Lawton McKenzie, Councillor for the Little London Division, Ian Myles and Councillor for the Sheffield Division, Garfield James.
Councillor James is himself an aspirant to represent the PNP in the constituency now held by the JLP’s Moreland Wilson.
Three of the four councillors have confirmed to our news centre that the missive is authentic.
In it they make several damaging allegations against Ian Hayles, most of which Nationwide News will not repeat. The councillors say they reject the proposed selection conference planned by the party, as it will result in disunity in the seat.
The gentlemen say their objection to Hayles is not based on a bare desire to see Councillor James as the candidate, but rather an attempt to ensure there is a suitable candidate to represent the decency and integrity the constituency deserves.
They say if the party decides not to give James the nod, they would be willing to work with anyone else. But they are adamant Ian Hayles is persona non grata.
The councillors say given the local nature of politics, it would be far better to have the four local representatives supporting the candidate, as without their support the party would be unlikely to take back Western Westmoreland from the JLP.
The councillors say more than 60 groups have been registered in the constituency in what they say is an attempt to influence the outcome of the selection process. They’re questioning the validity of all 60.
One of the most damaging claims made by the councillors is that the first selection poll conducted in the constituency may have been tampered with.
Nationwide understands that the party was forced to redo the poll following the credible concerns about tampering. The results of the latest polls have not been shared publicly.
Nationwide sources say two senior members of the party have met with the councillors and told them Ian Hayles must be allowed to run in the seat.
It’s understood the meeting was contentious, with expletives exchanged.
The councillors say the party leadership is disrespecting them by ignoring their concerns about Hayles’ candidacy. They say all options will remain on the table as they fight for integrity in their constituency.
They add that their position on Hayles is non-negotiable.