The extra-ordinary Statutory Meeting which was held at City Hall on Monday evening to discuss whether the directive given to suspend the parking meter by-law would be heeded, proved to be unfruitful and was adjourned to next Monday, pending the arrival of the Mayor.
Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan via a letter, had directed the Mayor and City Council to have the paid parking by-laws suspended for a period of three months pending a review of the controversial parking meter project.
As such, the meeting today, which was chaired by Acting Mayor and Deputy Mayor, Sherod Duncan, was supposed to engage Councillors in a discussion leading to a vote as to whether or not the ‘direction’ by Bulkan would be acknowledged. However, that was not the case.
The atmosphere among the Councillors, Town Clerk, and Acting Mayor was rowdy and tense as many of the Councillors heckled each other leading to petty squabbles.
APNU Councillors were moving to have the decision on the Minister’s request postponed since according to them, the Council needed time to study the legal advice they received regarding the order by Bulkan.
Heston Bostwick, an APNU Councillor moved a motion for this. “…Thereafter, we would be in a better legal frame of mind to determine the way forward” he noted.
The final vote, after being done twice before, concluded that 17 persons were for this motion, while seven were against and two abstained from voting.
The legal advice which was compiled by Attorney-at-law, Roger Yearwood comprising of his opinion on the matter cautioned that Bulkan’s interpretation of the law he used to suspend the by-law, erred.
Yearwood, in his advice said that the Minister, before issuing his order on March 17, 2017 failed to hold an inquiry. “The Act contemplates that an inquiry must be held by the Minister in order to establish that the Council is in default in the performance of any duty imposed on it. This inquiry, naturally, necessitates a hearing at which the Council must be afforded an opportunity to be heard, in accordance with the rules of natural justice, which militates against a person being condemned without being afforded an opportunity to be heard in his own defense,” Yearwood’s document stated.
He further asserted that if the Mayor and City Council adheres to the directive by the Minister, then it would result in a breach of contract with the parking meter contractors, Smart City Solutions Inc. (SCSI) and prove to be very costly for the City.
Councillor Akeem Peters also moved a motion of similar effect, but instead he called for there to be an hour’s break for Councillors to be able to peruse the document. However, 14 persons were against this motion while seven abstained.
Another Councillor, identified as Kane Sharma, moved a motion to have the current motion brushed aside since according to him, the order from the Minister was clear. This brought about several heckles from other Councillors. However, his motion was favored by six, while 14 were against it and 7 abstained.
As a two hour debate continued into Councillor Bostwick’s motion, with many interruptions by the Councillors, a visibly annoyed Duncan adjourned the meeting while noting that he does not see himself chairing another meeting of this nature, and advised the Councillors to utilize the period they have until the next Statutory Meeting to review the legal advice.