After almost four hours of deliberation among the Mayor and City Councillors in the City Hall Chambers, seven Councillors were selected as the members of the new renegotiating team for the parking meter project.
The Parking Meter Negotiation Committee members were identified as Malcolm Ferreira, Roopnarine Persaud, Noelle Chow-Chee, Ivelaw Henry, Trichria Richards, Carlyle Goring, and Heston Bostwick.
Ferreira and Chow-Chee were elected Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively. Mayor, Patricia Chase Green, and Oscar Clarke recused themselves from being elected as committee members while People’s Progressive Party Councillors, Bishram Kuppen and Khame Sharma maintained that they were against the parking meter implementation.
The Committee’s Terms of Reference (TOR) was drafted and voted upon by the majority of members of the Mayor and City Council. The TOR provides the committee with the authority to “engage with all stakeholders within the parameters of the framework agreed upon by the Council, Cabinet and Smart City Solutions (SCS) to seek to determine what terms of the Agreement can and should be negotiated to bring the contract in harmony with the desires of the Council, Central Government, Smart City Solutions and the citizenry.”
In addition to that, it obligates the committee members “to listen to proposals made by the other concerned parties and report same back to the Council for the council to make a decision on whether to accept or reject the said proposals,” “to advocate Council’s position in relation to the contract being mindful of the concerns of all the stakeholders,” to put forward workable solutions to any impasse that may arise with a view to arriving at an agreement that is mutually beneficial to all the stakeholders,” and “refer all financial suggestions to the Council’s Financial Committee for its opinion and /or advice.”
The committee members are responsible for negotiating the position taken by the Mayor and City council with regards to the parking meters among themselves, then upon conclusion of the negotiating period, they are required to prepare a report and present same to Council at a meeting called for that purpose, setting out the proposals and or agreements arrived at.
Upon the end of the four-hour-long special meeting at City Hall, several Councillors told Inews that “it was a colossal disappointment.”
They criticized the way in which the voting process was done, highlighting that for certain motions, while the Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green called for Councillors to say “aye” upon agreement, she refrained from giving others a chance to say “nay” in disagreement so as to ascertain the correct vote.
One such instance was witnessed by Inews when Chase-Green called for the vote on the TOR draft.
The Deputy Mayor, Lionel Jaikarran was one of the persons who initially did not agree with the TOR draft. He had called for the draft to be “left open” so as to allow changes after citizens of Georgetown were consulted.
He even pointed out that several consultations sessions would have to be conducted since hundreds of “residents of Georgetown” had staged numerous demonstrations against the parking meter project upon its roll out.
This suggestion was denied by Town Clerk, Royston King, but not before Councillor Junior Garrett sought to reprimand the Deputy Mayor for saying that “residents of Georgetown staged the demonstrations.”
According to Garrett, while the protests showed the largest combination of races he had expected, most of protesters against the parking meter initiatives were “Portuguese” and “employees who were ordered by their employers to go out and protest,” highlighting that they did not count as “Georgetown residents.”
Jaikarran ended his contribution to the meeting by requesting that the Councillor not bring race into the already sensitive matter.
The Mayor and City Council had entered into a contract with Smart City Solutions Inc on May 13, 2016, for parking meters to be implemented in Georgetown.
However, the project came under intense scrutiny and rejections from various public and private stakeholders, the Opposition and even some Central government officials over the clandestine way it was being foisted unto the populace, its prohibitive pricing and the contracting company’s general disregard with the way the new mechanism was introduced to the public, among many other concerns.
After becoming effective in late January, 2017, several large protests were staged in front of City Hall calling for the contract to be revoked, while multiple stakeholders took the M&CC and the SCS to court over the matter.
Following a barrage of continuous onslaught form all sides, on March 21 2017, the Minister of Communities who had initially passed the by-laws bringing parking meters into effect, ordered that it be suspended for a period of three months to facilitate the re-negotiations of the terms of the contract. (Ramona Luthi)