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City Hall slams Councillors calling for Town Clerk’s removal; says Councillors interfere in admin’s work

Georgetown Town Clerk, Royston King engages with the press corps outside City Hall.

City Hall on Saturday slammed two Councillors who are in the forefront of calls for Town Clerk, Royston King to be removed from office, as well as the entire elected body for failing to craft a single policy to improve the management of Georgetown.

In a statement issued on Saturday in the name of Mayor and City Council spokeswoman, Debra Lewis, the City administration said it has received several worrying reports from its senior officers about their dissatisfaction with the behaviour and conduct of certain Councillors.

“Officers complained that two Councillors in particular Sherod Duncan and Andriea Marks have been constantly attacking the Chief Administrative Officer of the Council Royston King in very personal ways at Statutory meetings and in the media,” City Hall said.

The statement came just days after Duncan, a former Deputy Mayor, announced that he would be tabling a no-confidence motion for King to be removed from the post of Town Clerk. Similarly, Marks has openly called for King to go. A top official of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)- the major partner in A Partnership for National Unity- has said that that party was not pleased with King’s performance and most likely he would be called upon to vacate his office.

Among the issues that have sparked off grave concerns by a number of Councillors and ordinary citizens are the manner in which a paid parking meter contract was negotiated and signed by the Town Clerk and a number of Councillors, and more recently steps being taken to utilize a section of the Bel Air Park playground to build town houses for select senior officers of the municipality.

Councillor Andria Marks

Recently, Local Government Minister Ronald Bulkan has been calling on the Mayor and the Town Clerk to ensure that elected representatives are fully involved in decision-making.

City Hall noted that officers are of the view that after more than two decades the Council, “under the leadership of this administration, has been revitalizing several systems necessary to provide municipal services to communities.”

“Over the last two months, it has been observed that both Councillors Sherod Duncan and Andriea Marks have personally attacked the persona of the Town Clerk and other officers. Also, Councillor, Sherod Duncan, has attempted to impugn the good character of the Mayor of Georgetown,” City Hall said.

The administration said that since 2015, it has been doing all things possible to improve the condition of the city “with very limited resources in very harsh work conditions” but the elected Council has done little to contribute to the development of Georgetown.

“However, the incumbent elective Council has not done much to improve the financial situation at the Mayor and City Council nor to improve systems. In fact, for nearly two years, the council has not made any policy to assist administration with its work or to improve the image of the Council.” said the City Hall Public Relations Officer.

Georgetown Deputy Mayor, Sherod Duncan

The administration said instead certain individual Councillors have been critical about almost every action of the administration without providing alternatives or solutions to existing challenges at the Council.

According to the statement, the unnamed officers noted that, notwithstanding repeated requests by the Town Clerk, the Council, through its Market/Public Health Committee, has not been able to design a simple policy for vending in the city to guide administration on how to treat with this aspect of city life. The Chairman of the Market Committee is Alliance For Change’s Lionel Jaikarran who is also Deputy Mayor.

“Yet, when the administration takes action to enforce compliance with existing by- laws it is criticized by the very Councillors, who have not provided any guidance in this area. After more than one year, at City Hall, the elective Council has not made one policy on any of Council’s responsibilities or any aspect of the work of the municipality but has been attacking officers on their work. Instead of making policies certain Councillors have fallen in to the habit of interfering with the work of the administration. The role of the elective council is to make policy not to do administrative work,” said City Hall. That comment mirrors similar views by the Town Clerk at the first Statutory meeting for February.

Saying that officers have written to the Mayor of Georgetown, Patricia Chase-Green about their concerns, City Hall said they have called on her to point out that Councillors Duncan and Marks are violating the Municipal and District Council’s Act by distorting the truth. ” They have requested that as Chairman of the Council the Mayor guide Councillors, in particular Sherod Duncan and Andreia Marks on their conduct, and to encourage them to desist from giving inaccurate information to the general public. The Act, Chapter 28:01 is clear in its guidance on the conduct of officers and Councillors.

City Hall says the officers plan to approach their union- Guyana Local Government Officers Union- on the behaviour and attitudes of Councillors and complain about the “high level of disrespect shown to the Town Clerk and other senior officers”

They are also concerned that the Councillors are sullying the image of the Georgetown Municipality by allegedly releasing fake news to the press and generally misleading the public.” Officers feel that there is need for collective action by the staff of the municipality to secure their integrity and to go forward with the development of the city.”