Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 February 2018, 16:45 by Denis Chabrol
An Alliance For Change (AFC)-sponsored no-confidence motion against Town Clerk Royston King is likely to be defeated because A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) councillors were not properly consulted, a senior politician and councillor said Tuesday.
Oscar Clarke of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)-dominated APNU said he was unsure whether the motion, which was moved by AFC councillors Sherod Duncan and Lionel Jaikarran, would secure APNU’s support to be approved.
“I personally don’t think that it can gain support across the board because for the very fact at the way it’s being done unless, of course, they are going to individual councillors and individual councillors are giving them their view and saying ‘yes’ and giving them their support,” Clarke told Demerara Waves Online News.
Duncan has since warned that if the motion is not passed, it would send a clear message that the Council favours the Town Clerk who has been criticised repeatedly by AFC and APNU Councillors. “I believe that we are going to have the necessary support and if we don’t have it, then it will go saying that we have confidence in the work of the Town Clerk and they (APNU) and they will have to go back to their constituency and explain that,” he said.
Clarke, a veteran politician, believed that there were a few councillors who believed that the Town Clerk is a “terrible man but I don’t think most of the Councillors believe that the Town Clerk is a terrible man and that’s why I don’t think it will get support across the board”.
Noting that he had heard “rumours” of a no-confidence motion, Clarke said no one consulted him and he had no idea who would have filed it until Monday afternoon when the Town Clerk “quite suddenly” informed that the motion had been moments earlier handed to him and the media. “Apparently, the idea was that we should not deal with the motion in a normal way,” said Clarke, a former PNCR General Secretary. He added that the motion was yet to be circulated to councillors and he has not seen the document in detail but, based on newspaper reports, “it would seem as though that there is a lot of conjecture about the motion”.
Clarke, who chairs the crucial Finance Committee, said the chances of the no-confidence motion being passed by a sweeping majority would have been greater if the AFC had consulted and involved APNU in drafting the motion. “I think if it’s a matter about which literally you had a caucus, was raised in the caucus and there were views expressed and so on, I think it would have a better chance but I don’t think in the circumstances you are going to find anybody,” he said.
The long-serving PNCR member, on the other hand, said if an APNU Councillor sponsors a motion to remove Clarke, “that would definitely be discussed by the party among the Councillors of the APNU” and they would also approach AFC.
For his part, Duncan said he has been talking individually with about 12 Councillors and the feedback has been good. Asked whether he believed that steps should have been taken to caucus with APNU councillors before filing the no-confidence motion, he said that grouping of parties stopped holding such structured engagements with the AFC Councillors more than one year ago. “I find that strange because a lot of things happen at Council and AFC people are not caucused with. As a matter of fact, the APNU/PNC has stopped caucusing with us a long time ago and some of their own councillors have raised that as a concern,” said Duncan, a former Deputy Mayor.
Duncan said he decided to have Councillor Jaikarran second the motion to add some weight to it in his capacity as Deputy Mayor. Duncan said he did not ask Councillor Patricia Chase-Green to endorse the motion in the hope of securing even greater weight from her as Mayor.
Asked whether he was not worried that the motion could be defeated due to a lack of consultation with APNU, Duncan said both sides have to give account of their tenure. “None of these issues are new issues. These are things that I have stood on the Council and floor from time to time put them in the public domain. What the motion does is collate them, catalogue them and try to put them in a coherent manner and put them forward in a formal way so none of the issues is new issues,” he said.
The motion charges, among other things, that the Town Clerk removed vendors from Stabroek Market Square and Robb Street; signed a parking meter contract with Smart City Solutions; and ‘leased’ parts of the Bel Air Park and Farnum playgrounds without Council’s approval. It was under his administration, the motion states, that the Treasurer cannot account for GY$300 million that has prompted steps by the Auditor General to conduct a forensic audit, and the award of contracts without following procurement rules