‘Band aid for a festering sore'

City Council Round-Up
with Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
April 25, 2000

"Your Worship, given the extant condition of Georgetown, and the many formidable constraints, which severely limit our capacity and ability to perform, we are really indulging, today, in a continuum of applying a band aid to a festering sore..."

This paragraph is taken from the budget speech delivered last week in the city's concert hall, by deputy mayor Robert Williams, who is also Chairman of the city council's finance committee.

When one considers the utterings of the deputy mayor in the presentation of his $1.7 billion budget for the year 2000, one question comes to mind. Why not remove the quacks and put in their place `doctors' who could deal with this 'festering sore'...?

Councillor Williams said he was presenting his budget "with the expectation that it will provide greater opportunities for the government, the private sector and most importantly our citizens, to share in our effort to bequeath to our children, a healthy and safe city..." This is wishful thinking, since the government, the business community and the citizens especially the taxpayers have shown, during the year under review by the deputy mayor, that they have no confidence in the present city council.

The finance committee chairman noted in his presentation before an audience comprising a large majority of council's employees especially the constabulary, who should have been patrolling the pavements and markets, that he had repeatedly called upon religious groups to pray and find faith, to lift Georgetown out of the doldrums of indiscipline.

He admitted that despite consultations with youth groups, religious organisations, NGOs, trade unions and the media the level of cooperation hoped for, was not forthcoming.

In outlining his plans for the year 2000 the deputy mayor spoke about "the political uncertainty of our society and the fact that most of the tension is felt in the capital..."

An appeal has been made to all political parties and organisations to contemplate ways of helping the city to manage the repercussions of this situation as general elections approaches.

The chairman of the finance committee declared "that the time has come for leaders of political and other groups to make an unambiguous statement against lawlessness, disorder and destruction..."

He continued "our march to folly must end and knowledge, truth and justice must be the guiding principles and pillars upon which we must build a new political culture..."

Politics and the Council
The deputy mayor, who is deputy leader of the Good and Green Guyana party, which has 12 seats on the council, acknowledged that the current tripartite make up of the council has not yielded the best results. But he added there is still time.

"The Council can be a fabulous example of working together for the common good of citizens, if only we can set aside our political difference and make the welfare of our city a priority..."

He urged his fellow city 'fathers' and 'mothers' to "seek to find a consensus to advance in this new millennium with pride and glory," pointing out that unless they redouble their efforts, they would leave the chamber "with a feeling of dissatisfaction, low achievement and posterity will judge us, all of us, and hold us responsible for the poor conditions of the city..."

Plans for the future
The Council intends spending $4M this year on legal fees. This is an additional one million dollars on last year's allocation. Recently the council appointed at least three new attorneys-at-law to represent it in the courts. This is in addition to the free service, which is given by GGG councillor attorney-at-law C.M. Llewellyn John.

During this year the council would be dealing vigorously with people who breach the city's building by laws, and an information desk is to be established at city hall with a hotline capable of treating with complaints of corrupt practices.

It could be interesting to see whom the council would recruit for this key post. Citizens have also been told to contact the city engineer's department to be advised properly before proceeding to construct any property on any land in the city.

The deputy mayor should explain to citizens why there are so many unauthorised buildings going up in the city? Where are the building inspectors, and the sanitary monitors?

The Council is in the process of divesting itself of the management of all public conveniences while at the same time ensuring their use at a small fee while being available to the public on a 24-hour basis.

Questions for the town Clerk
Why is Pablo still being allowed to block the pavements on savage and Robb Streets?

There is the need for a clear and unambiguous statement from your office on the putting up of NO PARKING signs outside some business places and even buildings where no business is transacted.

Why is nothing being done about a well known hooligan who moves about the Bourda market preying on shoppers especially Chinese as well as stallholders?