Councillors give all-clear for implementing some of consultant's recommendations City Council Round-Up
by Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
March 18, 2002

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City councillors have given the all-clear for implementing some of the recommendations by the Sandra Jones Associates consultancy group which focus on the restructuring of city hall.

This decision has been taken after several months dating back to last year when the two unions which represent employees at the municipality instructed their members to boycott the investigations by the consultants, who had been engaged by the council.

The terms of reference of the consultants were to (a) conduct an assessment of the management gaps in the Mayor and City Council and develop a strategy to address them; (b) a revision and review of the council's organisational structure, with a view to constructing a more efficient and effective operation.

The unions - the Guyana Labour Union, and the Local Government Officers Union - held the position that they should have been consulted on the terms of reference and decided on a plan of non-cooperation. The only officers who made themselves available to the consultants were the Town Clerk Beulah Williams and the Chief Constable.

In the wide-ranging recommendations mention is made of the involvement of the two unions in the administration of city hall and their influence on the senior management group, some of whom are department heads.

The role of the three political parties whose representatives sit on the council has also been noted. According to the consultants, "there is little basis for recommending the sustenance of the mayor and city council in its current state and structure."

In addition the consultants' access to the personnel department and its operations were placed off-limits, while the Chief Personnel Officer now on leave refused to collaborate with the inquiry. "The incumbent was neither available for interviews nor responded to several written enquiries which were forwarded through the Town Clerk..." said the consultants.

Moving on

At a meeting earlier this month presided over by Mayor Hamilton Green and attended by Deputy Mayor Robert Williams and members of the council's Personnel and Training Committee, the consultants were given the opportunity to explain the rationale behind their recommendations. The facts before the consultants had revealed anomalies as they related to salary and allowances of persons on similar salary scales as well as to persons' years of service. Questions about NIS contributions and allowances to staff including duty, house, entertainment, travelling and education among others have also been raised.

Members of the Personnel and Training Committee were told that the Public Relations section has a limited focus and there is no mechanism for communicating to the public or addressing the needs of the staff.

It was recommended that a communication section be set up having as its primary objective, effective internal communication. The council's PRO did not cooperate with the consultants. Dealing with the constabulary the meeting was told about the mismanagement of this department and the urgent need to re-structure the city police operations, paying special attention to salaries and the various environmental factors.

The importance of a work plan for the constabulary was also mentioned.

At the meeting councillors were told by both the acting Town Clerk and the acting Public Relations Officer that they were unaware of the problems alluded to by the consultants. Town Clerk Beulah Williams is on leave.

The `chief citizen' has called for the recommendations to be examined both by councillors and the unions and implemented with alacrity.

Parking in the city

City `fathers' and `mothers' have taken a strong stand against allowing private parking in Georgetown, despite an appeal from Mayor Green that councillors act cautiously and dispassionately before arriving at a conclusion.

He wanted the entire parking system in the city to be put on hold while consultations are held with the relevant authorities such as the police.

But councillors were in no mood to go along with the mayor's suggestion - "We must act now," said Good and Green, Guyana (GGG) councillor, C M L John who is Chairman of the council's city works committee. He received support from the People's Progressive Party/C councillors, Fitzgerald Agard and Rudolph Harris, who were against exclusive parking in the city.

At issue was an application from the business operators of the Kwality Centre Mall at Camp and Regent Streets.

The 12 businessmen in the mall claimed "they are experiencing difficulty in receiving and delivering stocks due to the unauthorised parking in the area."

The businessmen want the council to give them private parking facilities to accommodate their customers on the eastern side of Camp Street and the southern side of Regent Street. The businessmen claim that "private parking has been assigned to the Bank of Baroda, Bounty Farm supermarket and Sharon's building."

City Engineer Cephas James has said he is unaware that permission has been granted to any individual or entity for private parking and does not recommend that permission to the Kwality Mall businessmen.

What has not been dealt with by councillors, the city engineer's department and the police is the introduction of an orderly and workable system of parking around Camp and Regent Streets as well as Robb and Water Streets outside Fogarty's, not forgetting the chaos in the vicinity of Regent and Commerce Streets.