Draft memo on Water St property tangles up councillors City Council Round-Up

By Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
November 3, 2003

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To sign or not to sign ... that’s the question faced by the city council as it considers a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Jagdeo government.

It’s over the controversial Toolsie Persaud Ltd property on Water Street. At last Monday’s statutory meeting the matter again surfaced following the consideration of a report by Good and Green Guyana (GGG) councillor Llewellyn John. He explained that of the three councillors selected to meet with the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon and Minister Clinton Collymore only two showed up when they last met.

They were GGG councillor Harold Kissoon and himself. The other city ‘father’ People’s National Congress Reform councillor, Junior Garrett stayed away.

He had been instructed at a statutory meeting of the council last month not to take part in such a meeting. The instructions came from the PNCR general secretary Oscar Clarke who is also leader of his party’s faction on the council.

Councillor Clarke’s argument was that the legal entanglement surrounding the acquisition of the Water Street property should be settled first before the council engages in any discussions with the government.

At the last meeting with Dr. Luncheon councillor Kissoon’s position was that the council as far as he was aware is in possession of no official document dealing with the transactions between Toolsie Persaud Ltd and the government, for it to take an informed position. Further the matter is still in the courts.

Councillor Kissoon is also objecting to a certain paragraph in the draft containing a penalty clause, which states “in the eventuality that the Mayor and City Council causes or does not prevent the return of street vendors to the streets in the commercial centre of Georgetown, the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown once advised of such a development undertakes to accept and becomes financially responsible for all the expenses incurred by the government of Guyana in acquiring the site on Water Street...” The municipality will also undertake to facilitate and not oppose the government’s recovery of all the expenditure it incurred through acquisition of the site...

The mayor is confused

At Monday’s meeting the Town Clerk Beulah Williams told councillors that a problem had arisen over the draft MOU and that the negotiating team had been reduced to two GGG councillors and there was no consensus. Councillor John while questioning the penalty clause paragraph said he was prepared to meet with Dr. Luncheon in order to get a resolution to the Water Street vendor problem.

Deputy Mayor Robert Williams said something seems to have gone wrong. He sees no difficulty in getting another team with the council’s approval. He is concerned that so far there is no documentation available at city hall setting out the decisions taken in the courts relating to the most recent ruling on the Water Street matter.

Mayor Hamilton Green who presided said he was bemused and confused by “this sudden contortion on a political issue...” adding that the decent thing to do is to “come back to the council.”

The `chief citizen’ suggested that the issue be annotated and placed before councillors at a later date.

Abandoning the city

Mayor Green has once again drawn the attention of councillors to his perception that Georgetown is no longer an attraction for the business and mercantile community. The mayor told councillors that just a few days before the statutory meeting he drove around the capital to discover that business is shifting from the centre.

He said more substantial development is taking place away from the city in places such as Berbice and Essequibo.. “We are like Nero, fiddling while Rome burns..”

The reason for business moving out of Georgetown is obvious. The mayor and his band of 29 city ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’ should begin paying visits to parts of the capital not in vehicles but on foot and this should be done at least twice a month.

They would then see the clogged drains in the main shopping areas and around the markets especially Bourda where tadpoles are swimming in the drains on Robb Street.

Councillors should also heed the comments of GGG councillor Patricia Chase- Green about the unsanitary conditions outside Demico House and the Stabroek Market.

During this exercise maybe the deputy mayor could take some councillors horseback riding along his mall from Cummings to Albert Street. At least three horses that graze there would be available once the city police are given two days notice so that they would have their batons at the ready.