Town Clerk now prepared to speak to inquiry
Stabroek News
July 2, 2004

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Town Clerk, Beulah Williams says she is now prepared to appear before the two-member commission of inquiry into the operations of the City Engineer's Department after all of the outstanding procedures were complied with.

Williams, who was on Monday summoned to the hearing, but did not attend because of other engagements had written to the commission complaining that the letter inviting her was on the official letterhead of the Ministry of Agriculture in breach of the procedures. She told Stabroek News yesterday that the format for such letters was clearly set out in the Eighth Schedule of the Municipal and District Councils Act Chapter 28:01.

Williams had also requested from the commission its terms of reference and the date the inquiry was gazetted to give her sufficient time and adequate preparation for the anticipated sessions.

She told this newspaper yesterday that she has since received the terms and the date the inquiry was gazetted and is now prepared to attend any session when called upon.

One other officer of the council, Deputy Mayor Robert Williams was summoned before the commission but he too failed to show up, citing other engagements.

It seems as if there is some uneasiness at City Hall with regard to the commission and at least two senior officers have expressed discomfort at the way things were being done.

The officers bemoaned the lack of proper publicity for the inquiry and blamed this on the Ministry of Local Government and the commission itself. City Engineer, Cephas James had also queried the legitimacy of the commission, demanding to know what the council's decision on the inquiry was, the terms of reference and also the date the inquiry was gazetted.

The ministry had written to the M&CC indicating its intention to conduct the inquiry according to the Eighth Schedule of the Municipal and District Councils Act.

However, city officials have contended that there are serious procedural errors in the manner in which requests were made for officers to appear before the commission.

A similar investigation of the City Engineer's Depart-ment was conducted in 2000 by Charles Liburd.

However it is not clear whether this new probe would be a continuation of the Liburd inquiry. This has been causing some worry at City Hall, particularly because Chairman of the present commission, Bernard Carter has not been able to locate the findings of Liburd's inquiry.

Stabroek News understands that copies were handed over to the council and its contents debated but the recommendations advanced in the report and accepted by the council were never implemented. One recommendation dealt with the practice of building inspectors getting involved in the drawing of plans for buildings.