After more than four hours of deliberation yesterday, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) selected a committee to renegotiate the contract between the City and Smart City Solutions (SCS), with Councillor Malcolm Ferreira of Team Legacy as its Chairman and Councillor Noella Chow-Chee of APNU+AFC, as the Vice-chairman.
At a special statutory meeting yesterday at City Hall, councillors deliberated on several issues before electing the seven-member team of councillors to form the committee which is charged with renegotiating the highly controversial parking meter contract.
The first discussion which was slated for the special statutory meeting was establishing the council’s position, which Mayor Patricia Chase-Green related had been set at the last meeting, where the majority of councillors were in favour of having the paid parking system in Georgetown, in order to provide a means of easing the congestion, and bringing much needed additional revenue to the city.
After agreeing on the council’s position, the next item on the agenda was the terms of reference and formation of the committee. There was an issue on what should be done first; the formation of the committee, or the discussion and establishment of the terms of reference.
However, Town Clerk, Royston King, explained that the terms of reference were to be used as the guiding force for the committee, and as such, should be done first to establish a basis from where the committee can work and be guided from. Subsequently, after adjourning for 30 minutes to analyse the draft of the terms of reference, and then returning to discuss them, Councillor Heston Bostwick moved the motion, with Councillor Chow-Chee, seconding it, for the proposal to be accepted.
However, Deputy Mayor Lionel Jaikarran rose to the floor and highlighted that he believed the terms of reference, which will guide the committee, should have an “open door” or clauses which would allow for it to be changed via inputs from all the stakeholders. In response, King said that was not possible since the terms of reference would only be effective if they were closed and could only be altered by the Council. In the subsequent vote, only Jaikarran abstained, as all other councillors present voted in favour.
Minutes after the terms and conditions were accepted, Councillor Oscar Clarke rose to the floor and nominated:
Ferreira, Chow-Chee, Councillor Roopnarine Persaud, Councillor Ivelaw Henry, Councillor Tricia Richards, Councillor Carlyle Goring and Councillor Heston Bostwick, all members of the APNU+AFC coalition, save for Ferreira, as the seven-member committee to lead the renegotiations of the parking meter contract. After there were no objections, Clarke then nominated Ferreira as Chairman, with Chow-Chee as the Vice-chairman. The nominations were not challenged and the motions were passed.
Subsequently, Clarke proposed that the members of the committee receive a stipend for every meeting that they are engaged with SCS, and added that it would be discussed at the next finance meeting, and a proposal would be submitted at the next statutory meeting for the council to vote on.
The highly controversial parking meter project is currently on hold, following a wave of protests and calls for its revocation. Government has recommended that the time be used to review the agreement.
Its implementation on the streets of Georgetown almost three months ago was greeted with drivers’ boycotts and refusals to park in the zones where the parking meters were located. Even though the fees, which were initially exorbitant were subsequently lowered, road users avoided the designated parking spots, and protests from citizens and the business community forced the government to take action.
The project is currently on a three-month suspension, and the team is expected to finish their negotiations with Smart City Solutions by the end of the remaining two months. However, the protest group, Movement Against Parking Meters, is adamantly opposed to the project and wants the contract to be revoked and not renegotiated.