Seeking to re-implement metered parking in Georgetown, the Mayor and City Council’s negotiation team yesterday held its first meeting with representatives of parking meter contractor Smart City Solutions (SCS).
Stabroek News was reliably informed that the committee, led by APNU Councillor Akeem Peter, met with three SCS executives, who were led by Amir Oren, the Managing Director for Business Development.
Stabroek News had previously reported that a meeting was scheduled for this week, during which the committee would request that the relevant financial and legal documents be provided so that negotiations on the controversial metered parking contract could move forward.
However, yesterday’s meeting served only as an introduction for the two parties. “It was an opportunity for the team to meet the executives and the executives to meet the team. Recommendations were communicated and they received favourable responses but they will be examined in detail at our next meeting,” a source told Stabroek News. The next meeting is scheduled for today.
The current negotiating committee comprises seven councillors, six of whom are from APNU and one from Team Benschop for Mayor. The other committee members are APNU councillors Noelle Chow Chee, who is the vice-chairperson, Oscar Clarke, Ivelaw Henry, Heston Bostwick and James Samuels, and Team Benschop for Mayor’s Jameel Rasul. There are also two non-council members, Robin Hunte, a lawyer and accountant, and Owen Edwards, an engineer.
At a statutory meeting in September, it was decided that the nine-member committee would comprise of seven councillors, and two members of the public who will have voting rights. Town Clerk Royston King and City Treasurer Ron McCalman will also sit on the committee, but only in an advisory capacity.
The new committee will function under the Terms of Reference used by the previous committee, which had been chaired by Councillor Malcolm Ferreira, of Team Legacy.
The first committee had been put together after the metered parking project had been suspended by central government in March. That body was specifically tasked with addressing five areas of concern identified by central government, including the unequal terms of the contract, which disproportionately favoured SCS; the parking fees, which were deemed too burdensome; the very high penalties for non-compliance; and the inclusion of gazetted public roads and certain areas around schools and hospitals.
After three months of stakeholder engagements, the committee submitted its report to Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and King on August 2.
At an extraordinary statutory meeting on September 7, a majority of councillors—13 out of 25—voted to continue the metered parking system with SCS, pending a renegotiation of the controversial contract with the company.
The contract was suspended after months of boycott of the parking meters by commuters and protests outside of City Hall organised by the Movement Against Parking Meters.