City to appeal parking meters by-laws decision

City Hall will on Monday file an appeal of the High Court ruling by Justice Nareshwar Harnanan which declared null and void the decision by Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan last year to approve the by-laws for metered parking in the city.

Town Clerk Royston King told Stabroek News yesterday that while the council’s legal representative Roger Yearwood has already drafted an appeal to the December 15, 2017 ruling, it will not be filed until Monday.

Justice Harnanan’s decision centred on provisions in the Municipal and District Councils Act as to the procedure for public notification in the drafting of by-laws. The judge noted the Minister’s failure in following the procedure mandated for bringing the by-laws into force.

In the circumstances, the judge made absolute an order previously issued to Bulkan, directing him to show cause why his decision to approve the by-laws should not be quashed.

The order was made absolute after the court found that the approval or decision to approve was of no legal effect and was made unlawfully and in breach of statute.

The Act mandates that the notice of intention to apply for approval of the by-laws be among other things affixed to the building of City Hall. The court found that the later provisions was not done. Justice Harnanan noted that news articles did not satisfy the requirements of the Act.

The city, through Town Clerk King, however, maintains that the by-laws were affixed outside the Council Chamber, the Constabulary Headquarters and the City Engineer’s Building among others.

The New Building Society, which had brought the action, had also contended that the intention to issue the by-laws had not been gazetted.

The court did not take particular issue with the notice of intention not being gazetted but it noted that newspaper publications on it, were not sufficient notice as prescribed by the Act.

After approval of the by-laws by the Minister on January 3rd, 2017, the NBS, in early February, sought the order or rule nisi directing Bulkan to show cause why a writ of certiorari should not be issued to quash his decision.

The order was granted by Justice Brassington Reynolds, before whom the case was, at the time.

That period was, however, extended and the by-laws remain suspended.

NBS was represented by attorney Pauline Chase. Minister Bulkan and City Hall meanwhile, were represented by attorneys Judy Stuart-Adonis and Roger Yearwood, respectively.

Representing Smart City Solutions (SCS), contractor for the parking meter project, was attorney Stephen Fraser.

Though not named in the action, SCS, an interested party, was allowed by Justice Harnanan to make submissions in the case.

Owing to widespread public outcry and a series of weekly protest actions by members of the public, Bulkan on March 21st, 2017 ordered the City to suspend the by-laws for 90 days, which ended in July.

The project however remains suspended while a re-negotiation committee led by Councillor Akeem Peter attempts to make the contract more palatable to the public.

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