Team Benschop disowns member for overstaying term as city councillor, voting for parking meters

City councillor Jameel Rasul says he will shortly be resigning his seat after being berated by his group, Team Benschop for going beyond the agreed six-month stint and voting in favour of the controversial parking meters deal.

On May 8th 2017, Rasul took the oath of office for Team Benschop, which had decided on six-month rotations for its members.  According to his party, Rasul’s term ended in November, 2017, and he has since been asked to resign to make way for the next representative to take up the seat.

The party is of the view that Rasul’s continued occupancy of the seat is illegal and does not have its support.

Party Leader Mark Benschop, in a Facebook post yesterday, said “it was abundantly clear that his agenda was more about self-aggrandizement, and nothing to do with the people’s interest, or with Team Benschop’s vision for Georgetown.”

“We … told him to resign in November but he kept saying yes, but he never did anything. We told him he had to do it by January 1st but he hasn’t done anything as yet. When we tried to contact (him) we cannot get him,” Benschop later said during a telephone interview with this newspaper.

“He should do the honourable thing and resign and we are asking him for that.  He did not win the seat, it was given to the party… I opted not to take up the seat and let other members have a chance at how things are done at local government,” the party leader added.

When Stabroek News contacted Rasul yesterday, he initially said “no comment” but he went on to say, “I am a peaceful person and let me stay peaceful… I would be resigning very shortly.” He did not give a definite date.

Benschop yesterday told Stabroek News that when Rasul was nominated for the seat, he promised to comply with the six-month rotation and to represent the party’s vision.

“I went against members’ views and gave him a chance and he was very thankful and vowed to make the party proud,” Benschop said, adding that, “We told him that he would not be representing his constituency but the entire Georgetown.”

However, Rasul told Stabroek News that he stayed on as a Councillor since he was elected a member of the  metered parking committee, which was headed by APNU+AFC Councillor Akeem Peter.

Benschop said that his party’s views were misrepresented by Rasul since it does not support the metered parking system in the city.

“His vote to support the parking meters is obviously opportunistic and a betrayal to the group that allowed him the opportunity to serve. Instead, he has teamed up … to cause punishment upon residents,” Benschop said in his Facebook post.

In the same post, he described the actions of Rasul as a “betrayal and dishonesty” and apologized to the group’s supporters, while saying that Rasul’s actions were not expected.

Benschop added that they had expected Rasul to follow in the steps of his predecessors, Selwyn Smarrt and Salima Bacchus-Hinds, to make insightful inputs and fight for vendors.

Benschop believes if Rasul was present and voted at the first presentation of the parking meters renegotiation report, things would have been different.  Then, the city had voted by 13 to 12 in favour of continuing with the parking meters project.

Benschop went on to describe the performance of Rasul during his tenure as a councillor as a “miserable failure.”

Meanwhile, the leader stated that the since the actions of Rasul do not conform to the vision of his party, he is no longer affiliated with them.

“By virtue of his actions, it is clear that he is not a part of the team and does not have our blessings,” Benschop declared.

The party has already identified a representative, Denise Dey, to replace Rasul once he gives up the seat. Dey campaigned with the team for the March 18th, 2016, local government elections. Benschop said Dey is capable of handling issues at the grassroots level and believes she would make an impact at City Hall.

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