Linden Town Council would not approve amended payment structure for Right Start Foundation

Dear Editor

The Right Start Foundation has taken notice of the recent press statement issued by the Linden Town Week secretariat with specific reference to the signed agreement between the said organization and the Linden Town Week Committee for the ‘All black concept party 2018’.

The organization would like to take this opportunity to express thanks to the Linden Mayor and Town Council for affording us the opportunity to participate in the Linden Town week activities.

However, it would be remiss of us not to take this opportunity to duly inform the populace of the true nature of the events which propelled us to recuse ourselves from further committing to the agreement at the last hour.

The Right Start Foundation took the decision to bid for the 2018 ‘All black concept party’ because it viewed the event as a means to help our organization garner much needed funds to assist in advancing and accelerating the programmes and objectives of the foundation. These are to impact and improve the lives of youths within the community by helping them to realize their true potential through sports, arts, academics, etc.

Having been declared the highest bidder for the event on Saturday, December 30, 2017, a copy of the draft agreement was handed to us and we were given 48 hours to peruse it and propose any amendments in an effort to establish a mutually favourable agreement.

The Right Start Foundation submitted their proposed amendments within the prescribed time for the council’s consideration. However, the council responded by saying that they were not in a position to accept any of our proposed amendments.

One of our proposed amendments was for the council to consider a different payment structure which would allow us to pay the bid sum in three parts within three months.

It must be underscored, that the RSF never intended in any way to avoid honouring our financial obligations under this agreement; however it was our considered view that the proposed payment schedule advanced by the council was not prudently thought out given the time and nature of the event (a 100% payment ($3.6M) in the month of January for an activity to be held three months thereafter (April 28, 2018)). No legal document for such a proposed payment would be considered fair in any court.

The Right Start Foundation was the first to acknowledge that it grossly overbid for the all black event with an unprecedented $3.6M, having recognized that the payments for other signature events, The All White $100, 000, The Coloured Party $50,000, the International Concert $400,000, to name a few, were much lower.

Despite this acknowledgment, it was still feasible for us to proceed with the event and we remained very much committed to ensuring that it was held. Our commitment to forge ahead with the event was demonstrated when we signed the agreement, even though it contained many discrepancies which were highlighted to the council’s representative, with the expectation those corrections would be made.

In light of that recognition, the organization sought to find ways to cushion the cost by proposing an alternative payment structure along with other peripherals that we considered to be fair and reasonable and for the benefit of both parties.

We strongly believe that the payment structure proposed by the council was grossly unreasonable and did not make prudent and proper business sense given the fact that we are being asked to pay 100% for an event that will be held in April. In addition, the council does not stand to lose anything based on our proposal, given the fact that the cap for the bidding started at $1M and the second highest bid was $2.2M.

Additionally, the organization sought it fitting to request the M&TC to negotiate on our behalf with the management of Mackenzie Sports Clubs, given their past relationship during Town Week events, in an effort to secure the best deal with respect to the rental price of the facility.

This request was unsuccessful with the club quoting the most extraordinary price in its history to the council’s negotiating team, namely, $1.6 million and a $500,000 dollars cautionary deposit for a one-night event. If anyone were to compute the bidding price and the MSC facility price they would appreciate our dilemma.

Despite many efforts by our organization to have a decent dialogue with the Mayor and Town Council to find common ground regarding the issues, the council remained very uncooperative and unhelpful  throughout the entire process.

I must agree with the council, that the conceptual thinking behind the then ‘Town Day’ and thereafter ‘Town Week’ was to celebrate, promote and showcase the township with the aim of stimulating and fostering economic activity for its residents. The concept was never for the M&TC to make money or garner funds from residents to undertake any project or to assist it with any, whether “waste management issues or otherwise”.

The residents of our township pay their rates and taxes, revenues, toll, the bridge and all other forms of payment to the council all year long. It is my personal view that the council’s attitude and posture towards us during this most trying period, indicates that the council has deviated greatly from the founding ideas of celebrating our township.

From the outset, The Right Start Foundation never enjoyed the fullest cooperation of the council nor its secretariat in addressing our concerns. We are convinced that there are members of the council and its secretariat who share very close ties with other bidders and who were not in favour of us winning the franchise. Even though the bidding process was very fair thanks to the Right Start Foundation for proposing the best bidding method, there were well-orchestrated efforts to ensure that our journey was not an easy one. Our proposals were decided in the streets since there were serious confidentiality breaches regarding our dialogue. Information reached the streets faster than it was disseminated among councillors and members of the secretariat, a practice that seriously compromised our position of good negotiations. This practice swiftly emerged into a personality battle which The Right Start Foundation did not wish to be a part of. Now that the architect of this plot has succeeded in achieving their objectives, The Right Start Foundation extends best regards for a successful Linden Town Week 2018 to all our residents, locally and abroad.

Yours faithfully,

Collis Gifth

Managing Director

Right Start Foundation

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