Councillor’s attack on city’s Public Relations Division unwarranted

Dear Editor,

The Senior Officers and general administrative staff of the Mayor and City Council are utterly disgusted with the emotionally charged statements of Councillor Ayodele Roache, at the statutory meeting of Monday February 12, 2019, in which she referred to the work of Council’s Public Relations Division as “trash.”  The Councillor was cautioned and subsequently withdrew the comments from the record of the Council. However, the fact remains that the spoken words can never be recalled. Therefore, it is imperative that this matter be addressed publicly at this juncture so that greater caution would be exercised in the future.

It has been observed that it is the practice of this Councillor to make hasty remarks about the work of Council of which she is a part. At a previous meeting the Councillor had boldly declared that the Georgetown City Council does not have a social media presence. At that meeting she was corrected by Officers of the Council.

The Councillors are policymakers and they have the duty to bring to the horseshoe table their knowledge, expertise and skill to inform policy decisions. However, sentiments like these would only harm the image of the Council which we are working tirelessly to rebuild. The City Administration welcomes constructive criticisms. Since constructive criticism would help us to understand where we are and point us in the direction we ought to take. 

 The work of the Public Relations Division of the City Council is consistent with the organizational goals and objectives. In addition, to the use of Public Relations tools such as regular press conferences, press releases, media tours, the production of  pamphlets, flyers, bro-chures, Facebook page and a special radio and television programme, the Division collaborates with other Departments of Council to plan and execute strategic progrmmmes which cater to the communication and information needs of the various publics. Moreover, the work of the Public Relations Division is guided by its Communications strategy 2017 -2019. 

The dynamics of this complex organization with different departments and sections necessitates that the Council gauge public opinion and this is done through analysis and research. Analysis helps us to identify problems and clarify matters which would enhance our services. Further, research is a prerequisite for policymaking.  Research helps to inform policy recommendations and programme planning. The most recent research conducted by the Division in 0ctober 2018, gauged public opinion on the payment of a fee for the collection of waste from households. The research findings were presented to Council via the monthly report. Editor could Research and Analysis be classified as “trash” as purported by the learned Councillor?

The Public Relations Division through timely interventions of the officers attached to the complaints desk have averted many conflict situations in local communities. The complaints desk provides citizens an opportunity to present their cases to the Public Relations Officer, who contacts the relevant Departmental Heads to have the issues resolved.  The process involves site visits to problematic areas by the Officers, the Public Relations Officer and the complainants. In some instances the problems are be resolved instantly, while in others it necessitates the acquisition of resources and this delays the process. Many citizens have thanked the Division both privately and publicly for its timely intervention and amicable resolution of many problems. Is the Councillor referring to public relations intervention in this regards as “trash?”

At Council we embrace the Municipal Act Chapter 28:01, Section 301(10), this section of the Act is operationalized through several programmes including a special Health and Environmental Education programme in City schools.

In 2018, the programme reached approximately 5,000 children at the primary level. This was done in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Public Health and Solid Waste Management Departments.  Also, because of the success of this programme the I believe clubs were birthed. The main purpose of these clubs is to produce students who would be the vanguards on environmental matters. Further, they would be ones to influence change among their peers, families and the wider community on good environmental stewardship. While we believe in enforcing the City By-Laws, we embrace the need for information and education.  We work assiduously within the confines of the limited resources to implement programmes and to achieve our set goals and objectives.

 In the Division, we have reviewed our performance for 2018, and have crafted a strategic communication plan which embodies the focus of the Organization for 2019 which includes; public health, solid waste management and maintenance of drainage system. The plan will measure the impact of programmes executed. It is regrettable, that the honourable Councillor never sought to engage anyone from the City’s Administration to have certain things clarified before making a public pronouncement. If the Councillor had taken the time to interact with someone from the Division she would not have made such a colossal error openly, stating that Council only has a Facebook profile. The Council has both a page and a profile.  Council’s Facebook page is Georgetown Mayor and City.   Editor the word “trash” has taken on a whole new meaning for us at Council.

Yours faithfully,

Debra Lewis

Public Relations Officer

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