Mayor says CCC used to be famous only for R&C!
According to rumours persistent in some opposition quarters, Senator Fortuna Belrose was not altogether happy with the operations of the Castries City Council headed by the mayor Mr. Petersen Francis. A letter in circulation indicated a review had been underway since July 18, to look into certain aspects of the council’s management.
But on Monday the Department of Local Government’s PS, Donavan Williams, told the media: “I know whenever the word ‘audit’ gets bandied about, persons tend to think there must be some wrongdoings. But it’s really about assessing procedures, policies, making sure that the dictates of the Act are being carried out consistently. From our standpoint, it’s a very routine thing.”
Williams also emphasized that there is nothing significant about the timing of the scheduled audit except that the tenure of a new board at the CCC is about to begin. He added: “This is routine, as far as the department is concerned. I think the timing is opportune; we’re at the end of the tenure and if we want to move forward with a new tenure it’s important that we learn lessons.”
Williams went on to suggest that if Saint Lucia intends to reform the system of local government then all constituency councils will have to be subjected to audits.
Mayor Petersen was Rick Wayne’s guest on He said: “The CCC was previously known mainly for two things—R&C.” The host asked him to explain, and Francis said: “Rubbish and corruption. Because of that reputation, I had little choice but to attempt to rebrand the CCC. I am quite happy that I’ve been able to do that after just one year.”
Regardless of the results of the audit, one thing is certain: generally Mayor Peterson Francis is considered to have done an efficient job in his tenure. Williams made sure to say, “We have seen a lot of very good work being undertaken by the CCC and the mayor. I think the constituents of Castries themselves are very quick to tell us that as well. We are certainly very pleased with their performance.”
There are a few areas that the department of local government might still want to enhance. Williams said, “This assessment will give us an opportunity to work on that.”
But by Mayor Francis’ books the government may just end up taking a few pages from it instead. When asked if the government can learn anything from how CCC is operated, Francis said, “Many lessons. Probably the government will learn how to get things done. The review will show the success of what we are doing at CCC, so I welcome the review.”
As to why an independent audit was commissioned for the CCC as opposed to the government’s own system of auditing, Williams said, “It is the government audit department but it has demands placed on it by so many other entities, and particularly when you’re talking about statutory organisations it is probably better to go the route of an independent audit.”
Mayor Peterson Francis has been widely commended for his rebranding of the Castries City Council and for his work in cleaning up the city.