Zon­ing, ac­count­abil­ity take cen­tre stage as res­i­dents meet city coun­cil can­di­dates in Subryanville

Stabroek News - - STARBROEK NEWS - By Than­deka Per­ci­val

Once again the ques­tion of zon­ing and ac­count­abil­ity dom­i­nated a com­mu­nity en­gage­ment be­tween res­i­dents of Ge­orge­town’s Con­stituency Two and those who hope to rep­re­sent them at City Hall.

Three of the five can­di­dates con­test­ing the First Past the Post elec­tion in Con­stituency 2 (Kitty North, Cen­tral and South and Subryanville) showed up at the Dioce­san Youth Cen­tre, in Subryanville ready to plead their case to res­i­dents.

Shon­del Hope of APNU, Arnold Sukhraj of the AFC and In­de­pen­dent Can­di­date Fay Clarke all told res­i­dents that if elected they will work to im­prove drainage, bet­ter man­age green spa­ces and in­volve the com­mu­nity in every stage of its own de­vel­op­ment.

The PPP/C Can­di­date Nalissa Fer­gu­son though in­vited chose not to be present. A sim­i­lar event organized in 2016 was also snubbed by then PPP/C can­di­date Pa­tri­cia Fer­gu­son.

Present in 2016 were In­de­pen­dent can­di­date Al­bert ‘Bull­dog’ Cromwell, Car­lyle Gor­ing, can­di­date for APNU+AFC, her­bal­ist Al­fred Park, of the Heal­ing the Na­tion Theoc­racy Party, and Jameel Ra­sul of Team Ben­schop for Mayor.

Gor­ing went on to win the seat and pre­side over a pe­riod of con­tention be­tween City Hall and Subryanville.

Over the last two years Subryanville res­i­dents have clashed with the city over in­creased com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity in their res­i­den­tial area and the “leas­ing” of Far­num Ground to the Mae’s School.

Also ab­sent yes­ter­day was In­de­pen­dent can­di­date Yen­chan­dra Ram­bar­ran. Or­ga­nizer Aisha Fraites ex­plained to Stabroek News that she did not know of his can­di­dacy so he was not in­vited.

She apol­o­gized to the ap­prox­i­mately 20 res­i­dent present for the over­sight be­fore invit­ing those present to in­tro­duce them­selves and their plans.

Clarke was keen to set her­self apart from the party can­di­dates by not­ing that as some­one who has been in­volved in vol­un­tary work and min­istry for nearly two decades she is not look­ing to City Hall to make a name for her­self.

She ex­plained that af­ter decades in avi­a­tion man­age­ment she an­swered the call to serve and en­tered a sem­i­nary to study the­ol­ogy. Fol­low­ing her stud­ies she worked for 17 years as chap­lain and head of Train­ing and Wel­fare ini­tia­tives with the Guyana Prison Ser­vice. The first five of these years were com­pletely vol­un­tary.

For her work in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive ser­vices, Clarke was awarded a Medal of Ser­vice in 2010.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter the com­mu­nity must col­lab­o­rate for its own de­vel­op­ment and stop think­ing that City Hall or cen­tral govern­ment has to do ev­ery­thing.

“We have to think how to do this… we must net­work and bring so­lu­tions. Change is not just in­fra­struc­ture it must also be hu­man­i­tar­ian,” she stressed, charg­ing res­i­dents with “reignit­ing a cul­ture of in­volve­ment.”

“Cur­rently there is a cul­ture of in­dif­fer­ence, ap­a­thy, hope­less­ness that is con­tribut­ing to sui­cide and vi­o­lence,” Clarke noted ad­ding that as some­one with a proven track record she can work with the com­mu­nity to ac­cess in­ter­na­tional fund­ing to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture.

Hope, who came pre­pared with brochures com­plete with a “first 60 days” plan fo­cused on more tan­gi­ble ar­eas of con­cern.

She told res­i­dents that her in­ten­tion is to col­lab­o­rate with or­ga­ni­za­tions and groups to im­prove drainage, light­ing and other ar­eas of se­cu­rity.

Hope drew at­ten­tion to the fact that sev­eral per­sons have been robbed when walk­ing or jog­ging in the com­mu­nity and said she had al­ready ap­proached the po­lice to ad­dress the is­sue.

“Whether we look at com­mu­nity polic­ing groups or whether we ask for in­ten­si­fied pa­trols from the po­lice is still to be de­cided,” she ex­plained.

Con­fi­dent that she will soon hold the post of coun­cilor, Hope stressed that she will im­me­di­ately af­ter win­ning hold a “thank you” meet­ing with the con­stituency where a con­stituency com­mit­tee will be formed with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from each of the four com­mu­ni­ties which make up the con­stituency.

This com­mit­tee, she ex­plained, will work to de­velop a de­vel­op­ment plan for the con­stituency and sup­port the coun­cil­lor as she ad­vo­cates for funds to in­crease recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties for youths and im­prove drainage.

She stressed that as coun­cil­lor she would re­turn to the com­mu­nity each quar­ter to present up­dates on what has been achieved or still needs to be done.

Un­sure

In con­trast, the AFC’s Sukhraj ap­peared un­sure of the meth­ods he would use to achieve the goals he had out­lined.

He stressed that City Hall can­not do ev­ery­thing and main­tained that he has al­ready ap­proached the Min­is­ters of Pub­lic In­fra­struc­ture and Pub­lic Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions about es­tab­lish­ing an ICT Hub in Kitty and im­prov­ing the drainage in­fra­struc­ture in the con­stituency.

Res­i­dents were how­ever not im­pressed with the prom­ises made. One frus­trated res­i­dent noted that while all the talk of work­ing to­gether sounds nice, coun­cil­lors have been known to dis­ap­pear af­ter an elec­tion.

“All this talk­ing about com­ing to­gether and what’s not but what the com­mu­nity needs is a coun­cil­lor who is in­volved. How do you plan to give and re­ceive feed­back…the Com­mu­nity needs this feed­back,” she said not­ing that only Hope had made prom­ises of re­turn­ing once elected.

In re­spond­ing, Sukhraj said that his in­ten­tion is to hold monthly “town hall meet­ings” at the Kitty Mar­ket while Clarke in turn said that re­port­ing mech­a­nisms are part and par­cel of the type of pro­grammes she wishes to in­sti­tute.

At this point the meet­ing turned mildly con­tentious with dis­il­lu­sioned res­i­dents de­mand­ing that can­di­dates ex­plain how they would make sure City Hall spent the rates paid on com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment.

One res­i­dent in­censed at the ques­tions claimed that the fo­rum was a “set of stupid­ness”. Ac­cord­ing to the el­derly man the can­di­dates can’t prom­ise any­thing be­cause City Hall has no money.

“Where they get­ting the money from? Is a set of stupid­ness. Pay the rates and shut you mouth. Just vote for one of them and hope for the best. You could get all the prom­ises you want but she don’t know what she gonna reach dey,” he ar­gued be­fore walk­ing out of the fo­rum.

On the heels of his de­par­ture Hope stressed that rates cur­rently col­lected are not enough for the works needed in the com­mu­ni­ties, not­ing that sev­eral res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties were en­gaged in com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties while still pay­ing res­i­den­tial rates.

“We are pay­ing in some cases $1000 a month in Ge­orge­town…we are not pay­ing any­thing re­ally. We need to look at rates holis­ti­cally to give City Hall the fund­ing it needs to ad­dress our con­cerns,” she ex­plained.

Sukhraj fur­ther noted that even as the is­sue of rates is ad­dressed City Hall clearly needs bet­ter and more ac­count­able man­agers.

“Only then can monies be di­verted to com­mu­ni­ties,” he stressed.

In the end most res­i­dents left still un­de­cided.

“Be­fore I came I didn’t know if I was vot­ing and I still don’t know,” one res­i­dent ex­plained. An­other res­i­dent noted that the can­di­dates were not as pre­pared as they could have been.

“I felt like they were pro­vid­ing stock an­swers rather than deal­ing with the spe­cific ques­tions asked,” she noted while an­other res­i­dent, Melissa ex­plained that she would be vot­ing but no can­di­date had yet won her vote.

Mean­while the or­ga­nizer, Fraites said that she felt the event was worth it even if only to in­tro­duce the can­di­dates to res­i­dents.

AFC Can­di­date Arnold Sukhraj

In­de­pen­dent Can­di­date Fay Clarke

APNU Can­di­date Shon­del Hope

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