With just 12 days before Local Government Elections (LGE), candidates from several political parties vying for the City Council faced off in a historic debate last evening at the Theatre Guild as they sought to convince the electorate.
The debate, organised by a group which calls itself Under the Tamarind Tree, saw participation Mark Benschop from Team Benschop, Michael Leonard from Team Legacy, Sherrod Duncan from the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), James Cole of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Clayon Halley from Youths For Local Government, Dr Phillip Thomas from Nation Building Corp.
While the candidates were quizzed on a number of issues dominating the city, including parking, drainage, security, revenue generation and financial autonomy were the most contentious.
While the candidates outlined lofty plans for the development of the city, they fell short in convincing how exactly they intend to generate revenue to execute these plans.
Leonard in his response suggested a scaling down of city spending and increased revenue collections, including parking meters, wise spending as well as possibly toll stations for persons who come from outside of the city daily.
“We have persons who are living outside of Georgetown but come to Georgetown every day, they make use of our services, they make use of our open spaces, but they do not contribute to the maintenance of our city, “Leonard said.
Duncan suggested that there be a number of other investments in the city to boost revenue.
“City council was the entity that brought the Lotto that idea was siphoned off by central government… the money from the Lotto alone we could manage the budget for the city. We want the Lotto back at City Hall,” Duncan stated.
The other candidates also made similar suggestions, with Benschop putting forward a lofty plan for the M&CC to have its own radio and Television Station to be used for commercial purposes.
On the issue of security, Benschop said that among his party’s plans to improve the security of the city is that of a total reform of the City Constabulary to ensure they do more than just collect market rates and “shake down” vendors, but to ensure they are more professional.
Other issues raised included maintenance of the city, drainage, youth development, building code and homelessness.
The candidates have made it clear that while they will work with central government, they have no intention of being bullied or controlled by the administration.
The debates are expected to be taken to the other municipalities across the country in coming days.