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Operations ‘shut down’
People’s National Movement councillors and aldermen at the Siparia Regional Corporation are once again calling on chairman Dr Glen Ramadharsingh to step down.
This latest squabble in the corporation comes after the United National Congress councillors brought a motion to remove the corporation’s corporate secretary three weeks ago.
The motion was debated but the PNM members walked out of council before a vote could be taken. They now say since then there have been no statutory meetings and no public business being carried out at the SRC.
Yesterday, aldermen Christopher Encinas and Alston Cadore and councillors Maurice Alexander, Gerald Debesette, Christine Neptune and Arlene Ramdeo held a press conference at Irwin Park, Siparia, to air their views. The council has been marred in controversy since Ramadharsingh took over the chairmanship from UNC councillor Leo Doodnath. The UNC has seven council members — five councillors and two aldermen — and the PNM six council members — four councillors and two aldermen.
Earlier this year, the PNM councillors moved a motion to have Ramadharsingh removed from his position, citing mistrust in his chairmanship and his handling of the corporation’s affairs. That motion was defeated as it did not get a majority vote.
Yesterday, Debesette said the move to stop having meetings and carry out corporation business was disrespectful.
“We are here to highlight to the general public what has been happening at the Siparia Regional Corporation. Nothing has been happening for the past three weeks and that is because of the fact of the failed motion against the corporate secretary and the UNC chose to stay away from the corporation and shut down the business of the people for the past three weeks,” Debesette said.
“We had filed a motion against the chairman and the then CEO a couple of months ago and immediately after, at the next meeting, we came back and continued the business of the people. This motion came forward against the corporate secretary and it failed and since then they have not been attending any of the council meetings at the corporation.
“It is disrespectful and we are questioning the leadership of the chairman and asking for him to do the honourable thing and demit office.”
Alexander said Ramadharsingh’s handling of the motion against the corporate secretary had given new life to that motion.
“When we brought the motion two months ago against the chairman, we did it hoping he would pull himself together and take stock of his actions but this action gives that motion life,” Alexander said.
“It shows why we brought that motion and we were well within our rights to bring that motion at that time, because what is happening now is a clear picture of what we were talking about two months ago. That is why at this time I am calling on Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh to understand where he is at this time and do the honourable thing and step down.”
Alexander added: “I am also calling on the Member of Parliament and the Opposition leader and political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to get involved and have Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh removed because this is your constituency of Siparia, this is your business as well.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, Ramadharsingh said it was the PNM council members who were not operating.
“They are not operating, they walked out of a meeting and their electorate are suffering now,” he said.
“But in our areas, work is continuing and all the funding that had already been approved is being put to proper use, maybe they are not working as hard as they should be.”
He said on August 11 all UNC and PNM members were present to begin the council meeting, but the person who was supposed to chair the meeting did not show up and could not be reached via phone.
“We could not continue with the meeting as the meeting chairman got caught up in a personal emergency and could not come and could not be reached by phone to hand over the responsibility. All of us were there and all of them were there as well, you can call them and ask them.”
He made his own call on the Ministry of Local Government to intervene in the impasse with the corporate secretary.
“I am calling on the relevant authorities to do what is necessary in this situation. We have a situation where the second highest officer holder in the corporation is being perceived as biased. We cannot continue to operate under these conditions.”