Oct 30, 2017
Social activist, Mark Benschop is highly critical of the system of governance at Georgetown Mayor and City Council, (M&CC).
Benschop was awarded a seat on the Council following the Local Government Elections, (LGE) held in 2016.
Although he has not personally sat on the Council, Benschop continues to be vocal on several issues directly affecting residents of Georgetown.
The social activist is particularly adamant about his stance on the matter involving a rank of the city constabulary accused for sexually assaulting a minor, and the parking metre project which has attracted much controversy in the past months.
Speaking to Kaieteur News about the work of his team, Benschop explained that instead of occupying the seat himself, he chose to afford persons the opportunity to have a firsthand experience of how the Council operates.
The idea was to have the seat rotated every six months to allow a new person, particularly youthful individuals, sit in on behalf of “Team Benschop.”
The seat has since been occupied by three individuals, Salima Bacchus Hinds, Selywn Smart and Jameel Rasul; the current representative.
He said that representatives of the team are expected to be vocal and proactive on issues affecting the residents of Georgetown.
But with just one seat on the Council, the social commentator concedes that Team Benschop can be easily overshadowed by a largely APNU –AFC controlled Council.
The Georgetown Council is made of 30 seats. Twenty five is occupied by APNU-AFC; two are occupied by PPP Councillors and the other two by independent parties – Team Legacy and Team Benschop.
Toward this end, Benschop noted that the voices of independent groups can be easily muzzled.
“Even if an independent party were to raise concerns and issues at the level of the council, it is not likely it will receive support from the other councillors and that is the dilemma we are facing.
“This should not be. Duly elected members have the right to adequately represent the citizens of Georgetown. The parking metre contract, for instance, I don’t believe that contract should have been negotiated or renegotiated. “
“I am not against parking metres, but that contract should have been thrown out in the first place, renegotiating it is just a waste of time and waste of tax payers’ dollars.
“I believe the people of Georgetown deserve better.”
Benschop believes too that the political structure allows for a usurping of powers of Council by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Town Clerk.
Speaking specifically about his concerns for local government, Benschop noted that the system which allows persons to vote for a party of their choice rather than for individuals and policies is aiding the process.
“I also believe that the certain powers should be with the Mayor of Georgetown and not the Town Clerk.”
As such, the activist is adamant about the need for the entire system to be restructured to allow politics to play a lesser role in the work of the Council.