Parking Meters Protest and counter-protest hosted; Town Clerk says meters here to stay
The resistance of the implementation of the parking Meters by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and Smart City Solutions (SCS) saw a massive protest today in front of City hall. However, that was also met with a counter-protest.
The protest against the Parking Meters saw in attendance persons from all section of society, including business owners and taxi drivers while the counter protest saw employees of SCS and the M&CC among others.
Those proposing the project being implemented in Georgetown stood the south while those opposing stood to the north along the pavements of Regent Street.
Protesting were business entities and their employees who carried their placards bearing slogans including “Stop robbing de poor people”, “No parking meters”, “Can’t afford parking meters”, “80% to a foreign company for 20 years=Bad Deal” and “No transparency, no tendering, no contract” among others.
Meanwhile, supporters bear placards with “Yes to parking meters, yes to more jobs”, “Yes to parking meters, they provide safer and better roads for all citizens”, “No trunkers with parking meters” and other slogans promoting the need for traffic management.
On the opposing side was also Deputy Mayor, Sherod Duncan while the supporting side was honored with the presence of Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green.
Speaking to the media and defending the position was Town Clerk, Royston King. King was a signatory to the contract with SCS.
He told media operatives that “some of these people are people who have been parking on our thoroughfare and reserve for years without compensating this city, without giving citizens any single thing. These are the big large businesses who have been squatting on councils reserves, squatting on council’s thoroughfares who have been squatting on council’s spaces without paying a cent to the council and we are saying that we are bringing an end to that.”
Dismissing the concerns of the citizens, King said “those who use more of the city’s resources must pay and this is what this parking meter thing is all about when you look at it they really, really want to continue their personal interest and indiscipline.”
“Parking meter will stay and those who use our spaces will pay for those spaces” he noted.
The crowd was estimated to be about five hundred persons with about one hundred supporting the meters and four hundred persons opposing the meters.
King disclosed that the meter employed almost 70 street wardens along with about 50 constabulary personnel to patrol the streets of Georgetown.
He also referred to those against the project as “backward thinking” and “those who are bent on keeping Georgetown in squalla in dirt and indiscipline.”
She also sought to compare those persons against the project with those supporting the project according to their economic status because most of these people are in society. It is her view that the higher class people are protesting the meters.
In her defense, Mayor Chase-Green said that with the initiative of regulated parking, jobs were created and persons were taken off the street. She said she does not intend to see those persons returned to the streets.
“I have created so far 50 jobs in GeoPark, 50 young people are now off the streets and because a few high-class people think that they should not pay for parking meters in the streets, I must 50 families (put) out on the streets back again, I will not do it, the council will not do it, the parking meters and we are employing more and more every day because the parking meters have place for a hundred jobs so it means it’s a hundred persons who will be taken off the streets of Georgetown” Chase-Green said.
The mayor told the media today that the council remains open for discussion but all they are seeing is a protest on social media and no real engagement with the council.
She said “we are open for discussions but if you think you want to take the high road and protest and condemn the council and do all those things without coming no one of the have ever come to us have they? Ask the question, who approached the council other than going on social media and protesting did any group, any one man some into the council to say we have a problem with ABC? They have not but the council is open and we are having positive response from the business people and everybody.”
That was only the beginning. There were those who spoke of the hardships that come with the parking meter system in a city which according to them is not ready for this western style of traffic management and controls.
News Room also spoke to some of the protesters who disclosed that as a consequence to the parking meters, persons are rarely visiting their businesses and they are fearful that a reduction in business will cause them to be laid off.