THE Mayor and City Councillors (M&CC) of Georgetown have lost their bid to secure an interim injunction to restrain the Local Government Commission (LGC) from implementing its appointment of Town Clerk (ag), Candace Nelson, until the hearing and determination of their court challenge.
High Court Judge, Jo-Ann Barlow, on Monday, refused to grant interim injunctions which were prayed for in a notice of application filed by the M&CC.
As it relates to the substantive matter, that is, the Fixed Date Application (FDA), Justice Barlow has set October 6 for a further case management conference.
In the FDA, the M&CC claims that Nelson’s appointment was unlawful as she is not qualified for the position.
The LGC, on July 27, 2021, demoted Sherry Jerrick to Deputy Town Clerk for reportedly not performing her duties satisfactorily. The LGC commissioners reportedly voted unanimously to revert Jerrick to her previously held position, and later made a decision to appoint Nelson as the interim Town Clerk.
The claimant, in court documents, stated that Nelson, since her installation as acting Town Clerk, “has taken a number of disruptive actions which pose serious ongoing, continuing breaches that compromise the sanctity of the operations of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown.”
“It is feared that if the implementation or further implantation of the decision is not suspended, Candace Nelson will further disrupt the activities of Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown,” the grounds for the application stated.
Further, it is being claimed that the conduct of Nelson, who is purportedly acting under the power of the LGC, is “inimical” to the best interests of the M&CC, the infrastructure of the City of Georgetown and the residents of Georgetown.
Citing that Nelson is acting without proper authority, the claimant said that her actions have had a disrupting effect on the smooth and efficient functioning of the M&CC.
During a press conference held in August, the LGC Chairman, Julius Faerber, had said the decision by the commission to revert acting Town Clerk, Sherry Jerrick, to her former position as Deputy Town Clerk, and appoint Candace Nelson to act as interim Town Clerk of City Hall is in keeping with the laws of the commission.
Faerber had said several meetings were held with Jerrick to clarify several redundancies that were occurring at City Hall.
He said that the commission subsequently came to the conclusion that Jerrick was not performing her duties up to par, and there was a “unanimous” vote among the seven commissioners to have her appointed Deputy Town Clerk. A subsequent decision was made to appoint Nelson as the interim Town Clerk.
According to the Local Government Act, the commission also has the authority to revert an employee from one position to another. This, he said, is evident in Act 12 of 1980.
Additionally, under Article 30 of the Local Government Act 18 of 2013, the chairman of the commission can unilaterally make decisions on behalf of the local government body.
“The commission may make rules and regulations prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed by carrying out of, or giving effect to, the provision of this act and particular for the procedures of the commission,” it states.
The LGC’s decision was rejected by Georgetown’s Mayor, Ubraj Narine, who said that Jerrick has proven herself to be competent to the councillors during her two years of service to City Hall. As such, he said the council will not recognise Nelson as the interim Town Clerk. This position resulted in the current legal challenge that is before the court.