MAYOR Peterson Francis on Thursday made it clear that not only does he ‘talk the talk’, but does it in such a way that that ,talk is translated into action, as he sets about improving and enhancing the safety and anesthetics of the City of Castries.
Not only has he improved the safety of visitors and locals alike in the city — to the extent that Cox and Company, a major tour operator in the country, last month commended him for an incident-free 2017/2018 cruise season, which also resulted in no negative feedback being reported by cruise passengers during that period.
And the Mayor is still talking about increasing the staff complement of the city’s constabulary.
At one time, not long after assuming the post of mayor, his rhetoric was all about making the constabulary an organ of force within the city.
The once vibrant constabulary suffered under several administrations, rapidly shrinking in numbers and duties to the point that when Peterson took over the mayor’s office, the constabulary had a staff complement of 13 officers, their duties being to escort the tax collectors who collected taxes from vendors on a daily basis and serve as security guards (more or less) at car parks owned by the Castries Constituencies Council, primarily the one at the Derek Walcott Square.
Twenty-one months after assuming the position of Mayor, Francis not only transformed the constabulary to the point where new recruits have been brought in — well trained and all — but have had them enforcing laws pertaining to the city to the point where violators of those laws have been charged in a court of law.
The city has taken on a freshness and cleanliness that could only be accredited to Francis.
On Thursday, he spoke of increasing the staff complement of the Constabulary by another 15 to 20 officers. This will strengthen the constabulary to just above 50 officers — the number Francis had his eyes set on back in 2016 to patrol not only the city, but its environs as well.
Another feature not heard of from the Mayor’s Office over the years is its willingness to settle claims made against it by persons who accidentally hurt themselves as a result of the negligence of the council by way of faulty sidewalks and other objects the council is responsible for.
Francis said his office has settled claims of about $15,000 to $20,000.
Mayor Francis is not deaf to pronouncements of Climate Change and its effects on the environment. On Thursday he launched a plastic collection project in the hope of ridding the city of plastic and styrofoam cups, bottles, plates and the like.
This is one component of the recently-launched Clean City Campaign, which in itself is part of plans for a broader national campaign aimed at making Castries one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the region.
But how does the plastic collection project work?
According to Francis, garbage bags will be made available – Mondays to Fridays – from 8a.m to 4p.m from the desk of the City Police department. Members of the public can pick up a bag and work towards filling that bag up with either plastic items or styrofoams or both.
“When the bag is filled, return it to the CCC. A card will be given to you, which can be redeemed for $5 dollars. Periodic checks will be made and the bags will then be deposited at the Deglos Landfill,” Francis said.
The next step is to recycle the plastics and styrofoams collected for shipment abroad.
“We need to shoulder our responsibility and make the City of Castries a cleaner and more beautiful place,” Francis said.
He called on St. Lucians to support sustainable development, promising innovations and noting that “Plastic does not belong in the streets, in drains or in the oceans.”