Councillors pass No-Confidence Motion against Linden Town Clerk

– allegedly prevented from entering office

By Utamu Belle

Councillors within the municipality of the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LM&TC) on Wednesday passed a no confidence motion against Town Clerk (TC) Jenella Bowen, during the Council’s monthly Statutory Meeting.

Linden Town Clerk Jenella Bowen  sitting in the municipality compound
Linden Town Clerk Jenella Bowen sitting in the municipality compound

The motion put forward by Councillor Derron John and seconded by Councillor Neola Rogers, is the second in recent months against the TC, given that a motion was also passed against her in February under the previous Council.
It is also alleged that the TC was prevented from entering her office by a municipal constable on Thursday when she reported for duty; however this was denied by Deputy Mayor Waneka Arindell and numerous Councillors. Regardless, Bowen was observed sitting in the compound of the municipality in the morning hours where she remained until afternoon.
During a press briefing on Thursday, Arindell noted that the performance of the TC in relation to the management of the Council has become of great concern. Hence, she said the motion was passed by 10 Councillors, while two were against it. While she noted it was not done in writing, Arindell said the motion was a recommendation from the Statutory Committee:
“The decision arose out of varying issues that have been occurring over a period of time, of which some of these issues have been noted and discussed by the Mayor and Councillors…We saw her performance and management of the Council’s affairs as something of great concern… At the conclusion of this preliminary process at the statutory meeting, the incumbent Town Clerk was briefed and informed of the motion relative to her functions as of today. The Council did not debar or lock out Ms Bowen from the office or from performing her duties as Town Clerk. The attempt to disseminate false information to the public by the Town Clerk even in this matter is synonymous with the continued attitude and behaviour of this Town Clerk.”
In referencing the motion of the previous Council, Arindell stated that it was mentioned by Councillor John that it was the same action of stymieing the work of the Council by the TC which had led to it.
She refused to give specific details on what grounds the motion was passed, however Councillor John indicated that it was due to the TC’s mismanagement of the Council. He said however, that she could still perform her duties at the office: “…because of the way that the Town Clerk performed we have moved such motion to have the Town Clerk removed from office as Town Clerk,” he said.
Councillor Rawle Friday, who was recently elected Acting Mayor by the Council also stated that the TC has not been relieved of her duties, but a decision is pending, since a letter was sent to the relevant minister informing of the Council’s decision.
The Deputy Mayor noted that the motion at this stage is a recommendation to the minister who will make a decision, but the TC can still perform duties.
Meanwhile, the TC, sitting outside in the municipality compound, outlined that the motion was passed as a result of issues within the LM&TC: “I at this point am going through the paces…consulting with the legal aspect of this matter and I’m going to make a statement very very soon…I want to make sure that the legal aspect is correct…I will continue to embrace the law stringently like what I’ve been doing all the while. I know that I’m on the right track and I know that there’s going to be an investigation into this matter; and I am working with the law on this.”
Bowen declined to say whether she was barred from entering her office, but noted that instructions were given and she was very respectful in following them: “Hence, I am sitting on this bench (outside) since 7:55 this morning…instructions were given and I did not oppose it.”
Only recently Mayor Carwyn Holland had accused Bowen of lacking respect for the municipality and failing to relate correspondence regarding the Council in a timely manner.
During a recent statutory meeting, Holland also informed Councillors that he had resorted to serving the TC an official written reprimand for failure to attend an important meeting, which had been scheduled to take place between the two, among other things.
The Mayor further indicated that there is evidence of a tendency by the Town Clerk to “act in an apathetic manner.” The Mayor at the time referred to correspondence, which he alleged were not handed over by the TC, or which he noted the Council was not made aware of in a timely manner.
According to him, there are some correspondences which urgently needed to be brought to the attention of the Mayor. Holland contended that there were several outstanding issues which needed to be settled between him and the TC, but noted that he seemed not to have her attention.
Bowen had said that she believes there is some kind of mix-up as it relates to the roles and responsibilities of the administration versus that of the Council as well as the policy-maker and administration.
She said the aim of Committee meetings are to have all Councillors informed and correspondence shared. This led to the Mayor calling for such meetings to be respected.
In the end, Councillor Friday had moved a motion for all pertinent correspondence to be disclosed to the Mayor’s office in a timely manner.
Back in February, members of the previous Interim Management Committee of the LM&TC headed by Chairman Orrin Gordon, also passed a no confidence motion against the TC, following her decision not to rescind disciplinary letters against two of the Council’s employees.
The motion was passed during the final statutory meeting of the Council before it was replaced by the present Council, following Local Government Elections.