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December 5, 2014
Barrouallie town clerk sent on leave with immediate effect

The Barrouallie town clerk has been sent on leave with immediate effect; a move, which some persons have described as political victimization.

However, Julian Francis, minister of state in the ministry of transportation, works and local government, told SEARCHLIGHT in an interview on Wednesday, that Alexia Charles,{{more}} who has been town clerk in Barrouallie since January 2003, was asked to take leave because she disobeyed instructions and did not follow protocol in relation to the government’s Christmas work programme.

“She did not follow protocol with regard to the work programme for Christmas and disobeyed instructions which she got from the local government officer, who is her boss, on November 28.

“Miss Charles has not been performing the way she used to perform, in recent times,” Francis said.

The Minister said last Friday, the local government officer in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Local Government told Charles not to send anyone out to work on Monday, December 1, until certain things had been clarified.

“She proceeded to work on Monday morning and sent the people out to work, despite instructions issued to her on Friday, including purchasing of equipment to facilitate work for the people, so it was a direct contravention of the instructions she received on Friday,” Francis said.

“We thought that maybe she needed a rest. She is due 47 days holidays — that is way over a month and a half of holidays – so we decided to let her take her holidays.”

When news broke that Charles had been sent on leave however, persons, some of whom claimed to be close to her, stated in posts on social media, and on talk radio, that she had been sent on leave because on November 13, she rented the Barrouallie community centre to the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) to hold a town hall meeting.

“… her offense was that she rented the community centre to the NDP for a meeting, mind you I said rented, she didn’t give it to them for free, the NDP paid for the use of the hall. This one simple act of renting the community center prompted a call from the area representative and Minister of Reconciliation Maxwell Charles berating the mother of two stating that she shouldn’t have done that…. Mr Maxwell Charles continued to make harassing phone calls on a daily basis to the office…,” one person wrote on Facebook.

Another person, claiming to be the town clerk’s brother, posted: “I am not making this stuff up when I tell you they have tried and are trying to fire the town Clerk of Barrouallie for allowing the NDP the use of the Community Centre. Can you believe that? This is gutter politics at its worst.”

Not so, said Francis, who claimed the first time he had heard that the directive to send Charles on leave had been linked to the rental of the community centre to the NDP, was when it was raised by SEARCHLIGHT.

“Whatever that is, never came into our discussion. What you are telling me here, is the first time I am hearing that. I have absolutely no information on that and doubt very much that Minister Charles will do that. I would say that that is a fabrication. It’s nothing to do with NDP,” Francis said.

“The hall is for use by the public. If the people of Barrouallie having a town hall meeting and Mr Eustace and the NDP want to use it, I have no objection to it. … That is what the community centre is all about. That did not come into play. I never heard that before.”

Parliamentary representative for the area Maxwell Charles, in a separate interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, said he too has no problem with the community centre being rented to the NDP.

“That thing with the hall is completely false. Because the community centre should be given to everybody. It’s a community hall, it is not a private something. I think they would have paid something there too. That helps to make some money.”

He also denied making telephone calls to the town clerk, taking her to task for renting the hall.

“No I normally pass by the office every time I go to Barrouallie, and I would have called her, but not to harass her, nah. Definitely not,” the parliamentary representative said.

SEARCHLIGHT reached out to Alexia Charles on Wednesday, on Facebook, requesting a telephone number, so that we could interview her. She responded promptly, providing us with a number. However, several calls to that number went unanswered, as did further messages to her on Facebook.