Evolution of the Castries City Council |
The Constabulary |
For 182 years before being declared a city,
the town of Castries was under the supervision of either Town Wardens
appointed by the Colonial Office or under the Colonial Treasurer, who was
responsible for collection of taxes. The first Mayor, elected in 1851,
was H H. Breen, an Irishman who became one of St. Lucia’s first historians
and who also served also as Registrar, Colonial Secretary and still later as
When the first Town Board was elected in 1851,
only those who owned property over a certain value were allowed to vote. The
first list of electors contained only 126 names of tenants and householders
of premises of an annual rental value of £10. To be elected as a member of
the town board one had to be ‘in possession of real or personal property of
the clear value of £300.
ABOVE - CASTRIES TOWN COUNCIL 1956
In the decades preceding 1967, the main
function of the town wardens was to collect taxes; whether on spirits, guns,
boats, hucksters, horses, dogs, houses, properly or water. They decided who
would assemble where within the city limits. If animals strayed onto the
streets they were impounded. Any pigs caught astray were slaughtered and the
meat fed to prisoners at the Royal jail.
By 1967 taxes were no longer collected
on horses and dogs except in rare circumstances, stray pigs weren’t being
shot on sight anymore. People could assemble freely and taxes were by then
being collected on properties within the city limits. No longer was the
Council solely responsible for electricity or water, but it still had to
keep the city clean, maintain order at the Castries Market, take care of
Choc Cemetery and George V Park, ensure drains around the city were not
blocked and ensure garbage collection and disposal.
There have been five mayors since 1967, each
heading a ten member council. In addition, since the abolition of City
Council elections in 1980, there have been a number of council chairmen
appointed by the minister responsible for local government.
Mayors, chairmen and councilors have taken
care of business as the legislative authority giving central direction to
the council’s employees, through the administrative and managerial command
of the Town Clerk.