Following an intervention by Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw, vendor Monique Best, who was locked out of the food stall at Bay Garden last Sunday, will be given a contract to operate it.
Bradshaw made the announcement yesterday morning during a press conference at Bay Garden in Oistins, Christ Church. She also revealed that Kemar Harris, chairman of the Oistins Bay Garden Committee, who was supposed to take over the stall, had accepted a compromise and will now have a stall built for him in another area at the facility.
Also in attendance were Best’s attorney, Member of Parliament for Christ Church South Ralph Thorne, SC; Minister of the Environment Adrian Forde; Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams and officials of the National Conservation Commission (NCC), including general manager Ryan Als.
Calling the situation “unfortunate for Monique and her family”, Bradshaw said Government “has been very heavily focused on ensuring that people who are vendors are given the opportunity not to find themselves in a position where they are criminalised or seen as being criminalised”.
On the matter being settled, Bradshaw said she spoke to Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who was still overseas on vacation, adding: “She also shares the same views . . . that it would have been inconsistent to allow this matter to continue.
“The NCC took action based on the fact that, obviously, she was not a lawful tenant and legally they were within their rights to do so, but I do believe at the cornerstone of all of this is how we treat to people,” she said, as she pointed out that Best had lost her mother, Shirley Roberts, who operated the stall for 27 years, last June.
“And I feel very strongly that NCC and the rangers could have had the conversation with her. It could have been an attempt to reach out to the family to indicate there is a process for applying. That didn’t happen and we found ourselves in a situation where previous actions with respect to the notice to quit, which were issued to her mother in May last year, was executed with a 30-day notice for the family to remove the possessions from the property.”
Bradshaw recalled her father’s operation of a “rum shop” and spoke about parents’ desire for their children to take over their businesses.
“I don’t think it is fair for a family to be in the process of grieving and then have to also deal with the approach that was taken at that time.
“I have spoken to all of the parties. I have heard from NCC; I have spoken to the individual who had been awarded the contract to operate the shop. We have come to an agreement where we would regularise the tenancy for Miss Monique Best, allowing her to return to the premises.”
The Deputy Prime Minister reiterated that the intention of vendor markets such as the Bay Garden was not strictly commercial but to empower ordinary Barbadians.
She advised the NCC to let stall owners indicate on their contracts who else was to be involved in the tenancy, even though the agency would still have to consider the application.
In terms of Harris, Bradshaw said they were not seeking to disenfranchise him either. (MB)