Hearing of city street vendors court challenge due next week

Guyana Chronicle
October 7, 2000

VENDORS who have appealed against the court order that allowed the City Council to clear them from Regent Street are to have the matter heard next week.

When the vendors and their lawyer Mr Nigel Hughes turned up yesterday before Justice William Ramlall in quest of a stay of the order, the judge told them that Justice of Appeal Carl Singh, who had discharged the injunction that resulted in their eviction from the street, was assigned to hear the application.

Justice Ramlall told Hughes that the Justice of Appeal who heard and ruled on the matter while he was a High Court judge, would send out notices to the parties next week indicating the date and time when he would hear the application.

After the session in chambers ended yesterday, Hughes addressed the vendors in the court room.

He said one of the reasons why the stay of execution was being sought was to prove that the City Council had not been frank with the court.

The fact that the vendors were encouraged by a City Council official to seek the injunction that gave them the freedom to vend in Regent Street, together with the fact that they paid rental and cleansing fees, were never disclosed to the court, Hughes said.

During the brief hearing, hundreds of vendors with a large banner which read "Peaceful picketing, Let Justice prevail" took up position outside the Law Courts in South Road.

Proposed talks between Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green and the evicted vendors did not materialise Thursday as arranged because the sellers had again taken the matter before the courts.

Green said the representatives of the vendors turned up at 10:00 hrs as arranged Thursday but he told them they could no longer have a discussion since they had reverted to the courts.

"I told them that it was not in my best interest or theirs to have the meeting", Green said.

Green had told the Chronicle Wednesday that he had been asked by President Bharrat Jagdeo to meet three of the vendors. However, 10 of them turned up for the meeting Thursday.

Spokesperson for the vendors, Mr Abdul Kadir explained that when they met Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon on Wednesday, it was argued that three persons were not enough to speak on behalf of the 200-odd vendors who had occupied Regent Street.

After much debate, he said, it was agreed that there should be 10 of them at the meeting.

Yet when the group turned up for the meeting at City Hall, Kadir said, the Mayoral party kept insisting that they only wanted to see four persons.

This happened on at least three occasions, he said, until finally it was agreed that all 10 of them should attend the meeting.

The Mayor's party, he said, comprised Green, Deputy Mayor Mr Robert Williams, Town Clerk Ms Beulah Williams and other City Hall officials.

Kadir corroborated what Green said, that he refused to have dialogue with them because of the pending court matter.

He admitted not telling Luncheon on Wednesday about the appeal, in the form of a stay of execution, which was filed since Monday.

He said the first hearing was on Tuesday but the matter was put down to yesterday.

He said the vendors are asking that they be allowed to return to their old spots on Regent Street until City Hall finds them suitable alternative accommodation.

Kadir said the group had put forward four proposals to Luncheon, one of which is flooring the canal along Avenue of the Republic, between Church Street to the north and Croal Street to the south, and allowing them to set up business on the spot.

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