City Constables, vendors clash
by Stacey Bess
October 22, 2000
A CITY Constable was wounded yesterday morning when vendors clashed with ranks from the City Constabulary attempting to remove them from sections of the Regent Street pavements.
A group of vendors determined to resume selling after the City Council earlier this month evicted sellers from the pavements has started to reoccupy parts of the street.
Some last week began placing their goods on pallets which they set up over the pavement drains and denied City Hall's contention that they were flouting the court order it got barring them from the sidewalks.
There were several standoffs over this during the week but the situation escalated yesterday when the City Constabulary attempted to remove their stuff and the vendors resisted.
A raging confrontation ensued at the corner of Regent and Wellington Streets where sellers early last week set up quarters under a condemned building.
Sellers pelted bottles and stones at the constables who were forced to seek refuge in the nearby GUYOIL gas station. A constable was wounded by a bottle which a vendor hurled at him, witnesses said.
The constables responded by firing shots in the air, they said.
No one was arrested.
One vendor said tensions rose after a constable pointed a pistol at her young son, saying they should all clear the pavement.
This angered other sellers, she said.
Up to yesterday afternoon, vendors were still selling on parts of the Regent Street pavements, particularly in the vicinity of Wellington Street and Camp Street.
At Wellington Street some sellers erected racks and hung clothes on them. Others displayed their stuff on pallets, which were placed over the drains.
Camp Street vendors hung their stuff on walls and on the grill work of closed stores.
A City Hall official told the Chronicle that although the vendors are re-establishing themselves on Regent Street, City Hall does not have a "hands off" approach to dealing with the situation at this time.
"We have to reorganise a strategy for removing them. It is not a case where we have let up", he said.
"Vendors have to understand that the council is in control," the official said.
He said the new strategy is likely to be tabled after a meeting between the City Constabulary, the Town Clerk and other officials of City Hall.
"The council has no plans to negotiate with the vendors. This matter is non-negotiable," he declared.
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