Regent, Water streets vendors situation different
- deputy mayor
Regent St sellers refused compromise, those on Water St permitted for period

By Desiree Jodah
Stabroek News
October 29, 2000

Deputy Mayor Robert Williams has pointed out that the situations of the Water Street and Regent Street vendors are different: the latter group refused a compromise while the former were granted licences for a specific period.

According to Williams, vendors on Water Street were allowed to sell there since 1992 following the unsuccessful bid to relocate them to the Stelling View Market. However, he said, Regent Street had never been designated an area for vending.

He said that the Water Street vendors consisted primarily of those persons who had stalls in the Stelling View area, but were unable to do business in that area.

Williams said that under a licence issued by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) the Water Street vendors were required to sell from 0700 hrs to 1700 hrs and remove their structures at the end of the day.

Town Clerk Beulah Williams had informed the sellers by way of a letter that all who occupied stalls should remove them by 1800 hrs, or have them moved by the council. The vendors of Water Street then went to court and obtained an injunction against the M&CC preventing their removal. The vendors, in their petition, had said that the M&CC had promised to overlook Clause 5 of the licence which required that they remove their stalls.

The injunction was subsequently thrown out by Justice Nandram Kissoon and the Water Street vendors had applied for a stay of execution which was granted. During the stay of the execution, an appeal was filed against the judge's decision which ordered that they remove their stalls at 1800 hrs.

Chief Justice Desiree Bernard at the sitting of the Full Court on October 23, granted the vendors a one-month stay of execution of Justice Kissoon's order. She also ordered that within this month, the vendors must comply with the licence granted by the M&CC which required that they remove their stalls at 1800 hrs.

However, Williams said, the situation regarding the Regent Street vendors was different. He said that the council was in the process of discussing with them operating on the Merriman's Mall in a similar way to that of the Water Street vendors. Williams said some went, while others bluntly refused to go and continued operating on Regent Street. In the process, those remaining on Regent Street obtained an injunction preventing the council from removing them.

Extending a helping hand

He said that in 1997, the council sought a compromise with the vendors to have them operate on Regent Street via a similar method of a licence as those on Water Street. According to Williams, discussion on this matter went on for about two weeks and vendors were registered and identification cards issued. The licence and ID cards were granted under the condition that the vendors kept their surroundings clean, did not discommode business places, construct stalls in a specific size and design and to remove them at 1800 hrs.

The deputy mayor said that the vendors did agree to construct specifically designed stalls and to remove them at the end of the day. He said the understanding was that they would have withdrawn the injunction and complied with the request of the council in order to vend on Regent Street. However, the discussions fell apart and the vendors continued to sell. The M&CC was prevented from moving them because of the court order.

He said that now that the injunction which they had obtained some five years ago had been discharged by Justice Carl Singh, the council was empowered to conduct its statutory duties.

Williams said the council had moved quickly after the injunction was discharged to prevent the vendors obtaining a stay of execution, like the Water Street vendors did.

The council was now free to recapture Regent Street and deal with the silted up drains which he said were resulting in the flooding of Bourda, Stabroek and Lacytown. Council would also be able to prepare Regent Street for the Inter-American Development Bank public awareness pilot project. He stated that while all this was happening the council had been going ahead with arrangements to prepare Merriman's Mall, Bourda Street and Orange Walk to relocate the vendors in keeping with an agreement reached recently at a meeting between the M&CC and the vendors which was facilitated by President Bharrat Jagdeo.

Regent Street vendors have since clashed several times with members of the City Constabulary as they attempted to defy the court ruling and continue to sell on the council's reserves.

The vendors' application for a stay of execution of Justice Singh's order will come up for hearing again tomorrow.

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