Mixed signals from city over remaining street vendors
City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
September 29, 2003
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A report by chief constable Gail George to the Legal Affairs and Security committee which was discussed at last Monday’s statutory meeting reveals that “her ranks have grown despondent and no longer have any enthusiasm for preparing cases against pavement vendors, since most of the defaulters are reprimanded and discharged” by the courts.
She said the situation has been exacerbated following a recent visit to Regent Street by a team which included deputy mayor Robert Williams. The chief constable in her report noted that during this visit the vendors were advised that as long as the store-owners had no objection they were free to offer their merchandise for sale by hanging them on the fences of the stores.
The committee had also discussed the action by the constabulary in seizing goods being displayed on the pavement with no proper records being kept on the quality and quantity of what was confiscated.
There was also an accusation that as a result of the intervention of a city councillor goods were released contrary to the usual procedure.
The deputy mayor sitting in for mayor Hamilton Green who excused himself from the meeting, but later returned, explained that most of the vendors had complained about the difficulty which they face in getting their goods returned when they attempt to do so at the constabulary headquarters. “It’s total confusion.....with no proper records being kept..,” he remarked. The deputy mayor told the meeting that the council is working on a two-phase plan on how to deal with vending in the city.
He said that during the visit to Regent Street the team saw clothes and other apparel hanging from show windows and doors with one vendor occupying some 40 feet of space on a concrete wall on Regent Street close to Alexander Street.
The deputy mayor was firm in his insistence that no one must be allowed to sell on the pavement and the constabulary has a mandate to remove anyone breaching this by-law. But the chief constable’s report which was in the hands of city ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’ stated that she had not been successful in completely removing the vendors from Robb and Savage streets but there has been “considerable improvement and persons have been charged”. She had requested back-up support for the constabulary in these exercises, but there has been no response from the administration.
In phase 2 of the plan attention would be paid to those store owners on Regent and Robb streets who allow vendors to display goods outside their premises utilising show windows, doors and even small passages between businesses. In some cases in Regent Street food is being sold especially on Saturdays.
It is no secret that some of these businessmen encourage the vendors for reasons best known to themselves. Mayor Green has promised to look at the by-laws before the council embarks on any action against the store-owners. He called on councillors to be tolerant when considering this part of the plan against vending on Regent Street.
Good and Green Guyana councillor Patricia Chase-Green could not get answers from the City Engineer’s Department to questions about the building works now in progress on Charlotte Street as well as the damaged pavement outside a popular betting shop on Camp Street.
She said there is chaos at this juncture where building materials including sand are being stored and workmen taking over parts of Charlotte Street and the council’s reserve. The difficulties which citizens must encounter when using the damaged pavement outside the betting shop is also a cause for concern by the GGG councillor. It was disclosed at the meeting that there is a shortage of building inspectors.
A question for Town Clerk Beulah Williams ...Are city ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’ entitled to payment when they are on leave?
Three councillors two from the People’s National Congress Reform and the GGG have been granted vacation leave ranging from 2 to 3 months. Is the $30,000 which the 28 of the 30 councillors receive per month a salary or a stipend?
*** Councillors were last week given an opportunity to see and hear about the new plan envisaged for the development of Georgetown including the seawall with displays and explanations from officers from the Central Housing and Planning Authority. They look grandiose on paper. D’Urban Park is also part of the plan.
***Despite a press release from City Hall on street lighting and hopes for brightening the Guyana capital there are still a number of streets for example New Garden Street from Lamaha Street, Queenstown in need of attention.
***This FYI is for the deputy mayor....Sir that part of the Mall from Cummings to Light streets is now a haven for street people and vagrants who now use the area as a kitchen and night shelter.