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Crane dispute upsets vendors


SHERIA BRATHWAITE

Crane dispute upsets vendors

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Some vendors operating at popular South Coast beaches are standing in solidarity with colleagues Neville Best and Nicole Blades, who recently were at the centre of a dispute with the Crane Beach Hotel.

“I felt really bad when I heard about the issue,” said Dwayne Forde, who has been renting chairs at Browne’s Beach, St Michael, for the past two years. “Together they have been operating far more than 20 years. Twenty years ain’t 20 days, so I felt [the owner of the hotel Paul Doyle] should have sat down with the vendors and talk to them.”

A man who identified himself as Biggie, who was operating on that same beach for the past five years, said that being a beach vendor was not a respected job and Best’s and Blades’ treatment was an extension of how some people perceive them.

“It had us upset to see that you are doing something lawful to feed your kids and make your daily bread and someone could treat you like that,” said Dwayne Calderon, who works on Dover Beach, Christ Church. His workmates, Larry King and “Roach”, said they were also concerned about the future of their line of work since major developments were taking place across the island.

At Miami Beach in that same parish, Bev, a beach vendor with over 20 years’ experience, said she was disappointed “but there is nothing other beach vendors could do about it because we may get victimised”.

Bev added that she was also concerned about a new hotel being built in Enterprise and how it would affect her business.

Another beach vendor, who was plying her trade for over a year on Miami Beach, said if there was a vendors’ association, beach vendors and sports operators would have a greater say on coastal affairs.

Last week, general manager of the National Conservation Commission (NCC), Keith Neblett, said there were no private beaches in Barbados and emphasised that the public still had total access to beaches.

He made these comments against the backdrop of the dispute between the management of the Crane Beach Hotel and beach vendors.

Neblett told the Barbados Government Information Service: “Under the NCC Act Cap 393, beach is defined as the land adjoining the foreshore of Barbados and extending not beyond 33 metres beyond the landward limit of the foreshore.”

The general manager explained that once the high water mark was established, the NCC Act defined 100 feet from the high water mark as beach.

However, he noted that over the years, some beaches, including the Crane, once recognised as being one of the widest beaches in the world, had narrowed.

As a result, Neblett indicated, the NCC was in the process of re-establishing what was a public beach.

On Saturday, entertainer the Mighty Gabby led scores of Barbadians protesting public access to Crane Beach. A similar protest was also held last month at the beach near Sandals in Christ Church. (SB)

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