St James Parish Council, craft vendors reach truce over shops
Vendors to meet occupation criteria by February 27
Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
REPRESENTATIVES OF the St James Parish Council and the Harbour Street Craft Market Association in Montego Bay, St James, have reached an agreement by which craft vendors who ply their trade at Harbour Street will be able to occupy their shops, under a new contract system.
The meeting was arranged last week Wednesday afternoon, following a demonstration by the vendors outside the St James Parish Council building earlier in the day.
According to president of the Harbour Street Craft Vendors Association, Melody Haughton, the vendors' protest action was sparked when representatives of the parish council padlocked a number of shops at the Harbour Street Craft Market, which had previously been closed for renovation.
"Yesterday (last week Tuesday) evening, some persons from the parish council came and padlocked some of the shops, and that was not in our agreement. That made some discomfort to the traders, who took their disgust to the council this morning (last week Wednesday)," Haughton explained.
The vendors had reportedly moved back into the shops without permission, following the completion of the parish council's renovation exercise in the Harbour Street Craft Market. The renovation was done at a cost of J$51 million, on a recommendation from Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill after a tour of the facility last February.
"We met, myself, our lawyer and the parish council ... and we discussed the matters at hand, and the main thing that was affecting us is that they (parish council) said we went into the shops before they were inspected, and we should come out of the shops for inspection, and after inspection, they would close it back, and we would have to sign a contract. Now that is on hold, and our lawyer and their lawyer will be meeting for further talks," said Haughton.
Chairman of the St James Parish Council Glendon Harris said the vendors would have until February 27 to meet all the criteria imposed by the parish council before they would be able to utilise the shops.
"We have worked out a six-and-a-half-week window that they (vendors) will meet all criteria ... those that don't have the Jamaica Tourist Board licence, and the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd training, they will do all of those, and they will sign the contract," said Harris, who is also mayor of Montego Bay.