Public beach vending a hot issue

Unlicensed beach vendors were hustled off Seven Mile Beach Wednesday as a delayed crackdown was put in force. 

The government’s removal of the vendors was slated to begin 1 January but was postponed. On Wednesday, vendors were given cease and desist notices dated 31 January issued from the Trade and Business 
Licence Unit. 

The notice says that unlicensed vendors are in breach of the Trade and Business Licensing Law, an offence that carries penalties of a $5,000 fine or imprisonment of 12 months. 

As part of the crackdown, vendors would have to get trade and business licences or face being arrested by the Royal Cayman Islands Police. However, vendors claim licences are not being granted to vend on the beach at all.  

“…There have been enormous efforts to deal with V-Kool, (a business that features flotation for hire) crime and hours of opening,” noted Robert Loverd, a resident at the Harbour Heights condos adjacent to the Public Beach. He added that the fines for illegal vending, to his knowledge, were in the region of $12, which he explained is merely a cost of doing business to the vendors along the beach. 

“What happened was that there was a provision in the law, which was discovered not long after officials from the Department of Tourism came down to the beach and were horrified. The announcement that a crackdown would be done was made shortly after but then came a new temporary government and of course an election is coming,” noted Mr. Loverd. 

He said when the crackdown was originally announced, there was anarchy on the beach, as there was a scramble by many to make a quick dollar. This, coupled with the lack of regulation, was a recipe for disaster during the interim more so than usual. 

“This is an enormous inflection point for the Cayman Islands. The Public Beach is the Wild West and soon a three acre beach will be 12 acres; a mega important place for Cayman. This can get very ugly with no regulation,” he said. 

During a media briefing in January, Cabinet Minister Rolston Anglin addressed the issue of the laws on the books being antiquated and not up to speed. 

“We are in the process of looking at what has been put together,” Mr. Anglin said. “There are going to be some changes to the proposed policy.  

As a result, the crackdown will not take place this month. Traditionally, this kind of vending has not been a part of Caymanian culture and it is unfair to have some 
people doing business other than how it should be done.” 

Mr. Loverd said that in his opinion, businesses such a V-Kool, who had previously been awarded licenses, had misrepresented the facts to the Board in the first place. 

“He’s supposed to move his stuff and not store it on the beach as part of the initial license grant and he has not been doing so. The stuff is stored right there on the beach and right next to Harbour Heights. I am told he needs permission from Cabinet to store anything on the beach,” said Mr. Loverd. 

V-Kool may be familiar to residents who visit the Public Beach on the West Bay Road. With its labyrinth of flotation devices strewn along the water, the operation is hard to miss. The business offers an elaborate scheme of inflatable trampolines, slides and ladders rising out of the water.  

The business was in the press recently after having been vandalised in what the owner described as a hate crime that left his equipment marred with racial epithets and decorated with racially charged images.  

Some of the imagery drawn on the devices by vandals included a man hanging from a noose on a tree, a tombstone reading R.I.P, as well as drawings of male genitalia, along with sexually suggestive innuendo. 

“I am not sure who the vandals are but I have been having issues with people in administrative capacities, as well as residents,” said Michael Morgan, V-Kool owner. 

Others on the Public Beach say they should be granted licences, as everyone needs to earn a living and once it is done with a level of respect, dignity and pride then the government should not stifle the progress of poor people but rather facilitate and regulate.  

What will have to be done to secure a trade and business licence for vending on the Public Beach in the future is unknown, as is who will be eligible. 

Mr. Morgan explained that there is no one to go to for permission to use the beach for vending. He said agencies such as the Agriculture Department and Parks and Recreations said they did not have responsibility and as a result the Trade and Business Licensing Board had no real basis to consider licences as a 
result, as they themselves are only granters 
of licences and not locations.  

Whether Cabinet has the ultimate responsibility for the beach remains to be seen. Ultimately the beach belongs to the people of the Cayman Islands. 

George Town political candidate Kenneth Bryan, who was on site at the Public Beach Wednesday, said he was there to ensure that everyday people get a chance to make money. 

He explained there is no alternative and the people who were there have no where else to go. He said they are doing honest business, which needs to be regulated to some degree.  

0
0

7 COMMENTS

  1. The Beach vending issue needs to be dealt with early by Cabinet. The Governments of the day have too many excuses about not getting things done expeditiously. I am referring to all governments not only this one. Watch how they deal with interest of close associates and leave others hanging(i will leave that for the public to think about) Now on the Public beach vending, I am definately in favour of special licences being approved for certain items only specified in the licence/grant. The whole island cannot expect to get a licence to sell on the beach. Further more if this is not done in a careful manner it is going to be very ugly. The gentleman who claimed of being vandalized before, need to consider why. I am very positive that the people of Cayman are not going to let foreign people come in and take over their beach. My suggestion is that Cabinet put this on their Top of the list on Tuesday and deal with it. Finish it then. They need to stop putting off things that they know are of importance, and the members need to stop giving long excuses to people waiting on answers.
    On another thought it would have been much nicer if the people never had to do business on the beach. Is there anyway that Government in the very near future can acquire land across from the beaches to allow a market to be set up. Other wise I would suggest that the government approach Dart Foundation to assist with ideas. They always seem to have good ideas and plans which has been enhancing and beautifying the island. This situation and others needs should be taken care of now, Ms. Premier. Because there is a heated need for survival among the Cayman people. Those sitting in offices behind desk may not realize this, but the lid is going to blow unless the dust is settled quickly.

    0

    0
  2. We have been visiting Cayman for many years and are concerned and disturbed by all the new activities at the public beach.
    The loud music, beat of the bass, and chug,chug,chug over the bull horn can be heard at least a mile up the beach. Our last vacatiion was not a peaceful one by any means.
    This year, for the first time EVER, we were approached on our resorts beachfront and solicited by a young man selling his massage services.
    We are looking to either stay farther from the public beach, or at another destination all together. I sincerely hope this situation gets under control.

    0

    0
  3. As a vacationer I would just like to say that when I am on the beach relaxing. I do not want people coming up to me selling junk or anything. I will go and walk to them if I want something. Having people bothering me is why we don’t go to places like Jamaica. I am for free enterprise but it needs to be controlled. It will turn away the people that you want to keep. We will spend and return. Don’t have us spend and say see you later. I love Cayman don’t ruin it.

    0

    0
  4. I have a business licence to sell, but was discouraged by Bodden Town representatives to sell on the beach. I was told that it would be attended to by one of them two years ago. So what is the hold up. Is it competition or what?

    0

    0
  5. Further to my comments there is still no word on the beach vending promises. However, I do agree that persons should have specific license for this purpose and businesses be operated in a decent way.
    MLA Alva Suckoo promised amost a year ago that things were being put in place in Bodden Town for a go a head before the end of the year 2014, however I have seen no light beyond the tunnel. I have known persons in Bodden Town who have waited and died waiting for a fishing dock and launch ramp. So I guess the same thing will happen with vending on the beach. Foot dragging has become the norm, because of selfish business people in the district who go to politicians to foot drag on a decision. Its all about political maneuvering.

    0

    0

Comments are closed.