Three defendants’ court cases have been affected by a recent grant of permission to operate a business on the public beach.

In Summary Court on Thursday, Crown counsel Greg Walcolm advised that the Crown was withdrawing a charge against Eric Ebanks. He had been charged with operating E and D Rentals, renting chairs and umbrellas, at Seven Mile Beach on Sept. 15, 2016, without a license.

The charge was set out in a ticket issued by an enforcement officer from the Department of Commerce and Investment.

Attorney Philip Ebanks appeared for Mr. Ebanks, as well as for Raul Gonzalez and David Gilbert Lyons, who faced the same charge. These two men were directed to return to court next week.

Mr. Walcolm told Magistrate Grace Donalds there had been “discourse” between these defendants and the Department of Commerce and Investment. Many other business operators were also affected, he indicated.

As a result of discussions, there were training sessions as to how the operators were to conduct their business properly in the public area, Mr. Walcolm said. In the process, it was established that the businesses had been operating without permission “in that specific area.” Many had general licenses, he noted, but licenses are “location-specific.”

Since the public beach is Crown property, permission is needed to operate in that area, Mr. Walcolm continued.

The Ministry of Planning has been involved in the discourse and there has been good progress in relation to setting up the appropriate department. In particular, there has been a grant of permission to operate on the public beach, Mr. Walcolm stated. The grant was made quite recently and Eric Ebanks was on the list of people who have been granted permission to operate in the area.

The charge against him was brought before the grant of permission, but since the grant he had dutifully applied for his trade and business license.

Since he had now regularized his business, it was the Crown’s view that the public interest no longer supported prosecution of the matter. In those circumstances, Mr. Walcolm concluded, he was withdrawing the charge.

Regarding other operators on the public beach who come before the court, “our action today will extend to them on proof of their application for a trade and business license.”

The magistrate asked the defense attorney if he wished to say anything.

“A lot could be said,” Mr. Philip Ebanks replied. “What we have always believed should be the true position has occurred. We thank the Crown for taking these steps.”

He later asked that the other two defendants be given a further week for the requisite applications to be made and then for the Crown to take the same action as in the Eric Ebanks case. The matters were adjourned until Oct. 5.

In the case of Mr. Gonzalez, the attorney had previously pointed out that there was a license for the business of Blue Water Island Adventure Tours, but it was the for the physical location of the office rather than the actual site on which the business was conducted.

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