THE Castries Constituency Council (CCC) has downplayed claims of tension between itself and the Vendors Association headed by Peter ‘Ras Ipa’ Isaac.
At the heart of the matter is a letter from the Association to the Council that Isaac claimed the CCC ignored. This, Isaac asserted, was a snub and showed a level of disrespect.
Efforts to get the Council’s views on the matter were at first unsuccessful, however just before press time and after several telephone calls, Town Clerk Vaughan Lewis-Fernand was reached and immediately attempted to dispel the notion of contempt by the Council.
Recognizing that the Association did write the Council, Louis-Fernand said : “There was no intention of disrespect from the Council.
“We had no malicious intent to disrespect the Vendors Association. We (Council) just wanted to meet with vendors and have a general talk with them.”
The Association’s letter to the Council was in response to one from the CCC informing of a meeting it wanted with arcade vendors.
According to Isaac, on the day of the proposed meeting, there were three cruise ships in the harbour. Therefore as a result vendors found it inappropriate to hold the meeting, a point the town clerk agreed with.
“Outside of that the Executive of the Vendors Association felt slighted stating that according to protocol, the Council should have aske
d for a meeting first with the vendors’ representatives, meaning the Executive, rather than trying to bypass them to meet with vendors. That has been the norm whenever new councillors take charge of the CCC,” Isaac said.
“We wrote the Council saying that to have a meeting with vendors without first meeting with their Executive, which represents them is somewhat disrespectful. We also said in that letter to let bygones be bygones, let good sense prevail and have a meeting with the Executive as protocol dictates. We (Executive) copied the letter to the Chairman of the CCC. They never responded to our letter,” Isaac said.
He claimed that what followed was a memo from the Council to vendors informing them of a meeting on Wednesday of last week at 4:00 o’clock.
“I do not understand that. We are not working for the CCC, we are their tenants, they cannot send a memo to us. So a meeting was held with about 40 – 50 vendors. The arcade has 114 vendors. What about the rest of the vendors. The memo did not reach all of them. It was a meeting where the Council simply talked down to the vendors,” Isaac said.
Louis-Fernand does not share Isaac’s views reiterating that while a memo was circulated it was just to meet the vendors generally and have a chat with them.
A release from the Council, this week claimed that over 90 percent of vendors attended the meeting. However this has since been disputed by persons who put the attendance at about 50 percent or slightly higher.
A major area of contention between the Association and the Council surrounds the issue of lockable booths at the vendors’ arcade. The Association wants them the Council does not want them, at least not in the foreseeable future.
Isaac complains about the long hours having to pack and unpack items every day and transporting them home. Louis-Fernand sympathies, says he understands the backbreaking work involved having to pack and unpack the wares but notes that lockable booths would be costly.
“We do not have the resources right now for that. This is not possible right now,” he said.