THE Government of Saint Lucia and the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) seem to have buried the hatchet – even temporarily – in the dispute over the future of the old Royal Gaol, the former Her Majesty’s Prison.
The Trust had taken its restraining action on the basis that it had not been duly consulted by the government before deciding to demolish the old Royal Jail, which it considers a building of historic significance – under a consultative process prescribed by law.
The government on the other hand, argued that it was demolishing the abandoned and derelict structure to construct new premises for the law courts and the police.
The hearing was postponed to this month when first heard last month, following which the two sides agreed to continue to disagree – and continue talking.
A joint press release issued yesterday said: “The Government of Saint Lucia (GOSL) and the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) have agreed to hold consultations regarding conservation of the buildings which comprise the former Royal Gaol located at Bridge Street, Castries.”
It continued, “The site of the former Royal Gaol has been earmarked for the construction of a new Police Headquarters as well as a structure to house the Criminal Courts” after “The former Royal Gaol was abandoned in 2003 when all prisoners were transferred to the Bordelais Correctional Facility.”
According to the statement, “The SLNT obtained an injunction restraining the demolition of the former Royal Gaol on the grounds that the buildings were of historical significance.”
It said, “The consultative process shall begin with a joint site visit by a team of experts designated by the SLNT and a team representing the Government.
“Thereafter, further consultations shall take place in accordance with a timetable agreed upon between the parties.”
Interestingly, the statement also says: “As part of the agreement, the court proceedings initiated by the SLNT have been withdrawn and the injunction previously obtained has also been discharged.”
And it added, “Although not bound by law, in the spirit of compromise, the Government has agreed that no further demolition shall be carried out on the former Royal Gaol until the agreed process of consultation with the SLNT is completed.”
The statement concluded saying, “The Government and the SLNT shall provide a further update at the conclusion of these consultations.”