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High Court temporarily blocks City Council from removing some vendors

The High Court has issued an interim order, preventing the Mayor and City Council from removing a vendor’s  stall, goods and merchandise situated at the former Guyana Stores Bond on Water Street, Georgetown until the court hears a summons on the matter.

High Court Judge, Roxanne George set May 10, 2016 at 10:30 AM to begin hearing the case brought by Peter Warner on May 4, 2016 against the Town Clerk, and Mayor and Councillors of Georgetown.

Through his lawyer, Anil Nandlall, the vendor  says his occupation and use of a portion of private property , owned and controlled either by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited or Malcolm Panday,  for vending is lawful and duly authorized by the owners.

Warner’s other lawyers are Manoj Narayan, Shasha Mahadeo-Narayan and Rajendra Jaigobin.

Declaring that an order by the Town Clerk and Council is illegal, Warner is suing for more than GYD$100,000 for unlawful interference of his property and another GYD$100,000 for intended trespass against his property. He wants the High Court to issue an injunction restraining the Town Clerk, Mayor and Councillors or their representatives from removing, destroying, damaging and/or interfering with his stall number, goods and merchandise.

He further wants an injunction to prevent the Mayor and City Council or their representatives from obstructing or interfering with his quiet and peaceful occupation, possession and enjoyment of his stall.

“I am fearful that the servants and/or agents of the Respondent/Defendant will enter the said former Guyana Stores Bond and unlawfully remove and destroy my stall and seize and take control of my goods and merchandise.

If this is done, based upon the track record and previous dealings with the City Council, I am sure that I will not recover all of my goods and merchandise and I therefore stand to suffer irreparable financial loss.

The said stall and goods and merchandise therein are the only source of income that I have and if there unlawfully removed and/or destroyed I will unable to support and maintain myself and my family,” he said.

Warner states through his lawyers that he has been a clothes vendor for the past 15 years at a stall situated at the former Guyana Stores Bond, Water Street, with the permission, authorization and licence of Mr. MalcomPanday.

Warner said after Panday bought the bond from NICIL, about 5 years ago he held a meeting with a number of vendors, including himself and granted them permission to use his private premises to erect a stall and use it for vending and trading until he needs the premises for his own use and purpose at which time adequate notice would be given to all vendors before revoking their licences.

The vendor describes his stall as measuring approximately 10 feet by 15 feet and made of wood and zinc.  He says hus stall currently holds approximately 300 pairs of jeans, 200 pairs of boots, 300 jerseys and 40 pairs of slippers with a total value of GYD$4.5 million.

“My stall is the only place I have to store my inventory and it does not hinder or interfere with free flow of traffic on the pavement controlled by the Mayor and City Council,” he said.

He said that on April 28, 2016, at the request of officers of the City Council, he and other vendors attended a meeting at City Hall where they were told to “come out and participate in a cleanup effort for Georgetown.”

He said that the area targeted was the said former Guyana Stores Bond and its environs including all drains, parapets, pavements and vending area in and around Water Street, Georgetown.

However, on the 3rd day of May, 2016, he said the Mayor and Councillors issued a notice to “all vendors with structures on the Guyana Stores Bond” directing them to do the following:
remove your structures within 24 hours, return to their stalls in the municipal markets if they have any, and cooperate with the Council to clean up the City of Georgetown

Warner said since receiving the said letter, and in an effort to cooperate in the cleanup campaign, “I attempted to solicit additional information from officers of the city council regarding the reason for the removal of the vending structures and stalls, the length of time that is required for the cleanup campaign, the date when the vendors would be allowed to reoccupy and recommence their business operations. However, all such attempts have yielded no satisfactory answers.”

From all accounts, he said the Mayor and Councillors are directing them  to remove from the said private property for an indefinite period of time with no certainty as to our reoccupation of the area.

He said that there there are approximately 9 stalls located at the former Guyana Stores Bond and these stalls do not encroach or impede upon the pavements, roads and drains in the area or in any manner whatsoever hinder or interfere with the ability of the city council to clean or maintain same.

“In fact, the other vendors and I have always kept our environs in a clean and sanitary condition because we understood and appreciate it was private property and we therefore tried our very best not to give mr. MalcomPanday any reason to revoke or terminate our licence to occupy same,” Warner said.

He said that since he has been occupying and carrying on business at the former Guyana Stores Bond, Water Street, Georgetown,he has never been required by the City Council to pay any rent or any other fees precisely because the stalls are located upon private property owned by Panday.

He recalled that it was only in December, 2015 that officers of the City Council demanded that the vendors pay a weekly cleansing fee of GYD$1,000 which he has been doing but he has never paid any rent or other form of consideration either to the Councilor anyone else for the occupation of his stall.

He said that over the past few days he has witnesses the officers, servants and/or agents of the Georgetown Muncipality “removing a number of stalls in the Stabroek market area and I am fearful that the same action would be taken against me although I am vending on private property.”