The issue of Crafts Alive vendors owing the ‘City’ in excess of half a million dollars came up for discussion at a press conference called by the Opposition on November 13, 2019.
It was brought to the fore that it’s has been several years that some tenants have been delinquent with their rent and the City is now reportedly leaning towards eviction.
Four of five Opposition Members- Hon Melvin M. Turnbull (R2) was absent- were at the press conference where two of them made an open plea for the sitting government to pardon the debts of a number of Crafts Alive vendors as they are currently likely to be evicted.
‘Give them more time’- Hon Vanterpool
Vendors occupying the booths at the Crafts Alive Village in Road Town for years have been on a limited fluctuating payment of rent schedule, which sees them committing to paying $150 monthly, from October to April, and $250 monthly from May to September.
Despite this apparent very low cost, vendors have been singing the “very slow business" tune in and out of tourist season.
When the question of the vendors facing eviction was put to Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool (R4), he said at the time he was not aware the issue was at a stage where some were facing eviction; however, he noted, “There is no doubt that some vendors of Crafts Alive have been owing, others have been paying and the issue of collection is an issue the City Developmental Manager has been working on.”
Hon Vanterpool acknowledged the problem of Crafts Alive vendors failing to honour their commitments existed from since he was in government. In fact, in March 2014, eviction notices were handed out as a result of the vendors’ inability to make payments towards their rent for the year 2013.
“I don’t know what happened but I know it became much more difficult after the hurricanes, that’s why I said that in these circumstances we need to come to a point of forgiving some of the debts or addressing it as Honourable Caines (Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines (R6)) said. I don’t think we need to come to a point of forgiving all of it but giving certainly a longer period to addressing it. Three months definitely is not a fair enough time.”
Further, Honourable Vanterpool said he has been in contact with the Minister for the subject, Minister for Transportation and utilities Honourable Kye M. Rymer (R5), in the hope that the matter will be looked at with some leniency.
‘Forgive them of their debts’- Hon Maduro-Caines
Adding her voice to the issue, Hon Maduro-Caines said, “Yes a lot of them owe a lot of money but a payment plan that some have asked for is virtually impossible to be paid at that time because some have been given a three-month period to pay off six thousand and ten thousand dollars and I can’t see that happening.”
She went as far as putting herself in the vendor’s place, “I myself wouldn’t be able to do it with my salary so I could imagine the state that they are in at this time. So I agree with Honourable Vanterpool that forgiveness needs to be put in place right now.”
“I would say forgive the debts of the past and 2020 let them start something new. Let them enter a contract, because I can’t see it possible for them to pay off what they owe,” she said while making it emphatically clear that it owing to that extent is not right.
“I am not saying that it’s right for them to owe but in this case I can’t see that happening so [they] need forgiveness.”