Elroy Arthur, popularly known as ‘Huffle’ has said he is disappointed to see 30 years of effort and hard work in the beautification at the Brighton beach “mash up” but he is taking comfort in the backing coming from the Prime Minister and the East St George Parliamentary Representative, Camillo Gonsalves, who have promised to compensate him for the damage done.
On Thursday, July 20, members of the public were made aware of a demolition exercise being carried out at the beach after a live video posted on Huffle’s Ranch Facebook page showed men removing benches, structures, painted rocks and other materials from the beach which had been erected by Huffle.
The removal of structures was reportedly carried out by the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority (NPRBA) however, area representative and Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves would later say that the move came as a surprise as neither he, nor officials from the Ministry of Tourism had any knowledge of the action being taken.
“I don’t know who authorized it … everything that Huffles has put down is put down with my knowledge,” Gonsalves said on a live video from Brighton beach on Thursday evening in the company of Minister of Tourism Carlos James, and the permanent secretary, Resa Noel-McBarnett.
When SEARCHLIGHT visited the beach on Monday afternoon, some of the structures had been replaced in their original spots with the remainder of the dumped materials remaining on the private property opposite the beach car park where they had been placed.
Arthur said prior to Thursday’s action, he had received no notice from the NPRBA requiring him to remove the structures from the beach front.
“They never say nothing, just come and start mashing up. The rest of them [structures] still over there. People been take them and use them for firewood over the weekend.”
When questioned about any tension in the relationship between him and the NPRBA, Arthur said he had been issued no warnings, written or verbal, threatening action. He also said that on Thursday, representatives from NPRBA did not communicate with him prior to the demolition. It is understood that the policy of the Authority is to issue written notices to individuals/entities when any action has to be taken; SEARCHLIGHT has been unable to confirm whether this was done with Arthur.
Two usually reliable sources informed SEARCHLIGHT that last week’s actions may be the result of tension that had been rising between NPRBA and Huffle, which first reared its head back in March this year.
SEARCHLIGHT understands that differences arose between NPRBA and Huffles over the use of electricity on the site, including by those who utilize the beach for entertainment.
When asked about this issue Arthur chose to not answer.
Yesterday morning, shortly before his departure from Morocco where he had gone on an official visit, Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves said the NPRBA “acted in an unauthorized manner”.
“The Chairman of the Board didn’t know, the permanent secretary didn’t know, the minister didn’t know, nor the area representative or the Prime Minister. They were just completely unauthorized.”
He hinted at action being taken at the person who handed down the directive for the demolition saying, “unauthorized behaviour has consequences”.
He also pledged “appropriate compensation” to Arthur for the losses he incurred, promising that the beautification project will not only be rebuilt but also improved.
Beach goers who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT said they were disappointed by the move to destroy and remove the structures at the beach as, over the years, it has become a staple liming spot for locals and tourists.
Arthur told SEARCHLIGHT he has been in conversation with both the Prime Minister and the area representative and the situation is expected to have a positive resolution, adding that they will be seeking to further enhance the beautification of the beach.
“I just being patient. Things go work out. This is 30 years we been doing this thing. All when here was just bush. It go build back. I not sure if this week or when. They say they go replace the things, we go try and see if we could make it better.”