February 24, 2006
Minister Browne meets shopkeepers

Kendal Neverson, popularly called Kenlyn, a shopkeeper who plies his trade at Little Tokyo in Kingstown, has called on the government to take a tough stance with all business operators in the area regardless if they are supporters of the governing Unity Labour Party (ULP) or the New Democratic Party (NDP).

At a meeting at the Methodist Church Hall called by the Ministry of Social Development on Thursday, February 16, to hear the shopkeepers’ concerns and encourage them to pay their fees, Neverson told Minister Mike Browne the government will have to take a stand to address the problems at Little Tokyo.{{more}}

He complained that some shopkeepers pay rent and others nothing.

“It’s unfair I must pay my bills but others not,” Kenlyn explained to Browne.

He challenged colleagues attending the meeting that they all have an obligation to any government but at the same time he reminded the government representatives that shopkeepers at Little Tokyo have needs that should be addressed.

He called on the government to meet them half-way.

“It’s our government but lots of politics play with the shops,” said Kenlyn.

“You will never feel pleased as the minister to travel through Tokyo and look at the roofs. Many people are under a serious threat in Tokyo. We all need to clean up our shops but the beginning starts with you Mr.Minister,” said Neverson, challenging the Minister “to pull the bulls by the horns”.

“Who must go must go. Who must stay must stay,” he said.

Other vendors accused the Kingstown Town Board of mockery, while others aired grievances relating to the state of the roofs and toilets, vendors squatting near to their shops who are undercutting their sales, vagrancy, termite infestations and the need for parking space.

Minister Browne told the shopkeepers he will present their case to Rene Baptiste, Minister of Urban Development, Julian Francis, Minister of Informal Human Settlements and Keith Miller, Commissioner of Police.

However, Browne also told them: “I give you something you have to give me something. You have to give me some money because I have to go out on a limb and bat for you.”

Carl Williams, Warden of the Town Board, stated that the Board has been trying to address the difficulties faced by the Shop operators. He said that it was a great challenge considering that they were working on a four million-dollar overdraft. He pointed out that as of the end of January this year the Town Board was owed a total of $116,500 by the shop operators of the various locations, with some owing as much as $1,200.