Groove to govern business with extra conditions
April 30, 2010
Groove to govern business with extra conditions

Tighter restrictions may soon become law here, concerning the sale of alcohol in school zones.

This disclosure was made by Minister with responsibility for Planning, Saboto Caesar, following the public outcry about plans to locate a bar in the vicinity of the National Lotteries Tennis Court at Richmond Hill.{{more}}

The Minister had his say on Wednesday, joining other politicians and officials who have weighed in on the matter since it was brought to the public’s attention by Headmistress of the Girls’ High School, Andrea Bowman, in a letter to SEARCHLIGHT two weeks ago.

Caesar indicated that he was aware that there are persons who are selling alcohol in school zones during school hours, and this is not acceptable.

“We will be looking carefully to ensure that there is a regulation that persons in the vicinity of schools are brought in line and are not allowed to sell alcohol before 7pm,” Caesar said. “The sale of alcohol in these areas is a very sensitive issue.”

Concerning the “Lover’s Lane” establishment as it is now being called, the Minister refuted allegations by Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, who on Monday said that it was his understanding that permission was not granted by the Physical Plannning Division to have the bar placed in the vicinity of two primary schools and three secondary schools.

Speaking on the New Democratic Party’s New Times programme on Monday, Eustace said that placing the bar there is not a good move by those responsible and that work in the area should be stopped immediately.

“The question of putting a bar near the tennis court… in an area where thousands of school children congregate on a daily basis, in an area where there are many schools… I am totally opposed to putting such facillity in that area, and that is the postion of the NDP (New Democratic Party).

“It is inappropriate, even if they are going to sell liquor after a certain hour. That is not a site for that kind of facility.”

According to Caesar, permission was granted for businessman/ radio announcer Earl ‘Groove Governor’ Abraham to operate in the area under certain conditions.

“A request by an entrepreneur to the Town Board for authority to use the space to place a trailer for the sale of food, snacks and confectionary, with alcohol to be sold after 7pm, was approved,” Caesar said.

“There must be proper signage that no alcohol must be displayed or sold before 7pm,” the Minister stated.

He continued: “There will be strict supervision that the entrepreneur is acting withing the law. If he goes outside of the conditions… the same way permission was granted, it can be taken away.”

Abraham, the man at the center of the storm of controversy, agreed with Caesar that there was a misconception that the space will be used for the setting up of a bar which was due to his association to such an establishment during the Carnival festivities.

“This was sold as a rum shop by some people,” Abraham related. “In everybody’s mind they are thinking that food will be selling and the bar will be open all day, all night. This is totally untrue!”

“I can assure you that no alcohol will be sold, much less be displayed, before seven o’clock.”

Still somewhat upset that he had not been approached by persons who have aired their concerns about the venture, Abraham says that he is willing to discuss the matter in an effort to ensure his intentions are clear.

Despite the setback, Abraham indicated that he is looking forward to setting up shop; but first the fine details must be sorted out and a number of measures put in place.

“As a man with children, I would never condone the sale of alcohol to children. That is not my standard,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bowman, whose letter originally sparked the debate, said that she is still skeptical about the assurances being given, though agreeing that one had to ‘wait and see’ what the outcome would be.

“They are asking me to believe that an entity of that nature is going to be disciplined enough not to sell alcohol before a particular time. Obviously it can happen, but I just don’t trust them to have that kind of discipline.”

The Headmistress said while she welcomed the suggestion that regulations may be put in place to restrict alcohol sales in school zones, the fact that alcohol is currently sold in school zones does not justify placing another such entity near to schools.

“Granted that we live on a small island and we have small spaces and we have to cater to as many different concerns as possible, but I really still feel that in the vicinity of schools, we have to be extremely careful and we have to make some sacrifices.”

“I think alcohol should have never been in the mix at all… If you tell me a smoothie bar or something like that… but not that kind of entity at all.”

“I know what I have to deal with on a daily basis. I know what happens there, and that is without the alcohol.”