The state-owned building in Kingstown, where Cobblestone Inn is located. (IWN photo)

A suggestion by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves that businesswoman Ann Joshua — who his government is evicting from the Cobblestone Inn building in Kingstown — was never involved in a competitive bid for tenancy, is not true.

Joshua on Thursday confirmed to iWitness News the authenticity of a document circulating on the internet showing that she was in fact involved in a bid for the building, which she has been occupying for more than three decades.

The document appears to be a scanned copy of a May 9, 1986 letter that then prime minister James Mitchell sent to P.C. Hughes, chair of National Hotel Ltd. in Kingstown.

In the letter, Mitchell thanks Hughes for his letter of May 7 “outlining the bids on lease of Cobblestone Inn and your further comment in discussion of the subject”.
Mitchell tells Hughes that there does not appear to be a substantial difference between the two leading bids.

“The Da Silva/Grant offer seems to be conditional on a survey and there are no such conditions on the Charles/Joshua offer,” the then prime minister said.

The “Charles” is an apparent reference to Vincentian businessman Basil Charles, of Basil’s Bar, which is located on the ground floor of the building.

In the letter, Mitchell said that Charles is known to have valuable experience in restaurant management and Joshua is experienced with Cobblestone.

“Government is satisfied that the Charles/Joshua bid is appropriate and that they would provide what is needed at this point in time.

“I therefore approve the lease to Charles/Joshua on the terms indicated…” Mitchell wrote.

The document contradicts suggestions that Gonsalves has repeatedly made this week as be appeared on radio stations trying to explain and defend the decision of his Government to evict Joshua, his first cousin, giving her just two and a half months to leave the building.

And while Gonsalves has repeatedly accused Joshua of politicising the eviction, she again made very few comments when iWitness News contacted her on Thursday, the second time in just over a week.

She confirmed the authenticity of the Mitchell letter being circulated on the internet and noted that Gonsalves was the one making all the comments on the eviction while she is yet to say anything substantive.

“Long ago, it was just word of mouth, but today, there is technology,” she said in reference to the letter on the internet.

Cobblestone bid

Joshua, however, denied Gonsalves’ allegation that she had put the eviction notice in the public sphere.

A copy of the letter began circulating on the internet last week, and iWitness News published it after verifying its authenticity with Joshua.

She, however, denied giving the letter to anyone, saying that someone saw it and took a photo of it.

Joshua told iWitness News that she is not granting any interviews about the development at this time, saying that it is “just too much”.

She noted that she has been running the hotel for over 30 years.

“And one day you wake up and get this letter not from the board [of National Properties Ltd.] but from a bailiff saying you have two and a half months to lave. It rocks your world,” she told iWitness News.

“Maybe some day I will talk about it, but not now,” said Joshua, who told iWitness News she has been receiving an “outpouring of love” since the development.

On July 7, 2016, a lawyer for National Properties Ltd., the state-owned company in which Cobblestone Inn and Basil’s Bar are located, wrote to Joshua telling her that she had until Sept. 30, 2016 to leave the building.

The letter gave no reason for the eviction, and iWitness News was reliably informed that Basil’s Bar received no such letter.

Joshua has told iWitness News that she was current with her EC$24,000 monthly rent.

Gonsalves said on radio on Sunday that his Government has decided “in the interest of transparency and for proper development of that property and other Government properties that we should have an open tendering process, but first you have to bring this relationship legally to an end and a public tendering process will commence and Ann herself can apply too and bid for the property, like any other Vincentian.”

But a source close to Joshua, speaking on condition of anonymity, told iWitness News that a National Properties official had told Joshua that she had treated the Gonsalves-led Unity Labour Party administration “with contempt”.

In his comments on radio, Gonsalves has mentioned that Joshua is a supporter of the opposition New Democratic Party.

Official told Cobblestone Inn boss she insulted the ULP gov’t

14 replies on “Joshua won Cobblestone tenancy after a bid”

  1. Uncle Spoon says:

    I am appreciative how everything is coming to light; same as David Ames’ trial. Anyone who cannot see that this man is as cunning and deceptive as can be, has a serious assessment problem. The situation here was not politicized by coincidence; the eviction was indeed political Mr.PM

  2. It was only this past April that Minister of Economic Development Camillo Gonsalves was in New York, urging ex-pat Vincentians to “invest” in their home country, in anticipation of the (yet again) forecast opening of AIA…

    If this is an example of how a Vincentian investor may be apparently arbitrarily treated, by his or her own government, I find it difficult to imagine that any such “investment” would have any appeal whatsoever – even if an intergalactic spaceport were “nearly completed” on the island.

    So far, at least, this is not looking good…

    1. C. ben-David says:

      As they say, ignorance is bliss which is bound to be the PM’s defence among other excuses and denials.

      More important, as I have repeatedly said, none of this matters to his continued grip on power because his supporters — the undeserving poor (http://www.herinst.org/BusinessManagedDemocracy/culture/work/deserving.html), the parasites, the indolent, the incompetent, the indifferent, the bought off, the apathetic, the ignorant — far outnumber all other categories.

      The Comrade, his heirs and successors, will remain in power as long as they cater to these categories.

  3. I am now eagerly awaiting the prime Minister’s comments on this development. He didn’t know there were two bids, perhaps?
    Are Government and especially Prime Minister’s Office files not kept and archived? Or do we throw them away when a new PM takes Office? Does National Properties have NO records about the Government owned properties that they manage?

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Pat, you are bound to know that record keeping has deteriorated since we got rid of our British colonial overlords because of a combination of incompetence, slough, and a deliberate attempt to hide the truth.

  4. C. ben-David says:

    1. I repeat that a bidding process could have been undertaken while she was still a tenant, especially given that she was on a month-to-month rental.

    2. This is the second time in two days that the PM has been caught dissembling, the other fib being that criminals deported back to SVG from the USA arrive without proper documentation about their crimes given to us by American authorities, an allegation that the US Embassy in Barbados said yesterday is completely false. Together with a myriad of broken election promises and lies and distortions about the phoney airport at Argyle, among other issues, nothing this man says can any longer be believed. Still, his supporters are either to doltish or too bought off to care about such trifles as a politican speaking the truth.

    3. The Cobblestone Inn and other government properties should be sold to the private sector, at least if there are buyers willing to risk the prospects of bankruptcy in doing so.

    1. I agree with all you say. See what Gato wrote and you can see how other investors will view our PM.

  5. Which yet once again proves that our Prime Minister Dr Ralph Everard Gonsalves is a liar and makes up stories to suit himself.

    This man is a national and regional disgrace with all the lies he tells.

  6. Come on! The World outside of SVG knows y’all PM is a Liar, how much proof does Vincentian or better yet Vincentians knows he is a man with a jacket of many colors and yet they put up with him, in other parts of the World he won’t be a senator much less PM… Liar Liar pants on fire

  7. Marge Gunderson says:

    Question: Why would a reasonably competent businessperson like Ann Joshua run a hotel property on a month to month lease?

    Answer:
    a) She couldn’t get a long-term lease.
    b) The powers that be want to be in a position to kick her out with only two months notice.
    c) Making substantial investments in this country is a waste of time and money.
    d) Nothing is ever done in a proper business-like manner in SVG
    e) All of the above
    f) None of the above
    g) Fooled us one – shame on them; fooled us twice – shame on us; fooling us all the time – we are just a bunch of fools.

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