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St. Clair Leacock, a vice-president of the New Democratic Party, in a May 13, 2023 photo.
St. Clair Leacock, a vice-president of the New Democratic Party, in a May 13, 2023 photo.
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Central Kingstown MP St. Clair Leacock says he will oppose any effort to remove vendors from the section of Middle Street between Jax Enterprises and Heritage Square.

“Once I am a part of an NDP (New Democratic Party) government — and NDP will be in government, make no bones about that — that area of Middle Street from Jax all the way up to Heritage Square will be vendors paradise,” the opposition lawmaker said on Wednesday on “New Times”, his party’s daytime show on NICE Radio.

Leacock said a vendor told him that her understanding was that the government was preparing to remove vendors from the area.

But Leacock, who is a vice-president of the NDP, said that both of his parents were vendors and he will stand with vendors. 

“It will be a mall. It will be set aside for the small itinerant vendor, indigenous vendor; man, woman and child who wants to make an honest, an earnest living, to ply their trade.”

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Leacock said he is old enough to remember that most of the stores in Middle Street were owned by Vincentian business people.

“I remember the who is who of Kingstown ran business in Kingstown,” the MP said. 

“One by one, because — perhaps I may not venture there — for more reasons than one, they couldn’t hold on to their investments, they have literally lost all of their business presence in stores to another group who are our welcomed — underscored — guests in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, be they Lebanese, be they Syrians or wherever they are. You are welcome. Some of them are naturalised, some of them are born here. And many of them are equally my friends,” Leacock said. 

But I will not preside in a government that chooses our guests over our born-yah people of St. Vincent and Grenadines. There has to be a place in St. Vincent for Vincentians. 

“I ain’t going so far as Trump for a Vincentians-first philosophy. But you ain’t running the vendors out of the town to make way for another business group, welcomed as they are.”

Leacock said this is his position on an issue “on which I have strong emotional attachment”, adding that he “would have failed my parents” if he did otherwise and that he wants to give vendors that assurance. 

“I may not be able to stop the madness of this regime in what they’re doing. But I’ll be able to restore them to justice once an NDP government is in place. That place should be a mall and it should be a place for which Vincentians have the first bite at the cherry, full stop.” 

Leacock further he was in Buccament Bay last Saturday and interacted with a man who was selling drinks and other items from under a tarpaulin tent. 

“He said, ‘Well, as you know it is, they give we notice; we have to move from here on Monday.’ And he was looking to me like I can give him an immediate answer.

“I say, ‘Well, you know, I can’t give you an answer that I’m not government, I can lend a voice to your concerns.’”

Leacock said there were a lot of other people doing business on the seashore.

 “Now, that is a classic case of where is $300 million investment, welcomed again, and I am speaking here about the Sandals — nobody must say we anti this anti that — comes at the expense of people who, for years, were not presenting the government with a problem.”

He said the government did not have to find work for these people, who educated their children, improved their homes and contributed to society. 

“And immediately somebody with bigger and better on the scene, out goes; you nobody’s concerned as to how they make a living,” Leacock said.

“You don’t have any thought of mind as to whether you could do something different for them on the beach to accommodate them. You could put some little kiosks, some little umbrella, something, some little collapsible something, some little beautification, see that they have sanitation and see that it fits into the whole scheme of things. 

“But don’t dispense with them. Don’t discard them. Don’t leave them to fadge for themselves. They are our own. When the other failed attempts pick up their bag and gone, they and the children still remain here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines because they are born-yah Vincentians.”

Leacock said that those kinds of things irritate him to no end. 

“And it is consistent with my position in the New Democratic Party of us being a bottom-up government,” he said, adding that the party president, Godwin Friday, says it differently. 

“‘Development is about people’,” Leacock said, adding that other prominent members of the NDP, including party chairman and West Kingstown MP, Daniel Cummings benefited from vending.

And I’m not the only one like that, you know, but we say unashamedly because we don’t feel we have an entitlement. 

“… Cummings will tell you the days when he walked around in the village and sold with a little tray, sweet potato pudding and made other this, that and the other.”

He said East Kingstown MP, Fitz Bramble “is the product of poor working-class parents. 

“Those are the people who make up NDP, you know. The salt of the earth people. …  We must never forget that because when you want to get back there,  

the ladder below that you kicked out you’ll find that you drop down, you either break your foot, neck, or some part of your body.

“But going back to the vendors, let us always be guided in our politics by a hand out and a hand up for the small man. don’t forget where we came from.  So, I just want to lay that down. that’s resting heavy on my heart,” Leacock said. 

7 replies on “Middle Street must be ‘vendors paradise,’ Leacock says ”

  1. Anthony Martin says:

    I need to hear about real policies for economic development. Street vending in SVG is a mess (figuratively and literally); unregulated and disorganized. It is not a new phenomenon. As far back as the mid 1980s, governments have been grappling with this situation: trying to make sense of it and attempting to find meaningful strategies to manage it. The Central Market was an attempt to ameliorate the situation; as well as the subsequent side markets and other structures erected.
    The vending situation is about organization, preventing littering and overcrowding, along with making the city beautiful and functional. Sidewalks and walk-ways are for walking. Those comments by a politician aiming to establish governance of the affairs of the country are disquieting. And so, SVG will remain a sidenote in Caribbean tourism sector: beautiful landscape with potential, un-spoilt Grenadines, but with a capital city with the following adjectives: dirty, smelly, disorganized, chaotic, (did I mention dirty and unfit for civilized human interactions?).
    Last Christmas season, I saw a man haggling a tourist from a cruise ship, at the vicinity of Jax Enterprises: “Knives, knives, 2 for ten dollars! Come on, get your knives!”

  2. 1. I am old enough to remember that there were no street vendors on Middle Street between what is now Jax Enterprises and Heritage Square. None.

    2. Before the creation of the Buccament Bay resort by crooked Dave Ames, there were no vendors, not one, in the area in question adjacent to where the Beaches resort will soon open.

    3. Both areas are public property and the government has not only a right but a duty to see that they are properly managed, meaning that vendors should not be given priority over other members of the public as happens all over town and in many rural areas as well.

    4. Yes, vendors should be free to make a living but not at the expense of tax-paying business people whose properties they make difficult to access or at the expense of ordinary citizens whose freedom of movement is restricted by these street-hogging denizens.

  3. Totally right PM of Central Kingstown.
    I can see your dad with his cart vending.
    Noooo to the fail monkey system that wants to stifle the poorer classes of people by taking bread out their mouths.

  4. All these vendors need a designated street for them like a flee market they need to be off the road, that place looks like a shanty town, there must be some sort of rules against excess vending.

  5. Only dem alone must eat and drink, the dotish, foolish , stupid, extreme poverty poor people must suffer and dead, dem only use ah voting cattle when the time is right

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