Last week we showed you the mini drama that unfolded at the Michael Finnegan market when Councillor Phillip Willoughby laid down the new law, which sent wholesalers to Hiccatee Street.
It seemed, at first, to have gone down with some measure of equanimity - but at the market - it seems the course of things never did run smooth - and so today - all parties involved were back at each other's throats - with the wholesalers, wholly dissatisfied with the new arrangement. Now, they've formed an association to try and block it.
We were at the market today to see the sparks fly:
Monica Bodden Reporting:
Oscar Pollard - Farmer/Secretary of Farmers Vendors Association
"What we have come up with will be as follows. The problem and situation with Farmers Vendors and what they demand to be immediately addressed are as follows. This issue of the raise from $10 for each vehicle to $15 without notice, the vendors do not agree to pay $15. Anyways, there are solutions to every problem. The solution that the vendors came up with is, if the area is marked and given security, they would agree to pay the $15. The vendors - we agree to pay $15 plus it must be in writing to the legal group that will be representing this group. That's the demand of the vendors. The demand for the use of the canal side, West Collet Canal, from King Street to Dean Street Bridge, vendors have pointed out that Hiccatee Street is not enough for the amount of Vendors, which is about 65, hence the reason for the use of the canal side. Flooding is a problem on Hiccatee Street during the rainy seasons, and these are the situations and the problems in respect to the use of Hiccatee Street. The other problem with Hiccatee Street is the neighbors who have problem with the vendors and also threatened to cause injury. This happened this morning. The Farmers Vendors decided to sell produce, or dispose of such in any quantity in order to serve the consumers of this country."
Those were just a few demands listed on a proposal made by a newly formed association - which is made up of wholesale farmer's. It is called Famers Vendors Association.
And it was formed this morning. Out of the first meeting came that proposal which was presented to the Council.
Alvin Hyde Jr. - Farmer/Chairman of the Association
"They settle what is happening within the Michael Finnegan Market, we decided to form and elect an association, and that was the purpose of our gathering this morning. As you noticed, our secretary read out the proposal, and we had an election. I was elected Chairman of the Association, and we have our councilors, our secretaries, and members of the association."
"Now what will this association do?"
Alvin Hyde Jr.
"Well this association will do exactly what we have on our proposal here on this minutes paper. So we'll take it from there with the council. The Mayor and the councilor responsible for Marketing."
"So you guys came together, and you guys wrote out all the issues that you have with vending behind this area."
Alvin Hyde Jr.
"Right, we have everything in place. We have the vending zone, which is from - at present we have Hicatee Street, and we are negotiating from the Dean Street Bridge to this other bridge up this side here from the terminal to this other bridge here. And that's what we are negotiating for. Because when it rains sometimes here takes water to your knee. That spot is much higher, then the hurricane season is also on hand, so we have to take all these things into consideration, that when here takes water, we have high land for safety."
"Since we moved here the first of June, which was our demand, we were given notice on the 24th of April, that this is the final decision. We have to move relocate by the first, but that it was totally chaotic. One of the first things that being on the canal side, it was unhealthy to have things on the ground nearby the canal, but at this point in time, this area is still worse. Because if you can notice the streets - potholes- right now in this rainy season, the water will be splashing. They canal side would not be having that problem, and what we are saying here is that the canal side is much better the wholesaler because, what happen is that when you park. You park on the edge of the canal, and you actually distribute the thing on a pavement, which is much more sanitary. When we came out here this morning, we were confronted by residents of the area, especially one guy who has a big cement house. He went to the extent of saying that some blood will run because this place cannot be used as a market place. It is designated as Hiccatee Street. We agree; we know that Hiccatee Street is the area to be used, but the distance, the amount of space is not adequate."
According to Councilor Willoughby - the Council is opened to meeting with these vendors to try to come up with an amicable solution.
Phillip Willoughby, Deputy Mayor
"I think it's undermining of the Council's position to rectify the vending situation for the retailers and wholesalers on the canal side; that's the position. Everything that is being implemented right now, was agreed by all out here. There is a change in the position of some, fair enough. I believe everything is on the table for discussion; we can debate that. The current problem right now is that the vendors - the wholesalers - we retailing - were wholesaling on Boccora Street, Iguana Street, as well as Hiccatee Street. The community has a problem with that because of the hours they come in to transact business. And they, as you heard from their recommendation, they want to wholesale to the retailer and others, and then still stay and retail and operate as the Michael Finnegan Market. And they want us, it seems that their demand for us to legitimize that, and I told them yesterday, in an interview, that for us - the Council and the wholesalers to sit and discuss, or take anything into consideration, cannot happen outside of the community, the retailers, and them, So all of us must come together and look at the situation, because they themselves cannot live up to their obligation, or their own recommendation. And now, this problem has presented itself, and we have to deliberate on it, and look at the best possible solution."
But that didn't stop the chaos and confusion on Hiccatee Street this morning.
While those farmers jotted down their concerns on paper and got ready to meet with the councilor,
These retailers who sell inside the marketplace - had their own concerns.
One of which was that they did not agree with these wholesale farmers.
"They are wholesalers, and we are retailers, and we are paying 85 for a sack of cabbage, and they are selling out her for 65 cents. And how did Mr. Pollard get into this, he doesn't even come and sell. You understand me, so we aren't with them; we will form our committee as well."
"So you think that they are being unfair?"
"It's unfair for us who are in the market, and have to pay $350, and they don't want to pay $15 for their trucks? And when their trucks are full - I don't agree with them. We are going to fight for our rights to."
"No ma'am, I don't agree any at all. I don't agree with them because it's the same thing that I am explaining to them. Why will they come and sell us at a price, and then they'll come and still selling the same price that they sold to us, out here. you understand me? If you by 75 per pound of cantaloupe here, as far as you can see, they are right over their' they are retailing right now out there. And they are retailing in there for the same price, that they sold us if we want to sell it. And what will happen to our rent, and they will stay right here to make the money, and we will stay there when we have to pay our rent monthly. To me, I don't agree with what they are doing out here, because it's not right. So he told me that if I wanted him not to stay out there, I was supposed to buy everything from him, so that he doesn't stay out here. That's more ta "faciness". If you know, that you have a limit to bring - well they bring a hundred. Don't bring 200 pounds again if, if you know how the situation."
And for Willoughby, this morning's episode out at the market - caught him off-guard - since these vendors were his friends just days ago.
Yes is caught me off-guard, but in the nature of the job that I have, you know that you have to be prepared for anything, and like I said, one day, you'd be riding on that donkey, and the next day you'd be on a cross being crucified by the same people you seek to help and advice."
At 2:30 this afternoon these wholesale vendors and residents of Hiccatee Street met with Councilor Willoughby in a meeting- where they both shared their concerns.
Alvin Hyde Jr.
"Will you listen to our proposal or what? please listen to our proposal."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, let's just hear what he has to say, and then-"
Alvin Hyde Jr.
"I didn't even finish with our proposal, but let us set our proposal that we have to the council and the gathering, please."
"The farmers, and buyers, because those people that come on Thursday and Friday, they are not farmers. They are just like me and you going to the-"
Alvin Hyde Jr.
"Just a minute councilor, that's why we asked for a meeting for the Farmers Venders, right. We didn't want to meet with this-"
"Gentlemen, this is one thing I think we would have to hammer out. I think what we will need to hammer out though, Mr. Hyde, is classified - buddy, please bear with us - Mr. Hyde is looking at Farmers Vendors, by the end of the discussion, we'll put biscuit with biscuit and crackers with crackers."
Alvin Hyde Jr.
"Who can't conduct themselves in the meeting, you'd have to put them out, you know."
"I agree with some of the proposal that they put forward, and I am here as a resident. My concern is my ability to get in an out of my yard during the market hours. And I observed this morning that was restricted based on what transpired, this morning. So I support Mr. Bruno to an extent, it is concern to not getting us trapped within our residence and we can't come out to go to our different places of employment. My recommendation to you, councilor, and to the rest is that we must co-exist. They vendors, importers, wholesalers, and whoever else we may call them, need to co-exist with us to an extent. So my recommendation is the Queen Square Market Area, that is designed for the market, from in front of the market, the West Collet Canal, to in front of Mr. Hyde, can still be utilized for the vendors and still and close off the area after-hours, so that we could accommodate the vendors as well as Hiccatee Street. I also recommend that the Council upgrades the street, because, personally when I look at Hiccatee Street, to put those vegetables down on the ground, they will ask me to buy it, I would think twice. So I suggest that the Council also consider upgrading that street, especially that drain where several people within the neighborhood had caught dengue, and I am sure that its from that drainage that's deplorable."
All sides agreed this afternoon that they will continue for the meantime with the council's original plan - until a solution is found.