BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Barbadian authorities have a message for all hoteliers and developers on the island. “There are no private beaches in Barbados”.
General Manager of the National Conservation Commission (NCC), Keith Neblett, said the Barbadian public had total access to all the beaches across the island as he commented on the ongoing dispute between the management of the Crane Beach Hotel, situated on the south-east coast of the island and beach vendors.
Several Barbadians are planning a protest on Saturday, indicating that while the island must develop, there was also need to preserve things “Barbadian”.
The main organiser of the protest, “Dah Beach Is Mine”, Chynna Glasgow, told the local media that the movement that started years ago and highlighted in Gabby’s song Jack, has to be resurfaced.
“The new millennials have no idea how privileged we are to be afforded the opportunity to have world-class public beaches, so this protest is to bring awareness to the younger generation and to remind the older generations that this is something that should not be taken away,” she added.
Tourism is the mainstay of the Barbados economy.
Neblett in an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) said that “under the NCC Act Cap 393, beach is defined as the land adjoining the foreshore of Barbados and extending not beyond 33 meters beyond the landward limit of the foreshore”.
But he acknowledged that from “time to time” beaches got bigger and smaller based on the weather, resulting in changes to the high water mark. He explained that once the high water mark was established, the NCC Act defined 100 feet from the high water mark as beach.
However, he noted that over the years, some beaches, including the Crane, which was once recognised for being one of the widest beaches in the world, had narrowed, making them smaller.
As a result, Neblett indicated, the NCC is now in the process of re-establishing what a public beach is.
“We are going to get the Chief Surveyor from the Ministry of Housing and Lands in a week’s time to establish that clear area of what is beach. After that is established, there would be no doubt for any person who wants to use the beach at the Crane or any other beach….as to what the public has access to,” he stated.
He said the NCC’s function is to control, maintain and develop the public parks, public gardens and beaches of Barbados.
He said in doing so, the NCC also issued licences to vendors for a range of activities, such as clothing, jewellery, hair braiding, handicraft, water sports, arts and craft, souvenirs, wire craft, beach chair rentals and umbrellas.
“Over the years, the Commission has identified specific areas on the beach where the vendors can ply their trade…. You will find instances where there is clothing and hair braiding, we have had vendors placed directly in front of hotels,” Neblett said.
He noted that several hotels had also built kiosks at their establishments and at their own expense for the betterment of vendors plying their trade.
Emphasising that the NCC took the granting of licences to beach vendors “very seriously”, Neblett pointed out that the documents were not transferrable, and that individuals desirous of plying their trade on beaches or in parks had to first fill out a form, produce a Police Certificate of Character and references. In addition, he said, the NCC also conducted its own checks on the proposed venture before a licence is granted.
“The NCC has never issued a licence to operate on anybody’s private property,” he stressed.