During the regular monthly meeting of the Hope Town District Council the Council heard concerns from several persons on some sensitive issues while also dealing with their regular business.
The meeting began with a moment of silence for Patricia Albury of Man-O-War who recently passed away; after which members had some final words of thanks to share with outgoing Senior Island Administrator Charles Moss.
After some blowback after making a decision to prohibit freight delivery at the Lower Dock in Hope Town the Council heard from several members of the business community who disagreed with the ban.
Residents said that the move inconvenienced the business owners, caused increased traffic in the historic district (where vehicles are restricted) and added safety concerns for residents, visitors and particularly children.
Additionally, it was noted that the freight would be offloaded at the same dock where school children disembarked from local ferry services which is a concern.
The Council noted that the decision was made when Abacays Carib Freight made them aware of safety concerns they had offloading at the Lower Dock. The Council said they will move the ban back to October 1, 2017 to review all sides better; however, noted that as a private business Abacays decision would still be up to them.
The Council renewed several moratoriums including a one-year moratorium in Hope Town on Self Drive plates with the view to seeking a solution to traffic/parking problems during the peak of the season.
Other moratoriums covered moorings in Hope Town Harbour, Tilloo and Eastern Harbour in Man-O-War which were all passed for a three-year period. The Council is going to review and decide on moorings outside of Hope Town Harbour at the Northern end of Elbow Cay.
A previous ban on the importation of Pitbulls to the island of Hope Town was lifted as members felt that enforcement of laws regarding the containment of dogs should be effectively enforced by the Police.
They also passed regulations to require persons to collect their freight from Sunshine Park within 36 hours or it will be removed at the owner’s expense. They also made another regulation that derelict vehicles be removed from Hope Town within seven days of notice or have it removed at the owner’s expense.
Scott Ferguson of Albury’s Ferry Service addressed the council regarding some concerns he had which included issues with the relative young competitor G & L Transportation.
Mr. Ferguson noted that over the years Albury’s Ferry has contributed to repairs at public docks that their service uses; however, as they are not the only company using the docks others should contribute to their upkeep.
He said that they have also recently noticed some “high points” in Hope Town Harbour and asked if there were plans to do maintenance scooping to help with the ease of access to the harbour for their larger boats.
He then asked the Council to think about the future of transportation to and from the cays and how they could ensure a level playing field for all concerned. He alleged that G & L were poaching customers from Albury’s Ferry.
Grant Albury of G & L Transportation said that he has no problem contributing to dock repairs as that is fair. He said as they are a young company they will continue to work toward expanding their services as they are able; noting that Albury’s Ferry has been in existence since 1959.
Chief Councillor Jeremy Sweeting and Council members weighed in that they will certainly seek to ensure that repairs are properly distributed among those companies that used public docks. Mr. Sweeting noted that they did not; however, have a budget to maintenance scoop the harbour. They would also like to review what depths they are wanting to maintain as they do not want larger yachts in the harbour.
The Council said it was not their place to infringe on business practices and plans and that while they want to ensure a level playing field it is their company’s prerogative to conduct their business as they see fit.