Outspoken attorney-at-law, Anselm Clouden is calling for appropriate legislation to be passed in Parliament that would restrain proprietors who prevent access to the country’s beaches.
Addressing reporters at a press conference Monday at his office on Lucas Street, Clouden said that if something is not done to reign in these proprietors then Grenadians will lose their heritage.
“If we do not take our heritage back, it will be taken away from us and the way to do this is through legislation,” he told reporters.
The noted Criminal Defense Attorney is raising concerns over the fact that not many hotels in the south of the island offer public access to the beach.
He pointed at BBC Beach which once offered full public access but now offers a mere footpath for beachgoers.
“The beaches are what we call imminent domain or public domain whichever – it is the same meaning – and therefore no hotelier ought to be permitted to restrict the access of citizens to the enjoyment of our natural heritage, that is our beaches.”
“I am calling on those that are responsible for passing the appropriate legislation, evidently those person or persons that hold themselves out as representing their respective constituency and by extension the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique to move with expedition either during the tenure of this administration or whatever administration should form the next government to move with certainty and pass appropriate legislation as was done in Barbados and other Caribbean countries such as St. Thomas, such as Tortola, BVI.
“You pass appropriate legislation so that investors know that notwithstanding the location of the hotel as you have with Holiday Inn, as you have with Spice Inn, as you have with Coyaba, all these hotels that are in proximity and adjacent to the beach, there could be no denial of access to beach-goers to recreate on these beaches.
Clouden is calling on the potential MP’s for St. George South Constituency to ensure that the beaches remain public for people to recreate and use for their own economic well-being.
He said, “It is foolhardy of us every day to say that the beach is public and there is no law that so relegates it as public or imminent domain and this situation is becoming perilous for the people of Grenada.
“I am calling on those who are now holding themselves out to represent the South where I reside because that’s where most of the beaches are and this is where the developers are now taking a disproportionate portion of the common heritage or imminent domain.
“So, Mr. (Nicholas) Steele (of the New National Party) and Mr. (Raymond) Roberts (of the National Democratic Congress) must address the people and the people must question them as to what their views are with respect to beach access and when they get into government whichever of them, they would articulate the concerns of the Grenadian public and those who reside in the south where every day now there is complaint with respect to access beginning from BBC to Silver Sands…”, he added.
The attorney blamed the lack of action on the part of Physical Planning Unit (PPU) for the problem of hotel developers giving limited access to the public to the beaches.
“No developer should be able to develop his hotel in such a manner to exclude the public-at-large so that (the) Physical Planning test must be the establishment of a public access through that property to the beach.
“We see what has been happening in the past because they (the hotels) block the whole beachfront property from the road right down to the beach.
“…The only place that you have the type of access for which I speak is down by Umbrellas…you have the public road come in, you have the parking there and you can access the beach from there.
“That is the type of public access that is sensible and accommodates the Grenadian people because gradually you see we are being relegated to the class of second class citizen in our own country.
“…We have to stand up and this is the time to make our objection to this practice now or (become) an issue for Grenadians to ponder on and it is going to happen – Grand Anse will no longer be ours if we sit back and allow things to happen in such a manner that neglects to afford the public access to the beaches through the respective properties.”
In reference to the issue, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell told the “Beyond The Headlines” programme of GBN on Monday night that there has been no change in the law that all beaches on the island are in the public domain.
In the early 1970’s, the Lord Brownlow issue at La Sagesse in St. David gave rise to the Marxist-oriented New Jewel Movement (NJM) of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.
Brownlow, an Englishman with substantial land holdings in La Sagesse erected a gate that sought to prevent locals from accessing the beach area .
The issue was taken up by a band of revolutionaries who used the issue to garner public support and create a political movement that challenged then dominant Eric Gairy-led Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) government.
Gairy was eventually ousted from power on March 13, 1979 in a coup d’etat staged by the NJM, the first armed overthrow of an elected government in the English-speaking Caribbean.