Local businessman Rawle Brancker has not come to bury Speightstown, but to praise it. And he has sent a clear message to those who claim that the northern town is “either dead or dying” that Speighstown is not dead. Do not bury it!
Brancker, who is the executive chairman and one of the founders of the Barbados Lumber Company Limited said the island’s second town and its neighbouring districts had the potential to be developed into a major tourist attraction, but said it required the effort of individuals and businesses in the area, as well as assistance from Government.
However, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has taken a slightly different stance, questioning why other businesses did not invest in the area in the same way operators of the 42 year-old Barbados Lumber Company did.
The two were speaking at the official reopening of the lumber company’s Church Street, Speightstown location this evening.
Brancker said the board of directors of the locally-owned company felt “absolutely sure” they took the right decision to place that branch in the north 39 years ago and the right decision to carry out major refurbishment recently.
“Within recent weeks I have noticed with dismay some of the very forthright comments condemning Speightstown to the grave, powerfully indicating that it is already dying and even dead and buried. Tonight we have invited you here to tell you not to bury Speightstown,” said Brancker.
“We are here to praise and help restore this lovely town beyond its former glory. Speightstown, with a neighbouring clientele that includes guests and residents of two of the finest marinas in the Caribbean has so much potential to be developed and we want to be involved in that effort,” he said
He recommended to Stuart that the old jetty should be repaired to accommodate small cruise vessels; and the development of an attractive advertising campaign to attract long-stay tourists to visit the area as “a must” as part of their visit here .
“And I am fairly sure with those and other efforts Speightstown can become the jewel we expect it to be of all time,” he said, pointing out there were building owners who were already prepared to join the government and private sector officials to restore the area.
Painting a vision of what the area could look like if it had more investment, Brancker said there could also be water taxis offering rides from the north to other towns around the island.
“We need people in this town. We need activity and it can be done. We stand ready to join whomever in continuing the effort to bring back the lost glory to this fabulous town,” pledged Brancker.
Meanwhile, Stuart contended that over the years there have been “a number of efforts” to revitalize Speightstown, some through Government.
And pointing out that the 1996 Special Development Areas Act offered a number of incentives to investors for developments that could take place in Speightstown, Stuart asked potential investors “what more” were they waiting for in order to invest in the St Peter town.
“There is too much on offer in Special Development Areas Act and the Cultural Industries Act, amongst others, to justify any lack of interest in investment in Speightstown,” maintained Stuart.
“Today, in the year 2015, against the background of a stubborn global, regional and national economic environment, the Barbados Lumber Company chooses to refurbish and re-open its Speightstown branch. I believe the Barbados Lumber Company is a beacon of hope,” added Stuart.
And while issuing a call to the public to patronize the locally owned business and see the re-opening of the Speightstown branch as “a new beginning”, Stuart singled out other companies to look to invest more in the northern town.
The Barbados Lumber Company’s Speightstown branch was opened three years after the company opened its first location in Waterford, St Michael in 1973.
With the current refurbishment of the northern branch the company has hired an additional five staff bringing the total number at that location to 28 and 96 across the entire company.
Acting chief executive officer Darwin Worrell said the investment in Speightstown was a part of the company’s long-term strategy to ensure that it remained “a homegrown brand” and a major player in the tourism market. (MM)