Just over 100 employees of Preconco Limited and three associate companies — CemTile, Duratile Inc and Creative Paving Solutions Inc – today stood in solidarity with Managing Director Mark Maloney in his legal troubles with Town & Country Planning authorities.
Flanked by colleagues, Preconco’s Assistant Financial Controller Kirk Smith told the media this morning that Preconco would no longer be caring for the roundabout at Lears, St Michael.
Town & Country Planning authorities last Friday tore down a hut built by the company in the middle of the roundabout. This development appeared to represent an escalation of a tussle with Maloney that began over a building currently under construction near the Bridgetown Port for Rock Hard Cement, another Maloney-run entity.
Rock Hard Cement was ordered by Town & Country Planning to stop building the cement storage facility because the necessary planning permission was not given. However, Maloney has defied the order and the Department has taken the matter to court. The case was due to be heard for the first time today but was adjourned after it was discovered that the Marshal had not delivered the summons to Maloney.
Claiming victimization after the hut was torn down, Maloney called for Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins to be removed from office, saying: “The man is a law onto himself and he needs to be removed from that office.”
Smith said Maloney’s “emotional and passionate” outburst last Friday following the demolition of the hut was the reaction of a frustrated man who felt victimized by Cummins.
“What you guys heard on Friday when [Maloney] spoke would have been an emotional and passionate entrepreneur who, seeing the work that he and the team put in at the roundabout being torn down on Friday, and clearly being victimized after all the stuff going on with Rock Hard Cement. He is clearly down about it,” he told journalists at Preconco’s office, located a stone’s throw from the Lears Roundabout.
Smith explained that the roundabout was constructed because of “fatal and near fatal accidents” which were occurring in the area. The purpose of the shed, he went on, was to add beautification and market what the group of companies had to offer.
“With every action, there is a consequence and reaction. And no one has thought that in tearing down this building, that there could be a potential job loss as a result,” said Smith.
However, he pointed out that Preconco would integrate the ten employees who worked on maintaining the roundabout into other aspects of its operations, “so they don’t lose out significantly on what they were earning before”.
“Unfortunately, we will not be able to take care of that roundabout anymore. And unfortunately that will now have to be an expense for the Crown to undertake,” Smith said.
He questioned “why now” and why, instead of having discussions to thrash out any related issues, “it is just being put in the press that, ‘no, these [permissions] are not being given and projects can’t go forward’”.
Henderson Brathwaite was the project leader on the Preconco roundabout, and played a pivotal role in helping to care for the structure, mainly on weekends.
He dismissed any notion that the hut was preventing motorists from seeing, suggesting that if that was the case, the Bussa statue at the JTC Ramsay Roundabout at Haggatt Hall, St Michael should also be removed.
“Why not Bussa? He is much taller and you can’t see around him,” said an upset Brathwaite. “I am losing a salary,” he added.
Meanwhile, Smith said it was business as usual at the companies, at least for now, adding that they were still trying to get work despite the setbacks.
“We are still pressing ahead but we thought it was critical that we make a stand with our managing director because if these things don’t stop, the impact is just greater than trying to pick at him. You are picking at each one of us that work with him to help bring these projects to reality,” said Smith.