An escalating row between a vendor and a restaurant over the use of the beach at Fitts Village, St James has left a bad taste in the mouth of at least one visitor who was caught in the crossfire.
Beach vendor Lavonne Alleyne, who last year accused rangers from the National Conservation Commission (NCC) of harassment and victimization, is now accusing the nearby Il Tempio Italian restaurant of virtually kicking sand in her face and trying to force her out of business, a charge owner Anna Pirrelli denies.
Alleyne, who rents beach chairs to tourists while also selling handmade jewellery, said restaurant staff had been making false complaints against her to police in an effort to get her removed from the spot from which she has been plying her trade for over six years.
And, she told Barbados TODAY, police officers have bought Il Tempio’s story that her chairs have been blocking the restaurant, and have ordered her to vacate the spot.
“I don’t set up in front the restaurant, and even though I explained to the police that my clients are not blocking the restaurant they moved me and said they would hit me with the NCC Act and that I will have to move my chairs altogether,” Alleyne complained.
“My chairs were never in front the restaurant blocking her business,” she said of Pirrelli. “What I did is to move the chairs from alongside her place. I shifted my business totally to give her space for guests.”
The disgruntled vendor said her business was dependent on tourists enjoying their holiday on the beach, and this episode had cost her several clients.
“This really affects my business in a big way. People come here not only for the beach and the sand but to see me and to give me business. They know I am a small business person struggling out here. It makes me feel very bad. I tried to talk to the police but they dismissed me,” Alleyne said, adding that while she had a licence to operate on any local beach, the restaurant owner was making life difficult for her.
“This is not right, but chairs are on the beach where my licence gives me permission. It is not good for tourism. This is not the first set of people that the restaurant owner has run tourists from here. About two weeks ago the owner of Il Tempio moved some tourist from the beach just because they were sitting in my chairs, and that is not fair because Barbados is for everyone,” she stressed.
Among those ordered out of Alleyne’s chairs was Canadian visitor Jim Krocko, who said he was uncomfortable with the entire situation.
Krocko described an episode where “we were sitting by the palm trees and the owner of the restaurant said we had to move our chairs”.
He said Pirrelli became aggressive after he protested that the beach was public and he would not leave.
“The next thing I know the police came over they spoke with [Alleyne] and said we are allowed to sit there but not on [Alleyne’s] chairs.
“It makes me feel very uncomfortable. We come to Barbados because of the people . . . .The people here treat us so wonderfully, so this is very distasteful. You come to Barbados to relax not to be involved in any war. We love Barbados so it won’t discourage us, but we consider that stupid,” Krocko told Barbados TODAY.
Tirrelli has dismissed the allegations, stopping just short of describing Alleyne as a troublemaker.
The Il Tempio owner told Barbados TODAY she had secured permission from the NCC to place chairs at the front of the property for the use of guests.
However, she said Alleyne “puts her chairs in the same area as ours and when we put our chairs down she moves them.
“We don’t want the trouble, but she gives us trouble everyday. We just want to be able to run our business. She has permission, but not for the entire beach,” Pirrelli explained.
Meantime, NCC General Manager Keith Neblett said that only the state agency could remove vendors who have been given licences to operate on the beach.
“When we issue licences for the beaches in certain allocated spaces no other entity can move vendors. I am not aware of the particular situation, but no one has the right to tell anyone to move chairs once it is on a public beach. I will have to investigate it. Once I look at the situation I will see, but it is a little strange to me,” Neblett said.