The Blackman and Gollop Primary School, which has been plagued by an itchy issue, will soon get relief, Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod has promised.
Some of the $282 570 supplementary funds the House of Assembly voted today for the National Conservation Commission (NCC) is to go towards ridding the school’s environs of cow itch vine, whose pollen from nearby idle fields causes severe itching.
The primary school in Staple Grove, Christ Church, has been forced to close its gates on numerous occasions due to the presence of cow itch. Smoke from grass fires has also afflicted students and teachers there.
The NCC is to return to the area to eradicate the troublesome vine, Prescod indicated.
He told Parliament: “This morning while I am here I have to be studying what is happening at the Blackman and Gollop School. I have to respond to that at some point and the NCC would also be very much involved in that exercise.
“I would like to say that I will probably have to use some of these funds to deal
with those problems at the Blackman and Gollop School which are being expressed loudly, sometimes not as just as they ought to be.
“I have visited the area on Sunday and I recognize the concerns of the persons of the PTA, the community and the school, but in the interest of the children I could not send in any officers, any workers from the NCC to pick the cow itch during the five day period, but I want to give the residents and the general public of Barbados the assurance that workers will be in there over the weekend and hopefully by Monday we would be able to resolve some of the problems.”
But while he gave the promise those issues would soon be rectified, the Minister said the owner of the farm land would have to reimburse Government.
The Minister said he would not be spending the Government’s coffers on “wealthy” landowners.
Prescod said: “I am not going to spend the Government’s money cleaning up the private property of wealthy men in this country.
“I am not going to do that so if the Government is to spend any money on labour in the cleaning up of that estate, let it be mentioned to the owners of the estate that they would have to pay back every cent to the Government if the Government cleans up the property and that will be done if the landowner does not take on his responsibility to do so.
“And if we do that work and the landowner does not compensate us for doing that work he will find himself in the civil courts of Barbados facing a civil charge.”
But it was not immediately clear how the bill for the clean-up would be settled as Staple Grove plantation is reportedly one of the properties owned by the collapsed CLICO insurance group.
Another 140 acres of the land formerly owned by the disused plantation had been earmarked for residential development which has so far not got off the ground a decade later.