Residents and business owners in St. Lawrence Gap were pleasantly surprised recently, when Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds, made an impromptu visit to the popular entertainment strip.
During the Saturday night walk through, Minister Symmonds met with various stakeholders to hear and see their concerns first-hand. The key issues addressed were loud noise, poor sanitation, the unequipped police outpost, and inadequate security and lighting.
Addressing reports of noise pollution, and the 3:00 a.m. cut off of loud music, Minister Symmonds said that he believed the key is to work towards a harmonious solution for the residents who need their peace and quiet, and the business community.
Minister Symmonds called for a “serious discussion involving all the parties concerned, and the police, so that we come to a common agreement and understanding, and then we maintain a commitment to keeping that understanding in a principled way”.
He added that while they would be working with the business community to ensure there is more soundproofing, St. Lawrence Gap is an entertainment area and a level of noise and activity is expected.
The Tourism Minister also took the time to meet with the members of the Royal Barbados Police Force stationed at the St. Lawrence Gap outpost.
“I’ve talked to the police; I’ve been into the outpost. I give the assurance here and now that the situation of an outpost which does not have air condition, which is in bad condition generally; no facilities for bathrooms and so on for our police officers – in my judgement is grossly unsatisfactory and has to be fixed,” Minister Symmonds said.
“We will try to work with the relevant department of government to raise the resources to fix that, because they’re here to ensure the security is looked after for the people in this general area,” he added.
Stressing the importance of security, Minister Symmonds also addressed complaints about harassment of both visitors and locals, and called on men to cease lewd behaviour that negatively impacted patrons as well as Barbados’ tourism product.
He stressed that the success of St. Lawrence Gap would depend on the collaborative efforts of the stakeholders, for example the Tourism Development Corporation, who he said has assisted in the installation of lights in the gap to make the area brighter, and therefore safer.
Minister Symmonds also announced plans to create a community focused on tackling these issues.
“What we’re now doing is putting together a community of people who will be working on a long-term basis on dealing with some of the issues, and to try to find serious and satisfactory solutions to the challenges facing this critical component of Barbados’ tourism product,” he said.