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Jul 13, 2011

Councilor Willoughby proposes solution to vendor problems

Since it opened its doors, the Michael Finnegan Market has been at the center of controversy from vendors. While the issues of rent and wholesale/retail occupancy are somewhat cleared up, with the rainy season in full swing, another problem is surfacing. The downpour that has been prevalent over the past two weeks has transformed the market into a tent city, no different from what it was prior to the construction of concrete stalls.  When it rains, it floods and vendors as well as their produce are at the mercy of the elements.  Today News Five visited the market where Councilor Phillip Willoughby held a meeting to address a long term solution to the problem.  The proposal is to build a shed over the open areas within the market square and while vendors welcome the idea, they are concerned about an increase in their monthly rent.

Ellis Humes, Stall Owner, Michael Finnegan Market

Ellis Humes

“Our main concern right now is the water problem when it rains.  I mean sometimes a small rain comes and the foundation is flooded. I think the whole idea of a new market was very good but I think sufficient planning wasn’t done.  Sufficient planning wasn’t done because if it was properly planned it wouldn’t have been this way and I won’t know if you had a chance to see the tents after that hard breeze that came the other day.  All the tents were upside down and like the other vendor mentioned he thought they would have been in the Roger’s Stadium.”

Phillip Willoughby, Councilor Responsible for Markets

“This process is just to engage with all the vendors who transact business here and hopefully by engaging we agree on what the proposal is and then we forward the proposal to the relevant agencies to try and get approval of the funds to construct the permanent structure within time.”

Phillip Willoughby

Isani Cayetano

“Councilor a pertinent question was posed by one of the vendors at the market and you were very careful as to how you went about answering whether or not there will be an increase of rates when this particular project has been completed.”

Phillip Willoughby

“You know everything comes at a cost.  Providing we put in the permanent structures maybe, let’s say, they want walls [and] providing you want walls, you want water, you want electricity.  So any additional costs that would be incurred would have to be incurred by the vendors and that is why I said that is open to discussion depending to the extent that the vendors would want to take it or where they would want to see it go.”

Ellis Humes

“Of course not we won’t want the fees to go up but it’s possible.  It’s possible because since we came over here we had seen a rent increase from the original price to about a hundred dollars more because our rental fee was two [hundred] and fifty [dollars] and now it’s three fifty so with the improvement it’s possible that the rent could increase.”

According to Willoughby, the vendors’ concerns will be tabled for discussion during an emergency meeting of the Belize City Council to be held on Thursday.  Meanwhile funding for the project is being sought from various organizations including the Social Investment Fund which provided subsidy for the construction of the new market.

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1 Response for “Councilor Willoughby proposes solution to vendor problems”

  1. mike g says:

    Why is it that no one questions Willoughby about the original plans for the market that was agreed on to facilitate all the existing vendors at that time.They said it was going to cost some $600k but after delays upon delays we ended up with a market that cost $1.300k for half of what was agreed on.This market construction needs an audit to see how the funds was spent.

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