Another Heather Cole Column – Public Beaches or Segregated Beaches?

Submitted by Heather Cole

I have a sentimental attachment to Crane Bay so perhaps that makes me biased with regards to any chaos that revolves around it. I spent many days in my youth on that beach, being rolled up in the waves, and on those long summer evenings taking a walk up the long expanse of the beach all the way to the dark hole, mostly in search of sea grapes. When it was too hot my friends and I sat on those benches on the jetty in the shade enjoying the breeze of the sea and the magnificent view and the boys jumping off the jetty. I have memories from long ago of a man who we called Masters who was either the manager or the owner of the Hotel. He used to get the watchman to run us if we came onto the property but we did not loiter there. We used the hotel to facilitate our access to the beach since my grandmother’s house was a stone’s throw from where the walls of the hotel now stand.

In those days, there were no walls so we walked the quarter mile up to the hotel walked through, passing the pool and making our way down the steps to the beach instead of going the mile on the public road. Once we cleared the hotel and made it to the beach we were safe. I do not remember any occasion that we were asked to leave the beach. Truth be told what I remember now is what I can only term as an act of defiance against Masters and that was dipping and washing our sandy feet in the beautiful pool as we made our way back through the hotel. While Masters denied our access to the beach, our presence on the beach was not denied. It was like a safe haven.

However, thinking rationally we have a sore thumb. We have a problem today that is not going away. No matter how much we pacify it by putting that thumb is our mouth and sucking on it, when we take it out, it is still sore. The very idea of having a PUBLIC beach that has a restriction is ridiculous. How can there be a public space that is owned by an individual from the high tide mark to his property. My interpretation is that the Act therefore only gives John Public access to the sea and not full use of the beach. If the beach was truly public property no one private party could claim any part of it as their property.

Anything that is for public use or consumption but comes with restrictions is segregated. So taking it a step further, one can state that some beaches are actually not truly public but segregated if Barbadians are denied the acts of vending, relaxing and walking on them. What we have here is a clear case of segregation of the beaches in Barbados hidden in plain sight as the law has legalized this segregation.

In a public car park everyone can park their car. In public schools no one group of persons can claim part of the school as for their race. Public transportation is Barbados is not segregated with the front of the bus for one race and the back for another. In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus that was used for public transportation sparking the Civil Rights Movement. The inhumane system of apartheid which institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination ended in 1991 in South Africa. So why do we have a law on the statute books that institutionalizes where we can go on the beach and sets a portion of the beach aside for private ownership?

Coastal erosion has all but destroyed the beach at the Crane. It is a mere shadow of its former self. The beach that I remember was perhaps three times the size in width of what it now. It means that according to this high tide arrangement the hotel, vendors and nationals compete for an increasingly diminishing resource.

It would be interesting to see the title deed of the Crane Hotel and any other hotel or beach property to see what has been conveyed.

In my opinion, the best solution is to repeal and create a new piece of legislation or amend the legislation removing the reference to the high tide mark because that law is discriminatory against Barbadians and the law should not be in conflict with itself either in principal or practice and; public must mean available to all in entirety.

Clearly there is over reach in the legislation in allowing a high tide mark to restrict access on public property. It is indeed shameful that the Attorney General who is a resident of St Philip and more importantly the defender of the public interest has not uttered a single word on this matter. Since this government is doing nothing to resolve this problem, the next government must aim for steady, pragmatic leadership which resolves this chaos

240 comments

  • … perhaps from the Dole!!

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  • We can do 5his all day John!

    You should begin to add the time you spend posting comments that will be deleted.

    #JA

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  • Peter Lawrence Thompson March 30, 2018 10:04 AM

    The nature of law is that unless you have a violent bloody revolution that sweeps away and delegitimises everything that came before, you have to pay respect to the precedents that have been set or your new law will not stand up when confronted in court in front of judges that rule according to precedent.(Quote)

    You know nothing about law-making. Stop Googling and think. That is part of the Bajan disease – everyone is an expert on everything. You do not need a bloody violent revolution to change the direction of law. You need brave men and women in parliament with a coherent vision of the society they want to create.
    The above statement reveals an appalling ignorance. Courts are here to enforce the law, which is made in parliament; it is in the interpretation that we get what is called judge-made law. Precedents can be wrong: it was once illegal in the Southern US for blacks to marry whites; it was once legal in South Africa for blacks to live in white communities; it was once legal for white landlords to say not blacks, no Irish no dogs in the UK. I can go on. New laws changed all those and more.
    Peter, I suggest you sign up on one of Jeff’s courses and learn a bit more about the basics of law-making. Shouting does not make you right, but it may impress the BU regulars.

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  • @Hal

    Thinking is fun. So let’s start. According to British common law coastal property goes down to the high water mark. The Barbados Constitution stipulates that the government has the authority to expropriate property, but fair (market value) compensation must be paid to the property owner. Do you care to hazard a guess how much it would cost the taxpayer to acquire all the beaches in Barbados? I thought not.

    Mugabe expropriated without adhering to the decorum of British common law, but it has not gone to well for him economically. Ramaphosa is about to try a similar experiment. Mind you both Zimbabwe and South Africa went through pretty violent revolutions on their way to the current political dispensation, but it does not seem to have loosened the tentacles of British common law sufficiently.

    We could still try to legislatively expropriate without compensation but that would mean we’d have to amend the Constitution as well. Then of course we’d face a tsunami of right wing blowback about our lack of respect for holy property rights and that would finish off whatever is left of our offshore financial industry.

    You should read the National Conservation Commission Act Cap. 393 because you will learn that Bajan legislators already solved the problem decades ago. The act leaves title in the hands of the coastal property owner, so no need for compensation; but it removes control and places it entirely in the hands of the NCC.

    Sadly, like the rest of this sorry administration, the NCC is dysfunctional to the point that they have no comprehension of the Act of parliament which created them… ahhh well.

    Like

  • @David,
    my posts are not appearing

    Like

  • Thinking is fun. So let’s start. According to British common law coastal property goes down to the high water mark. The Barbados Constitution stipulates that the government has the authority to expropriate property, but fair (market value) compensation must be paid to the property owner. Do you care to hazard a guess how much it would cost the taxpayer to acquire all the beaches in Barbados? I thought not.(Quote)

    Forget about coastal property. I know absolutely nothing about that and am not interested. I am talking about law making generally under our form of government. What you have said shows you do not know how laws are made under our common law system – whatever the laws are about.
    I do not want to get into a discussion about coastal law apart from the fact that it is not clearly defined (what some idiots call nit-picking) which is reflective of almost every post-independence institution in Barbados.
    We are a nation that has failed, moreso given that lawyer/politicians dominate our public life. We can collectively play the three monkeys as much as we like, but time is short to get things right. Until we face reality we will remain in the shadows.
    By the way, there is nothing called British common law. As to fair market value, what does that mean? The government of Barbados has acquired (confiscated?) land that they have not paid for years after the compulsory acquisition. What was fair market value years ago is not fair market value now. We have a system of gangster capitalism in Barbados.
    By the way, the Crown can acquire any property in the public interest. You must temper your enthusiasm, which can often mislead the pensioners on BU..

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  • @Hal
    Forget about coastal property. I know absolutely nothing about that and am not interested.
    ++++++

    That was the subject of my discussion Hal.

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  • The nature of law is that unless you have a violent bloody revolution that sweeps away and delegitimises everything that came before, you have to pay respect to the precedents that have been set or your new law will not stand up when confronted in court in front of judges that rule according to precedent.(Quote)

    Thanks John Smith, I do my best. You need to realise though, that a couple of weeks ago I knew none of this stuff. Google is my friend….(Quote)

    Law-making is law-making, whether it is about coastal borders or the man on the moon. It is the same process. The internet is an enormous benefit, but it is not an alternative to formal learning. If it was we would have closed all universities and schools and given everyone a computer and access to the internet.
    The real betrayal of ordinary Barbadian people is that those who know better would express those views in private but in public so the silliest things in order to be popular. @Peter you must give direction, not just follow the mob.
    But it has ever been thus. Read Plato’s Republic. It has enormous lessons for contemporary Barbados.

    Like

  • @Hal
    @Peter you must give direction, not just follow the mob.
    +++++++++

    I have been on a one man crusade to get people to actually read the relevant legislation. I have not followed the mob at all. The mob thinks that beaches in Barbados because Dipper said so. They have been sadly mislead.

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  • @ Peter Lawrence Thompson,

    Unless the government solve this problem it will not end well.

    Bajans are not as passive as you think and I hope the ” protests ” will continue to be peaceful.

    Every Bajan knows ” the beach belong to we ” , Instead of trying to convince the BU mob you

    could ask the Prime Minister to instruct the Minister of Tourism to retract the advertisments

    that claim ” all in Barbados beaches are public “.

    Like

  • @Hants
    ask the Prime Minister to instruct the Minister of Tourism to retract the advertisments that claim ”all in Barbados beaches are public“.
    ++++++++

    All beaches in Barbados are open to the public, even when a coastal property owner holds a title document which states that he owns the beach. This is what Paul Doyle’s title documents stipulate, but according to the NNC Act Cap 393 section 5, the NCC exercises ‘control’ over the Crane beach and all other beaches. It is this ‘control’ which allows the NCC to stipulate that all beaches in Barbados are open to the public, even when they are on private property.

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  • At the end of the day the so called ” political classs” allows this shite to go on everyday.
    Like the new site(layout)..kudos to BU.

    Like

  • KPMG was banned from auditing public institutions in South Africa, compounding a crisis for the auditor in the country over its role in a high-profile bank failure and ties to the controversial Gupta family.

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