In January this year the community was horrified by reports that a local family was allegedly chased off a beach by the management of the establishment sharing the said beach. This report came on the heels of similar ones over the years, and as a result Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering openly condemned the practice.
During the budget debate in the House of Assembly on 1 March Hon. Pickering elaborated about the illegal beach restrictions: “There is an issue that needs public airing, it needs to be debated in the public space and that is this issue of on the beach that is public, who, what authority does any individual or organization have to place their furniture on the beach and then dictate how it can be used or not used.”
“This increasing difficulty is being created that some people think that they can monopolise beaches and tell others what to do and what not to do on the beaches. The Planning Act clearly states that all beaches in the BVI are public,” the Minister pointed out.
The Deputy Premier added: “We are getting complaints all the time about locals going to the beach and people telling them that they cannot use the beach. That cannot happen; it must be condemned in all forms; it must not happen.”
Hon. Pickering explained that the situation will be addressed with possible penalties for those found guilty: “We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that any individual or organization that is breaching it (public beach policy) will have to be dealt with according to the highest authority, and if necessary, brought before the law to pay penalty because the beaches are public. They are for everybody to enjoy and we can exist and coexist, and there need not be any difficulty on these issues.”
“That is an issue we have asked legal opinion on and we await it. It is obviously a very difficult issue, but it needs to be addressed because it is creating a disharmonious community,” he added.