Christmas rush downtown - Vendors block street to sell goods

December 20, 2016
Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer A van tries to negotiate its way through the crowd on Beckford Street.
Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer A slippers vendor tries to get a sale.
File Beckford Street was filled with shoppers and vendors on a recent STAR visit to downtown Kingston.
Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer A woman moves through the crowd.
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Christmas rush downtown

... Vendors block street to sell goods

Vehicular traffic has been reduced on Beckford Street in downtown Kingston as vendors and shoppers alike have completely taken over the street.

Yesterday, THE STAR visited the area and the atmosphere resembled one of a marketplace, with vendors and shoppers taking advantage of the Christmas rush.

The Mayor of Kingston, Delroy Williams, however, says no permission has been granted by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) for the street to be overrun with such trading.

"Well, I wouldn't say KSAC has granted permission. Nearer to the season, a lot of vendors converge downtown, seasonal vendors far more than we would have normally. So, the mere fact that you have more vendors and shoppers, there will be overcrowding," he said.

Williams added that the KSAC has had a practice of relaxing the rules a bit more as it gets nearer to Christmas to assist commerce.

"In the spirit of the season and in the spirit of shopping, we relaxed, and would ask the police to go out and monitor," Williams said.

The mayor also told THE STAR that he visited the Beckford Street area yesterday and the roadway was not completely blocked.

However, it was a different case around 3 p.m. yesterday when THE STAR braved the congestion and walked along Beckford Street.

Christmas trading was in full swing as clothing was hung across the street on wires. Tarpaulins were also spread across the roadway with mannequins of all sizes positioned along the sidewalks and in the roads, rendering the area almost impassable for motor vehicles.

Commander for the Kingston Central Police Division, Superintendent Wilbert Campbell, told THE STAR that permission to almost block the roads for vending could only be granted by the KSAC.

"It's more than a handful for us, I can tell you. I'm glad you were able to go there and see. I don't know what sort of arrangement the KSAC has granted to them, but the police can't grant such a permission," Campbell said.

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