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ULP rebrands its headquarters

ULP rebrands its headquarters

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After more than 10 years of operating from rented quarters, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) now owns its headquarters building, purchased at a cost of $1.2 million.

This was disclosed by ULP political leader Dr Ralph Gonsalves on Wednesday at a re-branding ceremony for the building,{{more}} now re-named ‘ULP Headquarters – Labour house’.

Gonsalves told reporters that he and his wife Eloise mortgaged their property at Frenches to facilitate the purchase of the 15,000 square foot property at Richmond Hill, previously owned by Lionel Coombs.

“I wanted this property to be free of any encumbrance and it is free of any encumbrance,” Gonsalves stated.

He also asserted that the purchase of the property was done without any government intervention.

“Inside this property, there is not one nail, one tile, not one louvre, one piece of galvanize or concrete which has come by way of the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“When a number of community organizations, including churches, purchase properties, they apply to the Cabinet and the Cabinet on many, many occasions give the waiver of the stamp duty, but we paid our stamp duty ourselves.

We didn’t ask for any waiver. You could look at the receipts I have in my hand here,” the political leader stated.

The deed, number 2047 of 2015, was registered on August 5.

According to Gonsalves, who is seeking a fourth term in office, the purchase of the building follows a promise he made at the party’s 14th anniversary celebrations on March 28, 2015 at Calliaqua.

“You may recall some forces wanting to throw a damp squib across our celebrations for our 14th anniversary with all sorts of things surrounding this property.

“You saw it headline on newspapers, on radio stations and televisions, that the ULP is going to be thrown out of their headquarters. They talking about fourth term and they going to be on the street. I just want to remind you of what was said…,” he said.

In March this year, it was widely reported that the ULP owed their landlord over $100,000 in rent, which had not been paid since February 2011.

A notice to vacate the building in one month was sent by the landlord’s lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Browne to the general secretary of the ULP, Julian Francis, who was responsible for making rent payments.

However, at a hastily called press conference, the prime minister had stated that before the notice to quit was written, Francis had paid half of the arrears to a friend of the landlord, as the landlord lives overseas.

Gonsalves had also confirmed that all the outstanding fees had been paid in full on March 30. It was also during that press conference that the prime minister confirmed the party’s intention to purchase the building.

At last Wednesday’s ceremony, Gonsalves said four trustees have been appointed for the building: Sir Vincent Beache, Julian Francis, Sir Louis Straker and himself.

“… Even though Eloise and I take a mortgage on our property, I don’t own any of this building. I don’t own any of this property; neither Louis, Julian nor Vincent.

“Anytime we go to the great beyond or anyone of us wants to demit as a trustee, it is up to the party to put a different trustee. But I think it is right and proper that those who had been the foundation stewards be there – the four pillars upon which this great party in its new dispensation was built,” Gonsalves added.

Gonsalves said he does not view as a “risk”, the fact that he and his wife financed the purchase of the building.

“I don’t see that we have taken any risk, because as sure as the sun rises, I know that the party will not leave both of us alone to pay off the debt.”

General Secretary of the ULP Julian Francis has called on supporters to help to repay the loan.

“We will be having a lot of transactions and events to make sure that this party does not turn its back on the political leader and his wife.

“I think we owe him a deep sense of gratitude…,” the general secretary said.

According to the political leader, over the next five years a development programme for the building will begin.

“We should be in a situation to build a hall for us to have our conventions. We have enough space.”

The Prime Minister expressed thanks to lawyer Grahame Bollers for offering his service free of charge; to the previous owner Lionel Coombs and his lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Browne, for cooperating with them. He also thanked all those who helped by working on the building. (KW)

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