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Court order temporarily blocks removal of Canouan schools

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The Glossy Bay Marina Limited (GBML) in Canouan has been blocked, at least temporarily, by a court order, from removing the Pelican Primary School and the Coral Reef Pre-school from their premises.
The schools are located on land owned by Dermot Desmond and GBML and were built by the Canouan Resorts Development Holdings (CRDH) and investor Andreas Pignataro when both investors had an amicable relationship.

A falling out between the two was followed by a request for the schools to be moved, but no action had been taken. But now, GBML is demanding that the schools be removed to facilitate further development at the marina site.

A letter dated August 8 from Desmond and addressed to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CRDH Andrew Hedley (and copied to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves) said that 13 months ago, GBML gave CRDH notice to remove the school but received no reply.

The letter also stated that that Desmond was willing to make available two villas (Romeo and Juliet) on the North of the island for the interim to house the schools.

“If we do not hear from you by 15 August, which is the date agreed with the Prime Minister, we will carefully pack the contents of the school into a container and deliver it to Mr Pignataro or Mr Lynch, whomever assumes responsibility next Wednesday (August 15),” said the letter.

The Mr Lynch referred to in the letter is the school’s principal Alan Lynch.

But yesterday, lawyer for CRDH Joseph Delves told SEARCHLIGHT that the talk of removing the school by August 15 prompted his clients to seek an injunction from the court stopping GBML from removing the school.

Delves said the matter is expected to be ventilated before the court on September 11.

He said that now the matter is before the court, any attempt to remove the school will be treated as contempt.

Delves also noted that the offer by Desmond to use his two villas (Romeo and Juliet) for the school’s relocation was not taken up as the buildings are not suitable for a school. He said that one of the properties needs work while the other is located next to a precipice.

On Monday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that the government has become involved in the issue although the school is private and not a government owned institution.

He said he has been trying to work with the two sides to have the issues resolved.

He added that generally, the government’s only involvement with the school, seeing that it is a private school, is to ensure the basic standards are maintained (syllabus accreditation) under the law.

“That’s our involvement, like any private school, they interface with the Ministry of Education,” said the Prime Minister who added that he had to get involved because over 40 children would be affected if the school has no home. He said that he wishes that at times, persons would communicate about their problems.

“My focus and interest is not about anybody or anything, but the 40 odd children and I am sure we will find a solution,” said Gonsalves.

The school building is expected to remain in the same spot come September as the owners search for an alternative site.

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