December 9, 2023

Embattled battered booze board

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt would seem to the average person on the street that if you appoint a board to oversee the licenses of liquor you need to have persons on it who need to know something about the subject but would receive no direct or even indirect benefits or otherwise from the decisions made.  If you don’t, conflicts of interest and accusations on unfairness are going to occur.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work that out.

When the Cayman Island Liquor Licensing Board members were announced there was much concern at the potential conflict of interest.

It is not unusual to appoint one or maybe two members of a board, if the board is large enough, to have persons on it who are “working in the trade or profession” because they can provide advice. Even so, it is dangerous and can still be perceived as an advantage to that person because “he is in the know” and works with the other board members, even if he or she excuses himself or herself when there is an obvious conflict of interest. It is the unobvious one that creates the most cries of “foul”.

However, if there is a small board like the liquor licensing that has only five members you don’t appoint a chairman whose mother is a liquor license holder and his son a mobile liquor license holder and than also appoint his niece. Just to make it even cozier, you then appoint another member who actually owns a liquor business.

The sitting members of the liquor licensing board are:

Mr. Mitchell Welds, JP, Cert. Hon     Chairman

Mr. Noel Williams                              Deputy Chairman

Mr. Neil Bryington                             Member

Mrs. Bernice Richards                       Member

Ms Tammy Welds                             Member

FOUL! FOUL! FOUL! FOUL! The cry was heard from all four corners of Grand Cayman.

Last Thursday (12) the board was unable to consider 12 applications from five different George Town retail liquor license holders who had applied to extend their opening hours to 10pm.

One of the license holders so applying was Bryington and he had no choice but to excuse himself from the meeting.

Prentice Panton, owner of Liquor4Less, and also one of the applicants to extend the opening hours, had written a letter of complaint to the board pointing out the chairman, Mitchell Welds, because of his two relatives in the licensing trade was conflicted.

The chairman then had to excuse himself as did his niece.

With only two members left there was no quorum and therefore none of the applications could be heard.

It has been well perceived for a long time there has not been a level playing field in the liquor licensing trade, especially when it comes to licensing hours.

Some, including Liquor4less, have to close at 7pm whilst the chairman’s mother’s store is allowed to stay open until 10pm.

A level playing field it is not.

Wayne Panton, the minister responsible for the board, is currently overseas.

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