26 February, 2009

Barnes Bay

Government has not done its duty to the public and instructed the Attorney General to bring an action in the High Court to protect access to Barnes Bay. Barnes Bay has always had a public road leading from the main road to the beach. It used to be the public road to the old, demolished, Coccoloba Hotel.

Coccoloba Hotel

It has been used from time immemorial, in a West Indian sense, by members of the public. Section 138 of the Registered Land Act provides that peaceable, open and uninterrupted use of a private road for 20 years creates a prescriptive right. The old Barnes Bay road has been used as a public right of way since I came to live in Anguilla in 1976, and that is more than 30 years ago.

Barnes Bay Beach 30 years ago

The original public access to Barnes Bay has never been blocked off or otherwise treated as a private road during all that time.

Barnes Bay Beach as no Anguillian schoolchild will ever know it in the future

Of course the road is not and probably never has been marked as a public road on any map. But, every Anguillian, particularly those from West End, remembers being able to access the Bay by vehicle along that road since vehicles came to Anguilla. Very few public roads in Anguilla have been registered as public roads. That does not stop a public road from being a public road. It just means that the relevant authorities are being cowardly negligent in protecting the public rights of way.

Viceroy's new 'private' entrance

When Viceroy began construction, they blocked the original public road. With government’s permission, they provided alternative public access to Barnes Bay at the western end of the project, just before the Mangos Restaurant entrance, with parking provided.

The substitute public access to the beach just east of the road to Mangos Restaurant

As of a week ago, Viceroy has begun denying the public access to this road to the beach. The road block, guard, and guard house is down the road, behind the grey SUV parked on the left in the photo below.

The only other possibility for accessing Barnes Bay is to use the Mangos private parking lot designed for customers of the restaurant only. Or, you can always charter a boat.

Mango's car park

The Hon Belto Hughes, long-time campaigner for preserving public rights of way in the West End of Anguilla, cannot bring an action in the High Court to enforce the public right of way. The law says only the Attorney-General can bring a court action to protect a public right of way. The Hon Dr Wilhelm Bourne, A-G of Anguilla, will not act unless he is instructed to do so by Executive Council. Executive Council cannot give instructions to the AG, except on the basis of a paper presented to it by the Minister of Lands. The Chief Minister and Minister of Lands, the Hon Osborne Fleming, cannot produce a paper by himself, he depends on his Permanent Secretary and his other technocrats to do it for him. PS Foster Rogers cannot produce a paper out of thin air, he depends on his subordinates, Mr Vincent Proctor, Director of the Planning Department, and Mr Gifford Connor, the Registrar of Lands and Director of Surveys, to help him to prepare the necessary paper for ExCo. And, since all of these gentlemen are fast asleep on this issue, we can well expect that nothing will get done.

I feel bad for the children. They will never be able to enjoy what we once had.


  1. This is so true and really sad. Seems like we soon will be left with Sandy Ground alone for sea bathing.

    I am only in my mid 30s now but I remember as a child going to church picnics on Meads Bay and Maundays Bay using the Cocoloba Access Road which is no more.


  2. Let me see if I understand this. The A-G, who is the "head" of our legal system, won't enforce the laws unless he is instructed to do so by a political body, the ExCo. Therefore, whether to enforce a law in Anguilla is totally subject to the whims, sloth, political vindictiveness, and self-serving tendencies of a group of politicians who are subject to bribery, conflict of interest, and any other potentially troublesome character fault. God help us, because our judicial system sure won't protect us anymore! Why is not the A-G required to uphold the law by bringing legal action to stop and illegal acts? Can an average citizen sue the A-G to get a writ of mandamus or some other order to force him to bring suit to uphold the law?

  3. Perhaps this is the time for non-violent action. If a sizable group challenged the closing of the access road, the publicity, all over the world, might indeed result in some government involvement.
    The action should start as an "innocent" challenge, there should be a video of the action/confrontation. If access is not granted, the action should be escalated with more people, perhaps a "sit in."

  4. A much better course of action is for Mr. Mitchell( a retired Judge with time on his hands) to draft the proper documents and lay them on the Attorney General's desk.

    Video action of confrontation? Anguillians are very, very selective in picking our battles. Not one single beach in Anguilla will be without proper access.

    If Mr. Mitchell believes that anyone can deny Anguillians access to our beaches, then he does not know us very well!

    We are a peaceful, quiet but determined people and we always put things right.

    God bless Anguilla.
    God save the Queen.

  5. Anonymous wrote, "A much better course of action is for Mr. Mitchell (a retired Judge with time on his hands) to draft the proper documents and lay them on the Attorney General's desk."

    Makes sense to me! More productive than just writing this blog and lamenting the fact that "the children will never be able to enjoy what we once had."

    Go to it, Mr. Mitchell!

  6. In all honesty, i think Mr. Mitchel is telling us legal things that you do not hear from the so call technocrats or the ministers of government. We should be thankful for the vital information he is allowing us to access. What we need to do is demand answers from those we elect to office.

  7. I believe access to beaches should be guaranteed to the public as beaches are indeed public and if this road is going to go private (lawfully?) then the government should build another next to it.

  8. Beaches should always be public and the public has a right to demand it, and any member of the public should have the right to bring action against anyone who is trying to deny that right, it should not be solely the right of the AG. What would be next...parks, roadways..this is how it starts and before you know it Anguillans would have no place to go in their own country. Remember the Bhajans fighting for their beaches and the famous song "This can't happen heh in this country, the beach belong to we..." Come on Anguillans..fight for your right"


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