The controversial policy barring persons under 17 from entering the Tortola Pier Park without adult supervision is beginning to pay off, management of the multimillion-dollar facility has said.
Speaking with BVI News today, Leasing and Marketing Manager at the Pier Park (TPP) Meslyn Allan said though the ban is not in full effect yet, there have been no complaints of unruly behaviour since the policy took effect last week.
“I must say we have seen some improvements! We have not had any incidences since we rolled out the programme,” said Allan who explained that the new policy is gradually being phased in.
Following the BVI News publication on the ban last last Friday, Minister responsible for Youth Affairs Myron Walwyn called on the authorities at the shopping centre to reconsider the move.
Some tenants agreed with the minister and felt that the move would hurt their business, particularly those in the food and beverage, and clothing sectors.
There were tenants that lauded the Pier Park for being bold but several others criticised management of the shopping facility for implementing the policy without consulting with business owners beforehand.
Tenants were consulted
However, Allan said the tenants were part of the decision-making process through letters and one-on-one conversations.
According to Allan, a number of persons who complained they were not consulted turned out to be employees at the Pier Park and not the owners of the various businesses at the facility.
“Information was rolled out through the tenants relative to what we were doing,” Allan said.
She reiterated that the ban, which is being dubbed the Parental Guidance Required (PGR) programme, was a response to “quite a few complaints from the tenants regarding the disruptive behaviour of the students.”
She also argued that no tenant responded to Pier Park management’s letters which were sent more than a week before the programme was implemented.
Letters seeking help sent to several government entities
Additionally, Allan said the Pier Park sent letters to various entities including the Ministry of Education, the Elmore Stoutt High School, and the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force “letting them know what was taking place and asking for their assistance to help control the matter.”
She said the aforementioned entities responded to the Pier Park’s letters. Allan said after receiving the letter, Principal of the Elmore Stoutt High, Sandy Underhill made several appeals to the student body.
Allan also noted that there were increased police patrols at the facility but those did not suffice. She said more stringent measures were crucial when the Pier Park realized that student indiscipline was worsening.
Many support it
The Leasing and Marketing Manager noted that many of the tenants are in support of the move and also dismissed claims that the policy was affecting the revenue stream.
“It is not a decision that we take lightly because it is a little ticklish since we expected to have persons who were for and against it but I think it acted as a deterrent to the students.”
Will the Pier Park reconsider?
When asked whether the TPP will reconsider or even revert their policy, Allan responded that they were not yet at that point.
“We will await a meeting with Honourable Walwyn as he mentioned. But, as I mentioned, it is a new programme and if you came to the facility last weekend, you would have seen unaccompanied minors within the facility, but they were being monitored by our security,” she said.
“They are still unaccompanied by an adult, but they are not being disruptive so our security does not bother them. It is not something that we undoubtedly put in place right off the bat.”
Allan explained that the policy is being passed in phases and during the final phase, students will be asked to produce identification before entering the Pier Park.
“It is a measure that we put out there to try to regain some control and we want everyone to be able to comfortably enjoy the facility. We know it is a hard one to put out because some people would be for and against it so we are taking it in stages. Our initial stage is to let us let the public know what’s going on, what we plan to do, and let’s start monitoring first before we harshly implement the programme where we say ‘no minors unaccompanied by an adult’.
“Right now we are in the monitoring phase. So hopefully there is no need to go to a further stage whether to ban them or to get police actively involved like we had to do before to escort persons off the facility.”
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