Barrington Flemming – Staff Reporter
Battle lines have been drawn between first Vice President of the Harbour Street Craft Traders Association, Baldwin Dulston, and longstanding President, Melody Haughton, over the administration of the Montego Bay-based organization, which leads the craft traders at the 254- shop facility.
Dulston is calling for Haughton to step down, citing poor leadership and nepotism; but Haughton has fired back saying no way, and says it is all false.
At a meeting called by Dulston on Monday, a group of disgruntled craft traders said that Haughton, who has led the association for more than two decades, has not been representing their interests, and they would like to see the back of her now.
“It has reached a boiling point; we want a change in leadership. This lady has been in office for over 23 years and it is evident that members of the market not growing in terms of economics. Only a dictator can lead for 23 years without anything tangible to show so we have taken that executive decision that she must go, because she has overstayed her time,” Dulston declared.
He also cited financial impropriety, a sentiment echoed by the members present, as he argued that neither written nor verbal communication has been had about monies collected on behalf of the association. He said the Tourism Product Development Company requested financial and other statements from her, but none has been forthcoming.
NO FINANCIAL REPORT
“In my opinion, if you can’t give a financial report, it means that something chicanery is happening. You must be equipped enough to submit a financial report to the people who have entrusted their money into your keeping. This is another reason why the people are rising up and calling for her to go,” Dulston said.
He further argued that there is no management or organization as it is all dictatorship as Haughton believes no one is willing to come up against her.
“Well, I am willing going up against her. Members have ideas, and all they need is the leader to help. It is obvious the lady is sick – she should do the noble thing or call the election. We are not giving up.”
He said an election which, was due on January 27, was not held.
The craft traders also argued that only a select group of persons generally get the opportunity to go to the cruise port to promote and sell their products.
“We are cross, angry and miserable. She does not mean us any good, she must go!”, one craft trader echoed.
Haughton, however, fired back, countering the claims as all false, saying it was small faction of dissidents who have rejected the rules of the association and after being punished for their rude and outrageous behaviour, have formed themselves into a group to oppose her.
“These allegations are all false. TPDCO did not request any document from me. I invited TPDCo to the meeting as I always do and no representative of that body requested any such document.”
However, it was during that meeting the members requested an election.
She further pointed out that: “Most of these persons are not acquainted with the association’s rules and guidelines, as they are not registered members and they are the ones who are making a fuss and creating problems. They do not attend meetings to learn what is happening so they go about with the wrong impression.”
Haughton sought to explain that persons who go to the port are those who have their licenses which are issued by TPDCo after they have undergone the required training.
“We have divided the market into seven regions and each region has a captain, so two persons from each region will go along with an executive member. The ones who have not been to the port do not have the required documents,” she said.
Regarding the election, Haughton noted: “They cannot bully the system. We had an election on the 27th of January, but because Mr. Dulston was a no show for 26 consecutive meetings according to the rules, he automatically dismissed himself. They are saying that they are not honouring the election because he, Mr. Dulston, was not elected.”
Haughton said she has had an excellent record of advocating for the craft traders and it was under her tenure that the craft market was upgraded.