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Fetes in jeopardy

Carol Martindale

Fetes in jeopardy

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SOME ENTERTAINMENT promoters could have the plug pulled on Crop Over parties planned for the weekend.
That’s because they learned only this week that they first need to obtain an entertainment licence.
According to an official at Town Planning, from this year the department will have to issue a certificate to promoters indicating they have no objection to the staging of an event at the specified venue.
The source also explained that promoters would have to apply in writing to Town Planning, after which there would be a site visit.
He said the certificate would more than likely have a 30-day cover.
The first casualty was Berger Boyz. They were forced to postpone their launch planned for last night at Weiser’s On The Bay. Edward Toppin, the founder of the group, told the WEEKEND NATION yesterday that he only found out about this requirement a couple days ago.
He is now hoping to get his licence soon in order to launch next week at A&B car park in Wildey, St Michael.  He said he was told it would take about seven days to get the licence.
Toppin said: “This is new to everybody. Nobody called us to inform us of this; so we thought everything was as normal this year. We went into the Value Added Tax (VAT) Department this week and that is when we were told we needed to have this entertainment licence.
“My problem is that there was no official communication or notification from any of the relevant agencies,” he said.
Toppin, who said Berger Boyz has been around for 13 years, said the new requirement could have an impact on the entire festival.
Tamara Arthur, the representative for promoters, said it was unfortunate that at a Crop Over stakeholders’ meeting in January the requirement for the licence which costs $150 was not communicated.
Arthur, a director of Party Central, which holds Sunday limes in Husbands, St James, noted their events were also in jeopardy.
She said that during a recent meeting with Chester Howell of Town Planning, he indicated they would shortly be discussing the matter with the police and Fire Department, National Cultural Foundation and VAT officials, after which a decision would be made.
“This jeopardises a number of Crop Over events, including tents held in schools, as well as other events held across island,” said Arthur.
The National Cultural Foundation, which produces Crop Over, said it was now looking into the situation.
Corporate communications specialist Wayne Simmons said some promoters had been enquiring about the licence; but the foundation was still to hear from the Town & Country Planning Department firsthand.
The group Power x 4, which has a party tomorrow at the Party Stand, said it was not affected.
Director Chetwyn Stewart said: “The Party Stand is an established entertainment facility. This crackdown may have to do with the complaints of violence at various venues.”
Efforts to reach Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins and his deputy George Browne and Anthony Gittens of the VAT Department proved futile.