“When you arrive we will have a lovely fruit salad waiting for you.” These were the words that marked the end of my first conversation with Nicole Joseph-Chin, social entrepreneur and founder of Ms
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Warning for illegal electronic billboard
The Horticultural Division of the Food Production Ministry is to be given 28 days to remove an electronic billboard from around the Queen’s Park Savannah, in Port-of-Spain. Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) acting director Clyde Wache said yesterday the TCPD will send a letter of advice to Horticultural Division for putting up the billboard near St Clair Circle. In a telephone interview Wache said the billboard was put up last week without the TCPD’s permission as is required by law. Wache said the issue was brought to the TCPD’s attention on Thursday after Minister of Planning Dr Bhoe Tewarie received a call from a concerned citizen. The brightly coloured, flashing electronic billboard stands among the greenery near the foot of the hill leading up to former West Indies cricket captain Brian Lara’s house, to the east of a Ministry of Agriculture sign, and is inescapably visible to anyone driving or walking along Queen’s Park West.
Wache learned that the director of the Horticultural Division of the Food Production Ministry had received the go-ahead for the billboard from the Ministry of Works. But Wache said the Ministry of Works’ permission was not sufficient as the TCPD’s approval is required. He added that the billboard is illegal and the Food Production Ministry has 28 days to remove it or the TCPD will issue an enforcement notice, he said. The Town and Country Planning Act says an application has to be made to TCPD before advertisements can be posted, Wache explained. “We do have a policy in place which regulates where ads can be placed, and there are limitations, especially around the Savannah. The ministry or its agents would be required to make an application, and since they didn't make an application, the signage is a breach of planning control,” said Wache.
In a separate telephone interview, Tewarie said he would speak directly to Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj as a courtesy. Tewarie also said the incident has prompted him to work in conjunction with the TCPD to ensure that advertisements all over the country are appropriately placed and have received the required permissions. When contacted, Maharaj said he could not speak about the billboard until yesterday's St Joseph by-election was over.