Sitting under a tree in Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain, secretary of Fisherman and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) Gary Aboud made a tearful plea to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to mediate with
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Woodbrook residents will kick up a fuss
Residents of Woodbrook are opposing the use of Taylor Street for four major bands to access the Socadrome at the Jean Pierre Complex on Carnival days. the special adviser to the chairman of the Woodbrook Residents Committee, Gregory Lindsay, says they want the issue to be peacefully resolved in the interest of the national community.
Lindsay adds the residents were never consulted and while they have nothing against the evolution of the Carnival, the refusal of the powers that be to meet residents on the sore issue is not the way to proceed.
Q: Mr Lindsay, a while ago you told me you were all in favour of the evolution of the mas. How come, then, you are kicking up a fuss against four bands passing through Taylor Street in Woodbrook on Carnival days?
A:(At a residence in St Joseph, Wednesday morning) I don’t personally think it is about kicking up a fuss. I think it is about understanding that it’s operating within a residential community.
Yeah, last week you spoke about revolution...doesn’t that speak to violence?
I don’t think it speaks to violence so much so that you know the forum was one in which one was able to intimate exactly how they felt about the assault on the Carnival. At the meeting with the mayor, as was reported in the Guardian... (He fishes out clippings from the Guardian on the whole affair, one of which quoted an official of the Woodbrook Residents Committee).
And didn’t you make a statement which could be construed as being controversial?
(Referring again to the clippings) “Residents were not consulted over the route changes made by bands, there was no consultation here. Some 48,000 people would pass here, there are senior citizens here, people with babies. I am a revolutionary and I cannot promise we are not burning tyres for the two days.”
Mr Lindsay, I can see you are very passionate about your cause but doesn’t “revolutionary” sound kind of threatening?
In what context are you using that word? It has to be taken in the context that you are operating in an environment of a residential community, and I think that in the surge of what is happening in the environment of Trinidad right now, a lot of people are afraid to speak out, okay? And I think…
You really believe—and where is the evidence—that people are afraid to speak out...you don’t listen to the radio, the television or read the newspapers?
If you were to reference what comes out in the press, in the print media, the electronic media … about how people go about trying to resolve situations, you will see countless instances where people resort to all sorts of ploys, measures in order to bring about relief, okay?
Mr Lindsay, when were you all told about this plan and by whom?
This proposal was brought by the four bands, but at no point in time was there any stakeholder consultation with residents. I may also add that right now a framework with Woodbrook residents has been worked out with Opt Entertainment for another function, which went well last year and which would proceed satisfactorily this year without a hitch, as they consulted with the residents, and that is the approach which ought to be taken if you are going to come into a residential area with that kind of event.
The only time we knew about this decision was via the news media.
Burning of tyres also sounds like a threat. Are you a disciple of Kublalsingh?
(Chuckle) I am not a disciple of Mr Kublalsingh. What I am a disciple for is to speak for those individuals on my street who have no voice.
So why this question of burning tyres?
Because you know what: this is what I am seeing. We have a problem and we have to provide a viable solution. it has to be outlined how it would benefit the residents of the street, who have never been averse to the plans and development of Carnival.
This interview, Mr Lindsay, is coming out on Sunday. If there is no resolution to this impasse by this time, what are you going to do…Are you going to take out the tyres?
Well, no, this is what I am going to say, and I am going to put it like this, which is taken from the newspaper, in a letter from a Woodbrook resident who said last week: “The residents in the main are retired and not up to the type of protests that pervade the national scene. We have raised our objections to this national Carnival assault verbally and civilly, and we hope that the authorities put a stop to this madness from occurring.”
It is not my intention to create any…to put my family at risk, to put the people who live on my street at risk. Taylor Street is a main trunk line into and out of Port-of-Spain, and all forms of public and private transport traverse that area. All that I have requested from the Commissioner of Police is for his esteemed consideration, seeing that he is the office-holder who has to give the authority, the instructions to have Taylor Street be utilised as an emergency access egress route for protective and emergency services.
So the only street you have a problem with is Taylor Street?
What I am saying, Mr Raphael, is that I am from Taylor Street, and I have been here from since 1981, and all of my work within the community is well documented and at this juncture, just like the Commissioner of Police say, we have to do this security thing street by street. My elderly parents and all of the other elderly couples who have been living on that street and the seniors who are infirm, and my below-six-month-old nephew—how will they deal with that?
Mr Raphael, I am not going to be burning any tyres but I need to say something to let them know that we are serious and it is not my intention to incite violence or to create a nuisance to the public order but I will tell you what: this is how this country runs, if you don’t stand up now, next year is just going to roll over.
Very well. Can this situation be resolved if they just remove Taylor Street from the pathway of the bands on their way to the Jean Pierre Complex?
Speaking on behalf of the residents of Taylor Street, yes.
That is the only street you have a problem with?
As far as my street goes, yes, and the Woodbrook community. The chairman of the NCC came on TV and says nothing has been approved; that is not what this says (referring to another news item in a newspaper). This here says it is a done deal, right?
Finally, Mr Lindsay, your last word, in the event nobody bothers to take you on by today?
By Sunday when this article comes out, Mr Raphael, they had correspondence on Tuesday, they would have had enough time to think about it, ok? On Sunday the CoP and the whole country is going to be reading this article, and even then the remit of the CoP allows him to make that decision on the residents’ justifiable expectations. But we shall see. We shall see...