The government has banned the use of hard courts at government schools for fetes, and Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves said he does not see how anybody can reasonably oppose it.
Gonsalves made this known on the Issue at Hand programme on We FM on Sunday, April 16, where he said that hard courts are just not designed to accommodate fetes. He drew a reference to weddings that used to be held at schools which led to negative consequences.
“…We used to allow weddings at schools. For some time now we don’t allow them because we have built Learning Resource Centres. When we had weddings in schools, the wedding will take place on a Saturday or Sunday, and on Monday- either half day or the whole day- people can’t go into the schools because [of] what is left; the garbage, things aren’t properly rearranged back, and so on and so forth and the destruction of state property.”
However, the Prime Minister said that playing fields are not included in the ban.
“I know one news report- one online publication- had that I had said playing fields, but I did not say that. In fact, I introduced the discussion on the hard court talking about…there was an elementary basic hard court in Georgetown going up to Chile area and we have done it over and we put in bleachers, we put in changing rooms and bathrooms and we have put the wall fence on it. We have done it and then somebody called me and tell me that somebody was circulating some leaflets that they’re going to have a fete inside of there,” Gonsalves said.
“…Well, I called National Lottery and asked them if they gave such permission. They said no, I should know that they wouldn’t do that because I’ve spoken to them about things like that before, so I said well the only thing that I know about is a Gospel concert which is taking place at the Chile playing field and I said in my comments that that is a different matter altogether. But…I don’t see how anybody can reasonably justify that you’re having these fetes…where people jumping up and they tossing this and that and…mashing up the place. “
Gonsalves added that there are enough spaces where people can have their fetes.
What has been happening is that there have been some open spaces in some particular areas where people can put up tents and they can do things…most of them are not enclosed so you’ll have to put in…a temporary perimeter fencing. You can’t have a wet fete for instance on a playing field, so you would have to have somewhere else.”
Gonsalves said that the upper portion of the tarmac at the decommissioned E.T Joshua Airport is currently available, but will not be when the city is built.
“When the hospital is there, that will not be available and of course, when the city is built, but there will be space in the city for that kind of activity. There’ll be open space in the city for that kind of activity. There’s an open space in Kingstown now at the…Solidarity Car Park,” he pointed out.
He continued that big cultural events and entertainment will be allowed at any playing field except at the Victoria Park otherwise the field will become water-logged.
“…what we are really talking about is not the problem of having mass activities because there are enough places to have mass activities. It’s when people are talking about having…a wet fete. Now in Mesopotamia, we have at the moment some urea stored in the facility at La Croix and I’m asking Soboto [Caesar, Minister of Agricuture] …to have those moved out so that it could be cleaned in time so that people can have that for the Carnival season where they normally have an activity there so I’m very mindful of it,” he said,noting that the hard courts are small spaces and are not ideal places for fetes.
“… I don’t know where else in the world you’re going to have…this kind of activity with the number of feet pounding in all of these places and the fence- pushing it down and all sorts of things. There are sporting people too,” the Prime Minister pointed out.