THE EDITOR: At an NCC Security Workshop on February 7 to discuss plans for Carnival, a senior police officer stated that left to Woodbrook residents there would be no Carnival in Woodbrook as they want to shut it down. This statement is erroneous and extremely misleading.
Woodbrook has for a long time been the heart of Carnival – over the years it has been home to more than 13 steelbands and over 20 mas bands with many mas, steel pan, calypso and musical legends coming out of the area.
Residents have watched the festivities evolve from a local celebration to an international event on the global calendar with pride.
Over the past four decades, the focus of Carnival activity has shifted away from downtown Port of Spain to Woodbrook and has brought with it several challenges which have negatively affected many residents.
Year in, year out residents are consistently assaulted with music at extremely high levels from pre-Carnival fetes and street activities/events in the lead-up to Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
The defacing of properties during the J’Ouvert celebrations, J’Ouvert bands starting their music long before the official start of J’Ouvert, the damaging and destruction of overhead electrical lines, and the indiscriminate dumping of litter on the streets and in the yards of residents are just some of the issues many residents encounter.
We have sought over the years to highlight these issues to the authorities in the hope that the powers that be would implement the necessary guidelines and changes to allow the festivities to continue with a minimal negative impact on the residents.
The Woodbrook Residents Association (WRA) has always been open to dialogue and has been an active participant in the discussions over the years for the enhancement of Carnival activities within the Woodbrook area.
We have been a member of the NCC’s Parade of the Bands Committee for the past three years, and have been invited to attend several meetings at the TTPS headquarters, where we were encouraged to share our experiences with the stakeholders present.
On February 4, residents met with the Gold Commander and other senior police officers and stakeholders to discuss various issues along with possible solutions.
The following day, a committee met with members of the Traffic Branch to address the numerous parking challenges that plague the area on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. The WRA has requested the following which it is hoped would be beneficial to both residents and visitors:
* Correction of errors on the traffic management list of streets which is published yearly with inaccurate information.
* Responsible wrecking.
* One-side parking south of Ariapita Avenue to Wrightson Road (with the exception of Hamilton Holder/O’Connor, Petra, Ana, Rosalino, Carlos, Murray, French and Colville streets which will have no parking at all).
* Concrete barriers being moved from Wrightson Road to Ariapita Avenue to be replaced with police barriers to allow for easy access in case of an emergency.
These suggestions were well received by the members of the Traffic Branch and residents remain optimistic they will be implemented.
The residents are very disappointed by the misleading statements being made by the police when at a recent TTPS meeting with the WRA, feedback and recommendations were shared. At this meeting it was clearly stated that the WRA supports Carnival and any related activities. However, the lawlessness must be reduced.
The WRA’s agenda has never been to stop Carnival in Woodbrook but to ask that the relevant authorities implement rules and regulations that would guide how Carnival activities are managed in Woodbrook, and to ensure that those activities are executed in a manner that safeguards the health and safety of residents and their properties as well as masqueraders and international visitors.
At no time did the WRA or its representatives issue a call to have all Carnival activities ceased in Woodbrook or environs.