Party promoter threatens legal action against fire officers

A par­ty pro­mot­er has sig­nalled his in­ten­tion to sue the State over the ac­tions of a group of fire of­fi­cers, whom he claims have been at­tempt­ing to sab­o­tage his events.

In a pre-ac­tion pro­to­col let­ter sent to per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Ly­dia Ja­cobs, lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Gre­go­ry Ce­de­no re­vealed that he is con­sid­er­ing fil­ing a law­suit for ha­rass­ment and tor­tious in­ter­fer­ence fol­low­ing in­ci­dents at two Car­ni­val fetes, last month.

Ac­cord­ing to the let­ter, the first in­ci­dent oc­curred on Jan­u­ary 13 at an event held at the Gov­ern­ment Cam­pus Plaza in down­town Port-of-Spain.

Ce­de­no claimed that three of­fi­cers caused an un­nec­es­sary in­ter­rup­tion at the event.

The fol­low­ing day, there was a sec­ond in­ci­dent at Ce­de­no's IUP Cool­er Fete at Five Is­lands Amuse­ment Park in Ch­aguara­mas.

At that event, an­oth­er group of of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing one from the pre­vi­ous night, or­dered the gates closed even though there were pa­trons out­side with le­git­i­mate tick­ets.

"Ce­de­no in­structs that the con­duct of the afore­men­tioned of­fi­cers were egre­gious and their ac­tions can on­ly be per­ceived as a con­cert­ed at­tempt to un­der­mine Ce­de­no in his pro­fes­sion­al ca­pac­i­ty as a pro­mot­er," at­tor­ney Kei­th Scot­land said, as he claimed that the ac­tion di­rect­ly af­fect­ed pa­trons' en­joy­ment of the event.

Scot­land main­tained that at both events, his client was com­pli­ance with the liquor and dance­hall li­cences grant­ed by the Li­cens­ing Com­mit­tee for St George West.

He sug­gest­ed that the of­fi­cers were act­ing out­side of the reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing pub­lic events and were "on a frol­ic of their own".

As part of the let­ter, Scot­land re­quest­ed that the of­fi­cers cease and de­sist from en­gag­ing in sim­i­lar con­duct at Ce­de­no's fu­ture events.

Scot­land gave the min­istry two weeks in which to re­spond to the let­ter but warned that his client would seek an in­junc­tion if his de­mands are not met.

Ce­de­no's le­gal let­ter comes al­most a week af­ter the T&T Fire Ser­vice is­sued a re­lease over par­ty pro­mot­ers al­leged­ly breach­ing fire safe­ty rules at events.

While the re­lease did not iden­ti­fy any pro­mot­er or event di­rect­ly, it stat­ed that sev­er­al pa­trons were turned away from events due to over­crowd­ing.

"In re­cent times, the T&T Fire Ser­vice has been forced to close the gates at events as a re­sult of the bla­tant dis­re­gard to the pro­vi­sions un­der the li­cense, par­tic­u­lar­ly per­tain­ing to the ca­pac­i­ty sub­mit­ted by the pro­mot­er to the Li­cens­ing Com­mit­tee, and grant­ed by the Mag­is­trate," it said.

"These con­tra­ven­tions di­rect­ly af­fect the fire/life safe­ty cov­er­age pro­vid­ed by the Fire Ser­vice since the ca­pac­i­ty of the venue is one of the fac­tors for de­ter­min­ing the num­ber of fire of­fi­cers to be de­ployed and in turn, how ef­fec­tive­ly the Fire Ser­vice can car­ry out its func­tions in the event of any un­to­ward oc­cur­rence," it added.

At a press con­fer­ence at the Queen's Park Oval on Wednes­day, mem­bers of the T&T Pro­mot­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (TTPA) com­plained that manda­to­ry hir­ing of mem­bers of the pro­tec­tive ser­vices were cost­ing them up to $150,000 per event.

While the As­so­ci­a­tion ad­mit­ted that it does not be­lieve that there should be no po­lice or fire of­fi­cers at events, it said that there should be more dis­cus­sion on the num­ber of of­fi­cers re­quired.

Un­der the cur­rent li­cens­ing scheme po­lice and fire of­fi­cials uni­lat­er­al­ly rec­om­mends the num­ber of of­fi­cers re­quired for the event to the li­cens­ing com­mit­tee.

Reporter: Derek Achong

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