Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
ARGUING THAT the creation of entertainment zones will not solve the problem of noise pollution caused by events such as parties and street dances, the junior minister in the entertainment ministry says the Government is not rushing to designate areas across the island for such purposes.
Damion Crawford yesterday told The Gleaner he was in the process of wrapping up consultations with stakeholders in the entertainment industry as well as the Church on a raft of proposals aimed at strengthening noise abatement while at the same time providing fodder for entertainment.
Minister Crawford said that even if entertainment zones were created, there would be no wholesale creation of entertainment zones anytime soon.
"The best we can do within the short term is to do test zones," the minister said.
He told The Gleaner discussions were still taking place at the ministry, board and ministerial levels about the establishment of zones.
"There are different views on it. Personally, I think, that zones cannot be the answer, but can only contribute to the answer," Crawford added.
"We are looking at a multiplicity of things and a more democratic method in which persons can have a say," the minister said.
According to Crawford, the creation of entertainment zones brings with it problems of transportation and economies of scale.
"Many of these events, they depend on the residents, and so the same problem we are trying to solve is the market for many. Removing the product from the market is, within market theory, counterproductive," Crawford said.
Crawford argues that most of the 5,700 events for which permits were granted by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation last year were not advertised on radio and TV.
"There are some communities that depend on these events and, therefore, having a zone which moves them from these communities is counterproductive to the multiplier effect that entertainment currently holds," the minister added.
Urged to make haste
The minister's comments come shortly after Government Senator Wensworth Skeffery urged the Government to make haste in the creation of entertainment zones, especially in major towns.
"We are in a plural society. People have their specific rights and people also have rights to peace and quiet. So we need to look at areas where, if you want to party all night and all day, go there and disturb only yourself and those within that domain. But those who want to have peace and quiet, you don't disturb them," Skeffery said.
He was contributing to a debate on the 84-year-old Spirit Licences (Amendment) Act, which proposes to extend the time from which spirits may be sold in establishments to midnight on Mondays to Saturdays, and 2 a.m. under special circumstances.
The Senate passed the bill, allowing it to be harmonised with the Noise Abatement Act which prescribes that events be shut down at 2 a.m.
Opposition Senator Dr Christopher Tufton, while supporting the bill, warned that it should not be seen as a licence for noise pollution. He said the State has a responsibility to balance the scale as it relates to the right to enjoyment of some persons and peace and quiet for others.
"While it is important and we should encourage and promote the right of individuals to enjoy themselves, at the same time we have to respect the rights of other individuals who may want to, in their homes or place of business, not be disturbed by the enjoyment of others," Tufton said.
Crawford, too, believes there is a need to strike a balance. He said the proposal which is to be sent to Cabinet will include proposals for a framework within communities that will be taken into account whenever an application is being reviewed about the shut-down time for an event.