THE Castries City Constituency (CCC) says it has noted the criticisms that were levelled at it for its management of this year’s Asou Square and promised a much-improved event in coming years.
The criticisms were many, both on social media and elsewhere, focusing on the amount of money the CCC were alleged to have made from the rental of tents and tray space to the quality of activities staged.
With respect to monies collected by the CCC, it was said, via social media, that the CCC collected in excess of $70,000.
However, Castries Mayor, Peterson Francis, quickly dismissed these allegations, stating that for the collections made on the tents, trays and other services the CCC provided amounted to $47, 421.
“However, the total cost to the CCC for hosting the New Year Fair – excluding the cost the CDF (Cultural Development Foundation) would bear in relation to providing entertainment – was $160,737.59,” Francis said.
Also taking on the critics was Gemma Thomas, the CCC’s Market Manager, who explained that the actual net loss to organizers of the event was $82, 907.98 and this was so as a direct result of having to take on all aspects of the event.
She noted at least one activity staged at Asou Square that many viewers described as being in poor taste, namely a group of young women running onstage while artistes were performing.
“First, let me say emphatically that we do not condone the incident which took place during the staging of this year’s event. Upon realizing what was happening, our event manager speedily dealt with the situation by getting the young ladies off the stage,” Thomas said.
According to her, staffers at the Office of the Mayor are responsible people who take their jobs very seriously.
“While we had no control over the situation, we wish to apologize and we do guarantee that such an incident will not repeat itself,” Thomas said.
While the CCC is not making any excuses for what happened at Asou Square under its watch, it said that this year was the very first time it had sole responsibility for the event which was a challenge in itself.
“As a first for us at the Office of the Mayor and Castries Constituency Council hosting Asou Square, it was a challenge. The learning experience was a great one. I can now say with confidence (that with) the responsibility to be the producers of Asou Square activities, you certainly will see a major improvement and added surprises in the coming years,” Thomas said.
“We will demonstrate a new vision with innovative dimensions whilst maintaining every aspect of our tradition and culture,” she added.
But the CCC’s first staging of the New Year event was not all downhill. In fact, there were some positives, as noted by Thomas, who explained that early indicators told a story of a number of successes achieved from the CCC’s first try at managing Asou Square alone.
“Among these (successes) were high attendance and participation. There were no recorded incidents apart from one person who was treated for a minor laceration. Sales attracted by vendors, inclusion of the William Peter Boulevard as part of the festivities and the infusion of cultural groups and budding artistes, were all positives. There was no ambulance call, traffic was managed effectively and smoothly throughout the city and there were no cases of food poisoning,” Thomas said.
An Asou Square post mortem was held last week Wednesday and involved personnel from the Office of the Mayor and the Ministry of Health, St. Lucia Fire Service, Royal St. Lucia Police Force and the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO).
A report coming out of the post mortem noted that there were a few minor operational glitches which will not be overlooked in the future.