Some churches make noise, too, says McKenzie

Some churches make noise, too, says McKenzie

Observer staff reporter

Friday, December 13, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie has expressed concerns that noise emanating from some churches is disturbing neighbourhoods, too.

“Is not just the party people dem alone make noise, the people dem inna the church make noise, too. So it is not only party people that we talking about, we talking about everybody that makes noise to disturb their neighbours,” McKenzie noted.

“I used to go to church as a young boy, as an altar boy; I am an Anglican. We never have the kind of noise, and I used to live beside a Pentecostal church on Bond Street — that was a beautiful kind of noise — but it wasn’t that loud, because the churches now have amplified the noise. Some of them even have more equipment than the dancehall people them. So I am wondering if the sinners are that far away,” he quipped.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a Bill which temporarily amends the Noise Abatement Act, allowing entertainment events that now end by midnight on weekdays to go until 2:00 am.

On weekends, the lock-off time for these events will be extended from 2:00 am to 4:00 am. Entertainment events such as parties, dances and stage shows can also go until 6:00 am if there are no complaints from residents about disturbance.

The Bill is to be debated in the Senate today and, if senators give their approval, it is expected to be implemented immediately. Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation yesterday, McKenzie made it clear that the extension was not giving permission to sound system operators to disturb the neighbourhood with loud music.

“What we are saying is that the amendment to the Noise Abatement [Act], and to the hours, is just to facilitate persons through the holiday. It is not a licence to use it to disturb your neighbours,” McKenzie argued.

He warned that failure to play the sound system within the requisite decibel could result in the police confiscating it.

“The police have strict instructions. If the noise goes beyond what the Noise Abatement [Act] says, it should be then the police can tell you turn it down. Once you fail to turn it down the law gives them the right to take away the equipment. We don’t want that. This [amendment] has been done in good faith by the Government and we are expecting that those persons who are putting on these events will show some level of understanding and consideration for people within the communities. So, Mayor, when you issuing your permits make sure you write on the paper, ‘No loud notice’,” the local government minister stated.

He also pointed out that the next time around, consideration will not be given for any amendments if the sound system operators fail to comply with the guidelines. The local government minister announced that on Tuesday a press briefing will be held in Kingston to sensitise local authorities on how to operate.

“We are having a press briefing on Tuesday in Kingston and we are going to be speaking more from the perspective of the local authority, as to how we intend to ensure that we get a level of compliance because promoters and persons who keep these sessions, who continue to violate the right to hold these sessions, should not be given permits by the local authority to hold these events,” McKenzie said.

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