Town council 'in contact with trade fair organiser'

Town council 'in contact with trade fair organiser'

THE Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) is in contact with the organiser of a trade fair in Kovan to resolve the issue of the event proceeding without a licence, said its chairman Sylvia Limon Monday.

She told The Straits Times that the event's organiser had also "done its utmost" to comply with requests from the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Last Friday, the agency said that before it issues a licence, trade fair operators must submit paperwork such as a list of stallholders and a letter of consensus from the neighbourhood shopkeepers or merchants' association.

But operators of trade fairs in Kovan City and Hougang Central Hub - both of which are in the Workers' Party-run Aljunied GRC - had not applied for licences.

The NEA sent AHPETC and both operators a reminder on Nov 19. After the operators submitted incomplete applications, NEA sent another reminder on Nov 22. The Hougang Central operator, JO Group, withdrew its application.

The Kovan one, Events Business Management (EBM), went ahead with the fair. It was issued a letter of intended enforcement on Nov 24.

The firm's general manager Dennis Ong said on Monday he has submitted all the required documents. "Now, I am waiting to hear from NEA."

Last week, NEA said that between 2011 and last month, it had taken 11 enforcement actions against those operating a fair without a valid licence.

The first time AHPETC heard of the licensing issue was when NEA wrote to it on Nov 19, said Ms Lim. On Monday, she also clarified that both the Kovan and Hougang operators had been appointed by AHPETC to carry out "year-end festive events".

"I would prefer to use that term (rather than trade fair) because the events were supposed to cover... performances that are festive-related to draw crowds to the area, besides the festive bazaar," she said. "It is not what we typically know of as trade fairs, people selling food and all that."

She added that festive-themed goods would also be sold on top of the weekend performances.

Separately, Ms Lim said the Hougang event ceased due to "contractual issues" between AHPETC and JO Group, and not because of the licensing matter. She refused to elaborate, saying it would not be fair to the organiser.

JO director Jeff Ong could not be reached for comment on Ms Lim's remarks. But earlier on Monday, he said the cancellation had led to "heavy losses".

A poster by his firm advertising the fair quoted daily rental rates ranging from $180 to $550. Mr Ong said affected vendors had been contacted and would be refunded.

andreao@sph.com.sg

maryamm@sph.com.sg


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