Homeless succeed in Appeal Court

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The homeless community has been granted leave by the Court of Appeal to file judicial review proceedings against the Port of Spain City Corporation over its decision to place padlocks on the gates of Tamarind Square, Port-of-Spain.

The court, Justices Peter Jamadar, Gregory Smith and Charmaine Pemberton, on Monday, granted leave to the group, which initially had its application dismissed by Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell, in the Port-of-Spain High Court in October.

Even though at first the City Corporation was resisting the application during the hearing, senior counsel John Jeremie, who is leading the case for the corporation, subsequently submitted that his client was not objecting to leaving being granted.

He told the panel of judges that four of the five gates to the square are already locked but that the corporation has decided that it will not lock the fifth gate until the judicial review lawsuit is heard and determined.

Hugh Bernard’s claim is against the Corporation for implementing the measure without providing alternative facilities.
In the lawsuit, Bernard claimed the homeless were adversely affected by the corporation’s decision to place locks on the gates which denied them and other members of the public entry into the square.

In December of last year, the Corporation erected a fence around the perimeter of Tamarind Square, and towards the end of January, locks and chains were placed on the gates.

Four of the five gates around the square have been locked and the fifth gate has a padlock but has not yet been locked as the others.

The lawsuit contended that if this fifth gate to Tamarind Square was locked, the socially displaced will have nowhere left to go.

Bernard argued that it was unfair to him and the other homeless people that they will be denied entry into the square without any alternative arrangements being made to accommodate them.

He also sought to have the court make an order requiring the City Corporation to leave the gates open until viable alternatives are made for them and that tents and portable toilets be placed in the square.

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