SOUTHBROOM NEWS - 2008 AGM REPORT

A SOUTHBROOM RATEPAYERS, CONSERVANCY & COMMUNITY POLICING INITIATIVE.

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SOUTHBROOM RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION

CHAIRPERSON's REPORT TO THE AGM - 20 DECEMBER 2008

Southbroom is special.

It is special because the community cares and because so many people are prepared to come forward and champion the cause closest to their heart. Whether it is golf, tennis, bowls, library books, conservation, policing, signage, sewerage, rates or service delivery, Southbroom is both active and respected.

And, there is never a dull moment!

You win some, you lose some. You please some, you disgruntle others. That comes with the territory of being successful in putting Southbroom first.

To those who have contributed to our collective success – far too many to name individually, both from the private and public sector – on behalf of Southbroom, I thank and applaud you.

MUNICIPAL SERVICES

2008 has not been an easy year.

I stand before you embarrassed by the continued decline in municipal services, too little too late, and the perceived ineffectiveness of our Association.

Please know that your committee has tried its level best and that it has been an uphill battle against available municipal funding; and Ward Councillors more active and more able than our own vying for the crumbs.

The funding and attention that a Ward receives is very reliant on the involvement of the Ward Councillor, as are planning and signage and all municipal decisions that affect a community. Unfortunately, we have felt the impact of a new Councillor, who in many cases may not have been aware of the procedures to follow in order to get funding, and who spent a large portion of the year suspended by his party.

I am pleased to report that the differences that may have rendered Councillor Bezuidenhout inactive have been resolved. Today he enjoys the backing of his party, the Municipal Speaker, and his Ward Committee, and we can expect him to drive improved service delivery to Southbroom.

Roads

Our roads are in a worse state than this time last year.

The pothole budget came and went and the work that was done in January was washed away in February, June and November. The funding for road rehabilitation got swallowed up by competing projects and the effect of the R232 million rands worth of road and tidal surge funding now available to Council will only be felt in the new year – once the rain lets up and after tenders close. To those in Berea Road, it is now TOP priority and urgent rehabilitation was promised at the recent Mayoral Imbizo.

Tenders

Speaking of tenders, we have levelled severe criticism at Council as the R25,000 allocated to Southbroom for street lights delivered 3 as opposed to 7 units; and the R50,000 allocation that looked set to deliver only 1 bus shelter at R35,000 is being revisited. As pointed out to Council, there could be far greater delivery were it right priced.

Tidal surge projects

Thankfully, the tenders for the replacement of facilities lost at Granny’s Pool and Umkobi Beach have been awarded and we can expect work to start early in the New Year.

Road verges

Apart from the roads, Southbroom has managed to put on some lipstick for the season: street lines and kerbs have been painted and the verges have been cut. But seasonal lipstick is not what pleases a resident community. Our verges lay neglected for some 5 months whilst coastal bush further narrowed the roads. Our intervention spurred the award of the tender and since November Kew Gardens have been responsible for the contract. Whilst not yet acceptable, Kew’s efforts have provided welcome relief.

Transfer station

We also lobbied the case of the Garden Refuse Transfer Station which despite numerous meetings continued to provide sporadic service. Municipal skip trucks were seldom available to Southbroom and we are pleased to report that the contract is now outsourced to Waste Tech. To the best of my knowledge and experience, the facility is now working well.

Household refuse collection

Ward 1 stretches from Southbroom to Port Edward and inland a tad, and the outsourced Household Refuse collection service is up for renewal in the New Year. Southbroom has been lobbying for the use of Wheelie Bins to minimise the mess made by monkeys and dogs and by those who persist in putting refuse out on the wrong day.

I am pleased to report that this proposal has been supported by the Ward Committee and that the tender will call for the provision of wheelie bins and their removal. This will be a pilot project for the municipality and we call on all ratepayers to co-operate and ensure its success.

BYLAWS

Whilst Southbroom’s well-being is largely in the hands of local government, ratepayers and residents are reminded of the role that they themselves need to play in ensuring harmonious living and cost effective service delivery.

Bylaws are agreed by the people and should be respected by the people, yet we continually need to call on the municipality to enforce them – at great cost to ratepayers in manpower that could be better directed to more critical issues were we law-abiding.

Yes, the country has sunk into a state of lawlessness but that doesn’t mean that Southbroom can’t turn itself around:

Please stop at the stop streets;
Please respect the 40kph speed limit;
Please don’t walk your dog on main beach and allow it to sully the sand;
Please don’t go shopping in your golf cart – its enough that a blind eye is turned when you go to golf;
Please leave your quad bikes at home;
Please take your cuttings to the transfer station – why should your neighbour suffer their rot?;
Please don’t release fireworks; and
Please, build within the law!

PLANNING & BUILDING CONTROL

It would seem that Southbroom isn’t affected by the global recession. Development continues at a rapid rate but, in many instances, in defiance of the town planning scheme and with little regard to the rights of neighbours.

In terms of your mandate, which you will be asked to renew later in the meeting, your Committee is doing its utmost to ensure compliance but we are fighting a losing battle despite the municipality being behind us every step of the way.

Sadly, local government has no greater rights than normal man and so the infringements end up in long legal battles – again, at great cost to Council and hence to ratepayers.
We are currently dealing with:

Lot 94 South Ridge Road – a 3rd floor built in defiance of a court order;
Lot 124 Beach Road – illegal construction on the road verge;
Lot 442 Palm Road – the excessively high retaining wall referred to under matters arising;
And complaints have been received on Lots 43, 393 and 755.

Lot 43 is an interesting one – prime property over-looking main beach, vandalised to the extreme, home to dassies, suitable refuge for vagrants, and an owner who apparently had no idea of its appalling condition before I called him. It is due for a complete rebuild when markets improve and the owner has undertaken to urgently address the health and vagrancy issues in the interim.

CBD DEVELOPMENT

Thankfully not all construction is insensitive and it is good to see the CBD developing.

The mixed-use commercial/residential development currently under construction has a nice feel to it; Southbroom Square has to be the most delightful building that the CBD has to offer; and the newly completed Illala centre has brought a Kwikspar with a Caltex and Tops outlet set to open in the New Year.

If the older buildings wish to compete, we should start to see general upliftment of the CBD and, admit it, we’ve been a long time riding to Ramsgate for petrol!

RETIREMENT VILLAGE

Then there are plans afoot for a Retirement Village on Cotswold Road where a large tract of land has been assembled to accommodate up to 150 units. Despite the concept necessitating smaller accommodation and increased density, an application of this nature would succeed based on need and it accordingly enjoys the support of your committee. We have been active in ensuring its integrity – that it will be a retirement village in the true sense of the word – and we are satisfied that the developers are sincere.

We’ve lost far too many friends to Port Shepstone and Margate and the development will offer aging and frail Southbroomers the ability to stay within the community.

MAIN BEACH

The much-needed redevelopment of Main Beach is also on the cards as Riptide’s lease ends in April 2009.

As suggested by the Municipal Manager, your Association has been creating interest in the opportunity and several parties have come forward, including the existing lessee.
The idea is that a development in keeping with Southbroom be constructed at the cost of the investor in return for a long lease, and that it sensitively incorporates ablutions, the life-savers, hawkers, and provides disabled access to the beach.

We expect a proposal call to be advertised early in the New Year and trust that the successful applicant will do Southbroom proud on what must be one of the finest restaurant sites in KwaZulu-Natal.

All that would then remain is the rehabilitation or demolition of the tidal pool which will be debated, for the third time, later in the agenda.

At this stage though, I think it right that I caution beachgoers that crocodiles remain at large in the Imbezane River.

SIGNAGE

We were going to place a warning sign, pointing out to sea for SHARKS and down the river for CROCODILES but thought better of it as our signage committee has delivered excellent results in the low-signage campaign.

We thank all the businesses that have co-operated and delivered the Southbroom vision despite municipal signage bylaws that currently permit them far more. We especially thank our resident Estate Agents; ADT for removing the large advertising boards that recently appeared on Riptide; and Southbroom Kwikspar for removing their litter of directional signage despite being a new business in town and the costs they incurred thanks to the miscommunication of a municipal employee.
2009 should herald improved control and signage. Your Association has committed R25,000 to the new directional pole on display out front; an improved cluster signage board is being considered for north entrance; and the Ward 1 Committee has applied to undertake the approval and removal of signage through the various ratepayer associations active in its area.

It is all about public / private partnership and being in a position to deliver the unique requirements of specific communities.

LIBRARY

This was the case with our Library.

Between Province and Council, it was decided that Southbroom’s usage did not warrant library services and hence the advertised closure of the facility. Southbroom rallied, and thanks to the numerous volunteers that came forward we now have a bright facility, operating three days a week, waiting to serve you. Please support their efforts. Join the library this Tuesday. Become a patron. Donate a trolley, book shelf or vacuum cleaner.

And to Councillor Gamble who is present today and who serves that portfolio committee, we thank you for your efforts and ask that you continue to assist us as we have yet to receive the two Wheelie Book Wagons promised by Council.

NEW YEARS PARTY

And, if you’re young at heart, please support the Hunters Beach Party at Southbroom main beach. It is set to be a cracker with tickets available at R80 from Realty 1 Southbroom and Margate Cinema’s Ticket Agents. A limited number of VIP tickets will also be available at R120.

The event is being punted as one of the top Old Year’s Eve parties in South Africa and boasts the hottest DJ line up including Queen of Clubs Lady Lea and Rowan Clelland of East Coast Radio.
You don’t need to leave Southbroom and risk the breathalysers.

Experience a concert styled sound system and stage, intelligent lighting, and 4 massive bars all housed in over a 1000m2 of Bedouin tents.

And, if it is not your scene, at least pray for good weather! Your association is to receive R20,000 from the proceeds and we don’t need to picture bolts of white cloth being blown out to sea …..

OTHER EVENTS

Whilst considering your diaries, Carols by Candlelight is tomorrow at 18h00 in Eyles Park. Bring your picnic hamper, deck chair and vocal chords and, if you would like to join a walk through the Bushbuck Trail, arrive at five.

There is also an organised Beach Walk, Impenjati to Southbroom, on Sunday the 28th. Meet at Riptide at 07h00. Transport to Impenjati will be provided.

SEWERAGE

As you walk, visit or view the beaches, please be mindful that the estuaries are under threat of E. Coli and that you can make a difference by simply treating your septic tank. Our Sewerage Sub-committee, for want of a better word, have proved beyond doubt that Southbroom’s run-off water is sick and have called for us to act collectively – NOW. Short of water-borne sewerage, which would cost an arm and a leg in water rates, we need to ensure that our pits are treated regularly and that they are delivering the desired results.

Product is on sale out front and, time permitting, the gentleman concerned will give a brief talk on septic tank operation and role of healthy bacteria.

ASSESSMENT RATES

Having mentioned rates, objections have now been dealt with and objectors should have received a letter advising the outcome. If you wish to dispute your value further, it can be taken on appeal and you can also call for a copy of your value calculation against payment of a small fee.

It is rumoured that rates collections are currently in excess of the permitted total increase. That being the case, and as promised at a collective meeting attended by all Hibiscus Coast ratepayers associations, we can expect a reduction in the rates randage in the near future.

In my opinion, ratepayers associations would need to actively lobby the case as Councillors may not be quick to give it back. Whilst many of them are ratepayers, a Council sets its remuneration scales according to its grading and the larger the income, the higher the grade. That’s how it works.

5th AVENUE CUTTING

You may have noticed that we have cleared a pathway from Beach Road to Lewin in the hope that it will again be valued and used. You may remember that the neighbouring house applied to purchase the roadway and that we objected to the alienation of public property especially since it provides access to the beach.

We also continue to maintain and beautify the main beach headland, the planting at Granny’s pool, various traffic islands and areas of road reserve, the community centre, and we have funded the much needed improvement of the library gardens. No names mentioned, but we are hugely indebted to the two ladies concerned.

LAND CLAIMS

As for the land claims – there is no real progress to report.

STANDING DOWN

In closing, this is my 6th year in the Chair and the time has come for me to stand down.

I thank you for allowing me to serve you, especially when I so desperately needed a cause to keep me focused and busy. Today, I am in need of time for myself. Time to enjoy a good book, my home, my golf, my friends, and it is time that I make way for new blood to take the Association higher.
To my out-going committee, thank you for all your efforts and support. We can be proud of our achievements. Its been fun.

To the in-coming committee, I remain committed to Southbroom and am available to you should the need arise. I also remain the Secretary of the Ward Committee and the Southbroom / Impenjati representative until the next municipal election.

I have high hopes for Southbroom and wish you every success.

Thank you.

Joy Crutchfield