SOUTHBROOM NEWS - JANUARY 2008

A SOUTHBROOM RATEPAYERS, CONSERVANCY & COMMUNITY POLICING INITIATIVE.

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SOUTHBROOM RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION

CHAIRPERSON'S REPORT TO THE AGM - 22 DECEMBER 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your attendance. Whether you are a ratepayer, resident, neighbour, Councillor, Municipal Official or member of S A Police Services, you have played a role in shaping the future of our village and we thank you for your continued support. It is together that we make a difference; that we uplift Southbroom; improve our Ward; and add value to the Hibiscus Coast Municipal area as a whole.

Southbroom is unique in so many ways, but especially in that our community takes an active interest in its well-being. Membership currently stands at 365, an increase of 40% over last year, and I thank Treasurer Graham Volck for his sterling efforts in recruiting members.

Whilst our Association is a small cog in a big wheel, I am proud to report that we have added value over the year and that we continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with both local government and SA Police Services. I thank them both most sincerely.

ROADS

Top of everyone’s mind this morning must be the poor state of our roads. They are possibly in the worst condition we’ve seen in years, perhaps even more so than before ratepayers were asked to pay a special levy for resurfacing and storm water drainage in Year 2000.

Good news is that we have recently seen renewed efforts by pothole crews and, whilst only the major routes have been attended to at this stage, we have been assured that all roads will be completed early in the new year.

Certain roads have also been identified for resurfacing – our share of the R18,000,000 vote for the municipal area  Hibberdene to Port Edward – and I must tell you that putting three names forward was not an easy task. Just about every road is being ripped up by concrete mixers and heavy vehicles straining under loads of bricks and roof tiles, and, just when you think “that street’s done” another project gets underway.

A stitch in time will certainly save nine but the majority of our roads simply weren’t designed to take the volume of heavy vehicles that have resulted from the building boom.

MUNICIPAL BUDGET

Some 6 years ago, the Town Engineer advised that the Municipal Budget was light in this regard as, unless it provided 3% of the value of the infrastructure in maintenance, we would be reduced to sand within 10 years. At that stage the budget allowed 0.3%, and it hasn’t been much higher since. Come the ensuing rates year, we will have no option but to motivate an increase in this vote which, unless efficiencies are achieved elsewhere, will result in increased rates. Not a noise that ratepayers like to hear.

Please be assured that your Association takes the municipal budgeting process very seriously and that we do attend each and every forum and contribute to the decision-making processes.

RATES

Rates year 2008/2009 is going to be an interesting one for us all. It heralds the introduction of the new Rates Policy with properties being valued at market value and differential rates in the Rand being applied to different categories of property.

I was saddened by the apathy of Hibiscus Coast communities. Always quick to criticise, but slow to come forward when invited to participate in local government processes.  I represented our Association at the meeting in Port Shepstone – there were only 26 ratepayers in attendance – and I am told that the Uvongo meeting only drew around 70. I believe that David Halle and Liz Hewitt attended. Thank you.

I share two important outcomes from the meeting:

  • Around February, market values will be posted to ratepayers and you will be afforded an opportunity to object. Just be aware. If a valuation is in need of correction, it will be corrected – upwards or downwards!

  • And, whilst the total basket of rates income cannot increase beyond limits set by central government, the new Rates Policy will result in redistribution. Some ratepayers will receive increases heavier than inflation and others may well enjoy reductions. The new Rates Policy will come into effect in full force or, as coined in other areas, the big bang.

The differential rate, how many cents we will pay per rand of market value, will be set when the municipal budget is prepared. This will be the final stage of public participation.

STORM SEAS

Easing the ratepayers’ burden over the next 2 years will be the R64,000,000 Municipal Infrastructure Grant in respect of the storm seas damage. Good does come out of bad and, thanks to the efforts of our municipal officials, national government funding will renew, replace and improve what in many instances were tired public amenities.

For Southbroom, there is R50,000 for the main beach embankment; R405,000 for the Granny Pool area; R150,000 in respect of the Umkobi lifesavers’ facility; and R600,000 for main beach tidal pool.

MAIN BEACH TIDAL POOL

The threat posed by the under-mining of main beach tidal pool has been a concern for more than 5 years and we previously voted at AGM for its demolition. The funding now exists for it to be properly repaired and you will be asked to vote on the issue later in the agenda. Think about it. Built in 1945 and enjoyed for more than half a century, perhaps even the staunchest environmentalist would rather see the amenity saved.  (Result: The meeting voted that the structure to be repaired.)

GRANNY POOL

The vision for the Granny Pool area is a much reduced ablution block, the size of two disabled loos, set higher up the dune, with a meandering elevated boardwalk leading down from Lewin Road to a wooden deck where the old ablution stood. These two photographs depict what is intended and I ask that you view them before leaving and let us have your comments. The existing staircase will be planted over and a conservancy tank will replace the old septic tank system that seeped onto the beach.

For those of you who are unaware, I have to share how the ablution block rubble found its way off the beach. It took one football team, the Burning Spears from KwaNzimakwe, less than 5 days to carry it up in 20 litre paint cans! Never in my life have I witnessed better team work or greater passion to succeed. I can think of many projects that should be contracted to Burning Spears or similar. They put the average labourer to shame.

We thank Hibiscus Coast Tourism for the R20,000 capital grant that enabled us to assist the municipality with this project and clear the beach in readiness for the season.

UMKOBI LIFESAVERS HUT

The Umkobi Lifesavers building will not be replaced. It was badly sited and mostly used as a home to hobos and vagrants. Rather a smaller storage locker will be provided for safe-keeping of the lifesaving equipment, and watch will take place from a mobile structure.

SIGNAGE

The MIG Funding will also provide R6,500,000 for refurbishment of low lying coastal roads and R1,000,000 for uniform informational signage to all beaches within the municipal jurisdiction.

Talking signage, you may have noticed a change in Southbroom? It’s like the old days when Estate Agents “For Sale” and “To Let” boards were not permitted. Thanks to the efforts of our newly formed Signage Sub-Committee, and the agreement reached by the resident Estate Agents and Garden Service Contractors who serve it, the signage pollution that detracted from the aesthetic and value of Southbroom is no more.

Sure, we have a few of our local businesses baulking at the thought of not being able to splash their name all over town and we still suffer some signage from raiding Estate Agents operating out of neighbouring Ramsgate and Margate. But, truth is, the improvement is huge. Again, as we take our mandate from you the members, we will be asking you to vote on the signage issue later in the agenda. (Result: The meeting voted in support of minimal signage as envisaged by the Signage Sub-Commitee.)

In any event, we have been advised that the Directorate of Planning & Building Control is currently in the process of revising the Signage Bylaws and, that they also envisage a coast line free of signage clutter.

At present, the bylaws permit only one Estate Agent to advertise per property and then only with the express permission of the owner.

TOWN PLANNING SCHEME

Another mandate which we will be asking members to renew today concerns the density of the Southbroom Town Planning Scheme. We are continually faced with developers and owners wishing to milk more value out of their properties and calculations show that, within the bounds of the current scheme, a fully developed Southbroom could have an additional 750 to 1,000 residences.

Picture it … and then imagine what Southbroom would be if additional rights were granted that took density upwards of that number.

Already, our narrow roads are battling to cope and certain roads have yet to be developed. Several low lying areas are already suffering the negative impacts of septic tanks versus water-borne sewerage. Whilst you might not wish to hear this, we have been taking water samples at three points in the village and the ecoli count in the central section, below Captain Smith’s Road, is not good. Perhaps golfers have already smelt the seasonal increase on the 5th and 6th holes?

In line with our earlier mandate, “to uphold the provisions of the town planning scheme”, we have sought the assistance of Professor Jeff McCarthy. At a budgeted cost of R25,000, which will be shared equally with the Conservancy, Jeff will present scientific evidence, against a background of agreed national and provincial policy, supporting the protection of the existing town planning constraints. The document will be launched at a Special General Meeting of Ratepayers around Easter and it is hoped that both local and provincial government will buy into the findings and ensure the controlled development of Southbroom.

Good news is that the water in the Imbezane River has tested pristine. Perhaps it would not have had planning permission been granted for the 104 residential units we fought off 2 years ago. Perhaps our research could also impact on the Ramsgate scheme as our neighbours share the beauty of the Imbezane estuary.

(Result: The meeting renewed the committee's mandate "to uphold the provisions of the town planning scheme".)

ONGOING PROJECTS

Thanks to your support, we have the funding to employ the services of Prof McCarthy and we have also been able to increase the public areas beautified and maintained by the Association. We thank Libby Cochrane and Pam Quarmby for overseeing these initiatives which include the Imbezane River Reserve, the area behind Riptide, the main beach headland and The Outlook, Granny’s Pool gardens, the two large road reserves on Southbroom Avenue and Berea Road, the north and south arrivals, several traffic islands, the library circle, the arrival to the Garden Refuse Transfer Station and our Community Centre.

COMMUNITY CENTRE

Having the use of a Community Centre has certainly added value to Southbroom. It is home to most community meetings, the Worker’s Watch gatherings run by Sector Policing, morning and evening exercise groups, and our social upliftment initiatives in dress-making and computer literacy.

We thank Mayor Shusha for the Mayoral Grants received for these projects as well as volunteer instructors Robin Ransom and Hazel Voice.

FIREWORKS

As you know, Hazel is the founder and chair of the Voice for the Voiceless anti fireworks campaign which the Association endorsed during the year. After the 20 day onslaught of fireworks we, together with our pets and wildlife, were forced to endure last season, your committee felt it the right thing to do. This is the final mandate that we will seek from you later in the agenda. (Result: The meeting voted in support of NO fireworks.)

To date, the season seems to have been free of fireworks as were Diwali and Guy Fawkes. My sincere wish is that it will stay that way and that our Sector Police will be able to concentrate on crime as opposed to upholding the Fire Brigade Bylaws and helping traumatized owners find their more traumatized pets.

You may have noticed the posters in town: Our bylaws only permit fireworks on Diwali, Guy Fawkes and 1 January and then only where they are not released within 100 meters of any building, 100 meters of any tree, and 100m of any telephone line. Furthermore, fireworks may not be sold or handled by persons under 16 years of age.

LIBRARY

The strength of a community lies in its activists, people who are passionate about a cause, and it is thanks to the diversity of interests that the community ultimately benefits on all fronts. Be it social upliftment, beautification, fireworks, signage, the environment, the SPCA, AIDS awareness, education … or the love of reading.

This brings me to our Library and the urgent need for additional members. If Southbroom is to keep its Library, the Southbroom community has to adequately support it.

I advise that the municipality has given us six months in which to increase Library membership failing which, we may be given the opportunity to find volunteers passionate enough to staff the amenity, or it will close.

I urge all ratepayers, residents and book clubs to use the facility. The titles are current and varied and it will be a sad day, especially for our elderly and underprivileged children, were Southbroom to lose the convenience of an amenity that has served the community for years.  

LAND CLAIMS

In closing, I thank our fellow community initiatives, Southbroom Conservancy and Southbroom Sector Policing for all that they bring to the community, as well as the Lower South Coast Claims Group for their efforts over the past five years.

Our land claim is currently with the State Attorney and we hope, for the sake of all affected parties, that the courts will rule on the matter in the not too distant future.

CLOSURE

May 2008 be good to us all.

Joy Crutchfield


SOUTHBROOM CONSERVANCY

CHAIRPERSON'S REPORT TO THE AGM - 22 DECEMBER 2007

Established 4 years ago in 2003, the Southbroom Conservancy has focused principally on clearing alien invasives (in this area predominantly lantana, triffid, guava, inkberry , bugweed, syringa and brazilian pepper).

The clearing has occurred mainly on communal land under our custodianship including 14 hectares comprising the Bushbuck Trail area, and an even larger area in the Frederika Nature Preserve. When the Frederika was surveyed for the Conservancy by eminent botanist Roddie Ward, he described it as “almost unique on the coast….should be preserved at all costs”. Other target areas include the verges adjoining the major routes through Southbroom and focal points along these routes as well as the North and South entrances.

Many people question the benefits of clearing invasives some of which have attractive flowers - lantana and syringa and others food value – guava but, if left to grow, they would soon destroy the habitat which supports our indigenous trees, birds, animals and insects in an area where there is still abundant variety.

This year we have completed all the initial clearing within the boundaries of the Bushbuck Reserve. Those areas which were first cleared 2-3 years ago now require limited maintenance and the indigenous habitat has been successfully restored. Shrubs such as False Brides Bush, Black Bird Berry, Cape Coffee, September Bells and Forest Hibiscus are now flowering in abundance. Flowers also colour the grassland and illuminate the dappled areas along the stream.

For the first time last September and, under the experienced management of Brendon Whitehead, we undertook a trial burning of the grassland at the centre of the reserve. The conditions were not ideal and much was learnt for the future but the areas successfully burnt are already displaying a rich variety of new growth. Our thanks also to members of Hibiscus Coast Municipality (HCM) for their help and support.

There is a growing number of people visiting the Bushbuck Trail and some sit quietly on one of the benches watching the birds and butterflies and surprising a duiker or bushbuck. It is at these moments that one knows that our task is succeeding. Yet there are still many of our members and Southbroom residents who have not walked the trail!

We are delighted that the Golf Club have continued to maintain and add to their indigenous planting under the guidance of Des Whitaker and Pam Quarmby with the support of Charl Potgeiter and his team.

Thanks to the dedication of Libby Cochrane at the North Entrance and along Southbroom Avenue and to Pearl McGregor and Leslie Savage at the South Entrance, indigenous shrubberies and flower beds have been created. They demonstrate how attractive indigenous plants can be. In the future we hope to provide more indigenous planting in focal areas along our verges. To assist with their identification, a display of invasives is planned in the area of the parkland adjoining the tennis club. Nearby we also hope to display a variety of attractive and colourful indigenous plants and shrubs for garden use.

An appeal via Garden Services Contractors encouraging owners to clear alien invasives from their gardens and sites drew little response. Progress with Conservancy initiatives can only be sustained if site owners also clear invasive aliens from their property (as the law requires them to) and thus help to prevent cleared areas being re-infested.

Early in the year, we were disappointed to learn that HCM were not able to assist as they had in the previous year with a grant towards the cost of clearing invasive aliens. We have however applied again this year and hope to be more successful.

Our reduced income encouraged us to consider other alternatives and a highly successful Conservancy Golf Day was organized and raised over R30,000. Many thanks to the Southbrooom Golf Club with special thanks to Tish Robinson and Derek & Sheena James. Thanks to Conservancy members Pearl McGregor, Leslie Savage and Val Holtshausen. Thanks also to Founder and Life Member John Bailey for his generous support of the event and for providing excellent banners and permanent Conservancy marketing displays.

The aim of Southbroom Conservancy “to preserve in perpetuity our natural heritage of coastal and riverine forest, bush and grasslands for the benefit of the creatures occurring there and for future generations of mankind” can only be fulfilled in conjunction with wider environmental considerations. Change and development in Southbroom has accelerated over the past 5 years. There is increasing pressure to try to develop beyond the limits of the Town Plan. A survey of undeveloped sites indicated that if the existing town plan is adhered to, then somewhere between 700 and 1000 additional dwellings could be approved. This number will be considerably higher if the town plan is not strictly enforced. Given the condition of our roads and our reliance solely on septic tank sewage facilities, the prospects are dismal. The impact of even 300 additional cars travelling to or parking for the beach or the shops is disturbing. In conjunction with the Ratepayers Association, we have therefore commissioned a report to determine how we can strengthen and better enforce our Town Plan.

We work closely with the Ratepayers Association to try to ensure that the Town Plan is upheld. The ill conceived development of a large site adjoining the Bushbuck Trail was successfully opposed early this year. We are also objecting to the Wild Coast dune mining proposals.

We interact with other conservancies in the area and learn from each other. We also support DIG (Do Indigenous Gardening). Annually they select in a specific area on the South Coast a number of quality indigenous gardens which are then open to the public These are an inspiration to gardeners to follow their example.

The activities described above could not have been undertaken without the support of your committee and especially our Secretary Pearl McGregor, Treasurer Bob Kempthorne and David Wigley. In addition a number of individuals including Dick Plaistowe and Gert Graeser have supported specific projects with equipment, labour and their time. We would welcome others to offer their time and talents.

Finally, we would encourage existing or new members to consider becoming a Life or 5 year member. The administrative benefits alone are significant.

David Halle