An interesting and sometimes heated mid year Ratepayers Meeting took place on 28 June 2005. I have included a copy of a summary of this meeting that I received from the Ratepayers Association below, and I have also tried to address some points which are not covered in this summary.
Copy of summary received from Ratepayers Association
Approximately 300 people attended the mid-year meeting of the Plettenberg Bay Ratepayers Association, confirming the growing interest in the issues affecting our members. This report attempts to summarise events leading up to that meeting and action to be taken from now on out.
The special meeting of Ratepayers and Residents in March this year was called to discuss the report of the Auditor General on the financial affairs of the Bitou Municipality. The mandate given to the Ratepayers Committee at the conclusion of the meeting was:
1. Present the concerns of the meeting to the Executive Mayor and request a written response by the end of April 2005.
2. Propose, at the Ratepayers’ expense, the appointment of an independent firm of accountants to review and make recommendations to the Bitou Municipality.
The meeting took place with the Executive Mayor and both the above issues were tabled. A written reply was received by the end of April but was unsatisfactory and our offer of accounting assistance was declined.
It was then decided to take the matter further with the Auditor General and a meeting in this regard was held in Cape Town on 12th May 2005. We were advised that they simply audit the books and make recommendations, but are not required to take follow up action. However, in instances like this, a parliamentary committee, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) takes follow up action. Accordingly the Chairman of our committee attended a hearing of SCOPA in Cape Town later in May 2005 to which the Executive Mayor and Municipal Manager had been summoned. A written submission was presented to that meeting by us. The outcome of that meeting was not satisfactory to us.
Following the SCOPA meeting, three members of the Ratepayers committee met again with the the Executive Mayor and Municipal Manager to attempt to deal with the issue of the misuse of public funds and again the response was not satisfactory.
Meanwhile, SCOPA met again on 15th June 2005 and as a result of further information being brought to light and perhaps as a consequence of the Government crackdown on corruption, the Executive Mayor and Municipal Manager have been summoned to attend a further SCOPA hearing – originally scheduled for 21st July, but now delayed to a date still to be fixed. We are hopeful that this will lead to tougher action being taken on these issues. We will make a further written submission to this SCOPA meeting, including a request that the meeting be held in Plettenberg Bay and will attend the meeting wherever it is held.
Additionally, we will mobilize the media to maintain public support for the campaign to have these issues of major concern to ratepayers resolved in a satisfactory manner and will take legal advice on matters such as a rates boycott and the possibility of suing the Municipal Officials in cases of misuse of public funds
The process of electing a Board and Director of Tourism is still on track, despite the resignation of the leader and some members of the task who were charged with coming up with a plan for tourism in Bitou. It sounds like a difference of opinion occured as to the mandate given to the task team, as well as some party politics from both sides.
The deadline to sign the sale agreement for the airport has passed, and it is now unclear if the original winning bidder, Willie Malan, will purchase this asset and invest the funds needed to upgrade the airport. It is my understanding that the deadline has been extended and the Municipality may well be considering other options.
The Upper Deck
Plett Aesthetics Committee has grudgingly provided approval for this new shopping and apartment development on the corner of Main and Marine streets, opposite Mellville's Corner. The plans for this scheme are so far advanced, that the committe could not in reality withhold approval. I believe some minor exterior changes were agreed to.
The plan is to demolish the existing wooden structure on Central Beach, and redevelop the site next year. Caught up in this scenario is the popular restaurant Moby Dick's, whose existing lease expired on June 30. They have refused to close thier doors and vacate the premises, and claim that they are being treated unfairly by the Municipalityl, in that they are not being allowed to continue operating until the re-development commences next year. It is unclear why the Municipality is not in favour of keeping Moby Dick's there until after the coming season. In the meantime tenders have been advertised for a short term 12 month lease of the premises. The highest monthly tender will presumably win the rights to operate there for the season.
Plett Barefoot Festival
This local festival will run from 28 September to 3 October with many culinary and sporting events taking place on Central Beach.
We sent out our 2006 letting mandates earlier this month, and by now you should have received them in the post. Please be aware that the deadline for returning these documents to us is 31 August 2005. Please contact our office as soon as possible if you have not received your mandate for next year.
Deanne and I will be away from the office from 28 July to 26 August 2005. Lauren, Nikki and Dawn will be available to help you with anything you may need.
Charles & Deanne Roberts