Chairman's Report 2008
ANNUAL REPORT 2007/2008Welcome! In the words of Mark Twain, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” While this is not a speech, it has taken time to compile this report as another busy year has gone by. In spite of facing problems such as still no permanent chairperson and a number of vacancies on the Executive, a fair amount has been achieved, particularly launching the City Improvement District project.
More of that shortly, but first let me introduce our guests. We are indeed fortunate to have Clem Sunter address us this evening. Clem, a scenario planner of international repute, will talk about the world and South Africa in the 2010s. A warm welcome also to Senior Superintendent Moodley of the Parkview Police Station precinct, our Ward Councillor Ian Ollis and Kate Henry from the Rosebank Killarney Gazette.
As a voluntary organisation, community support is our life blood and our thanks to residents who, for example, pay the (modest!) annual subscription fee. Even more thanks must go to those who help by being, for instance, street reps or with other activities: here we recognise the contribution of Bill and Fran Haslam who ensure that the debit orders for the Community Security Scheme are run every month, and Kerryn Lawson and Lourens Malan for resurrecting the immensely successful Domestic Watch Programme. The biggest thanks, however, needs to go to your committee and I’m sure you’ll join me in recognising the contribution they make. Exec members have come and gone this year and we thank Russ Smith, Heidi Kerwin, Harry Rosen and Mike Wilmot for their contribution. Standing down are Sarah James and Lee Whitfield. Without Sarah’s help, you probably wouldn’t have had all your papers for this evening! To Lee, who has served this community for more than a decade, very special thanks. She has always been there when help is needed, at one time taking on the portfolios of both Town Planning and Treasurer. For the past year she has also done the monthly reconciliation for the Community Security Scheme.
Towards the end of this meeting, we will be electing a new executive and I very much hope that there are residents here this evening who feel that the time is right to play a greater part in civic affairs and help deal with the issues that, if left unattended, will be to our mutual detriment.
Never has your support been more important as the CRA embarks on a major project, that of forming a City Improvement District (CID). A steering committee has been formed to guide the process. We believe that in terms of today’s local government structures, this is the best way to go to safeguard and effectively manage our area. Unless we do it ourselves, it’s just not going to happen any time soon. I have it on good authority that the City Council’s draft budget for the forthcoming year does not include ONE capital project in any DA-held Ward.
A CID works through raising a monthly amount from all property owners which may be spent only in the CID area and allows us to deal with major issues such as crime and grime on an integrated basis. Yes, we pay our rates but we have very little say how that money is spent. In the same way, we pay our taxes but many of us choose to use private medical facilities and our own security companies rather than rely only on state hospitals or the police. We see a CID as a form of ‘privatising’ our suburbs and, at this stage, the only viable way of protecting ourselves and our property values.
As was said in the information sheet we hand-delivered, this model of urban management has been successfully used in the UK and USA for more than 20 years – and Clem has indicated that he will share with us his experience with the cities of Perth and Brisbane; so no need to pack for Perth, we’re determined to get our area shipshape!
I don’t want to dwell on this for too long as we have arranged a meeting next week (15 May at 18:00, here at the School), to explain the concept, the processes and discuss what residents want. What YOU want forms the basis of a business plan, essentially a list of approved projects that determines the monthly contribution. Note also that a CID only happens if more than 50% of property owners approve, and (as with the Precinct Plan) public participation is an integral part of the process. I’m pleased to say that thus far, all respondents to the survey, bar 4, have indicated that they in principle are in favour of forming a CID. If you haven’t yet completed the survey form, please don’t delay! There will also be time for questions before the meeting closes.
Security report back
Richard King and his team – Eric Glover, Phillip Bond (assisted by Vanessa) and, until recently, Mike Wilmot – are to be commended for the time and effort they have put in to this portfolio. They meet regularly with SAPS Parkview and ADT. They have organised a number of “your safety” meetings and assisted with the implementation of Domestic Watch and the “my house, my street, my suburb” plan, all activities vital to enhanced community security. Thanks to those residents who have helped support the SAPS with street patrols.
However, the most important security activity remains the Community Security Scheme. Implemented just over a year ago at the request of the community, it was believed that its reasonable cost (R40pm for sectional title owners, and a maximum of R182pm for home owners) would lead to suburb-wide support. This hasn’t happened. The result is that we aren’t even covering the costs of the 2 patrol vehicles which are subsidised by ADT.
On the other hand, a group of residents has recently started canvassing support for the services of the perceived more ‘pro-active’ CSS Tactical to be implemented in our suburbs. The CRA has neither supported nor endorsed this service, preferring to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach until such time there is clear evidence that such a service is the preferred option of a significant portion of the community. The cost is between R520-R920pm.
The irony is that for considerably less than this - but with greater community support for the existing Scheme - we would have had many more patrol vehicles 24/7, providing the personal and street-wide security that the Scheme was intended for. Nonetheless, it’s clear that whatever scheme is in place, residents want it to be more proactive and we have taken up this issue with ADT. They have agreed that in addition to the existing patrol vehicles and their meet and greet service for subscribers, they will deploy, at their expense, a large imposing Pro-Active unit to patrol Craighall Park and Craighall from 9 May for a period of three months. We will then need to review the Scheme and decide how best to proceed to meet residents’ needs.
At this stage the CRA remains committed to the partnership with ADT and actively encourages residents to join this Scheme. It’s important to note that the formation of a City Improvement District would ensure a 100% participation and provide the wherewithal to implement many additional security measures such as bicycle and foot patrols and/or surveillance cameras. The CID Steering Committee has already obtained estimates from three security companies and there is every indication that considerably more pro-active security measures could be implemented at possibly less than R300 per household per month – but more of that at next week’s CID meeting.
To conclude, although there were many incidents through the year, there is strong indication that crime is not up materially in the suburbs. Whether there would have been more incidents if the above measures had not been implemented is almost impossible to know. What we do know is that each little bit helps and, moreover, it is up to each one of us to take responsibility for our own personal safety and security. (A more detailed report is on the CRA website.)
There is no doubt that with the Precinct plan approved and in place, there are fewer applications for higher density developments, other than those permitted along areas such as adjacent to Jan Smuts Avenue. Thanks to the Town Planning team – Lee Whitfield, Roly Meyer and Bianca de Roland-Phillips – for their extensive contribution, from monitoring the Government Gazette, to braving the elements at site meetings where objections have been raised to a proposed development.
There is still a great deal of building activity in the area and many of us are tired of rubble and building materials deposited on pavements. There is also concern that builders often use illegal immigrants, some of whom may also be criminals. Don’t forget – you have the right to ask for workers’ ID documents – or contact Parkview SAPS to ask them to check. You can also contact the building inspector for our area (Mark Tobin – 011 881 6320/6169).
This portfolio is under-manned since Paulette Malcolm is now spear-heading the CID project. Chris Taylor has worked hard to involve City Parks with the better upkeep of the river area and is making good progress. Chris recently organised a successful river clean-up with some 200 bags of rubbish collected – including a pile of credit cards and a number plate… Discussions are underway with City Parks to erect a litter trap on the Jan Smuts bridge and some local companies are being approached with a view to sponsoring some or all of the cost.
We would certainly appreciate more volunteers for this portfolio to help with, for example, the Craighall Park side of the river and to monitor open spaces and pavements.
We thought that combing the portfolios of Membership and Community Affairs would be workable but this hasn’t proved to be the case, although there are many overlapping activities.
Since Harry Rosen stepped down, due to work pressure, the portfolio has been vacant. This may in part account for the fact that membership is down. It must be stressed that without a representative body to take up matters that affect us all, we place ourselves in a vulnerable position. It’s not easy to deal with some of the problems confronting us as individuals and your Association is structured to assist you with getting over a lot of these obstacles.
Information from the Deeds Office indicates that including sectional title property owners, we have over 1500 households in our area. With less than 20% of residents being paid-up members this is cause for concern and we urge you to become a member – today!
Equally important is having up-to-date contact information, particularly email addresses.
I can’t really thank myself but I do work hard at trying to keep the community informed! The CRA website is the information hub and I hope that when you make use of it, it provides you with helpful information. Our web stats show that there were 3127 ‘hits’ in the first four months of 2008 – even one from the Ukraine – someone thinking of coming to live here? Might be a whole lot better than the Ukraine!!
The Crier is still going more than thirty years later – we keep doing it as we lack email addresses for many residents (the latest count is some 700 households). While we do have some residents who don’t have access to email facilities, from a cost and immediacy view, email communication is effective and a regular newsletter is despatched. It would be really advantageous to have more email addresses and this is an urgent request to send us your email address if we don’t have it, or to inform us of any change of email address. Also, if you do sell your home, this is an appeal to the residents concerned and the estate agent involved – please let us know and provide contact details.
Regrettably this portfolio is virtually moribund as we have had no-one coming forward to manage it. There is so much that could be done such as an annual “Community Day” (done by suburbs such as Sunninghill): we have so much here, the river environment, open spaces, wonderful hidden areas – it would be gratifying to have someone with imagination and flair – and a bit of time – to plan such get-togethers and to welcome residents who have just moved into our suburbs… This portfolio also organises the street reps who leg it around the suburb bringing the Crier and other notices to your letterbox.
Peter Heritage has spent much time cultivating just who to contact in the Johannesburg Roads Agency and Jhb Metro Police morass. It isn’t an easy portfolio as one is very much in the hands of the City Council. There seems to be little inclination by the authorities to solve problems such as taxis rat-running at speed through our suburbs. Now it has been decreed that any requests for speed humps and other road safety measures must be routed through the Ward Councillor – as if he hasn’t enough to do, representing a very large Ward! We persist, however, and a comprehensive list of requested traffic calming measures has been submitted to Ian Ollis. Peter is also handling matters such as missing manhole covers and street lights out of order: we ask that you first report the problem and get a reference number. If nothing happens after a week or so, contact Peter.
The financial report will be given shortly by our Treasurer, Kendall Rattey. who has done a great job.
And now let’s see what the future holds – over to Clem Sunter.