Coast ratepayers in revolt

2012-06-15 00:00

RATEPAYERS from six seaside towns on the South Coast have expressed their frustration at poor service delivery from the Hibiscus Coast Municipality (HCM) by threatening to withhold rates if services are not improved.

Yesterday afternoon Umtentweni ratepayers were the latest to join Port Edward, Southbroom, Ramsgate, Uvongo and Oslo Beach in their protest.

Residents say the lack of maintenance by the municipality is causing their property values to decrease.

The Port Edward and Banners Rest Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association said its members took a unanimous decision at a special general meeting to withhold rates due to the lack of services.

Chairperson Andre du Toit said ratepayers were extremely unhappy and that their calls for assistance from HCM had fallen on deaf ears.

“We had sent almost 100 e-mails to the municipality and have only recently received a response,” said Du Toit.

He said he hoped ratepayers’ associations on the entire South Coast would stand firm in the decision to protect the value of their properties, which they believe is declining steadily due to the lack of service delivery.

“The roads are in a terrible condition. Contractors mark and dig up the roads and never return to complete the job,” said Du Toit.

Vani Pather, of the Oslo Beach Community Forum, said residents in the community had reached a consensus to follow other ratepayers’ associations in forwarding a letter of dispute to HCM.

“The situation we find ourselves in seems too familiar from past years. Time and again, HCM reaches a stage where they have to come up with a new turnaround strategy. By now they would have gone full circle.”

Pather said HCM needed to take ratepayers seriously, now more than ever.

“As ratepayers we need to stand together and collectively make our grievances known to officials.

“Should we choose to stand back and play the wait-and-see game, I am afraid the consequences are too disastrous to even contemplate.

“I accept that previously disadvantaged communities need to be focused on more than urban communities, but even that is not being managed well. We are very concerned about the high salary bill of HCM and the little that is left for actual services,” Pather said.

“The bottom line is that we do not get value for money and we have municipal officials who prance around like royalty.”

The chairperson of the Ramsgate Ratepayers’ Association, Oliver Ransome, said that more than 100 residents had raised their concerns in a recent meeting at the Ramsgate Bowling Club.

“I have been telling the municipality for the past three years that people are angry,” he said.

He pointed out that many of the elderly ratepayers live on limited incomes.

“The cost of service delivery is escalating, but we are not seeing any results,” said Ransome.

He said that while the association remained committed to co-operation with the municipality — instead of confrontation — ratepayers were not getting what they are paying for.

HCM said that it was concerned about the resolution by ratepayers to declare a dispute with the municipality.

Said spokesperson Simon Soboyisa: “Hibiscus Coast Municipality is determined at all costs to improve on delivering the service to all residents and the community of Hibiscus Coast.

“There is a vigorous programme by HCM of fixing potholes and we are sure that, working with the provincial government’s Department of Transport, which has allocated the bulk of funds towards road maintenance and especially fixing of potholes, the conditions of our roads will be bettered.”

Soboyisa said a new structure in management in the community services department was working on verge maintenance, uncollected refuse and the state of the beaches.

“The recently appointed head of department is convincingly working towards minimising those challenges to ensure improving these services, and this is work in progress.”

• witness@feveronline.co.za

Property sales are down, says estate agent PROPERTY agents in the area have confirmed that the poorly maintained roads have affected the market.

Gary Cosh of ReMax said: “Property sales are down in most of the South Coast region.

“The lack of maintenance is not the only reason but it is a contributing factor to the decline in sales.”

Cosh said first impressions lasted.

“Before clients see the actual property for sale they are put off when they enter the area and the roads are in a dilapidated state. People do not want to invest in a place that is not well maintained. It has happened on many occasions.”

Cath du Plessis of Pam Golding Properties said that most of her clients were from Gauteng. “The main thing that frustrates them [clients] is the terrible condition of the roads and the potholes.

“They want to know what is going on with the place when they see the state of the roads.”

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