Restore Central for our culture LETTER TO THE EDITOR

2015-05-13 06:00

I WAS most encouraged to read in last week’s issue of the cultural festival planned for PE in July/August. This appears to promise a great deal of very favourable exposure for the metro.

However, there is one sphere of culture which has taken a nosedive since 2000 and continues in its downward spiral. That is the Central area of PE with its wealth of heritage buildings.

A considerable number of these fine and formerly rent-earning (and rates-earning) structures have been allowed by their owners to deteriorate into slums and worse, resulting in an increase in crime (quite apart from the heritage damage); our metro has done nothing to rectify this situation, in spite of their being municipal legislation available to force the owners to care for these buildings.

Ask our esteemed deputy mayor to get out of his limousine and use his legs to see for himself - let him look at the old post office building behind the City Hall, then let him climb up Castle Hill to view the two burnt-out historic houses near the much-visited 7 Castle Hill Museum (he might need the limo again for this trek!) Invite him to check out Victoria Street and adjacent area on the other side of the Donkin Reserve.

If he still has any energy left, get him to inspect the long-vacant buildings of the former Holy Rosary Convent between Bird Street and Western Road . . . I could go on ad nauseam with this list. And then tell us all that he still believes this to be “A wonderful and beautiful city”. Ask him if the metro is receiving its full rates from the owners of these empty shells.

When I came to live in PE in 1989, I was so proud to show friends and visitors around this well-maintained historic core of our city, but no longer. I studied in London in the 1950s and well remember the dereliction in the centre of that marvellous city caused by the devastating German bombing during the Second World War. Port Elizabeth has no such excuse. So let our metro officials get off their backsides and start to get this damage fixed so that our citizens can once more be proud to show off their city.

Richard Tomlinson

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