THE Ballito Urban Improvement Project (UIP), which is on the brink of being established, is key to the area’s competitiveness and future, says UIP project manager Brian Wright. Driven by the iLembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, the UIP is based on the Umhlanga UIP success story and aims to upgrade “grubby” aspects of the town. “This is a proven and sustainable way of actively changing the trajectory of urban decay in our town and country. If we don’t go this way and partner municipalities to ensure optimal service delivery to our public spaces, what future will our children have?” said Wright. Funding the UIP is set to come from local business owners and residents. The aim is to secure 51% support from commercial property owners. This follows a R360 000 feasibility study and substantial efforts to have the municipality adopt the required policy to establish a UIP, which was funded by local property owners late last year. But some ratepayers are not happy. The contribution cost for commercial property owners is planned at R300 per month per R1 million in municipal assessed property value. The residential contribution, through body corporates, is R100 per month per R1 million in property value. This is optional for homeowners. Some ratepayers and the iLembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism have recently bumped heads over the issue, with several members saying they should not have to “pay twice” for Ballito. “This entire concept of paying twice for Ballito to be made presentable is totally unacceptable,” said resident Norman Gray. “We pay our rates and therefore the municipality must either carry out the required maintenance work or we must consider a large scale withdrawal of paying rates.” Ward 6 councillor Colin Marsh said some believe the maintenance of the town is the municipality’s responsibility, and others that service delivery is poor and the public must step in. “I believe it is a necessary project. The municipality has 27 other wards to take care of, others far more needy than Ballito. For those who have invested in the area, it is worthwhile to spend a little extra to maintain standards so that properties do not de-value and we continue to attract investment,” said Marsh. Chamber CEO Trenley Tilbrook said he is prepared to discuss the matter “rationally” with anyone who has concerns. UIP co-ordinating manager Clare Swithenbank-Bowman said all residential and commercial property owners in the UIP nodes would be encouraged to come on board for the project to be a success. North Coast KwaDukuza Ratepayers’ Association (NCKRPA) chair Ray Millican suggested the extra fee should indeed be “optional”. According to Swithenbank-Bowman, the official applications that will lead to the UIP’s implementation in the next few months, should be submitted to the KwaDukuza Municipality this week.