Why the closure?

2018-02-06 06:00
Malta Park sports fieldPHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

Malta Park sports fieldPHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

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Observatory residents want answers about the closure of Malta Park sports field to the public.

They say the City of Cape Town fenced the field in mid-December last year without consulting the community, and even after completion there have been no notices or communication.

They are now circulating a letter of concern and mobilising the public to unify and demand answers from the City.

Johan Beaurain says: “We are mobilising the community and circulating a residents’ letter of concern to be signed. We have not heard from Council yet.”

According to them it has been more than a month since the completion of the fencing and if the City valued their rights, public consultation would have already taken place.

Local residents say the field used to be an open field where they could do different activities from jogging to walking their dogs, exercising to spending quality time outdoors.

However, now they have been stripped of their right to a public facility.

The field, which is known as home to Montrose Cricket Club, is now fully fenced, with the entrance located in Station Road.

When People’s Post visited the field on the evening of Tuesday 30 January, the only people there were the Montrose players busy practising and a lady who was spotted entering and walking on the field, but she quickly left.

The chairperson of Montrose Cricket Club, who prefers to remain anonymous, says the club pays every month to use the field and they had no idea about any new changes regarding the fencing.

He says they have been questioned by the community about being the only group with access to the field.

“We have got nothing to do with the field being closed to the public. All we know is that we pay to have three training sessions a week and to play our games. Maybe it has something to do with the professional team, Cape Town City, using the field for their training as well. I would advise that the public direct their concerns to the City of Cape Town.”

Kristel Peterson says: “I think it is very unfair to be prohibited from using a public facility. People have been using this field for years and all of a sudden they are locked out without explanation. The City no longer respects people; it does as it pleases. Yes, I agree that fencing was a good idea to make it secure, but why do they lock it and only a few have access?”

Mayco member for safety, security and social services, JP Smith, says the City resorted to fencing the field after several complaints about irregularities taking place at the field, interrupting the sports clubs’ schedules. 

“Clubs pay a Council-approved tariff for making use of the fields for their formal matches. We have on numerous occasions encountered illegal play, which has clashed with the formal games and also accelerated the damage to these fields. 

“The clubs have also complained about the dog faeces left on the field, which pose a health risk. In some incidents, Law Enforcement had to be dispatched to remove unauthorised users.”

He says the City will announce the conditions for the use of the field and applicable signage will be erected to inform dog owners of their responsibility.

He also says they are still in discussions with some of the football clubs regarding the use of the Malta Park field.

The current water crisis was also another reason for the closure of the field, Smith says.

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