Report on Community Services Section 80 Committee Meeting held on Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Wednesday’s meeting was very lively, with opposition councillors (essentially ANC) seeking to undermine the authority of Chairperson Shakespeare Arends (ACDP) and prolong the meeting at every opportunity. This started during the adoption of the minutes of the previous meeting, and continued through every agenda item, with the result that the meeting lasted seven hours in all.
Much of this time was spent with councillors querying the administration on various aspects of the department’s monthly reports, from Municipal Health and Environmental Services, Protection Services, Parks and Recreation, Fire, Youth and Sports Desks, etc.
In and amongst these reports, there were two items that generated more extensive debate. The first one concerned the upgrade to the old Vehicle Testing Station in the Industrial Area to accommodate the entire Traffic Department, which is currently based in town, including the payment facility for vehicle and drivers licences, Learners Licence classes, Eye Testing facilities, etc as well as offices for both Traffic and Law Enforcement. The original intention was to alter sections of the Finance building to accommodate the cashier function and R3.5million was included in the 2017/2018 budget for this, but these alterations have not proceeded and the Community Services Department realised that they would have to move the functions to the Industrial Area, requiring R6million of additional funding.
This item was debated at the Council meeting on 25 January 2018 and Council requested that a report on the new offices at the Testing Station be submitted to the next Community Services Section 80 meeting with regards to the increase in costs, approval of building plans, public participation process and the consolidation of Municipal buildings. Hence the item on the agenda.
Cllr Molosi really opened up the debate when he said that, although he had supported the upgrade of the Vehicle Testing Station during the Council meeting, he had had time to reflect on the impact of this move on the town’s ordinary citizens. It would not only add a significant amount of time to acquiring a licence, etc (and he was mindful of the traffic congestion past the Provincial Hospital at peak times) but it would also not be possible for most working people to do this in their lunchtime for the above reason, and after work would not be feasible as the Municipality’s business hours ended at 4.30pm. He was supported in this by other councillors, who thought that the whole proposal needed to be reviewed. Another point made was that if the move was to free up office space, who was the freed-up space going to be for? The organisational chart, which is long overdue, would define the new structure and, therefore, provide guidance on how many offices were required. Also, it was pointed out that the public participation process was planned to take place during the building process, and surely this was putting the cart before the horse.
In order to try and push this through Chairperson Arends suggested that the item should go forward to the Mayoral Committee, but that his Section 80 Committee should meet before then to agree on a recommendation (at the moment this is scheduled on the municipal calendar for the 1st March, so this does not leave much time to agree on a recommendation).
The second item was the report back on Ward-based Projects, the purpose of which was to clean and undertake minor maintanance work in the Wards. Experience has shown that many contractors were struggling with the compiling of attendance registers, pay slips, health and safety and the submission of monthly reports. Problems had arisen in Wards, 1, 3, 7, 9 and 11. Much discussion took place between the ward councillors and the administration and it was agreed that some contractors must spend more time in their wards and the municipality need to closely monitor their performance.
We urge ratepayers and residents to contact their ward councillors if they wish to make their views known on any of the above issues. If you do not know who your ward councillor is, click here: http://www.knysna.gov.za/town-government/council/council/
Councillors’ email addresses are their first initial followed by their surname, followed by knysna.gov.za. For example: Ward 2 Councillor Cathy Weideman’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Ward 9’s Mark Willemse is email@example.com. Ward 5’s (Mayor) Eleanor Bouw-Spies is firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.
Section 80 meetings are held in Council Chambers, in the municipal building on Clyde Street, i.e. (the building that often has Law Enforcement Jukes parked outside). They start at 9:00 a.m. They are only held every two months, so the next Community Services Section 80 meeting will be in April. We will post the date as the time draws near, since these dates have recently had a tendency to change shortly before the meeting is held. Agenda for Section 80 Committee meetings may be downloaded at:
Agendas for the following two upcoming meetings are already available for download. Both meetings are scheduled for this coming week.
23/02/2018 Technical Services Committee (24 MB)
19/02/2018 Planning & Integrated Human Settlements Committee (49 MB)
The continuation of the Finance and Governance Section 80 is scheduled for the following week, on Monday 26 February 2018.
If you have the time, we urge you to download the available agendas and attend the meetings.
Democracy works best when citizens participate.
The KRA Committee