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Business Sector Opposes Road Closure

During a heated public meeting of business owners and landlords who will be affected by the resurfacing of Main road during peak season, a mandate was given to the Hermanus Business Chamber to go to any lengths to prevent the closure of sections of Main road which is being planned for October till December.

Close to 90 affected business people attended the meeting on Friday evening (28th June) at the Whale Coast Hotel Conference Centre. It was convened by the Hermanus Business Chamber on  request by concerned businesses, following the unilateral  decision from Overstrand Municipality taken without any consultation or input from stakeholders, that the busiest section of Main Road will be resurfaced commencing October 2013.

What was alarming for those who attended, was the complete lack of communication or consultation by Council on such an important decision for all stake holders. The first many got to hear about this project was through a sms received from the Municipality out of the blue informing them that Main Road will be closed for two months from October through to November.

“There was no proper Public Participation Process regarding the matter,” said Mervyn Milner, President of the Chamber. He referred to  sections from the Constitution of SA, the Municipal Structures Act, the Municipal Systems Act, the National Policy Framework on Public Participation, as well as the  White Paper on Local Government, which states: “Local government must be committed to working with citizens and groups within the community to find sustainable ways to meet their social, economic and material needs and improve the quality of their lives.” None of these requirements were adhered to.

He said: “Whenever things are done, we are the last to know. The Chamber was in trouble with the Municipality last year when we opposed the Electricity Deposit increases which were also done without proper public participation.  We also opposed the 2014 Budget, and suggested  organising a Think Tank with an independent consultant, but we never received a proper reply to our request.”

Petrus Hendriksz did a brief presentation on the background and economic scenario during different times of the year. After many inputs from business people and engineers,  it was agreed that for the majority of business in the area the months of September through to December of any given year is when between 40 to 50% of their annual turnover is generated.  For Council to close Main road during any of these months will be fatal for many businesses. They are not opposed to the resurfacing of the street, since maintenance is necessary, but the timing is not appropriate.

Hendriksz, who is the chairperson of the Chamber’s CBD Forum, said: “The negative impact on all concerned, should Council insist on going ahead, will be incalculable – not only to loss of income for all concerned but more importantly to loss of jobs for many in the CBD.”

A unanimous vote of confidence and support was given to the Chamber and a mandate was given to prevent the resurfacing scheduled for October and November and to take all the concerns through to the Municipality where hopefully, reason will prevail whereby  a win-win situation can be reached  to the mutual agreement of all stake holders.

The Chamber’s Executive Committee has requested an urgent meeting with the relevant decision makers at the Municipality to discuss this matter, together with a delegation of affected stakeholders.  Their concerns and proposals for alternative measures will be conveyed, and discussed at the meeting in order to reach a workable solution. This meeting will take place on Monday morning at 11:00, and feedback will be given to affected parties.

Hermanus Business Chamber

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