Lawyers start circling local government …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 29th November 2012

Residents and businesses in the central city have been asked to “play nice” and be “good neighbours” during the festive season as resources are limited. Brandon Golding, chairman of the Cape Town Community Police Forum (CPF) said this at a police imbizo held at the Cape Sun, last week . “So we have to work smarter, be good neighbours and the community needs to report suspicious behaviour,” he said.

Central City Improvement District (CCID) security manager, Muneeb Hendricks said they were also preparing for the festive season by installing incident mapping systems and cameras on the mobile kiosks around the city. Daniel Rezant from the City Film and permit office said of the 208 events which will be held across Cape Town, 28 were planned for the CBD and the biggest is the switching on of the festive lights which takes place on Sunday December 2. Several roads surround the Grand Parade will be closed and officials are expecting 40 000 people to attend. “There is also the Harrington Square block party on Friday December 7 and the summer market at the Company’s Garden,” Mr Rezant said.

The issues surrounding tables and chairs took centre stage when John Davidson, the owner of Bob’s Bar said establishments in Long Street were still being fined. Following a meeting between police, the CPF, ward councillor Dave Bryant and bar owners in Long Street an agreement was reached to wait for the City to get legal opinion on the permit system before any further action was taken. However, Mr Davidson said this was not the case as police officers continued to fine establishments that serve alcohol to the outside tables. “We all need to know what is going on as we cannot operate our businesses on a shoestring. Police officers keep passing the buck, but we cannot go on like this,” Mr Davidson said. After making a phone call, Mr Golding said he had confirmation from the Cape Town CPF Cluster head, Peter Mead, that while ordinary liquor checks will be taking place, establishments would not be fined for outside tables. “We have confirmed that the normal liquor checks regarding licences are taking place in Long Street but police officers will not be fining establishments for outside tables,” Mr Golding said.

Noise complaints in Long Street also took centre stage when labour lawyer Michael Bagraim questioned Mr Hendricks about noise pollution in the area. “I represent a group of hotels on the upper end of Long Street and over the past three months, the noise situation has worsened. “We have found that it is particularly bad between 11pm and 3pm and with the festive season coming up, I want to know what you are doing about it,” Mr Bagraim asked. Mr Hendricks said the CCID security officers had no jurisdiction to take action against noisy clubs, instead they ask them to turn it down. “The correct channel is the City of Cape Town inspectors and they can now confiscate the clubs’ sound equipment,” Mr Hendricks said. Norbert Furnon-Roberts said the possible pedestrianisation of Long Street could help with noise issues.

Geoff Madsen, developer of Flatrock Suites and Janis Ross of Maremoto agree with Mr Bagraim. In a seperate interview, Mr Madsen said while some club owners co-operated many made no effort. “At Flatrock Suites, we have many people who are selling their apartments because of the noise and many of them are selling below the market price. “The value of the building has dropped by more than 27%. I have raised my concerns, but have been told that because we live in the city we have to put up with it and that it goes against the development of the city,” Mr Madsen said.

Ms Ross said after spending an evening at her boutique hotel on Saturday November 24, she believed the situation was worsening. “The noise levels were the usual bass, boom boom sounds getting louder as the night progressed. “However, the major problem was at about 4.30am when I was woken up by the hooting of taxis spread right across the road and backed up solidly from the Urban Chic Hotel to the Long Street baths. “This lasted for about 30 minutes. This could and should be avoided as the noise levels are unacceptable. “There must be policing and law enforcement during these times to eliminate this harassment urgently.

“The noise in Long Street has worsened due to a lack of enforcement of sound levels and the behaviour of bar patrons and owners,” she said. Ms Ross said the noise had a negative impact on her business as people no longer booked into the hotel and said tourists only stayed for a few days. Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA), said thanks to Mr Madsen who helped connect night club owners and residents at the top of Long Street, there has been some improvement. “The owners of Marvel and Cafe Royale have responded to residential concerns and reduced their noise footprint. Unfortunately noise concerns are still very much part of the rest of the Long Street community,” he said.

He said the association had raised their concerns with Mr Bryant who said he sympathised with the LSRA concerns regarding noise. “Unfortunately the extent of resolution appears stop there. “For example at a meeting requested by the LSRA in April 2011 and organised by the City, it was minuted that Mr Bryant would provide feedback on ‘Exploring the option of a full time and dedicated sound task team, who are trained and authorised to intervene in noise disputes when they occur at night’. “Minutes were sent to him, and have been publicly displayed on the LSRA website. “We have had absolutely no feedback from him regarding this request. “Similarly, when a noise dispute occurs on the weekend and he is called for advice on how to resolve it, only a voice message option is available,” he said. Mr Qually said while pedestrianising of the street, may help resolve pollution from car sound systems, it was unlikely to resolve the night-club sound pollution.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

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