Tag Archives: City Health Department

Missing characters in City management?

From the Cape Argus, by Monique Duval
, 4th February 2013

Long Street is the centre of Cape Town’s nightlife but noise issues are turning nightclub and hotel owners against each other. At a meeting hosted at the Pepper Club hotel this week to discuss noise in the Long Street area, Bettie Leedo from the city’s Health Department said they were looking at a new by-law to counter problems faced by the municipality in licensing nightclubs under the Business Act.

The meeting, attended by city officials, the Western Cape Liquor Authority, property developers, residents and nightclub owners, erupted in heated debate over the noise, with some bar owners accusing developers of not researching the area before building hotels. But developers and property owners hit back, saying many of them had spent millions investing in the area and were not prepared to sit back and let their investments slide.

Lawyer Derek Wille, who represents the Pepper Club, said his client was losing millions of rand as guests often checked out or demanded refunds as they could not get sleep over weekends. Leedo said under the Business Act the city could not close clubs that traded without the necessary licences and instead took legal action through the municipal courts. “This is a lengthy process. In one instance the city started legal proceedings against a nightclub in December 2011. The case has been postponed five times.

Since 2009, the city has received an increase in noise complaints from the Long Street area. We sought legal opinion on whether the municipality could write its own by-law pertaining to business licences and we’ve recently received feedback.” Good Hope sub-council chairman Taki Amira said the issues in Long Street were a result of the “retro-fitting of nightclubs into old buildings”. He said that a brief haul been sent to the mayor’s office for a new by-law and said the first draft was expected to be completed at the end of this month.

Byron Qually, convener of the Long Street Residents’ Association said: “The city has a comprehensive break-down on the effects of noise pollution ranging from health and work performance and behaviour. While these points are valid, they provide negligible documentation on how property investments are losing value due to an area being considered uninhabitable. Mayoral committee member for health Lungiswa James confirmed the City would be proposing a new by-law but said it was difficult to put a time frame on the process as it required public participation.

Copyright Cape Argus Newspaper

The City does not have the authority to …

From the Cape Times, by Caryn Dolley
, 8th December 2012

More than a third of nightclubs along the popular city entertainment strip, Long Street, are operating without the necessary licences and the city does not have the authority to shut them down. Mayoral committee member for health Lungiswa James said according to city health records, 19 nightclubs were operating in Long Street. He said of these clubs:

– Seven have been issued with business licences to operate as nightclubs.
– One was refused a licence, the owner reapplied for one and this was being re-assessed.
– Seven have pending licence applications.
– Four face legal action to ensure compliance (one’s licence is under consideration, one has been warned to apply for a business licence, one’s owner was found guilty of non-compliance and the fourth must still be inspected).

James said the Business Act did not authorise city officials to close an unlicensed club. “The city must therefore fine or summons errant owners to court where a magistrate may decide to close the premises while the owner obtains the applicable licence. “In terms of the city’s Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisance by-law we have no authority to close licensed or unlicensed premises,” he said. James said the ownership of nightclubs changed frequently and with each new owner, the prescribed legal process needed to be followed.

City health members inspected licensed nightclubs at least once every three months. Unlicensed premises, and premises about which complaints had been received, were inspected more often. In Loop Street, parallel to Long Street, a club, The Loop, has operated without the necessary licence for nearly a year. James said a recommendation to issue an entertainment licence could not be made due to outstanding requirements relating to approval of building plans and submission of a noise impact assessment.

The Loop’s general manager, Vaughan Cragg, told the Cape Times the club had a liquor licence. He said “70 percent of the places in Long Street don’t have business licences”. James said the owner of The Loop had been summoned to court “for trading without the required business licence”. He said an application for a business licence for The Loop was made in the name of a company, The Business Zone 983 CC, and a person by the name of Mark Roy Lifman was listed as being in charge.

Earlier this year Lifman, a Sea Point businessman, was arrested in connection with another matter – allegedly running the bouncer company Specialised Protection Services (SPS) without being registered with the Private Security Regulatory Authority, as required by law. SPS operated at 60 percent of the province’s clubs, including the majority in Long Street, before being shut down.

The Long Street Residents’ Association website said while it believed entertainment was “crucial to the development of Long Street”, noise was problematic. Richard Bosman, the city’s executive director of safety and security, said if noise complaints were received, a process would be followed including issuing a written warning and possibly the impounding of equipment.

Copyright Cape Times Newspaper.

How clubs/bars comply with CoCT licensing requirements

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 17th May 2012

Following on-going noise battles in the CBD, CapeTowner reporter MONIQUE DUVAL spoke to mayoral committee member for health, Lungiswa James to find out how clubs can comply.

Q. All nightclubs which wish to play loud music are required to apply for a Health and Entertainment Licence. Can you explain the application process?

A. Applicants are required to provide their Identity Document, a copy thereof and a certified South African Police Clearance Certificate which is obtainable from the South African Police Service (SAPS). Foreign nationals will be required to provide Police Clearance from their country of birth and their passport and may be requested to provide a work permit issued by the Department of Home Affairs. The application will be accepted by any City of Cape Town Environmental Health office and at the licensing desk on the second floor of the Media City Building in Hertzog Boulevard in Cape Town. Once the aforementioned documentation has been presented to the Business Licensing Official, a directive to make a cash payment of R25 will be printed and handed to the applicant to take to the nearest City cash office. Upon payment, the applicant will be issued a receipt, which must be returned to the licence official, who will then capture the application on an electronic application form. A copy will be printed for the applicant and thereafter distributed electronically by email to all the necessary reporting officials for comment. Upon receipt of all of the reporting officials’ comments, further correspondence will be entered into with the applicant.

Q. What do club owners/ managers need to fulfil before a licence can be granted?

A. The premises will need to have the necessary Land Use Planning clearances and a Certificate of Occupancy issued by the Planning and Building Development Management department. In addition, the owner will have to comply with the legislative requirements of the City’s Fire, Health, Mechanical Ventilation and Noise Control Divisions. Nightclubs will also be required to provide a Noise Impact Assessment from a registered acoustic engineer which shows that the premises is adequately soundproofed.

Q. Is there an application fee? If so, what is it?

A. The application fee for a Business Licence is R25. However, the police and other City departments may charge separate fees for additional documents.

Q. How long does it take for an application to be processed?

A. If all requirements set by reporting officials are complied with by the applicant, and the authorising official has recommended approval of the licence, it could take up to six weeks before the licence is issued as the final authorisation for licences for nightclubs rests with the sub- councils.

Q. Are clubs allowed to open their doors without this licence? If they do open, what are the consequences?

A. In terms of the Businesses Act, premises must be licensed to trade. If premises open without the required licences they may be fined or summoned to court. In addition, premises where noise outbreaks occur run the risk of confiscation of their sound equipment in terms of the Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-law.

Q. Who decides whether the licence is granted or not?

A. The delegation to approve Business Licences for nightclubs rests with the sub-council. It should be noted that the Businesses Act directs that if all the required approvals are in place and the applicant has a clear criminal record, the licence must be issued.

Q. If the City decides not to grant a club a licence, can the owners appeal? If so, what is the process they will have to follow?

A. If a licence is refused, the applicant is informed in writing why it has been refused and that they may appeal the decision by submitting an appeal in the required format to the City manager within 21 days of receipt of the refusal letter. If the appeal documentation is received within the correct timeframes the owner or his representative will be granted an opportunity to be heard at an appeals committee. Should the appeal fail at this level, in terms of the Businesses Act, the owner may still appeal to the Premier of the Western Cape Provincial Government.

Q. The amendment to the Streets, Public Places and Noise Nuisance by-law which gives City officials the right to confiscate the sound equipment of noisy clubs has been causing a stir among clubs. Can you explain the process followed before equipment is confiscated?

A. The owner or management is issued with a general written warning notice regarding the transgression. A compliance notice with the intention to confiscate the said establishment’s sound equipment together with a spot fine is issued on the second transgression. The third step involves the sound equipment of the premises being confiscated.

Q. Are noise readings done? If not, why not?

A. Noise readings are normally taken in terms of the Noise Control Regulations. However, when there is more than one simultaneous noise source, sound level measurements may not be relied upon and a noise nuisance route may rather be followed, for instance, action taken in terms of the Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisance By-law.

Q. Who can club owners contact to ensure that they comply?

A. For Business Licence queries in the Cape Town CBD, they can call Lucille Symes on 021 400 6513 or the Maitland Environmental Health office at 021 514 4153

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

Unwitting contradiction in the City wanting residents to …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 19th April 2012

There have been mixed reactions to the new liquor policy which will allow pubs, clubs and other establishments to apply to extend their trading hours. The policy, which was explained to councillors at the Good Hope Sub-council meeting, on Monday April 16, will allow for establishments to extend their trading hours to no later than 4am, provided they fulfil certain requirements.

Sub-council chairman, Taki Amira, said the policy followed the amendments to the Liquor Trading Days and Hours By-Law which came into effect on Sunday April 1. According to the Act the trading hours for the sale of liquor are to be stipulated by the municipality. The cut-off time was 2am but the bylaw was amended to allow onconsumption premises to apply for an extension to trade until 4am, provided they meet the criteria set out by the City. But the City has to consult with the ward councillor, ratepayers’ associations and residents before it can grant an extension.

Christa Hugo from the City’s health department explained how the policy will work. She said only establishments which fall in business or industrial nodes may apply for the extensions. “The application will work in two parts, the first part will require establishments to go to the Land Use Management Department to ensure that their property is zoned correctly. “If they are not, their application will not be considered.

The applicant will then have to go to the Metro Police and Law Enforcement to get clearance from these departments to see whether they have contravened any laws regarding noise, liquor or whether there have been complaints against their business,” she said. Establishments will then have to pay a R5 000 application fee which will be processed by the health department. City health will then forward the application to the subcouncil, who will get feedback from the community before making a decision on whether to grant the application,” Ms Hugo said. Mr Amira said the policy will apply to new liquor licences and renewals.

Ward councillor Dave Bryant said: “This is a positive step. In areas such as Long Street there are legitimate businesses who would qualify for the extension.” “The City will not be granting extensions willy nilly and will consult the community on these applications. The new laws call for liquor traders to become more responsible,” Mr Bryant said.

Vusa Mazula, co-owner of Zula Bar in Long Street said he felt he had no choice but to apply for the extension. “With the way business is in Cape Town, we must apply for the extension. The 2am cut-off time was simply too early and would have killed our business. I think the application fee of R5 000 is a bit steep but I welcome the policy and the amendments to the by-law as it is giving us a fair chance,” he said.

Residents however, have slammed the new policy as they feared it would not be policed properly. Buiten Street resident Geoff Madsen said he thought the extension should only be given to compliant businesses. “The extension policy adds noise, security and criminal activity to the area. “Research should be done on who the patrons are at that time of morning and what economic value the city and businesses achieve for the extra two hours of operation,” he said.

Residents had enough problems with clubs that traded until 2am, said one woman who did not want to be identified. “This refers to the noise and music a nightclub produces, but also to noise generated by patrons inside and outside the venue. “Patrons tend to be loud while walking to their cars, they laugh, giggle and shout. I often find myself looking forward to 2am because I know that the music will be turned off and that there will be fewer people shouting in the street “If the City did grant an extension till 4am, I think that this could only be done if venues with full soundproofing and a venue that has never had a noise complaint. “I don’t know of a single properly soundproof venue in the city and I also cannot think of a single venue that has not been complained about. “Further, if the City is already struggling to control and enforce the law on existing clubs with a 2am cut-off time, I sincerely doubt they will be able to enforce further laws to a 4 am cut-off time. Plain and simple, bad idea,” she said.

Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association said the knock-on effect of the liquor trading hours was the problem not the by-law. “In principle, the extension seems to suit bars, clubs and residents. “However, from our experience with City by-laws and even basic licensing, the management and follow through of policy, particularly if it involves City Health, is highly questionable,” he said.

Janis Ross, said the trustees of the Ross Family Trust which and owns Maremoto in Long Street will object vehemently and rigorously to any extension of trading hours for the clubs surrounding their business which are causing severe noise problems.

A hotel manger who refused to be named due to threats from nearby clubs, said the extensions should not be granted. “I don’t see why there is a need for people to drink until 4am. There are businesses in Long Street that already trade until 4am without having any of the special licenses. I doubt very much that it will be policed properly or whether our complaints and objections will be taken seriously.

Clearly the bars, pubs and nightclubs are more important than the residents and accommodation establishments,” she said. Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman, Henry Giddy, said the extension was a good idea as it helped give residents a better chance to have their say. “Residents now need to empower themselves and make their voices heard on applications. The extension policy gives the power to residents and I would definitely label it as an enabler. “The liquor forum will also look closely at these applications and communicate with the community and when necessary, we will object,” he said.

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

In a follow up letter to the article above, Liquor policy Patrick Labrosse, Vicechairman, City Bowl Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association Regarding the Liquor extension policy. As usual, the devil is in the detail. Whether the cut-off time is 2am or 4am is only a question of degree in the inconvenience to residents.

In theory, this policy reads as reasonable and workable. But the club owners – the prime source of complaints – have been exceedingly good at ignoring the law and dragging any process on to their advantage (unlike the affected residents, club owners can afford the legal teams for dilatory tactics).

Some events organisers have also been guilty of ignoring agreed-upon hours and noise levels. The City needs the will to enforce the regulations; the muscle to enforce them; quick reaction times to discourage tentative offenders to try their luck.

Latest information indicates that this is the intention and the policy should lead to better coordination between the SAPS, the City and other parties. Added pluses are that the community will have to be consulted through the ward councillors, the ward committees, the ratepayers, and advertising to directly affected neighbours.

There is also the new ALF (Area Liquor Forum) just coming into life. And, together with a couple of added legal changes that should help, the maximum fine has been increased to R1 million. So it does seem that the City is giving itself the legal muscle to deal with problem establishments. It is also understood that the effect will not be felt immediately but progressively through liquor licence renewal applications.

There is an unwitting contradiction in the City wanting residents to return to the CBD but failing to date to ensure the conditions for residential life there and allowing clubs to defeat that aim. In the name of property redevelopment and bringing life back to parts of the CBD areas, the City has allowed after-hours leisure businesses to proliferate to the point where residents are considering moving out.

A single, wild-cat club can affect several blocks and hundreds of residents, so property developers should – and most likely do – welcome a policy that appears to want to deal with the problem. But only experience will show how effective these measures are. The other side – the errant club owners – are often brazen and do not lack resources and the affected residents are the ones on the front lines in this long battle.

Effectiveness will therefore require every part to function as intended and sustainably, including, of course, last but not least, the courts.

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

Requirements of the community made clear to up front …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 5th April 2012

The new Western Cape Liquor Act came into effect this week and with more than 700 liquor outlets in the City Bowl, the Cape Town Central Community Police Forum (CPF) launched its own Area Liquor Forum (ALF) which will be responsible for liaising with the community about any applications in their area. The ALF is a sub-forum of the CPF and will be spearheaded by Norbert Furnon-Roberts. And with a host of liquor outlets from hotels and restaurants to pubs and nightclubs in the city, the ALF has also established a set of guidelines to assist its members.

CPF chairperson Henry Giddy said the forum was formed because the new Act allows for more public participation on liquor applications and renewals. “It is only fair to potential applicants to know up front how this responsibility will be implemented and what the expectations of the community are. “The City bowl currently has 721 licences with many new applications a month. Given that the stakeholders now include the police, the City in terms of business licences, the ward councillor and the CPF, it’s easy to see there is room for the process to break down.

“The purpose of the new forum is to establish a link between the community and the processes of stakeholders to ensure no potential problematic applications fall through the cracks,” he said. Mr Giddy told the CapeTowner one of the biggest concerns for the CPF is the “blatant disregard for the community and the law” by a handful of outlets. “These premises are often guilty of multiple infringements ranging from trading hours, noise as well as permitting criminal activities, thus becoming a nuisance to residents, degrading the local area also being a burden on tax payers’ resources, which have to then step in to resolve these issues,” he said.

The forum has drawn up criteria for various establishments applying for liquor licences in the City Bowl. According to the guidelines, the criteria stipulated by the forum request that all nightclubs which apply for liquor licences should first obtain a Health and Entertainment Licence before their application for a liquor licence should be considered. When asked about the legality of this, Mr Giddy said: “Some of the criteria we lay out is not explicitly defined in the law. “However, according to the Liquor Act, the community may consider invoking the clause which states the issuing of the licence is not in the public interest. So the requirements of the community and what we, the community, feel is in our public interest is made clear to potential applicants up front.”

Mr Giddy said the clause relating to noise was intended to raise awareness among club owners. “We are asking nightclubs to ensure their entertainment licences are arranged up front as these licences cover the requirements in connection to noise emissions. The most frequent complaint we receive from the community is noise related, so the reason we include this clause is to raise awareness of the requirement by the City with the applicant, who often claims to not know of this requirement after the fact. “In terms of the waste management aspect, there has, in the past, been a lot of on consumption premises which simply dump their waste on the pavement after closing late at night. This makes it very unpleasant for the working public and tourists coming into the city in the early morning. “Also it is a burden on the City and the Central City Improvement District’s (CCID) cleaning services.”

The new liquor forum has been welcomed by members of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA). Convenor Byron Qually said the association currently did receive notifications from the Good Hope Sub-council offices about new applications for liquor licences. He said the guidelines were welcomed as it would cover both nightclub internal operations, noise and the knock-on effects. “From what we are experiencing in the CBD, nightclubs and restaurants trade without the required licences. Similarly, with the high turnover of establishments, new owners simply trade on the previous owner’s licence. We are unsure if this is legal, and if the reused licence remains valid.

“The big question is how will unlicensed nightclubs be identified, and if they will be required to close until the guidelines have been met. “The guidelines tend to shift the responsibility from the City health department to the nightclub owners. “For example, the request to conduct an independent noise abatement study may speed up resolution for all parties involved. It is also clear that nightclub owners are required to take responsibility for their patrons leaving the club. This is a welcome guideline as the LSRA is receiving ongoing concerns from lodging establishments about drunken street-fights in the early hours of the morning at the top of Long Street,” he said.

Alan Winde, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, described the Act as “the single largest intervention to reduce alcohol abuse and its related harms in the province”. “Through the Act, we aim to reduce the number of drinking spots in residential areas. We will also be cracking down on distributors and retailers who supply the estimated 25 000 illegal shebeens currently operating in residential communities. “Under the Act they will be liable for penalties that include very heavy fines, jail terms and the seizure of assets. We will not stand idly by as alcohol continues to destroy our communities – we are taking them back from the clutches of alcohol abuse,” he said. The liquor forum has created flow charts which explain the process of liquor licence applications and how and when the CPF get involved.

For more information on the liquor guidelines visit www.capetowncpf.co.za or email liquor@capetowncpf.co.za or call 072 219 3010

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

Residents’ flee Cape Town CBD as nightclubs are above the law …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 8th March 2012

Despite the fact that the City has instituted legal proceeding against the Loop nightclub, residents claim they are “running scared” and are moving out of the area (“City noise on the rise” CapeTowner January 19). Residents in Pepper Street first raised concerns about the nightclub operating without a Health and Entertainment Licence in December last year. They also said the noise emanating from the club was excessive and kept them awake. When the CapeTowner contacted them again in January, they refused to comment on alleging they had been victimised. They said the club was owned by Sea Point businessman Mark Lifman, who also owns the Specialised Protection Services (SPS).

One resident who asked not to be named said he had just terminated the lease for his Pepper Street apartment and would be moving far away from any nightclubs. “The issue is that nightclubs in the CBD are above the law. “They open without having the necessary licences and cause hell for nearby residents. “We have all read the reports about the club’s ownership and as individuals we cannot put ourselves in the line of fire so for our personal safety we are opting to leave. “It’s a scary situation to be in and whether they close it or not, this will happen again. I have contacted the owner, of my apartment who is in London, informing that I will be leaving and he has not objected because he understands and is worried about the situation in Cape Town.

One has to question where the authorities are in this and what is the City doing as they are well aware that the club is trading without a licence,” he said. However, mayoral committee member for health Lungiswa James said Law Enforcement officers did not have authority to close the club. “But after legal proceedings have been finalised they will be able to. They are in consultation with legal services and the process has begun. Documentation has been submitted to the City’s legal section to summons the owner for trading without a Health and Entertainment Licence, which is a contravention of the Businesses Act of 1991,” he said. Mr James said while the club is operating without a licence, an application was made in December last year.

Mr James said that the application was made on behalf of a company known as Business Zone 983CC. According to the Government Gazette of November 2011, in the legal notices section, Mark Roy Lifman is listed as a member of Business Zone 983CC. Mr James said the City’s Health Department had received three complaints regarding The Loop nightclub and said two fines totalling R3 000 had been issued for operating without a licence. “The health department went to inspect the premises and issued the first fine in December. Documentation has also been submitted to legal services requesting that this matter be taken to court,” he said.

“Owners need to apply for a business licence to operate a nightclub. In order for the licence to be approved they need to provide a criminal clearance obtainable from the South African Police, the premises need to be properly zoned and sound-proofed, and would have to comply with relevant fire and building legislation. Once all the necessary line departments have indicated compliance with relevant legislation, a report is generated to the applicable sub-council with a recommendation to approve the business licence. Any nightclub would also have to have a valid Liquor Licence issued by the South African Police”.

Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) convenor Byron Qually said this was not the first time that residents living the area had opted to move because of noise battles with nightclubs. “Last year Long Street residents, who had lived in an apartment for over 20 years, left because of unresolved nightclub noise and intimidation from the nightclub. We know other residents who would like to leave the city, but are unable to due to family arrangements and financial limitations,” he said. Mr Qually said residents have become increasingly frustrated with noise pollution and have started to question City officials who, he said, seemed ill-equipped to deal with noisy clubs that were contravening by-laws.

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

Finally a bylaw comes into effect that can really help residents …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 2nd February 2012

Residents in the CBD have welcomed the news that an amendment to the Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisance By-law which allows the sound equipment at noisy clubs to be confiscated has now been promulgated. The amendment to the by-law was passed by the City’s Safety and Security Portfolio in March last year and promulgated in December.

City officials wasted no time in using the amendment and last week the Liquor Enforcement Unit issued a final notice on St Yves in Camps Bay and confiscated sound equipment at the nightclub on Monday January 23. “Following numerous complaints from the public about loud music being played, officers issued a notice in terms of the Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisance By-Law. “In addition, the unit confiscated basic sound equipment used by the club including one amplifier, one speaker and two compact disc players. The equipment is valued at R15 000,” City officials said. However, CBD residents said they have been fighting noise battles for several years and hope the unit will soon hit Long Street and surrounding areas.

According to Richard Bosman, executive director for Safety and Security, a final notice was issued to the club before the equipment was confiscated. “As with this case, we issue a warning notice.and if it is not complied with, further action is taken – which may include confiscation of sound equipment,” he said. Mayoral committee member for health Lungiswa James said the city had received complaints about St Yves from nearby residents over 13 months. “City Health summonsed the club to court for noncompliance with the Businesses Act in May 2011. “The owner then submitted the required acoustic report and made changes to the premises so that it complied with the Noise Control Regulations. “This was verified by City Health and the case was withdrawn on Wednesday October 19. Subsequent complaints, inspections and further noise readings taken on Sunday December 25 showed that the sound system, which had been previously compliant, had been changed since it was assessed by City Health on Monday October 3. “This renders the previous acoustic reports submitted to the sub-council for consideration for licence approval void and a process to withdraw the business licence has been initiated,” he said.

Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) said while they welcomed the amendment, it was their view that if the health department had been effective and strategic in dealing with noise pollution the amendment would not be necessary. “However, if the amendment resolves the standoff between nightclubs and the Long Street community, we welcome it. “It is important to note that only specific nightclubs in the CBD are problematic, and are having an impact on neighbouring clubs that have installed effective sound dampening. “These problem nightclubs have brought the by-law amendment on all entertainment venues, due to their flat-out refusal to work with the communities that surround them, and ironically, in many cases even support them through patronage. “The most important benefit of the bylaw is that there should be no more unoriginal excuses from the health department and the officials dealing with noise that, “they are restricted by legal frameworks’. “Hopefully it will also take residents out of the trenches, and get behind City officials who can shield them from the real threat of victimisation,” Mr Qually said.

Most recently, some residents in the CBD claim they are facing a new type of noise. This they claim is coming from restaurants who have begun hosting gigs and live performances. Long Street resident Piers Allen wrote several letters to City officials raising his concerns about restaurants that are playing loud music. Mr Allen told the CapeTowner he first noticed this early in January. “The first event was stand-up comedy. My flat, and the block I live in, was bombarded with screaming, hysterical invective. “Even our security guard was at the end of his tether. “Other evenings it is loud music performance – amplified, all doors and windows wide open, amplification equipment practically out on the pavement. Intolerable,” he said. He said he had lodged formal complaints.

Mr James explained that the Business Act consisted of various categories, that deal with different types of businesses. “Restaurants must have a sale or supply of meals licence which indicates that the premises is suitable to sell or supply meals. If premises wish to have live bands performing, they must be in possession of an entertainment licence: cinema/theatre. “If loud music is played from a sound system and dancing occurs then the premises would have to apply for an entertainment licence: nightclub/discotheque. “In both instances soundproofing of the premises would be required,” he said.

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

Unlicensed night-club, and residents who fear victimisation …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 19th January 2012

While residents and night-clubs in the CBD continue their fight over excessive noise, The Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) has launched a scathing attack on City officials claiming they are ill-equipped to deal with noise contraventions. The statements were made after the association tried to assist Pepper Street residents who raised concerns about The Loop nightclub which, they said, was operating without a Health and Entertainment Licence and causing a noise nuisance. The CapeTowner was contacted in December last year by residents complaining about the noise. However, all the residents refused to be named because they said they were afraid of victimisation.

LSRA convenor Byron Qually said the first complaint was received on Monday December 19. “We received reports that The Loop was playing music ‘beyond excessive’ every night until after 4am, and is operating without an entertainment licence. “We reassured residents that their concern is by no means isolated, and that it forms part of an ongoing battle with the City Environmental Health Department over the last three years about noise pollution. “We gave them practical advice and told them who in local government would be able to take their concerns further, in an attempt to save them time in navigating a very confusing City structure,” Mr Qually said.

City media manager Kylie Hatton confirmed that the club was operating without a Health and Entertainment Licence. She said an application was made on Wednesday December 21 after the club had been fined. “The licence has not yet been finalised as comments are still awaited from all reporting departments. The City’s health department received three complaints in December,” she said. Ms Hatton also said that affidavits have been submitted to the legal department on Thursday December 29, for a summons to be issued to the owners of the nightclub to appear in court for operating without a licence.

Vaughan Cragg, general manager of The Loop, said the club’s management was fulfilling the requirements for the nightclub to be licensed. “We applied for our business and entertainment licences before we opened. It is well known that it takes time to apply for a licence. Various people have to come inspect the club, and if there are problems, they advise us, the problem is rectified and they come to inspect again,” he said. “Having plans approved takes the longest. We are aware of the requirements. I used to manage Joburg Bar and the Dubliner in Long Street, and had to go through the same process.

“Many bars in Long Street are yet to get their business or entertainment licences,” Mr Cragg said. He told the CapeTowner the only complaint he was aware of was when a man approached him on opening night about excessive noise and he had been dealing with authorities since then. He said the club had installed soundproofing and was operating on a temporary liquor licence. Mr Cragg said that the club was owned by The Business Zone 963cc. In December, the CapeTowner was invited to attend the media launch of The Loop. The public relations company said the club was owned by Gareth Botha, Wai-Szee Sing and Mark Lifman.

Mr Qually said since the LSRA started to assist residents with complaints about The Loop, there have been several emails between city officials and the association about noise issues. “Some of our concerns include that the City’s Environmental Health Department systems are outdated and out of tune with the rate of CBD urbanisation, the requirements of city developers and lack of strategic insight; and willingness to hide behind bureaucratic confusion. “In our correspondence with the City, we unsurprisingly received the usual retroactive and bureaucratic response from them, inasmuch as they are concerned about the ‘scourge of unwanted noise’ in the CBD and would like to have a meeting to discuss it further. “We have not responded, partly due to complete frustration and disbelief that yet again another meeting is required, but also to do some background research on how other cities are assisting their residents in resolving noise pollution issues,” he said. Mr Qually said the City was well aware of residents’ frustrations at clubs operating without licences

Mayoral Committee Member for Health Lungiswa James said the majority of complaints received by the City’s Health Department from the CBD relate to the noise made by night-clubs. “Some unscrupulous or ignorant new owners trade without the necessary business licences and therefore without the required soundproofing installed or change sound systems when they take over the clubs. “As a result of this trend, since 2009 the health department has moved from being reactive in its response to noise complaints to proactively increasing the number of night-time visits to the CBD to identify premises as soon as possible after they open or change ownership. “The success of this strategy is confirmed by the increase in fines and court cases instituted by staff of the health department relating to unlicensed places of entertainment operating in the CBD.

“In 2008 four cases were recorded, 2009, 2010, and 2011 saw an average of 25 cases a year on record,” he said. Mr James said that as with any contravention, action can only be taken as dictated within the confines of the legislation. “In this regard the penal provisions of the National Businesses Act of 1991 are woefully inadequate 20 years after it was promulgated. “We have therefore formed close working relationships with the South African Police Service, Law Enforcement as well as the Legal Section so that noise complaints in the CBD are prioritised and contraventions of any legislation, not just the failure to licence the premises, are acted upon,” he said. Mr James said with the Cape Town City Improvement District a pamphlet was drawn up for distribution to residents explaining how to deal with noise in the CBD.

When asked whether residents who feared victimisation could make anonymous complaints, Mr James said: “The Loop is trading without the necessary licence. In this case, residents can stay anonymous when lodging a complaint and the details of any complainants are not provided to the courts or to the nightclub owners”. He said the Business Act did not make provision for the closure of unlicensed premises by officials and had to be authorised by a magistrate.

However, Mr Qually said one of the association’s biggest concerns was how the City measures the success of its noise interventions. “From a residential perspective, measurement of success is quite simple. Has the noise been reduced to an acceptable level? “The City on the other hand, provides various internal performance statistics to prove that they are doing their job. From the LSRA records, it is without a doubt that noise pollution and unlicensed clubs are on the increase regardless of the rate of fines and legal interventions,” he said.

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

Understanding the law and how clubs operate without a license …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 15th August 2011

Business licences, trading hours and lack of enforcement were the topics of discussion when residents met with City officials to tackle noise battles in the CBD. The Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) requested a meeting with Councillor Dave Bryant and other roleplayers including the Central City Improvement District (CCID) to raise concerns about clubs trading without the necessary licences and causing a noise disturbance. LSRA convenor Byron Qually said after two years of complaints there was no longer a question about whether there was a noise problem. He asked why bars and nightclubs were allowed to continue operating without health and entertainment licences. He highlighted O’Driscoll’s Irish Pub in Burg Street, where the owner had been found guilty in court for causing a noise nuisance, but continued to operate.

Mr Bryant read a response given by health director, Dr Ivan Bromfield which said the City did not allow or condone business that operated without a licence despite being fined or convicted in court. “The law enforcers are, however, reliant on either successful noise level readings or affidavits from affected persons before the repeat offenders can be summonsed back to court,” Mr Bryant said. Good Hope Sub-council chairperson, Taki Amira, said many of the problems faced by the City were a result of the municipality being tasked with carrying out national legislation. “To start, we must note that in order to operate a nightclub, you need two things. A liquor licence and a health and entertainment licence. The issue is that the Business Act is national legislation and the sub-council cannot refuse applications if all the requirements are met. For instance, we receive applications for adult entertainment businesses and while we would like to reject them we can’t if they meet the requirements,” Mr Amira said. He said among the problems faced by the City was the granting of temporary liquor licences. “Once they have that they start operating. We contact law enforcement agencies who visit the premises to check if their paperwork is in order. When we find that they do not have the appropriate licences they are fined. In some cases this deters them from trading but in other cases this is petty cash for them,” he said.

CCID security manager, Muneeb Hendricks said one way in which residents could assist was by keeping an eye on liquor licence applications. “We conducted an ‘exploratory mission’ to take a look at the noise problem. “What we found is that it is often difficult to single out a club because of the ambient noise. We should look into the possibility of compiling a report for residents which looks at what they can do to help. This issue was also discussed in the Cape Town Central Community Police Forum Meeting (CPF) and it’s important to remember that residents can make objections to the Liquor Board in the granting of liquor licences to problem clubs,” he said. Burg Street resident Ashley Lillie said in his opinion the biggest problem was the lack of co-ordination between City departments dealing with noise issues. Residents also questioned the methodology used when conducting noise readings.

Geoff Madsen, one of the developers of Flatrock Suites in Loop Street said that when he first decided to develop the residential block which also consists of hotels suites he loved the idea of bars, pubs and clubs in the area. Mr Madsen invited the CapeTowner to hear the noise emanating from Chez Ntemba nightclub in August. During the visit, the CapeTowner witnessed the roof of the club lifting and heard heavy bass coming from the premises (“Noise raises the roof”, CapeTowner, August 11). “Our residents and guests support these establishments and we have no intention of closing them. All, we ask is for them to comply with the law. “Now we have to spend R2.5 million on soundproofing. We have been complaining for more than four years about a certain club and it seems our concerns have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

Mr Bryant said that after assessing the problems faced by Mr Madsen he too had some concerns. “How can a building which has a tin roof provide any kind of soundproofing,” he asked. At the meeting residents and officials also discussed the possibility of accompanying officials from the City’s Health Department when noise readings are done in the CBD as well as the possibility of funding additional law enforcement officers to inspect clubs when complaints are received.

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

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The following outlines the minutes taken by the LSRA at the aforementioned meeting:

Attendees: City: Councillor David Bryant and Subcouncil Chair Taki Amira
City Health Department: Lavinia Petersen and colleague
CCID: Mo Hendricks
CapeTowner: Monique Duval
LSRA: Approximately 10 individuals.

Document provided by the City Health Department on the LSRA questions:

Why are bars still able to operate knowingly without a license?

No answer provided.

Why are convicted bars owners allowed to continue with their illegal behaviour?

Some operators continue despite being fined or convicted in an court of law. The City does not allow or condone this type of behaviour. The law enforcers are, however, reliant on either successful noise level readings or affidavits from affected persons before the repeat offenders can be summonsed back to court.

Since 2009, what systems have the City Health Department introduced to assist residents with noise concerns?

The City enforces the Noise Control Regulations which allow for offenders to be fined in terms of exceeding the allowable noise limits and/ or to be summonsed to a court of law. The following systems are currently in place:
– Procedure for summonsing an alleged offender to court via the ‘noise nuisance” procedure in terms of the Noise Control Regulations. This procedure is based on affidavits from affected persons.
– Procedure for summonsing an offender to court when exceeding the noise limits – ‘causing a disturbing noise’. This procedure is based on successful noise level readings.
– Mandatory soundproofing via the Business licensing system.
– Arrangements for combined actions from various Departments are in place. Examples of these are where City Health with Law Enforcement or even SAPS. The CIDS are also included — especially on night-time surveys.
– Availability of staff in the Western district for night inspections increased from once every 6 weeks to every two weeks. This is especially useful where complainants do not want to provide affidavits.
– Increased the level of health court action against premises trading without business licences.
– Agreement reached that health would be informed of all complaints regarding noise that is received from the Call Centres. (Shannon and myself would receive and interrogate and forward as needed if action from City Health is needed – still in infancy and needs refinement as we have only received 6 complaints so far.)
– Regular meeting are held with all role-players involved in enforcement and legal actions where it relates to unlicensed business premises to enable better co-ordination and clear frames of reference.

Primary actions from the meeting:

– CCID and City: 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.
– City Health Department: To provide noise measurement test specifications, test procedure and acoustic report to the LSRA, and to invite members to a testing session.
– CCID: Provide a digital copy of their brochure on noise awareness to the LSRA for posting on the website.

When the Metro Police were trying to issue a fine, Mr Dunne refused to give …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 31st March 2011

An irate Burg Street resident is so fed up with a noisy pub in her street that she has resorted to all sorts of desperate measures to get the owners to turn down the volume including calling Mayco member for Safety and Security Alderman JP Smith for help. Quahnita Samie said the O’Driscoll’s Irish Pub and Restaurant on the corner of Hout and Burg streets caused a disturbance on St Patrick’s Day (Thursday March 17).

She said the pub continues to play loud music even though the City has taken the owner to court for being a noise nuisance and trading without a Health and Entertainment licence. She claimed that owner Alan Dunne and his girlfriend Zelda Holtzman, former Western Cape deputy provincial police commissioner, were interfering with police officers and stopping them from taking action. “I have a letter from the City which clearly states that the pub’s owner does not have the relevant licence and it is not allowed to play loud music, but Ms Holtzman kept interfering and telling officers they had a licence,” she said. She said after calling various police agencies including law enforcement, Metro Police and SAPS she became fed-up after not receiving any help.

Ms Samie said out of desperation she called Mr Smith in the early hours of the morning for assistance. “When I phoned him, he told me about the public places and the prevention of noise nuisance by-law and the proposed amendments which will allow City officials to impound the sound equipment of noisy pubs, clubs and restaurants. He seemed unable to assist so I decided to leave my home for the evening,” she said. However, Mr Smith arrived at Burg Street to see for himself, but by then Ms Samie had already left. Mr Smith said he arrived at the pub and tried to speak to the owner.“There was an obvious noise disturbance, I have never been to the pub before but I could hear the music from Strand Street,” he said.

Mr Smith said he called the Metro Police for assistance and tried to speak to the owner. He said an argument started between himself and Mr Dunne, who he said was “belligerent, aggressive and unpleasant”. “He stood for 30 minutes just insulting me. When the Metro Police were trying to issue a fine, Mr Dunne refused to give his name. He continued to argue with me and I tried to explain that because he had no noise abatement he was breaking the law and causing a nuisance to residents. He said that only one resident had complained but I informed him that it didn’t matter how many residents complained the point is the pub was breaking the law,” Mr Smith said.

When asked whether he could confirm Ms Samie’s allegations that Ms Holtzman was interfering, Mr Smith said: “She was definitely interceding by giving officers inaccurate information. “I had to continually refer them to their fine books showing them that the pub was in fact breaking the law and it needed to be fined.” However, Mr Dunne has denied all the allegations and said the pub was a respectable and quiet establishment. He said he was not aggressive towards Mr Smith and said in his opinion the Metro Police were bullied into issuing a fine. “Mr Smith came in here as if he was the chief of police. I later learned that he was a councillor and an Alderman,” Mr Dunne said. Mr Dunne confirmed that he was in a relationship with Ms Holtzman but denied that she interfered by giving Metro Police officers inaccurate information. “There were no grounds for police to take action as the bar was not transgressing any law so no, she did not interfere,” he said.

However, Mr Smith said he responded to the complaint to observe whether or not the allegations made by Ms Samie were true. He said Metro Police officers issued a fine based on the fact that the music could be heard outside the venue. Complaints Last year, Ms Samie spoke out about how she was affected by the noise (“Pub refuses to cork it”, CapeTowner, November 11). Ms Samie made several complaints to the City’s health department and has submitted affidavits. She first moved to the area in June 2009. She said the noise was unbearable and first raised her concerns with City officials in November 2009.

Executive director for the City’s health department Dr Ivan Bromfield said his department received the first complaint in 2009 and a warning letter was issued to the pub stating that they are trading without an appropriate health and entertainment business licence as required by the Businesses Act of 1991 and that they should apply for the necessary licence. The CapeTowner contacted the pub for comment at the time but the previous manager, who only identified herself as Claire, said she would see if she could get a response from the owner, Alan Dunne. No response was received.

Ms Samie is now a witness in this court case but said she was having trouble getting law enforcement agencies to help on St Patrick’s Day. The licence Mr Dunne said the pub first opened its doors in December 2006 and at that time it was known as Catu Irish Pub. The name was changed as he felt it was too cryptic and said the public weren’t aware that it was an Irish Pub and said he was the single owner. He said the first time he received noise complaints was when Ms Samie moved into the area. He said he did not apply for a health and entertainment licence as he had a liquor licence which shows he can play loud and live music as long as it did not cause a nuisance or disturbance to the neighbours. “I have to state, however, that it is an alleged noise, we have never had a problem with noise,” he said. He said his licence made provision for loud noise. Mr Dunne said he was informed that he needed to apply for a health and entertainment licence but said it applied only to establishments that play live music. He said he had applied for a health and entertainment licence but never followed it up as in his opinion it referred to live music and said the pub didn’t really have live bands performing.

However, on St Patrick’s Day when Ms Samie and Mr Smith alleged the incident occurred, the pub had a live band playing. Mr Dunne said he was being harassed by Ms Samie who he said made several calls to police officers and then accused them of not doing their job. He said the pub was only issued with fines after she accused them of not doing their job. When asked if it was his view that the pub was being fined because it was causing a noise nuisance, Mr Dunne said: “Absolutely not, there are occasions like St Patrick’s Day which is celebrated all over the world. And there is noise but not the kind of noise that causes a disturbance. Police have to respond to a complaint. It got to the point on St Patrick’s Day when people were on the street, but were moved inside and the police were happy. “But Ms Samie was not pleased and called the police again and another van arrived.”

In November Dr Ivan Bromfield confirmed that the pub was trading without a health and entertainment license. He said the City received complaints from Ms Samie. The matter was investigated and a warning letter was issued to the pub informing the owner that it was trading without the necessary licence. He said all premises keeping or conducting a night club or discothèque are required, in terms of the Business Act, to apply for the necessary health and entertainment licence. When asked what requirements establishments needed to fulfil before the licence can be issued, Dr Bromfield said: “A noise impact assessment and a noise management plan must be submitted to the City. These reports, compiled by an accredited acoustic engineer, must be to the satisfaction of the City. Any soundproofing measures, required by such reports, must be implemented and certified by the engineer and must be finally installed to the satisfaction of the City”.

Mr Dunne said he did not have to apply for a health and entertainment licence as the pub did not have live bands playing. Dr Bromfield said that all premises where live music, bands and shows took place needed to be in possession of a business licence issued by a licensing authority such as the City. “A licence issued by the Liquor Board is not done in terms of this Act and does not exclude any business from complying with the conditions contemplated in terms of the Business Act,” Mr Bromfield said. He said the City had received two noise impact assessment reports from the pub, but both were rejected due to non-compliance. Dr Bromfield said since the last report, the case has been postponed three times and the next court date is scheduled for Thursday, May 19.

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