Tag Archives: Dubliner

Long Street needs innovative solutions, not more legislation …

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

The debate around the sale and consumption of alcohol at the outside tables in Long Street has reached fever pitch with owners of establishments claiming it could have a negative effect on business (“’Kerbing’ boozing”, CapeTowner November 1). The issue was first raised in the ward forum meeting where ward councillor Dave Bryant said there had been ongoing discussions about whether it was legal to drink outside. Owners of bars and pubs were fuming last week after they were fined.

John Davidson from Bob’s Bar said while he wasn’t aware of any new fines being issued this past weekend, he feared the banning of alcohol consumption would not only have devastating effects on his businesses but it could change the vibe of the street. Mr Davidson said if tables and chairs were causing problems relating to crime then the safety aspect should be dealt with, taking away the tables wouldn’t solve the problem.

“The tables outside add to the vibe of Long Street and banning the sale and consumption of alcohol could prove detrimental to business. It’s important for authorities to understand that all of this is linked. “If you take away the tables and move drinking inside, the businesses will see a loss of income and so it will affect the amount of staff we employ, for example. It also part of what Long Street is about, who wants to come to a pub and be forced to have a beer inside on the hot summer days,” he said.

Graham Albone, co-owner of Mojitos agreed and estimated that if he could not serve alcohol at the outside tables he would have lay off at least three staff members. “In Europe you can have a drink at the outside tables so why not in a city like Cape Town? “As long as the tables are not hampering pedestrian flow then I don’t see what the issue is,” he said. Mr Albone said that according to the leasing form he received from the City of Cape Town he had permission to have six tables outside his establishment and said there was no indication on the lease that he couldn’t serve alcohol out-side.

“Mojitos has been open for a while now and I have never been told it’s a problem. I really don’t understand why it’s an issue and I don’t understand why the focus is on Long Street. “Yes, there are crime issues but it’s not related to the tables and chairs, I have seen more bag snatchings inside establishments than outside,” he said. Darren Gunn, a manager at the Dubliner said while the issue of serving alcohol on the pavements didn’t really affect them as they stopped serving alcohol outside at 11pm, he believed taking it away is a “bad idea”. In previous comment Mr Bryant said serving alcohol on the pavements was illegal and that the City was looking at implementing a new leasing system to make provision for the consumption of alcohol at the outside tables.

However, when asked for clarity on the legality of the outside tables Philip Prinsloo, spokesperson for the Western Cape Liquor Authority, said it wasn’t illegal as long as establishments had permission to do so. He explained that permission to trade on the pavement is given by the City, which stipulates the conditions. “When applying for a liquor licence, applicants attach the letter from the City of Cape Town. Part of the requirements is for the applicant to hand in a comprehensive floor plan and site plan. If they are trading lawfully, they should not be penalised,” he said. Mr Prinsloo explained that if the application is granted the tables are marked as part of the designated liquor area so establishments that have permission from the licensing tribunal cannot be fined.

Mr Bryant said he had held meeting with mayoral committee member for economic, environment and spatial planning, Alderman Belinda Walker, about the issue. “We are waiting for legal opinion and while there have been proposals like marking the trading area we need to hear the legal opinion before we do anything. “We want to put a system in place to ensure that establishments are compliant and we certainly don’t want to take the tables away,” Mr Bryant said.

Long Street resident and research and design consultant Byron Qually believes that a creative approach and innovative solutions can be found that suits pubs and clubs as well as the authorities. He said as a resident who frequents the coffee shops and restaurants on Long Street, he didn’t have a problem with alcohol consumption on the pavements and didn’t agree with the notion that the tables are a crime generator. He agreed with establishments that the banning of alcohol at the outside tables would take away from the vibe of Long Street and said the unique open socialisation between establishments and even pedestrians is key to Long Street’s character and success.

“The use of legislation and by-laws to resolve concerns appears to be the primary approach by the City. Many of these laws are antiquated and date back to a very different Cape Town, and the by-laws tend to top-up rather than bring a new approach to problem resolution. “There is no clear design answer to the problem of crime in Long Street, though there are many process that can be used to help find one, for example participatory design. Similarly the issues we are facing are not unique, and many international design against crime initiatives have been set up. “As these examples note, the solutions that design could bring is not by subtraction, but by addition. In other words, with creative approaches and innovative solutions, an inclusive solution can be found that suits the Long Street community.”

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.