Developments top list of concerns at AGM

Marco van Embden, Martin Bey and Suzanne Kempen.

Despite all the success stories the Sea Point, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association had to share at its annual general meeting last Wednesday, the focal point for residents remained developments.

At the meeting, attended by more than 200 residents, meeting chair Martin Bey came under fire when he told angry residents that a planning committee report would not be read at the meeting because the agenda did not make provision for it.

This happened after association chairman, Marco van Embden, read his chairman’s report in which he spoke of the progress which had been made with relation to safety, security and cleansing initiatives and the upliftment project which had positively impacted the lives of “displaced people”.

The guest speaker at the meeting was JP Smith, the City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, and social services, who addressed the meeting about the traffic issues faced by Sea Point residents.

“I can’t solve the congestion. It’s an area with too narrow roads, too many residents and too many people passing through. That is not something you are going to magically solve but what does have to happen is that we have to make sure that the quality of the enforcement is as good as it can be.”

He explained how in the past he had struggled to get enough enforcement staff available but more officers have joined the ranks which should result in some improvement.

“I want to say one thing around planning: I can see it is a hot potato. When I was councillor here I had a fairly negative view on planning. There are developers in this room who had very big fights with me. I have picked the fruits of the urban regeneration that was driven by developments so this may be a bit hypocritical to have been very tough on planning, while having watched the suburb being redeveloped. The secret here is to find the combination of what keeps the urban regeneration going while not sacrificing all of your heritage and having incentive densification.”

Reflecting on having been against development when he served as ward councillor Mr Smith said, “If I look back at those developments now they have added value.”