Park name debate

Whats in a name... The Little Glen to be renamed.

While the comment period in the public participation process for the renaming of the Little Glen in 1st Crescent, Camps Bay, had ended on March 31, Camps Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CBRRA) has come under attack by some residents for not seeing efforts to upgrade and maintain the reserve as a community effort.

The CBRRA had submitted the proposal to the City of Cape Town in 2015 to honour the late Arthur Shephard for all his hard work and efforts for the Little Glen by having the name changed to Arthur Shephard Little Glen Nature Reserve (“Renaming planned”, November 30 2017, Atlantic Sun).

Atlantic Sun is in possession of a barrage of emails from residents who have expressed their concerns around having the Little Glen Playground renamed, especially after a single person. Many of the residents feel that a bench or flower bed should rather be named in Mr Shephard’s honour.

Community volunteer Michele Harvey, who has been involved in many projects in the Camps Bay community, including bringing schools in the area to Little Glen as well as being involved with the 1st Camps Bay Scouts Group for 14 years, said she is not against the hard work Mr Shephard had put into Little Glen but that the idea of having the whole area renamed after him does not sit well. “Many people have worked in this Glen. The principle is, you cannot hurt those people who have worked here before us, you cannot suggest there won’t be people after us. He (Mr Shephard) was magnificent but why change the name.”

She showed the Atlantic Sun the scout clubhouse in the Little Glen and explained that it had been built over a hundred years ago and was donated by the Ward-Cox family. She said: “ So, if we were to start naming people it would then be like a speech at a wedding.”

Ms Harvey said the CBRRA does not represent the wider civic and school organisations who she said have removed themselves from the CBBRA meetings as a result of “frustration, misrepresentation, personal agendas and pet projects, poor communication and past performance”. “For this reason dissemination of relevant community information through CBBRA as a channel cannot be regarded as effective or sufficient to be regarded as due process.”

Terry Chicken, who also keeps his hand on maintaining the Little Glen, had worked closely with Mr Shephard and said that the renaming of the Little Glen is not something that Mr Shephard would have wanted, rather he would have appreciate it if people would continue keeping the grounds in a good condition.

Bernard Schäfer, the chairperson of Camps Bay Community Police Forum (CBCPF), said in an email the CBCPF held a discussion during its full forum meeting at the time and the decision was unanimously agreed upon to not support the renaming of the Little Glen for various reasons.

“The Little Glen Project was not the brainchild of one person, nor was it achieved or financed by one person – on the contrary it was a CBCPF project that was a truly community-based and community-supported project that was made possible by many individuals. For this reason the CBCPF felt (and I echo those sentiments personally) that it would not be fitting to rename the Little Glen after one person, irrespective of how great or appreciated his individual role may have been.

“We feel that keeping the name neutral in its original form is best. We do, however, feel that if Arthur’s contribution should be memorialised in some special way we fully support the idea of a memorial object (bench, tree, table bearing a remembrance plaque etc) in addition even a memorial garden bearing his name. The obvious choice would be the fantastic garden he created almost single-handedly on the land outside of the Little Glen but between 1st Crescent and Finchley Road. This land has no name yet (and therefore does not fall foul to the renaming saga) and a memorial sign could be erected detailing Arthur’s full contribution to the area as a whole including this area and reference to the Little Glen and his special contribution to that ongoing project. Alternatively a memorial garden area within the Little Glen itself.

“These options would be something unique that would bear Arthur’s name and only his name, rather than having a long clumsy sharing of names to try and reach compromise on the difficult task of renaming the Little Glen as a whole.”

Chris Willemse, chairperson at the CBRRA, said one of the major problems that some had with the proposal is that the Little Glen name should not change. “The CBCRA agrees with this but submits that the name is not actually changing but merely getting an honorific before it as the Arthur Shephard Little Glen.

“Unfortunately, a small grouping, which is very anti the CBCRA for their own narrow interests, has also entered the matter and will do whatever to stop this initiative. This is most unfortunate as this is a sensitive issue and certainly not the forum to pursue agendas.”

He said the CBRRA has valid points that have been raised by many who are not in favour of having the playground renamed but feel it is fitting to honour and remember Mr Shephard in this way.

“Another point raised is that many individuals and organisations have put much effort into the maintenance and upgrades of the Little Glen over many years. This is indeed true, but actually underlines the efforts of Arthur. Despite all the efforts of so many over so long, the Little Glen was a crime-infested and derelict area when Arthur took on the challenge in late 2009. He made use of every resource that he could find – and many from the community assisted him – but without his drive and determination, the Little Glen would probably still look as bad as it did then. The facts bear this out.Contextualising Arthur with the Little Glen is completely non-intrusive and will not only serve as an honour and remembrance to him but hopefully will also inspire others to realise that with selfless determination, individuals can make a difference to the community within which they live,” he said.

Brett Herron, chairperson of the City’s Naming and Nomination Committee, said the City’s Public Participation Unit (PPU) conducted a public participation process which was concluded on March 31. This involved asking the local residents and interested and affected parties to indicate their support or objections to the renaming proposal where a dedicated generic email address was made available for submitting comments, as well as the City of Cape Town’s “Have your say” portal, and a dedicated City of Cape Town SMS number.

Mr Herron added: “The PPU will now compile a report about the outcome of the process, and this report will be discussed by the City’s Naming and Nomination Committee who will make a recommendation to the mayor as to whether the reserve should be renamed as proposed. If the mayor agrees, the proposal must be put before council, which is the final decision-making body.”