Tatler Questions

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May 12, 2011 No Comments ›› Admin

Brett answers some questions on ward issues for the Southern Suburbs Tatler regional newspaper:

  1. Is this the first time you will be standing in the local government elections?
    This is the first time I am standing as a Ward Councillor.  I currently serve as a PR (Proportional Representation) Councillor in the City of Cape Town.  I serve as the Mayco (Mayoral Committee) Member for Community Services.  Prior to this I was the Chairperson of the Social Development Portfolio Committee.
  2. Do you live in your ward?
    Yes.  I have lived in the ward for the past 8 years, first in Observatory and now in Woodstock.
  3. How have you been involved with the community in your area?
    Although I have not been the Ward Councillor, as a Councillor for the City of Cape Town, who has lived in the ward, I have assisted the community with a number of local issues – resolving service delivery issues, attending to indigent grants and pensioner rates rebates, municipal billing issues, housing matters etc.

    In addition I started and operated the Cape Town Advice Office – which provided free legal advice to those residents of the community and beyond who were not able to afford legal services.  I am a board member of the South African Peace Alliance, a non-profit civic organisation that seeks to institutionalise peace in South Africa.  I served as a member of the UWRA (Upper Woodstock Residents Association) executive committee last year.

  4. What is the biggest issue you’ve encountered in your ward?
    The Ward is large and diverse, incorporating Devils Peak, parts of Vredehoek, Lower Gardens, District Six, Walmer Estate, University Estate, Woodstock, Salt River, Observatory and parts of Mowbray.  As you can imagine there are a number of important issues that affect the different communities.

    There are a few common concerns amongst the issues that have been raised with me and my team as we have been engaging with residents across the ward.  These include business creep into residential areas, development pressures, plight of homeless people and recreational facilities and programmes for young people.  There are also road and traffic related issues – especially road and gutter conditions and “rat racing” hotspots that need attention.

  5. What are your plans for the future or which issues will you be tackling in your ward?
    I expect to tackle each and every issue that is a concern to any resident of the ward.  I will hold regular public engagements across the ward in order to facilitate open communication between residents and myself.

    There are a number of issues I plan to tackle pro-actively.  One of the most pressing relates to Planning and Development.  Residents are no doubt aware of the development pressures we face as the City expands eastwards.  The location and property value makes the ward, and Woodstock in particular, attractive for property development and commercialisation.  I am in favour of development, but believe this must take place in terms of a Local Area Development Plan – this plan should speak to protection of the residential component, protection of the heritage architecture, types of business we want within the ward and clear identification of economic corridors, the economic development spin-offs, incorporation and protection of community facilities (sports, recreation, libraries, parks, pools etc).

    One of the first things I want to take up is getting the City’s Planning department to commission this plan.  This is particularly important, I believe, because of the development proposals that are being floated – such as the Intersite properties (the submerging of the railway lines to free up land for development) from Salt River to the CBD, as well as the District Six development framework and the government garage development site in Buitenkant Street.  The launch of the IRT service through parts of the ward later this year and in 2012 will introduce mobility and make access much easier  – this too will have an impact on development.  There is also the Fringe development – which will see improvements in the eastern precinct of the CBD – right on our boundary.  These developments are exciting but we must plan for their impact on the ward and ensure that we harness the socio-economic benefits.  This will not happen without a plan.

    I believe we can create significant economic and job opportunities within the ward by identifying where commercial development should take place and by encouraging particular types of commercial activity – which can add significantly to local employment opportunities.  The next few years could be particularly exciting and beneficial to the residents of this ward with pro-active and proper planning.

    The local area development plans will go through public participation so that the community can provide their input.

    Working towards improving the safety of our residents is another focus.  This is a constant issue and I will work closely with the Neighbourhood Watches, Police Forums and Improvement Districts to ensure that both SAPS and the Metro Police are vigilant and responsive.  There are plans to extend the very effective CCTV network within the ward and this will greatly improve our Metro Police’s pro-active policing capacity for the area.  The Metro Police remain focussed on drug and alcohol related offences.  Drug related offences are a major concern within parts of the ward.  Whilst we need better policing, we also need social interventions to beat the scourge of drug trade and dependency.  I will be pushing for more of the City’s Sports & Recreation programmes to be rolled out in the ward – these programmes have been very successful in parts of the city with regards to “connecting the unconnected” and occupying young people with positive activities.

    Parts of the ward are hotspots for homeless people.  We need to roll out the City’s reintegration and rehabilitation plan sustainably and this will also be a focus area.

    I would also like to see the Two Rivers Urban Park (TRUP), which is partly located in our ward, reach its full potential.  Located between Observatory and Oude Molen, this urban green gem can make a major contribution to the quality of life value of our residents.  I will work with the TRUP Committee to ensure that TRUP secures its place as a public open space destination and that its unique setting and features, including the river frontage, are continuously improved and maintained.

  6. Do you believe there is too much freedom in the media?
    Absolutely not.  Freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and other media, are our fundamental innate human rights. They encompass your and my rights to receive and express information and ideas. The ANC has attempted to make press freedom and their proposed Media Tribunal about the conduct of the media. They regard the media as hostile and their response is punitive. Their response is another revelation of their deep-seated lack of understanding of human rights issues, notwithstanding their claim that they should be trusted on this issue since they fought for these rights in the first place.  The ANC and other proponents of the Media Tribunal miss the point.  The human rights embodied within freedom of expression are not the rights of journalists they are the rights of every human-being in the world and every citizen of this country. The media exercises and expresses those rights on our behalf. Furthermore the Constitution does not bequest those rights to us – it merely protects them. “Refining” the constitution will not remove our rights of Freedom of Expression – it will simply deny our rights protection from the state and position South Africa with other rogue states with poor human rights records.
  7. Are you happy with the education system and is there anything you think should be changed, in which way?
    Education is not a local government competency.  But, while the City of Cape Town does not operate in education – as a modern, progressive City we cannot ignore the education landscape, especially if we are to deliver on our economic and social development objectives.  There is much that needs to be done to improve basic education so that our learners are well positioned to access employment and further or higher education and secure their future within our city’s economy.  Our Provincial Education department is already implementing strategies to improve the quality of basic education in the Province.  The City of Cape Town must play a facilitative and supportive role.

    One way the City can support an improved education system is through our libraries.  Too many schools do not have a school library.  The City currently operates over 100 libraries.  Collaboration between the Province and the City, and discussion have already commenced, could see the City developing and operating new libraries, strategically placed to serve more than one school, as well as the local community.  These Libraries, which will house a large education collection aligned to the learning curriculum, could be developed as a partnership between the City and the Province.

    The City of Cape Town has played a role in post-secondary education and skills development.  The Apprenticeship programmed launched in 2007 will be expanded over the coming years – this will provide many unemployed learners with the opportunity to acquire a trade through on-the-job training within the City’s Utilities department.



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