Councillor Ken Lategan said last month that he would be spending his entire capital budget of R300000 on a set of traffic lights for Hanover Park, but the community says this simply won't do.
Shaboedien Becker, secretary of the Multi Sectoral Action Team (MSAT) says the traffic lights are necessary, but wants to know why the entire allocation should be spent on it.
He listed areas such as youth and adult education as top priorities for the area. Economical development and HIV/Aids awareness also need desperate attention, said Becker. "If you look at Hanover Park creatively, we can use the money to solve the problems in a creative, constructive manner," says Becker.
The Community Police Forum (CPF) feels the money can be used to up security in the area. "The underground cables can be used for flood lights. In terms of crime prevention, the area should be lit up more. The money should be used for the empowerment of the community," says Moegammat Kieraan, CPF secretary.
The Community Police Forum (CPF) feels the money can be used to up security in the area.
The Concerned Mothers group wants the money to be pumped into a face-lift for the area. "The place is in such a state. We want Lategan to fix up the parks. Maybe he can sponsor some fruit and vegetable gardens. The flats in the courts are in desperate need of a paint," says Gladys Jones, vice chairperson of the group.
Friends of the Library say their facilities are also in dire need of upgrading. "They need more books. Especially since the introduction of Outcomes Based Education, more material is needed for research. The school children come there to do their homework and projects on the computers, but they shut down at any time," says Jawahierah Abass, chairperson of the Community Workers for the People and member of Friends of the Library.
She also wants parks to be upgraded, so the children have somewhere to play. She says the money should be used "more constructively" and to "ease the lives of people" in the area.
People's Post set up an interview with Lategan for Monday at 10:00 to discuss the use of his ward allocation, but when we arrived at his office, it was locked up tight. This resonates with what countless residents have been saying about their councillor seldom being available to them.
... resonates with what countless residents have been saying about their councillor seldom being available to them.
People's Post waited outside Lategan's office until 10:30 and returned at 11:00. There was still no sign of Lategan, no courtesy call to say he would not be able to make the interview, nor any apology for not pitching.
Lategan eventually contacted People's Post at about 12:00 to say he had been in an emergency meeting. As for the community's suggestions, he responds, "If the community has anything to say to me, they know where to find me."
He says all the items listed above have been addressed, but would not make it into this year's budget. "The upgrading of parks, painting of flats and lighting of the area has been considered. I cannot give any time frames, but these issues would possibly be addressed in the new financial year for 2008/09," says Lategan.
He said lighting up of the area is a priority on his list. But flood lighting will be too expensive and adds that he is looking at high mast lighting as an alternative. But because of all the cable theft, he would only implement this if the structure is redesigned, making it less easy for criminals to steal the cables. As for painting the flats, he said this will be seen to. "We have to start from the top. The gutters are being redone, then we'll look at fixing the roofs and windows, then we can start painting," says Lategan.
Meanwhile, the costing for the set of traffic lights has not yet been completed. "The wheels of the city turn so slowly. The new financial year starts on 1 July. So hopefully by the end of the first quarter, we'll have some results," he says.