Last week we briefly touched on Nigel Aitken’s history with the St Francis region and how as a young lad he spent his weekends and school holidays at his parents’ home on the Kromme. Needing to pursue a career he moved from his home town of Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, returning each year for his holidays and then for a brief two year sojourn to escape the bright lights before returning to Johannesburg. With the call of the sea ever beckoning, Nigel and Lynette returned to St Francis Bay for good in 2010 and so the story of their dedication to serving the community continues.
On his return, Nigel with “time on my hands” took an interest in the decaying state of the roads and approached the then Resident Association Chairman, Mike Simms, with ideas on how to fix or at least arrest the crumbling road infrastructure. For his efforts he suddenly found himself on the Residents Association committee as Vice-Chairman and thus his work improving the lot of St Francis began. After serving as vice for two years Nigel was took over the chairmanship two years ago.
Despite of his efforts to restore or certainly just maintain the roads, dealing with the “dysfunctional” Kouga Municipality proved an almost impossible task although as many would have noticed, maybe not all in vain. Suddenly there has been a surge of work on the roads with large sections already having been re-sprayed. Certainly not enough to fix the problem but possibly enough to at least preserve them possibly long enough until real action can be planned and implemented. Whether the council, realizing the holiday season was upon us and that they had better be seen to be doing something positive with the millions home owners pay in rates and taxes each year, we may never know but be sure Nigel’s badgering certainly had a hand in it.
And so to the St Francis Bay beaches and spit! That the Kouga Council has shown no interest in what is as serious a concern as the roads, Nigel as chair of the Residents Association along with the other associations including the Kromme River Trust, the Riparian Association and others, set about finding solutions. Accepting that Council would not participate financially, Nigel and his team set about raising funds to employ consultants to assess what would be required. A very successful campaign resulted in the local community contributing significant funds although Nigel feels some of the bigger companies, particularly in the construction industry could have “come to the party” for they certainly benefit from the re-construction of the many homes destroyed in the fire of three years ago.
Nigel has also been very instrumental in involving the Provincial Government in the plight of the beach and spit and whilst they, the province, have intervened, it would seem once again the local Kouga Council is a stumbling block as they seem to ignore directives from this higher authority. Hopefully Nigel’s efforts will one day be rewarded for his insistence of keeping meticulous records of every piece of correspondence with both Council and the Province could assist those who follow Nigel onto the Residence Association committee.
But enough on depressing subject of our local municipality for Nigel also wears other caps in helping the community. Visit the Rotary Swap Shop initiative of an afternoon where Nigel can be seen in gloved hands weighing the mountains of recycled material the kids of Sea Vista collect for reward. Asked if he is a Rotarian, Nigel’s response was an emphatic “NO! Rotary is too formal, rather give me a bush hat, a water hole and a car and I’ll park off there although I am happy to assist Lynette with Rotary where I can”.
Sadly Nigel has decided to stand down from the St Francis Bay Residents Association at the next AGM in December. Asked if he would still be involved Nigel felt it was necessary for the new committee to bring new and fresh ideas to the table. If asked he would certainly assist with matters he was involved with during his tenure but was adamant that he would not want to be seen as interfering with their work going forward but would assist if asked.
So what now Nigel?
Well apart from resuming his love of fishing, Nigel also has a business interest in ‘Inspect-A-Home’ that he intends to concentrate on. Inspect-A-Home has recently tied up an exciting agreement with a large insurance company that will offer a two year ‘warranty’ to buyers giving them protection against latent defects. Certainly an interesting concept for how often are home buyers faced with sometimes unaffordable bills for defects that were not obvious when purchasing a property.
In closing we asked Nigel for a final word. Nigel’s answer …. “If you want to sit back and expect the Council to do things for you, you are going to devalue your property. Even if there is a change in political makeup at next year’s municipal elections, little will change for there simply are not the funds available and it will take years to reverse the deficit that would be inherited from the present council”.
Apart what has been written on the lines above and in the article on Lynette last week, it was the mine of information gleaned during our interview with Nigel and Lynette that is fodder for future articles on the many initiatives that this remarkable couple is involved with in St Francis. That Nigel and Lynette Aitken have dedicated the past five years to serving St Francis Bay is not in doubt and we are sure they will both still be active in serving the community in the future.