SA vs The World

South Africa vs the Rest of the World Bowls

Fun and laughter was the order of the day at the St Francis Bay Bowling Club this last weekend when the South Africa versus the Rest of the World Competition took place.

Bowlers from many parts of the world have settled in St Francis Bay and in summer there is an influx of visitors from overseas, euphemistically called “swallows”. Both these groups formed the “rest of the world” team and played against those born in South Africa. This introduces a fun element of rivalry and makes for a very sociable afternoon of bowls.

SA vs Rest of World Bowls

Graham Alison, an English resident, who owns a house in St Francis Bay and spends each summer here, initiated the competition eight years ago and donated a floating trophy. He puts a great deal of effort and enthusiasm into the arrangements by organising the hampers (to which members contribute items) and providing wine for the “touchers”. It also serves as a fund-raising event for the club and this year money raised from the hamper raffles will go towards the borehole which has become so necessary in this time of drought.

The spirit was fantastic and it proved to be a colourful affair as participants dressed up to represent their countries of origin. Many green and gold rugby shirts were donned by the South African team and Rijks Kotze, who did something really innovative, was voted the best dressed on the day in her long African-styled dress and headdress. Union Jacks were in evidence, red and white from the Swiss, greens from the Irish contingent, and traditional Dutch dress, (naturally without the clogs whilst on the green!)

There was much friendly rivalry between the two teams captained by Graham (Rest of the World) team and Rolly Marsh (South Africa). This year the Rest of the World Team played extremely well and were jubilant with their 84/57 win over the locals.

Peter Talbot, President of the Club, said: “This competition has become a tradition and builds camaraderie among club members and as such it is good for the club. The members get into the spirit of the occasion, which is a glorified ‘tabs in’ with a bit of fun.”

The camaraderie continued afterwards with the fires being lit for a bring-and-braai to end off what proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Article & photograph: Yvonne Bosman

Liquid Lines a winner producing winners

What an absolute winner Haydyn and Maria Holmes have given the community in Liquid Lines. Not only is it producing some really fine swimmers but also for what it offers the St Francis community at large. No matter one’s age, Liquid Lines has a programme for almost every need. From youngsters learning to swim progressing to being able to compete their school gala to those who are now competing with great success in both national and international events, Liquid lines can boast some incredible achievements.

But Liquid Lines is not just about developing world champion swimmers for the facility offers something for almost every resident of the greater St Francis no matter age, gender, fitness level or physical impairment. Early morning training sessions are held most days of the week for those more accomplished swimmers but long ago retired from competitive swimming wanting to stay in competitive shape. Many of these swimmers can be found plying the canals of St Francis Bay on a Friday evening, a weekly event that is proving both popular and a social occasion. During the day lanes are open for those merely looking to do as many lengths of the pool to keep themselves active and fit with several of these swimmers being in their seventies. Growing in popularity are the morning Aqua Aerobics classes, an ideal way of toning up muscles and loosening tired joints even if swimming is not your thing.

Amica de Jaager

But back to the achievements of some of those who use Liquid Lines to keep themselves in top competition form. Most notable is Woodridge College student, Amica de Jager who is fast becoming a national star and who has already represented South Africa in Lifesaving at the World Lifesaving Championships. Amongst her many achievement was recently winning the log running River Mile (its 93rd running this year) after a week or so earlier having won the NMB 10-kilometre. On March 21 Amica again took top honours this time at the Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge, considered one of the toughest ocean swims on the circuit, with her younger sister Chane finishing in fourth just ten second behind her older sibling. In the men’s division Hadyn swam into 4th place, second in age group.

Masters 4 x 100 relay bronze medalists

From left – Guest swimmer, Gary Millford, Paul Nicholson, John Wilson

Not to be outdone some of the older Liquid Lines swimmers got to stand on the podium at the 2017 Master Swimming Championships held in East London. Gary Millford, John Wilson and Paul Nicholson along with an honorary member for the day to make up four for the 4 x 100 metre relay took 3rd Spot. Well done guys. But the star of the Masters Event undoubtedly goes to Maria winning no less than FOUR GOLD Medals. What a champ!

Eco-Route Environmental Consultancy

The “Kromme Enviro-Trust” (St Francis Bay) is fortunate to have Dr Colleen Ebersohn address a group at 15:30 on Wednesday 5th April at the Heritage Centre. Entrance is R50 and the talk to be followed by wine and snacks

Dr Colleen Ebersohn and her daughter Janet head up Eco-Route Environmental Consultancy. This is a family run business with Colleen and Janet as the directors. Both are very well educated and versed in the topic and have many years of experience in this field.

The discussion/talk is aimed at informing residents on Environmental Law within the Greater St Francis Bay area (how it affects you: when do you need an EIA, alien vegetation clearing and the integrated coastal management act). This promises to be a very informative and educational talk.

They will address the applicability of the EIA Regulations as per the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) as well as how to deal with transgressions of the NEMA. This talk will be of interest not only to all members of the public but architects, engineers, town planners, property developers, municipal officials and of course estate agents.

RSVP Yvonne Bosman by e-mail ycraig@iafrica.com 042 294 0842 or 083 235 8278 for catering purposes.

Kromme Enviro Trust

Eco-Route Environmental Consultancy

Invitation to a discussion on the environmental legislation

Invitation to a discussion on the environmental legislation pertaining to properties in the greater st francis area.

This discussion is aimed at informing relevant stakeholders and the general public of the applicable Environmental Legislation pertaining to Erven and Houses that are for sale, being re-developed or constructed within Environmentally Sensitive Areas in the greater St Francis.

The discussion will include the following topics:

  • Alien Vegetation clearing including the clearing of erven
  • Applicable National Environmental Management Act ( NEMA) and EIA Process
  • Integrated Coastal Management Act

 

Venue: Heritage Centre
Date: 5/04/2017
Time: 15:30
RSVP: Yvonne Bosman ycraig@iafrica.com or 083238278 (for catering purposes)

Kromme Enviro Trust

Let’s work together!

Let’s work together and forget the pettiness.

With the announcement in parliament that only nine percent of the 2017 / 18 budget will be spent on municipalities, possibly those opposed to the St Francis Property Owners SRA proposal should reconsider their NO votes and actively engage themselves in finding a way forward. Only those who choose to ignore the Minister’s assertions in his budget speech and Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen’s confirmations that priority will be the upliftment of the poorer areas of Kouga can be in any doubt that there is not going to a magic wand that will see the Kouga municipality finding the funding to address our deteriorating infrastructure.

St Francis Today was yesterday given a copy of a flier that is being distributed in St Francis soliciting property owners to reverse their YES vote. Considering the government’s decision is it not time that the anti SRA body reconsider and rather start working with the SFPO to find a solution to what realities are facing our little (affluent) hamlet. One would have to be without social conscience to ignore the plight of the poor for there is a growing restlessness throughout South Africa with the general feeling amongst the poor that nothing has changed since the demise of apartheid 22 years ago.

Certainly there may be flaws in the SRA proposal that need to be addressed but discounting it as unworkable is rather like burying one’s head in the sand. Leaving it to the politicians to solve is not going to work and if we are going to ignore the experience of well qualified business people and their well researched suggested solutions, who are we going to turn to. If nothing is done and the input of the present SFPO committee is totally ignored, their value may be lost to us forever. Like David Cameron resigning when he lost the Brexit vote, will this committee too decide to throw in the towel? And who of those so against the SRA are going to step into the void and fight for St Francis should these proven business leaders decide to step down.

This is not a pro SRA post but rather an appeal to forget the petty arguments and come together as a community and find solutions not only for St Francis but also for our close neighbours in Sea Vista.

The SRA is not about the canals, the spit and beachfront properties. It is about St Francis and our future. Maybe it is time to again read the SFPO “Vision 2030” document.

More Questions and Answers on SRA

16 March – SRA Questions, Answers, Comments and Responses

Question: Can the legitimacy of the voting process will be challenged and if challenged and how will those who are not members of the Residents Association be informed?

Answer: People incorrectly see the voting as an election process. Nobody is being elected. The Kouga Municipality simply requires, as per the SRA legislation, proof of consent of the majority of property owners, 50%+1, that they approve of the SRA levy, and as such allow the Municipality to add it to their monthly Municipal bill. The consent forms are required in hardcopy format and can be inspected by anyone who chooses to do so. It cannot be a secret ballot. We have used the term vote on the consent form to avoid confusion as to a yes or no to the consent requested by us.

Question: Before I can vote on supporting the special levy I would like to know how the amount was decided?

Answer: The levy was calculated based on detailed cost estimates we have collected over the past year for each piece of our infrastructure that  we need to restore. The road costs came from the work a group of  consulting engineers we hired – EAS PE. These costs are based on a survey completed by them. The sewerage costs were given to us by  Aurecon, who have the complete set of drawings for the roll out of water borne sewerage to the remaining 75% of properties who are on conservancy tanks and soak aways. The River, Spit and Beach costs have  been based on the work done by Worley Parson in 2014, and subsequent  work by the Riparians, and our own team. The security camera estimates were extracted from information provided by two separate Security  camera equipment companies that service a lot of private estates and cities around South Africa.

Question: What if the municipal rates spiral?

Answer: The Municipality cannot increase its rates over and above inflation without a specific application to National Treasury (this is specifically to protect property owners from being exploited). The Municipality relies on an annual inflation adjustment and the re-valuing of properties every 5 years

Question: Will there be written agreement between the SRA and Local Authority as to who does what, in the absence of such, efforts will naturally default to the SRA doing everything (the slippery slope).

A: This is spelt out in the SRA Business Plan. In our draft Business Plan it is very clear that we are not a surrogate municipality.

Question: The issue of ownership of infrastructure; If the SFPO is building and maintaining infrastructure should it not be the owner of, or at least have lien over same?

A: If we wanted to turn the whole of St Francis into a private estate then we should take ownership of the land and infrastructure, including Sea Vista. This also means all infrastructure including electricity, water, refuse removal, etc. We do not have a mandate from the property owners to do this as this would require a lot more money than we can raise through this levy. We want the Municipality to get back on its feet and serve us going forward, but it simply does not have the resources to do so in an acceptable timeframe, which is why we are proposing the SRA levy.

Question: Has anyone tried to analyize why properties in St Francis Bay have dropped more than 30% in the past 8 years. Second to Plett it is one of our premier coastal holiday destinations. We can’t blame potholes in the roads or the beach erosion for this.

Answer: This has been caused by the declining state of our infrastructure, both environmental and roads etc. Many people have considered selling up and getting out of St Francis because of the state of our infrastructure, and the absolute resistance to change by some of our retired community. The possibility of the SRA solution has held back a lot of these disenchanted property investors, but it leaves us with a depressed market

Question: How much revenue is collected each year from the current rates, and how are these funds allocated? Sewerage, water and electricity are charged separately and homeowners are charged for these services whether their homes are occupied or not, or whether plots are developed or not. I expect the new DA mayor to provide the reasons why there is no money available for repair of infrastructure.
I am all in favour of repairing and improving the beach facilities and would be willing to make a monthly contribution but feel 50% of current rates to be unaffordable.

Answer: The Municipality were asked to give a full set of figures for St Francis and private estates in early December but they said they could not do so until January. We couldn’t request this information until the DA Councillors had agreed to support our SRA proposal, and were only given this decision late November. Our research has told us that St Francis Bay’s 2,150 properties (which excludes the private estates, Cape St Francis, and Sea Vista township) contribute about R37m a year in rates. The private estates probably add another R15m, bearing in mind that some the River Estates pay Agricultural rates (25% of the residential rates). So we think about R50m pa is paid by St Francis excluding Cape St Francis and Sea Vista.

We are not privy as to how these rates are allocated by the Municipality but would think they first of all are used to pay salaries and overheads (buildings, equipment, etc.). What we were told by Ben Rheeder and Elza van Lingen at the AGM was that they are obligated to spend 60% of all available funds to underprivileged areas. The Municipality has budgeted to collect R680m from all of its services in the 2016/2017 year. The capital budget is R60m, which is hopelessly inadequate for what is required to be done. Our Waste Treatment plant alone requires R10m to upgrade it because it is running at full capacity or more.

Water and electricity is charged based on consumption. You can look at your own account to see whether an availability fee is also charged. Sewerage is a levy of somewhere around R189 per month, which is consistent with a water borne sewerage service. We are not charged for the honey sucker to empty our conservancy tank in St Francis Bay. Cape St Francis (CSF) on the other hand has no water borne sewerage at all and have to pay between R650 and R960 per honey sucker service. If you require two services a month (as I do for my conservancy tank), then you will pay R1,300 – R1,920 per month. The average property value in St Francis is R3m with monthly rates of R1,650 and The sewerage service in CSF will cost you between 80 – 110% of you monthly rates!  Our honey sucker services appear to be heavily subsidised in St Francis Bay.

You have every right to ask the DA whatever you choose. Unlike the ANC previously you will get an answer.  From my point of view the DA are working very hard to turn around a severely damaged Municipality. The Municipality has a lawsuit currently in progress for R750m for their part in failing to deal with the fires a few years ago. Their vehicle fleet of some 220 vehicles had less than 10% left on the road when the DA took over in August. PE Metro are claiming an underpayment of R43m on the water account as PE supplies Kouga Municipality with its water. There are a number of corruption charges they are dealing with to clean up the Municipality. They have to reinvigorate their staff….among many other challenges.

 We are proposing 50% to fix the infrastructure backbone of our town. We have had professional engineers estimate the R373m to do this. 36% of this total value is fixing the results of man-made interventions in our environment. Santareme was built on the sand dunes that fed sand onto our beach, and has caused the loss of our beach. The diverting of the Sand river from where it entered the sea near Aldabara to the Kromme river, has resulting in depositing all its sand in the river rather than on the beach where it fed the Spit.

As regards the cost of restoring our infrastructure, we can extend the period beyond 10 years and pay less, but the cost of fixing all of this is just going to climb the longer we leave it. The 50% levy will adjust our rates to 0.92, still below PE’s rates of 0.97, but we control through the SFPO NPC (Not For Profit Company) all of this additional levy (with the exception of a small administrative fee deducted by the Municipality). We know that we are stuck between a rock and hard place, but for the 10 years
that I have been living full-time in St Francis I have not seen or heard of any solutions to our problems. The last serious proposal (beach, spit and river only) was in 2006, and that was rejected. Look where that got us.

Where this levy is unaffordable we are in the process of setting up a system whereby people can apply for partial or full relief.