Former chairman calls for SRA dialogue

Following a meeting of ‘St Francis Bay Concerned Residents’ held on Thursday addressed by an attorney from Graaff Reinet, and an advocate from Port Elizabeth regarding the SRA, St Francis Today has received the following letter from a former chairman of St Francis Bay Residents Association and Kromme River Trust. SFT has long been suggesting dialogue between those for and those against  to find common ground but rather than positive input there has really only been criticism of SFPO efforts to improve security. the roads, beach and spit rather than any constructive input. Maybe this letter from Hilton Thorpe, below, will encourage this much needed dialogue to not only find common ground that has been so elusive but also correct the facts of the SRA and dispel rumours of excessive spending by SFPO on office space and staff salaries which simply is not true but seems to have incensed some.

The only winners if this matter goes to court will be the legal fraternity for no matter the final outcome, it is this St Francis Bay community who will have to pay the legal bill one way or the other.

“Dear Collo,

Yesterday Julia & I attended a meeting of the above Association, which has been set up specifically to oppose the SRA plans of the St Francis Bay Property Owners Association. It was a well-attended, and well-organised meeting, addressed by an attorney from Graff Reinet, and an advocate from Port Elizabeth. The retired population of St Francis Bay was well-represented there, with the affordability of a 25% increase in rates on top of normal annual increases high on the list of concerns.

It quickly became apparent that the St Francis Bay community is caught between a rock & a hard  place. The Chairman of the Concerned Residents made it clear from the outset that they are not opposed in principle to a Special Rate to address the major problems confronting St Francis Bay, but they could not agree to the cost being met by one section of the community.  This being the case, they were preparing to take the matter to the High Court, and had already prepared preliminary documentation. There is no doubt that the objectors’ concerns are real, and we share them.

The lawyers came up with a list of legal technicalities which, in their view, amounted to failure to observe due process, and could be challenged in court. However, litigation is extremely expensive, slow and would achieve nothing towards solving the current impasse. This should be a last resort. It would surely be far preferable if the opposing parties were to sit down, debate the issues raised, and try to find some consensus on a way forward.        

The problem is really caused by the inability of the authorities to solve the problems here, and the legislation with regard to Special Rating, neither of which is the fault of the SFBPOA. They have spent two years, and expended large amounts of time and cash seeking a solution, and have been driven to their present position by the lack of government capacity and by very demanding legislation.

No special rate can be imposed by the Municipality without the approval of 50% + 1 of ratepayers. In the case of Santareme and St Francis-on-Sea, there is a large number of undeveloped stands, and, despite huge efforts by the SBPOA, it has not been possible to identify or communicate with many owners. Incorporation of these suburbs would mean that the 50% +1 target is unattainable, and no action of any sort can be taken. It was not clear that sufficient thought had been given to this by the objectors. Their demand for full participation by the whole community will simply lead to stalemate.

In our view, we should be very grateful to the committed group of able people who have bent over backwards to accommodate all the conflicting currents in this complex situation. It was very sad to us to see such a deep division between two groups, both of whom have the interests of the village at heart, but who seem to have little common ground on how to go about securing this.

A solution to all this is critical to the future of St Francis Bay. Failure to move forward would be a tragedy for the village. Let us hope that common sense will prevail, and that a spirit of co-operation and compromise on the part of both sides will replace the litigious mind-set displayed at yesterday’s meeting”.

Hilton Thorpe
Former Chairman of the St Francis Bay Residents Association and of the St Francis Kromme Trust

??? Namba Wan

Geagte Redakteur,

In u St Fr Today het ek al baie nuttige info gekry. Dankie daarvoor. Die afgelope ruk ondervind ek egter heelwat frustrasie want die nuus wat ek op u website kry is meestal NIE, dit wat u in u lysie van nuus wat belowe word, kry nie. Dit dui vir my op ‘n gebrek aan belangstelling van u kant af. So asof u ‘n taak aan iemand anders opgedra het en nooit die resultaat nagaan nie. Ek hoop dat ek verkeerd is? Sê nou net die akkuraatheid van u nuus is ook maar so onnoukeurig??

Dalk is daar iets wat ek nie mooi besef nie. Help my dan asb reg.

Beste wense.

To FNB or not to FNB

To FNB or not to FNB that’s the question.

A reader sent this as a “Have Your Say” post

I recently received the obligatory annual increase from FNB where I hold a business account.

It got me to thinking, as they tried to justify the increase with additional services that I don’t need, that I should in fact be receiving a discount from FNB on a monthly basis given that the St Francis Branch is only open three days a week .

Open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays relates to just over 50% of the service due to you by FNB for the fees that you pay. Second to that only one teller is provided regardless of the queues of frustrated customers shaking their heads and muttering under their breath.

And that’s not all as the teller doubles up as a trainer for all those people who have not had bank accounts before and leaves her station to accompany the customer outside to explain the entire process. This is clearly a necessary service but it’s at the expense of all the other customers standing patiently in line looking at a blank booth for 15 to 20 minutes.

One has to wonder what boardroom table this decision was made around as surely there is no logical business reason behind irritating your existing client base. One has to assume that their rent is the same regardless of whether they are in the branch or not. So no saving there.

Perhaps the plan is to utilize the two staff members elsewhere on the 2.5 days when they are not present in St Francis Bay thereby making marginal saving off the bottom line but losing your customer loyalty in the process. There is no logical business explanation to justify this situation.

On our travels we have driven through many small towns in the remotest places one of them being Koster which one would argue is smaller than most. Take a guess how many days a week the FNB branch in Koster is open for. No prizes for guessing standard banking trading hours. So what makes us so special to deserve less service than Koster or any other outlet for that matter?

It’s a bad decision and I am not happy and I am sure there are other account holders who feel the same. I am paying for a service and you (FNB) are giving me less than what I am paying for. Something not right about that! I am sure there is a consumer counsel case in this somewhere but couldn’t be bothered. Imagine Vodacom shutting your cell phone down for 2.5 days per week. Do you think the FNB management would have something to say about that?? You bet.

Get with the programme FNB

Cancer – The Dread Disease



Introduction to cancer
Overview of available treatment
Promising new research from Australia

in aid of Hospice

Talk by Dr DJ Comyn

Specialist Anaesthetist
Past president of Critical Care Society
Founder member of the Resuscitation Council

Tuesday 10 July   9:30 for 10:00

St Francis Bay Golf Club


Light refreshments will be served

This event was published using our “Have Your Say“. Join us in informing the local community by having your say on events, news, concerns or anything else you would like to say.