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

Help Is At Hand as SRA Levy Kicks In

St Francis Property Owners put forward a propesal to those needing assistance with then SRA levy

Few will not have noticed how a trip to your favourite supermarket has you either leaving with a lighter packet of groceries or a lighter wallet. A visit to the petrol station has you shuddering with fear that the balance on your bank card won’t cover the cost of filling your tank and even if it does, you are going to give up something to balance the budget. Everyone, well most of us, are feeling the pinch of rising costs fuelled even more with the highest fuel costs in history, and expected to rise more.

July also heralds the start of a new financial year for Kouga Municipality with a budget in better shape than that they inherited two years ago. Many will have read the basic budget expenditure outlined in The Kouga Budget – How the money will be spent  published three weeks back. Reading through that budget there is little doubt that the council will be committing significant funds to bettering lives in the informal settlements particularly in terms of sewerage (bucket system), electrification (illegal connections) and to improve water security as our drought worsens almost daily.

The new budget also means an increase in municipal rates and services and although these increases are in line with inflation they do require budget adjustments for most.  But there is a new charge that will be added to Property Owners in a demarcated area of St Francis Bay, the SRA levy.

There are those who were (are) vehemently opposed to this levy but the majority of residents have shown their support in the realisation that the only the help St Francis is going to get in improving the town is if it helps itself. Certainly it will mean a slight adjustment to most budgets more so for some,

But there are those who are simply too financially stressed to even make the smallest adjustments. Pensioners on a fixed or limited pension, some on Social Service grants simply cannot afford this added cost to their already overstretched funds.

There are municipalities, Johannesburg and Cape Town amongst others, that offer reduced rates to pensioners on prescribed formulas and whilst SFPO did approach Kouga council to see if such could be considered, it seems the municipality simply does not have systems in place to administer such a process. Understandably it would require software changes to their billing system and huge changes in administration as it would have to be applied to the entire municipality not just St Francis Bay.

But help is at hand

From the outset, SFPO cognisant of realities the proposed SRA levy would have on some of the property owners already surviving on fixed or declining incomes did propose how those who could not afford the levy could be assisted when the SRA received approval. Formulas were published in early documentation but until the levy was adopted by council, little could be done to address the situation. In the past weeks the SFPO committee has been in consultation with others to find a way forward for those who genuinely cannot afford the proposed levy.

Rather than St Francis Today going into detail of how this assistance will work we rather refer you to the documentation on the St Francis Property Owners website which sets out exactly how those in need of relief can go about applying for assistance. It is important to note that whatever assistance property owners may get, it does not absolve them from paying the levy. Non-payment could result in electricity or other services being suspended.

Hopefully those who are so vehement in their opposition and who may be considering litigation to halt the SRA will see sense in what SFPO is proposing and rather than filling the pockets of the legal fraternity that will be of no benefit to St Francis no matter who should win such a battle, would rather contribute to the proposed fund that SFPO is suggesting as a way forward. St Francis is an amazingly generous community as any local charity will attest to and will no doubt be only too supportive of those who genuinely cannot afford the levy..

We refer you to St Francis Property Owners website for details of the proposal

READ ALSO – The SRA concept is neither new nor unique to St Francis Read  Precinct management: the solution to urban decay

SRA War of Words

SFPO responds to misleading post on Facebook

Last Friday the war of words on the SRA proposed by St Francis Property Owners (SFPO) took a turn for the worse when longtime detractor Rod Suter decided to publish a letter under the guise of an anonymous contributor apparently also opposed to the SRA. One wonders why someone so opposed would choose to remain anonymous or maybe things not quite what they seem.

The anonymous letter makes so many incorrect statements and assumptions it would probably be better classified as ‘Fake News’ but sadly some serious aspersions on the integrity of the SFPO committee gave cause for  Wayne Furphy to reply to Suter and anonymous and clarify some of the points raised as well as to challenge serious accusations contained in the letter

 Furphy’s response to the Facebook letter follows.

“In reply to the anonymous letter, let us (the SFPO) begin by saying that we do not know to whom Anonymous has spoken or whether this is a misrepresentation in itself, but in our interaction with the current senior management and leadership in the Municipality, we have only received support. SRAs exist as part of the Municipal legislation to allow local communities to invest in their communities.

The reality is that the Government (National, Provincial and Local) and local property developers have not fulfilled their responsibilities  over many years resulting in:

  • The loss of our beach and s The Municipality has not maintained our beach, spit, river, roads and stormwater drains for over a decade. Instead, they allowed some of our residents to convince them to pay for the beach pipe solution which was an abject failure, wasting our taxes and losing our beach and spit. Eight years have been wasted and by now a proper system could have been put in place and the beach re-established. This is an environmental and economic disaster for our town. Fortunately, we now have a Municipality that is willing to work with us to try to fix these problems, and that is why we have made progress.
  • St Francis Bay property values have stagnated over the past 10 years compared to the trebling of property values in Cape Town and doubling of property values in Plettenberg Bay. Given inflation over the past 10 years, we as property owners in St Francis, have lost approximately half of our capital invested in our properties. This is a financial disaster for most of us. The SRA is our only hope of recovering from this dire situation.
  • We have not disseminated false information about the inaccuracy of contact information. It is a fact because we tried to call and email all property owners using Municipal contact information. The results were poor and we had to build our own database of contact information. We were told in December that there was an unacceptable level of payment arrears to Municipality. To say that this was only “wealthy property owners” is disingenuous. How does this so-called Municipal official know who is wealthy or not?
  • The SRA does not represent a tiny portion of St Francis Bay. It represents over 1,600 properties in the Canals and Village area. Santareme to Otters Landing has some 1,250 properties. The Canals and the Village will contribute approximately half of the funds required for the SRA projects. The balance will come from the River estates, the Riparians Association (Canal homeowners again), the Port, the Municipality and very generous donations from some 80 property owners who took the trouble to understand what and why we were proposing an SRA, starting some two and a half years ago.
  • The accusation that most of the money will be spent on the Canals is wrong. Please read what we have communicated. The full proposal is available for scrutiny on our website. More than half the money required will be spent on restoring our beach, all 2.7kms of it, which will benefit the whole town.
  • Where has Anonymous been over the past 2 and a half years? The facts presented are wrong, malicious and misleading.

Finally, Mr Suter, you have also published an open letter that the SFPO Committee members and Board Directors are “dishonest”. This a serious accusation you have made against the following people who are SFPO Association committee members, SFPO NPC Board members or SFPO NPC Technical Committee members : Wayne Furphy, Chris Gray, Simon Picton-Turbevill, Norman Dyer, Louis van der Merwe, Nigel Aitken, Lyn Aitken, David Truter, Dave Harpur, Paul Pezarro, Greg Miller, Gert Vorster, Peter Mountford, Deon Pienaar and Craig Northwood. Your suggestion that this group is dishonest is defamatory. All legal rights are specifically reserved in relation to this inaccurate and defamatory attack.”


The anonymous letter can be read at

A little negative about SRA – take heart!

There are no doubt some are not totally enamoured with the SRA 2018 proposal seemingly having achieved the 50+1 votes required. We live in a democracy and so the outcome must be seen as the will of the majority within the demarcated area of St Francis Bay.

There are those who voted NO as their limited fixed income will be sorely stretched and their rejection of the proposal is understandable. But there are also those who voted NO simply because they do not believe the SFPO efforts will work and that the beach is a lost cause. Possibly that is true but should we all just sit and watch as the ocean slowly consumes more and more of St Francis Bay.

There comes a time when man has to intervene in what man has caused. We experienced it during the Zuma reign. The majority at the time voted Zuma into power and the country sat and watched whilst he eroded the economy and the country. Finally in late 2016 and throughout 2017 into 2018 man started to intervene and the efforts of the many concerned organisations finally paid off and stopped that erosion. Had all those organisations so intent on saving South Africa done nothing, would we be rid of Zuma?

Man has caused the eroding beach, silting river and so man, with the guidance of DEDEAT and those with experience in similar conditions, maybe, just maybe, man can turn back the tide.

Certainly SFPO have a huge responsibility to all in St Francis Bay to get on with what they have set out as achievable under the proposed SRA 2018. It is essential that they now take SFB into their confidence and keep all concerned with progress once the SRA is finally rolled out should it be approved by the Kouga Municipality.  And just as important is that all of SFB get behind them and support their efforts.

For those who feel SFPO’s efforts to save the beach will be in vain, maybe the linked story and video below will give you just a little hope and accept that doing nothing will achieve nothing but planting that “first tree” may be what is needed to reclaim the beach and save a flagging St Francis Bay. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take 39 years but even if it does we will have left our grandchildren and their children a little piece of paradise.

The following is a true story and a tale of consistency – READ MORE

Who will pick up the bill

It is fair to assume that the petition to ‘Save the Spit’ signed  by several hundred concerned SFB residents had an influence on  DEDEAT’s decision to allow emergency reparations to commence on the spit albeit with certain conditions and restrictions. The input of the Municipal Manager Charl du Plessis should also not be ignored for there is little doubt his input resulted in the positive outcome. Threatened with severe consequence should the spit breach, they really had no alternative for it was mooted that either DEDEAT or the municipality, or both, could be held liable for any damage to property in the event of such a breach.

The question now that DEDEAT has allowed reparations to proceed does this absolve them from any claims should the spit breach say during the winter storms? But should the spit breach and DEDEAT and the municipality are absolved then surely all reparation to private canal walls and indeed even garden and home interiors will thus have to be borne by the individual home owner. So that begs the next question, would individual insurance cover pay for home owners damage if it is considered that they were aware of the potential chance of damage and made no effort to contribute to corrective efforts..

Hopefully the work being done by SFPO, the Riparians and Joint River committee should see them pump sufficient sand onto the spit in the coming months to bolster the spit through the winter storms and until a more permanent solution can be implemented.

Moving from the spit to the beach front properties where owners have had to spend hundreds of thousands of Rands in rebuilding the revetments to protect their properties being engulfed by the ocean. In a way these home owners are the final bastion against the ocean encroaching further into St Francis Bay. There can be little doubt the rock revetments are a temporary solution and can only be effective for a limited time. The beach simply has to be restored so as to prevent the daily high tide assault on these revetments causing them to slowly subside.

Many will say the beach is not their problem, or it’s a lost cause, or there is no way it will encroach further, or the proposed solution won’t work. With nothing else on the table surely it is worth at least trying for to do nothing, certainly won’t fix anything.

Reading between the lines of a Facebook post this weekend it seems the anti-SRA lobbyists are not going to accept the results of the SRA vote should it go against them.  Let us hope they don’t drag this into the courts a la the Quayside debacle spending funds that could be better spent on saving St Francis.

Note: Those who regular use Cape St Francis beach probably wouldn’t notice but is it possible that thi beach is also starting to erode?

Propaganda or a Life or Death situation?

Propaganda or a Life or Death situation – You Decide!

There  is no doubt that some SRA detractors will claim the following to be more SRA propaganda but if there is only small chance that this comment on the yesterday’s post “Body of Youngster Recovered” is remotely accurate, this alone is reason enough to support the SFPO efforts to raise funds to fix the beach. .

The comment made by Craig Kilfoil

“As a local surfer with 5 years NSRI behind me, I have been warning anyone that would listen, that what remains of main beach, is no longer safe on a high tide. Late last year, after a few instances where I was less than comfortable myself landing at main beach after surfing;  After personally rescuing more than one local young surfer from the water trying to exit at main beach, I predicted that there would be a drowning in December. Unfortunately there was.

Now another.

Beware – Main beach on a high tide is dangerous. The risk needs to be addressed before we lose any more local or visitor lives.

Fixing our beach is now, literally, a life or death situation.”

There certainly were instances on St Francis Bay beaches over the holidays that need to be considered serious (Bathers Saved off Ann Avenue) and sadly now, two drownings.The question needs to be asked, should bathing be banned during high tides or should the Kouga municipality maybe allocate a permanent lifeguard to protect the beach?

The obvious answer would be to fix the beach for it has never been considered a dangerous beach in years gone by.