Architectural Professional and DA supporter resigns from the party over the Chapman’s Peak office block debacle

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Cape Times
February 2 2012
By Zara Nicholson

A member of the DA has resigned from the party over the Chapman’s Peak office block debacle saying the provincial government was allowing “the rape of one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in the world”.

Bryan Gillbee, who was a member of the Ward 5, Edgemead branch committee resigned from it this week and also told the party that he wanted his long-time membership to the party terminated.

Gillbee told the Cape Times that although he was a supporter and member of the DA for may years, he was resigning because of the Chapman’s Peak saga.

In his resignation letter, Gillbee said: “ I cannot even begin to express the depths of my disappointment in the decision by the provincial government of the Western Cape to allow the construction of offices to be erected on the slopes of Chapman’s Peak for the benefit of a private concern.”

Gillbee said he could no longer associate himself with a political party which allows “the rape of one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in the world”.

He said he and his family had been staunch supporters of the DA for many years but would also be terminating their membership.

In an e-mail, DA Ward councillor, James Vos responded to Gillbee’s resignation saying: “I am thankful for your input and comments on this subject (Chapman’s Peak).

“This is precisely the input which I require from our members and supporters on important matters so that I may inform those responsible for such decisions.

“Be assured that I will inform both the premier and other high-ranking DA office bearers of your sentiments on this matter.”

Vos added: “With regards to your amazing and worthwhile role and contribution within the branch committee and our many ward campaigns, I appeal for you to reconsider and stay on as branch member.”

DA chief of staff Geordin Hill-Lewis also responded to Gillbee by e-mail, saying he was saddened that Gillbee resigned over the Chapman’s Peak issue and hoped their family would reconsider terminating their membership.

Gillbee has also been in the architectural industry for 40 years and is registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession.

He said the toll plaza operation would only require a single-storey, unobtrusive building with a few rooms for staff.

Gillbee questioned why the development would cost R54 million and why the plans proposed a two-storey building to operate a toll plaza.

“To put it bluntly, the logic behind this preposterous notion is similar to building a brothel in the parking lot of St George’s Cathedral, letting it out to a private enterprise, in order to provide revenue for the maintenance of the cathedral,” Gillbee said.

Meanwhile, MEC for Transport and Public Works Robin Carlisle has denied claims by civil groups and residents, saying they were never consulted about the office block being constructed on SANParks land.

Carlisle said there was no way residents could say they were not consulted as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) referred to a toll plaza and associated structures.

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