Red Alert on Public Open Space

Cape Times
November 7, 2013

Len Swimmer
Chairman: Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance
Hout Bay

WHO WILL guard the guardians? Who will stop the guardians from selling off the public’s land?

The City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government are supposed to be the guardians of our public open space – note the description PUBLIC open space – but they don’t care about the public. They act as if public open space were their very own property, to do with what they wish and sell it off as they please, to fill the city’s coffers.

Dare we say that party donations are collected along with these offerings?

The community of Hout Bay have been denied free access to what was once an essential part of Hout Bay, open space to watch the sun go down from the picnic spots, take photos of the wedding trains and generally enjoy the natural habitat in this nature reserve.

I speak of Chapman’s Peak Drive, which has been taken away from the community by the tolling of the road -despite over 5 000 signatures protesting against it, one woman going on a hunger strike, three protesters chaining themselves to the steel girders on the construction site and two High Court actions, which we lost.

This legal action cost the community Rl million. The Western Cape government defended the action with our taxpayers’ money costing them -and us again – well over Rim.

Despite all this, this public open space has been lost to us – given away by the Western Cape government, our “guardian” of our public open space.

Another example is the Sea Point Pavilion, where legal action to retain it as public open space cost the community millions of rand, and the Western Cape government again used our taxpayers’ money to defend the High Court action.

Well, the public won this one – but at a significant cost.

And why should the public have to go to court to fight to retain their public open space?

And there’s Princess Vlei – an endangered vlei, which the public have given “Red Flagged Status” because the City Council wants to sell a part of it for 30 pieces of silver, so a private company can build a shopping mall – that no-one wants.

Then there’s Green Point Common, more public open space, which is slowly being eroded. The Green Point Ratepayers’ Association have appealed to the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance for help in this matter against the uncaring city

All the land designated as public open space in the City of Cape Town is now at risk from being sold off by the so-called guardians of public open space – the City of Cape Town.

The public must be on high alert -red alert, now!


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