Ratepayers elect new chairman

The Goodwood Ratepayers’ Association’s new boss has the City’s controversial water-management devices and homelessness in his sights.

Businessman Faizel Petersen also plans make the civic body more representative of all who call Goodwood home.

He has taken over from Brian Lawson as chairman. Mr Lawson stepped down at an annual general meeting last week, after nominating Mr Petersen for the position.

“I feel he will be an asset to the community,” Mr Lawson said.

Mr Lawson worked for the City of Cape Town for 40 years before getting involved in civic matters.

“First, I joined the community police forum (CPF) and then the ratepayers’ association for seven years,” he said.

Mr Lawson will remain on the Ward 27 committee and on the Goodwood CPF executive committee.

Vasco resident Deon Beelders was re-elected as one of the association’s eight additional members.

He described Mr Petersen as a “go-getter who is on the ball” and said he should “draft a new brief” for the association.

“Many of the 20-odd people who attended the meeting brought up the issue of Day Zero, and he made notes and promised to invite a City official to the next meeting to provide residents with more clarity about the water crisis,” he said.

Other members of the the board are John Grinwood, deputy chairman; Lorinda Brown, secretary; and Neville Hitchcock, who remains the treasurer.

Mr Petersen said he felt honoured to have been nominated.

“My nomination was also approved by quite a few members, some who do not even know me, other than seeing me at the meetings,” he said.

Mr Petersen has lived in Goodwood for seven years and works for a clothing retailer. He also started a music production company five years ago.

He wants the association to be more representative of people of all cultures and backgrounds.

“This has been a forum with a very small attendance and some of the points raised are important but could have been raised through channels that deal with these problems, and I think residents need to deal with their ward councillors directly as opposed to attacking them at meetings.

“I would like to see a more co-operative forum that works hand-in-hand with our neighbourhood watch, CPF, sub-council committees, City law enforcement and the police.”

He said he wanted to develop “synergies and partnerships” as the new chairman.

“It becomes impossible in today’s world to try to run any business or body if you work in isolation. We do not know everything, and we can’t be a Jack of all trades. It is best to partner with other community structures and businesses and be open to learning from people who have adopted best practices and follow such examples.”

The “biggest thorn” in the side of the community, he said, was the water crisis and the City’s new tariffs and water restrictions.

“Members of the association raised their displeasure in the fact that these water management devices are imposed on them and estimate water readings are billed to them resulting in them being overcharged even after they reduced their usage.”

Another “sore point” in Goodwood was homelessness, he said.

“We acknowledge that homeless people are human beings just as we are. However, the concern is the crime and grime that comes with homeless people settling and loitering in our area. Having them present results in opportunistic crime; where people come from Kensington or Elsies River, act as if they are homeless, yet scope out homes to break-in or vandalise the area and rob residents walking in the neighbourhood.

“This then creates fear among students, women and the elderly,” he said.

Mr Petersen said he was seeing more homeless people in the neighbourhood’s parks and on its pavements than he had seven years ago when he moved to the area.

“This makes the area quite unattractive. From a business perspective, residents have indicated that when they go to a shop they are confronted by the stench of urine and faeces. They then opt to go to another shop instead.

“We cannot only blame homeless people for this. Along Voortrekker Road, many club-goers relieve themselves when they feel the need to, without regard for others.”

Neighbourhood watches working with police and security firms through WhatsApp, however, were proving effective, he said.

He said Goodwood’s residents should embrace their diversity.

“We must respect each other’s culture, religion and race and work together for the betterment of all.”

Residents should log C3 notifications to report municipal faults and follow up with their councillor if no action was taken.

“Do not wait, for a ratepayers’ meeting to complain about something that could have been dealt with when it happened. We must move away from the mindset of ‘It’s not my problem’.”

He appealed to residents to join the association, along with the CPF and neighbourhood watches.

“Be part of the solution, as we are all part of Goodwood,” he said.

* To contact Mr Petersen email goodwoodratepayers@gmail.com

The next meeting will be at the sub-council building in Molteno Road, Goodwood, on Thursday March 22, at 7pm.