Cameras planned for Town Centre SRA

At the back, from left, are Paul Williamson, Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79, Grant Twigg, mayoral committee member for urban management; and Sisa Ngondo. In front are Desmond Japhta, Alesia Bosman, Desiree Visagie, Marilyn Holding, Pheroz Khan, steering committee member of the Mitchells Plain Town Centre Improve District (MPTCID); and Mxolisi Miller.

Additional money collected from property owners in Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre, if the proposal to have it declared a special rating area is approved, will go towards the procurement, installation and implementation of six closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

This is in the budget of the steering committee of the Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre improvement district (MPTCID), which will be tabled at council in May. It forms part of an application for the central business district (CBD) to be declared a Special Rating Area (SRA), in which property owners pay additional property rates to fund “top up” services to improve or upgrade that specific area.

SRAs can be commercial, industrial, residential or a combination of any of these and are known as Improvement Districts, City Improvement Districts, Business Improvement Districts, or Community Improvement Districts.

On Thursday February 7 City of Cape Town officials and councillors walked around the Town Centre, after the fencing around the CBD had been completed.

Pheroz Khan, steering committee member of the MPTCID, said income accumulated between July 1 and November 1 would be used to install the CCTV infrastructure.

“The rest of the plan will commence on November 1 and the MPTCID will operate for eight-months of the first financial year up to June 30, 2020.”

Desmond Japhta, City’s Urban Management portfolio committee chairman, said people needed to be attracted to the business centre.Crime and grime is what is keeping people away from making business.

“If we don’t make business, we lose jobs,” he said. “We need to ensure the area is safe, so the community can come in and have an interest.” He added that many people had lost interest and chosen to shop elsewhere.

Mr Japhta said measures, like the City’s Area Co-ordinating Team (ACT) meetings, should be put in place so that everyone could put their resources on the table in the interest of upgrading the Town Centre.

“There are a lot of challenges, which we can change to successes,” he said.

Since 2012, the primary objective for the ACT was to establish a Town Centre management committee with the necessary capacity to sustain services and interventions in Town centre.

Initiatives to improve the central business district (CBD) were announced in 2001, when then President Thabo Mbeki announced Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha to be business nodes.

Former Mayor Patricia de Lille took it a few steps further by making it a Mayoral Urban Regeneration Programme (MURP), and now mayoral committee member for urban management Grant Twigg is overseeing developments.

The primary focus of this programme is to regenerate strategic nodes in the city.

Mr Twigg said the fencing around Town Centre, was a good initiative taken by property owners.

“An open centre leads to lots of robberies,” he said.

He said the walkabout took him on a journey, in which he saw possibilities for Town Centre.

“We have also seen hindrances – businesses dumping and illegal trading but also opportunities,” he said.

Mr Twigg said the City would partner with businesses to improve service delivery.

Alesia Bosman, area South director for Urban Management, said the upgrade of the Town Centre had been started in 2009 and that the City had injected “something like R240 million” into the revamp.

“But it is not the City alone that is in business here. We have businesses and informal traders and the hospital making a lot of money. It cannot only be a City without partnership.”

Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79, which includes the Mitchell’s Plain central business district (CBD), said the City would continue to provide basic services, including security and cleansing but the improvement district, would prioritise and manage the needs of businesses.