Speech: City’s Public Participation policy amendments

The ACDP is deeply concerned with Cape Towns public participation processes:

  • More and more communities and organisations complain that their views are either ignored or not even requested, including when matters directly affect them.
  • Many others complain that the time period provided for comment (which is always the bare minimum), is inadequate given the complexities of the matter.
  • Ratepayers complain that requests for time extensions are routinely ignored or denied.
  • They complain that requests for public meetings and presentations, with a question and answer session, are ignored or the relevant officials and Mayco members don’t bother to attend.
  • The South Road debacle is a perfect example of an inadequate public participation process – costing this City’s ratepayers millions in legal costs.
  • Speaking to the Chairperson of a Ratepayers Association in the South of the City this week, the Chairperson confirmed that neither the ratepayers association nor its exco were consulted on a matter – yet the item appears before council today.
  • Another organisation complained in the October council meeting that their questions were only answered after the closing date for comments, thus preventing them from submitting comments at all.
  • When the public requests further information relating to the matter at hand, so they can construct a relevant, professional reply, they are told to pursue a PAIA process to gain access to the information they need – a completely illegal expectation.
  • Very embarrassingly, Carte Blanche this past Sunday confirmed that professionals, who submitted substantial comments relating to the numerous negative public effects of pumping raw sewerage into the sea, have still never even received a reply or an apology, as per the law.
  • Too many communities and organisations complain that their views and objections are routinely ignored at ward committee and subcouncil level – making their input irrelevant and pointless.
  • To top it all, when communities and organisations wish to complain or object to the treatment they receive during such processes, they are told to take the City to court.

This policy is often not even followed, and when it is, both the policy and the ratepayers are abused.

The conclusion we draw is that the City is not genuine when it engages in public participation.

The ACDP proposes that the entire policy be scrapped and a new one written that adequately addresses the ratepayers concerns.

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