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Hermanus security in the balance

The services of Hermanus Public Protection (HPP) will no longer be viable if a new Special Ratings Area for Hermanus, Fernkloof and Voëlklip is not implemented.

This is according to Michael Farr, chairperson of the Hermanus Special Ratings Area (SRA) steering committee who warns that residents of these areas can expect a spike in crime and the devaluation of properties if the HPP services were to be stopped.

HPP, which offers mostly public security services, was funded by a City Improvement District, whereby property owners pay an extra levy in addition to their property rates bill. The legislation was changed and the Overstrand Municipality informed the HPP board in December 2018 that it can no longer legally operate. Since then a renewed initiative to form an SRA under the new legislation has been underway.

The steering committee, however, says the response to this proposal has been very slow. “For the proposed SRA to be established, we require 2 751 yes votes. To date we have only obtained 492 votes in favour of the SRA and 30 votes against the establishment of an SRA. The target of 2 751 votes needs to be obtained by the end of January if the SRA is to be established in July this year. During January, we will hold further meetings for ratepayers on the proposed business plan and these will be published on our website.”

Farr says they wish to urge all property owners in the defined area to vote in support of the SRA. “A vote in support will assure that we have vehicle patrols on a 24/7 basis, foot patrols in the CBD and on the Cliff Path, extensive CCTV coverage and a cleansing regime with a focus on the Cliff Path and the Hoys Koppie area. We believe that it is vital for the future of Hermanus that crime prevention and public safety should be a priority.”

Farr’s warning that crime may become a big problem if an SRA is not implemented, is similar to the warning given by Colonel Luthando Nosilela, the station commander of Hermanus Police, last year, when news first broke that HPP may be dissolved (“HPP service to be stopped” Hermanus Times, 31 January 2019).

He said HPP contributes greatly to the fight against crime. “We have an excellent relationship with HPP and they assisted us during the riots with their CCTV network.” Nosilela expects police resources to be “stretched to its limit” once HPP is dissolved. “I would love to get more resources for the local police to compensate for the loss of HPP. Unfortunately this is not my decision.”

The Hermansu SRA business plan proposes an annual budget of R8.3 million for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 and the levies payable by property owners, based on the municipal values of their properties, may be found on the Hermanus SRA website. The Powerpoint presentation on the website contains full information on these levies.

“We believe that should property owners fail to support the establishment of an SRA in Hermanus, the likely consequence of this will be an escalation in crime, and a decline in property values, tourism and business enterprises.

“We would urge property owners to obtain their consent forms from our website and to complete these before the end of January.”

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