Bottle stores and convenient stores not wanted

Polly Saul, Simon’s Town

It would appear that, once again, bureaucratic bullying, individual greed and a host of uncaring officials are planning to deface the town with yet another bottle store and yet another convenience store.

There are already four bottle stores within walking or five minute driving distance. Two in Simon’s Town, one in the new mall and one in Glencairn. For whom is this not enough?

Do these bureaucrats really have such low opinions of us residents that they actually think we can’t spend our days enjoying the pleasures afforded by living here without gasping for our next alcoholic drink?

As for another convenience store. Again, our new mall has unexpectedly offered us a shopping delight on our doorstep. There are also currently three active and busy convenience stores for sundry items in Simon’s Town itself, not forgetting the well-stocked Glencairn spa.

Simon’s Town is unique. It is the gateway every day to a myriad of visitors, local and foreign on their way through to the very special worldwide advertised tourist attractions – the coastal road, the penguin colony, Cape Point. It has charm. It has variety. It has architecture. It has the harbour. In the summer the high road swarms with sightseers and browsers and customers. The shop owners go to great length to display their wares tantalisingly and attractively.

The coffee bars and restaurants bustle with lively conversation and good fare. In other words, everyone makes a big effort to maintain the atmosphere and character of a very old and very historic special place in hearts and memory.

We have just learned that our neighbour Kalk Bay has achieved the highest honour of being one of the top tourist attractions in the world.

Simon’s Town follows on from that route via cars, buses, taxis and especially the Sunday steam train. So, what have we now got here? When our interesting little boutiques are forced to close through increased high rents and when more off-loading lorries block the parking and the walking spaces and more “dronkies” fill the alleyways to sleep of their torpor, where will the visitors be then?

Or rather what will there be to visit when they have finally managed to find somewhere to park and there is not much left to see?

In order to claim justification for their latest move the rapacious and scheming bidders for the soul of Simon’s Town took aerial photographs of the main parking areas sparsely occupied to prove that parking would never be a problem. They omitted from their text that these photographs were taken at the hour of the day when few are abroad. Two previous appeals against this current proposal were turned down by the local council, including our own local representative, Simon Liell-Cock. Why then is he now doing a volte-face and agreeing to another nail in Simon’s Town coffin? Does he genuinely believe that a fifth bottle store will be an essential added tourist star attraction?

Apparently there have been meetings to discuss this prior to the fait accompli. I say “apparently” because no relevant or interested parties were notified to offer counter arguments (Surprise surprise!)

There is a forthcoming meeting on Wednesday August 22 in the town centre where Tourism and Economic Development MEC, Alan Winde, will address the community.

Given that we seem to be well on the way to decimating this global tourist town, is he
coming to offer a sop to Cerberus or is he genuinely here to listen to our concerns about preserving the life of a thriving community and a much needed tourist attraction on his economic agenda?

“You live in Simon’s Town. Aren’t you lucky” is an automatic reaction to many questions about where we live. “Five liquor stores and five convenience stores” is soon going to put paid to that response unless you are a foodie or an alcoholic.

Citizens of Simon’s Town unite. We have everything to lose if we remain impotent.

* Ward councillor Simon Liell-Cock responds: Firstly, let me put it on record that I personally do not support increasing access to alcohol. The consequences of alcohol abuse on the social and health of our citizens far exceeds the economic benefits.

I also feel strongly that local communities should have a stronger say in what happens in their community.

It is apparent that the writer is not well-informed about a number of issues regarding government, land use laws and the free-market economy, and I would be happy to meet with her to clarify this.

South Africa is a constitutional democracy with a free-market economy with individual property rights (for the moment) and the citizens of South Africa, through their elected government, determine what activities can take place on a property through the spatial planning and land use laws. Liquor licensing is controlled through the Western Cape Liquor Regulations.

The land-use zoning of this particular property is and has been commercial for a very long time and the owner is free to carry out any legal commercial activity.

Applications for liquor licences are dealt with by the Western Cape Liquor Tribunal not by the City.

I attended the liquor tribunal and submitted my concerns as did other objectors. My concerns were parking, large delivery trucks, security, the sale of cheap alcohol to street people and the proximity to the mosque.

The applicant undertook to use only small delivery trucks, to provide in store security, to support additional security in the CBD and not sell cheap liquor at all.

The parking issue was less clear as sufficient parking is a requirement when applying for a commercial zoning, but, as the commercial zoning probably predates the motorcar, it cannot be used to refuse a liquor application 100 years later.

As the imam was at the tribunal I felt he was better equipped to argue the case for the mosque.

I was very surprised and pleased when I heard that the liquor tribunal had declined the application.

However, the applicant, as is his constitutional right, went on appeal and the appeal board differed from the tribunal and upheld his appeal.

I can assure the writer that there was a process of public participation.

If he or she was unaware of it, then I recommend that she get involved in the local civic affairs.

There was no “volte-face” by the councillor, no bureaucratic bullying, no uncaring officials and no quid-pro-quo for anything.

There was only ever one application. It has been dealt with, and there is no further opportunity to object to it.

In the end, due process was followed and the appeal board members applied
their minds to the
law, the application and the objections and came up with a decision which we may not like but which we are bound to. Democracy means “having your say” not necessarily “having your way”.