Cllr Du Bois reviews his term as Ward 66 Councillor Return to Main Menu
In terms of length of service, my four terms as ward councillor 1991-1996 and 2001-2016, constitute the second longest period in office for a Bluff representative after the late Louis De Beer who represented the Bluff on Council for 22 years – from 1966 to 1988. As a history-minded person, I should like to place on record for posterity a review of my current and final term.Of course much of what I have attempted or achieved has been published in the SUN over the years for which I am most grateful. It is also on my website – www.duncandubois.co.za
I am one of only two opposition councillors who has a website on which media statements and ward developments are posted. Anyone examining my website and clicking on Ward Issues and Current issues will note not only the initiatives I have taken, but also the extensive range of issues I have addressed. From that alone, for the social media critics to question what I have done shows abysmal ignorance. I also have held regular public meetings and as councillor I have the most prolific media footprint in KZN. But for the benefit of those who do not have access to websites, here’s an overview of my efforts. I would rate championing the need to rally to the aid of the Bluff Golf Club in 2014 as my most significant contribution. Although the sum of money which resulted was far less than I had hoped for, the exercise raised awareness as to the critical importance of maintaining the golf course not only in terms of the green lung that it occupies but also in terms of the value it adds to surrounding properties. If the Bluff golf course had succumbed to the vandalism which has destroyed the Umbilo Congella Club, it would have been catastrophic for the Bluff.
When the populist clamour of opposition to the proposed dig-out port reached a crescendo in 2012, I defused its claims by exposing the true facts: nobody on the Bluff would be affected or relocated. I have been proactive in the following issues: the Donnelly Rd Housing project; the proposed Bluff beaches upgrade;removing uncertainty over the future of the Zanzibari land; establishing the Bluff Clinic Committee; attempting to get better parking outside the Bluff Clinic; addressing the vacant land owned by KZN Housing in Bushland Rd; road rehabilitation;promoting the Bluff as eThekwini’s safest suburb; getting speed humps and sidewalks installed; addressing the issue of abandoned properties; promoting greening; addressing the fireworks issue; providing guidance in animal and boundary disputes; burying cats found dead on the road or on sidewalks; urging that a civic centre and hall be builton the Bluff Show grounds site; opposing the CommonwealthGames by exposing how it financially damaged previous host cities; opposing ratepayer funding of councillors’ funerals; addressing cable theft; initiated opposition to ratepayer- funded Councillors’ meals; assisting with social grant issues; counselling people on domestic issues;motivated the installation of a CCTV camera at the Brighton beach end of Foreshore Dve.; motivating the sale of vacant Council land in Wentworth Rd so as to grow the rates base; instrumental in having a possible squatter settlement nipped in the bud at the Munster Rd end of Happy Valley Nature Reserve.
In many of the above success has not been forthcoming, but that is not for want of trying. Councillors may only recommend to Metro officialdom what they would like. They may not instruct officials. Budget constraints are another reality as well as political manipulation and control. Also adding to issue of ward maintenance is the fact that officials are no longer proactive. They tend to be office-bound and have become reactionary. So unless the councillor reports something or is alerted to an issue, nothing happens. This particularly true of road issues such as potholes, street lights, repainting of speed humps, broken crash barriers, missing street name signs and overgrown , cluttered servitudes. Regrettably, the increasingly dysfunctional state of Metro departments means that addressing such issues is either pathetically slow or just does not happen despite numerous reminders.
Be that as it may, I have always been available to residents – that includes weekends, in the middle of the night and even on Christmas Day. I have been conscientious in addressing text messages, emails and the never ending requests for proof of residence letters. I have an almost 100% record of attending CPF, Council and Committee meetings. I hold the record among Opposition councillors for the most success in having motions passed by the Council.
Since 2012 I have received a great deal of support from Ivor Aylward in dealing with ward issues. But apart from his welcome, voluntary assistance I have not received any other support. In fact I have had to expend a great deal of time and energy defending myself against unfounded accusations and attempts to remove me as councillor from quarters one would haveexpected to be supportive. That toxic treatment has played a key part in my decision not to stand as ward candidate in the 2016 election.
In conclusion, some observations on the future: under its present political direction, I cannot see any improvement in service delivery in Durban. The ever-increasing costs to the ratepayer minority along with the abuse of ratepayers’ funds cannot be sustained. As for the Bluff, I fear for its green, leafy environment. The reckless removal of trees and foliage by property owners and the proliferation of absentee land-owners who have scant concern for the upkeep of their properties is degrading and despoiling the suburb. That, combined with a disregard for building and zoning regulations is heralding an unwelcome transformation.
Cllr DL DuBois