Parra reports decline in membership

JON HOUZET

THE Port Alfred Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (Parra) limped through another AGM last week, reporting membership subscriptions had dropped by 61%.

Parra chairman Tim Cockbain said he was concerned they would not be able to form a quorum, but was relieved when enough members showed up.

About 35 people attended, including members of the media and visitors.

SOLDIERING ON: The committee of the Port Alfred Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (Parra) elected at its AGM last week are (from left) Bruce Williams, Ruth and Tim Cockbain, Debi Quenet, Ian Crooks and Sandra Pool Picture: JON HOUZET

“The struggle continues,” Cockbain said in his chairman’s report.

“Municipal service delivery in Port Alfred remains woeful and of serious concern to ratepayers and residents alike,” he said.

“The positive speech made by the Ndlambe mayor recently when council adopted the budget for 2012/2103 is promising. We hope that this is going to be backed up by suitable positive action.

“The Port Alfred community have heard many promises of action to improve the service delivery from our municipality but, alas, in most areas these remain only promises.”

Cockbain was however positive about the progress made in five critical areas: the water supply, sewerage, waste management, fire protection and stray animals.

He said the bulk water supply project had good potential, but the recently released progress report was concerning.

“We find it difficult to accept that the estimated costs for the whole project can double in less than a year. Port Alfred needs an affordable, workable solution to our water woes.”

He said Parra was pleased that the capital portion of the budget was kept intact as there was a desperate need for new equipment for the municipality to function more efficiently.

“The time has now come for the municipality to take the collection of outstanding debt seriously. We will never have a realistic and fair financial situation here as long as people who can and should be paying for their rates and services do not pay,” said Cockbain.

“It is inconceivable that some councillors ex-councillors, municipal employees and others have been allowed to get away with non-payment for extended periods.”

Parra also invited Ward 10 councillor Ross Purdon to address their AGM.

“I’m a ratepayer myself and pay rates on 15 properties in Ndlambe,” said Purdon.

He said it was a matter of concern that Ward 10 still owes R17-million in arrears to the municipality.

“I think council is generally working well – some may disagree with me. The councillors on the hill (Nemato) have the same issues as us. A lot of pressure is coming from the people of Nemato which is good,” said Purdon.

“In the past the ANC had a ring around municipal officials. Now we have management on one side and councillors on one side and I think it’s very healthy.”

Purdon said he did not believe in confrontational politics, but acknowledged some would disagree with him.

“The bigger issues can be fought on a national level and in Bhisho.”

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