Knysna in froth over plan for drinking in public

A PROPOSAL that drinking be allowed in and around Knysna’s beaches and public areas during the hectic festive season has sparked a massive outcry from residents.

The rumpus has led to the council opening a public participation process before a final decision is made. Municipal spokesman Christopher Bezuidenhout said yesterday that a recommendation had been made during a Knysna mayoral committee meeting on October 15 to allow public drinking throughout the day in Green Hole, Bollard Bay, Kathy Park, Coney Glen, Buffalo Bay, Brenton-on-Sea and the Old Jetty in Sedgefield from December 23 to January 2 next year and from 6am to 10pm from January 3 to December 22.

The motion was due to be voted on last Thursday, but following massive opposition from residents and other stakeholders, it was decided to obtain public input first.

“After the public participation process, which we hope to conclude by the end of November, council will make a final decision at the next council meeting on December 10,” Bezuidenhout said.

Councillor Peter Myers said public opinion was varied at the moment which was why a proper public participation process was vital. Since news of the recommendation became known, residents, especially those living in or near the proposed areas, have started online petitions and social media have been buzzing.

The Knysna Ratepayers’ Association, the Knysna Heads’ Association, the Leisure Island Residents’ Association and individuals have publicly objected to the proposal, saying it would be irresponsible.

The National Sea Rescue Institute Knysna station also opposes the plan. Myers said the council was aware of the concerns, which would be taken into consideration. He said the public participation unit was arranging ward meetings, to be followed by a joint meeting.

“The SA Police Service and our own law-enforcement people as well as other role-players will be involved in the process.”

Myers said that whatever the decision was, it would have to be properly enforced. Knysna Ratepayers’ Association vice-chairman Richard Thorpe said police station commander Colonel Michael Taylor had pointed out that one of the biggest factors which contributed to violent crime in the area was alcohol abuse.

Also there were insufficient law-enforcement resources.

– Yolande Stander and Louise Venter

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