Fireworks show will be missed

A picture taken by Agi Orfanos of the fireworks at Table View beachfront was featured on a travel show website.

Agi Orfanos, West Beach

It is so very sad that Nicky Rheeder, councillor for Blouberg Beach, unilaterally destroyed the only festival where tens of thousands of families descend on the beach for a night of joy and fun.

For the rest of the year, the beach stands forlornly dark and dangerous where one is too scared to venture.

Guy Fawkes celebrations on Tuesday would have been a fitting way to welcome the return of the Springboks after their victory over England in the Rugby World Cup finals.

Instead, Ms Rheeder has ruined the only evening event that could one day have developed into a major tourist festival on the calendar.

Guy Fawkes on Blouberg Beach is even featured prominently on the BBC Travel Show website as a cover photo, which, in itself, is a boost for tourism in the Cape.

It was featured worldwide on BBC World News Travel Show as well.

Ms Rheeder’s excuses can be easily countered.

The money the City spends is well worth it as all the restaurants and food businesses in the area and beyond are filled to capacity – the waiters saying it’s the best night of the year for tips.

This is an exercise for the police and fire brigade, who would, in any case, hardly be seen at night.

The noise of fireworks emanating from a beach is no competition for the occasional storm and the startling intensity of thunder with lightning striking randomly around the Cape, or a major winter storm capable of destroying our beach pathways or retaining walls which the City never bothers to repair.

Ms Rheeder has taken the easy way out and has not proposed any festivity to rival this occasion she has taken away from us.

For the future, our beaches will be no-go areas at night and by day our fences and pathways will continue to deteriorate and fall into disrepair.

Ward 107 councillor Nicky Rheeder responds: The item of the fireworks site was placed on the agenda of the ward committee where it was discussed for a lengthy period.

The ward committee considered every aspect of the site, from the attendance to the safety and the consequences.

The decision was that they were not in favour of the site.

I took this discussion to the sub-council meeting, where this matter was further discussed. The sub-council unanimously decided that the site at Athens Road should not be approved.

There were several considerations which included:

* The site does not comply with all the necessary requirements. Every year we have had to dedicate extra resources to the site because of the risk factor.

* Fires are a real threat, and, considering the drought we experienced, fires would be detrimental to the surviving flora.

* The Protected Areas Advisory Committee of Rietvlei is not in favour of the site due to the risks of fire, and the site is extremely environmentally sensitive at this stage and large numbers of people traversing the dunes and even the pathways would only cause further damage.

I am sure you are aware that we have a rehabilitation plan for the beachfront, and we do not want to cause further damage.

The City then further considered the various factors and decided not to have any of the other sites available either.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, produced a media release on this where you could find the reasons for that decision.

In neither meeting did I provide personal opinion.

Both the ward committee and sub-council made their decision based on the facts provided.

It is therefore incorrect and unfair to say that I made any decision unilaterally.

The decisions were well thought through, intensively discussed, alternatives considered etc.

It is also worth noting that the ward committee for Ward 107 has all 10 seats filled with representatives from ratepayers, the environmental sector, the safety and security sector, animal welfare groups, vulnerable groups, the religious and cultural sector etc.

All these people represent the community and have the community’s best interests in mind.