By Cllr Sue Bentley, Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality:
The Democratic Alliance (DA) opposes the proposed changes to the demarcation of the current Ward 46 in Buffalo City.
As the ward currently exists, it will be a closely contested ward between the ANC and the DA in the 2016 local government elections and the DA has already objected to their proposed changing of the ward boundaries.
The ANC proposes that the voting districts of Westbank High School and George Randall Primary School (which affects residents living in Westbank, Brookville and Greenfields, as well as the businesses in Woodbrook) be included in what is currently Ward 19 which incorporates Buffalo Flats, Parkside and Peffferville areas.
The proposed Ward 46 for the 2016 local government elections will include the original voting stations of George Randell High School, Orange Grove and Sokhana Daycare Centre (Leaches Bay) but will also include those at Santa, Winterstrand and Willow Park to make up the required numbers of voters.
Any changes to ward boundaries has a domino effect on almost every ward in the Metro as the number of voters in a ward has to be between 7031 and 9513.
The DA, in their first objection, proposed that Ward 46 be made up of Westbank High School, George Randell Primary and High Schools and Orange Grove voting districts, with Sokhana Daycare Centre being moved into Ward 31. They also proposed alternatives to counteract the ripple effect on all the wards which would be affected, but their objection was seemingly not taken into consideration by the Municipal Demarcation Board.
The DA will strongly oppose the changes to Ward 46 on the following grounds:
- It is not in the best interests of service delivery for those residents living around the Westbank High School voting district and George Randall Primary School voting district;
- The Buffalo River forms a natural boundary between the current Ward 46 and Ward 19;
- The proposed boundary will split the communities of Westbank, Brookville and Greenfields from their surrounding suburbs;
- There is only one access point across the Buffalo River, being the Steve Biko Bridge (or the smaller railway bridge adjacent to it) which means that there is a vast distance to travel between the sections of the proposed new ward;
- The access routes between the two sections of the proposed new ward is via Buffalo Street or Oxford Street – both these roads are perhaps the most heavily congested roads in the city;
- The new Gillwill Shopping Centre which is due to open in the next few months, will further add to the congestion at the Buffalo Street/Fleet Street intersection which will make accessibility to these proposed outlying voting districts even more difficult.
The Democratic Alliance believes the proposed demarcation of this ward for the 2016 LGE is unfair to the councillor who will have to serve them, as well as to the residents who already have limited service delivery and we will be resubmitting our detailed objection to the Muncipal Demarcation Board for consideration.