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Melville Residents' Association Newsletter #4
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Dear JC,


MAKING A BETTER MELVILLE TOGETHER


The MRA is going to make Melville more safe, attractive and functional in 2017 in collaboration with residents and city officials. This will include making sure streetlights are working, pavements are clean and accessible, and that illegal signs are removed.

Residents of the suburb can help in lots of ways. This includes reporting streetlights that don’t work, taking responsibility for our own pavements, and understanding the city bylaws and regulations.

We will during coming months be providing simple and accessible guides to the most important elements of these bylaws and regulations.

These will be distributed by email to our mailing list, and will be available on the MRA website and on our facebook page.

As a reminder, the handy Look & Log guide  is a cut-out-and-keep guide for all your logging needs as a City of Johannesburg ratepayer.

 
Who is responsible? Holding the city and ourselves to account!
Many residents are frustrated at the city not getting things done, and not getting a response to complaints, reports and requests. We absolutely share this frustration, and are working hard to hold the city to account on issues including streetlights, potholes, illegal businesses and noise disturbances.

We are pleased to be making some progress, and we are working with our councillor to escalate issues which haven’t had a response. We remain optimistic, and are committed to helping the city to get it right.

We do also want to point out that there are many city officials who work hard to do the right thing. We salute them, and we support them.

JC,  the councillor can’t do everything herself, and we have a procedure and contact details (http://mra.ilovemelville.co.za/report/) to enable residents to report issues themselves, and then to follow up. Only if all of these options are exhausted should you seek the help of the MRA and the councillor, with a request for an escalation.

Ward Councillors are there to assist with problems that have not been dealt with by city departments in the stipulated turnaround time. They are not the first port of call, but a means of escalating a problem when the city had not done it’s work.

Once you have logged your complaint or query with relevant City of Johannesburg Department, email/sms or whatsapp the Councillor the  following information for escalation:
  • Name & Surname
  • Address
  • Contact telephone and/or email
  • Erf or stand number
  • Account number
  • Reference number
  • A very brief description of the problem

If a Ward councillor is unable to answer the phone, an SMS or email should be as effective. A ward councillor is also there to defend the needs and interest of residents & businesses they represent, by meeting with those groups and taking these concerns to council meetings or providing input into strategic projects.  Ward Councillors also put in requests for city budget for infrastructure upgrades and other special projects needed in the ward.

 
  Councillor Bridget Steer
  Mobile Phone: +27 83 604 0404 (Phone, SMS & WhatsApp)
  Email: bridget.steer@gmail.com
  Follow Councillor Steer on Twitter
  Join her Ward 87 Facebook Group



Councillor Bridget’s personal preference for staying in touch is via WhatsApp and that residents/businesses are welcome to join her WhatsApp Council Group.
The MRA needs you...

JC, ask most people in Melville to get involved in the Melville Residents’ Association (MRA) and they want to run a mile. “I’m too busy,” is the usual retort as they bid you adieu.
 
If one lives in Johannesburg, it’s not rocket science to fathom that the services one pays for are not enough. Garbage strikes, power outages, contentious utility bills or spewing water meters, by-law infringements, drug peddling, errant security guards, crime issues and the effectiveness of our private security companies are part and parcel of suburban living.
 
From Alexandra to Sandown and from Melrose to Melville, residents are obliged to do their bit; the most effectively policed suburbs are those with effective residents’ associations that work closely with their elected councillors and other relevant bodies.
 
The Melville Residents Association (MRA) was formed in 2006, following in the footsteps of WARM (Westdene, Auckland Park, Richmond and Melville) and other informal predecessors.
 
I was among those “elected” to the first MRA committee. The quotation marks apply across time to the fact that most who serve on such committees are the volunteers who put themselves forward or grudgingly agree to do so.
 
As I recall that first committee, it was often a thankless task with unachievable goals and negativity was a by-product of unresolved issues. At odds about crime and grime in the suburb, often the best we could hope for was a standoff with non-compliant business owners.
 
Some may ask how that differs from today’s committee and my response is that under the chairmanship of Eric van Gils, the MRA has come of age. With transparency as a key component, committee members are encouraged to take responsibility for their portfolios, while reassured by the expertise among the group, if required.
 
My own resistance thawed as I acknowledged with hindsight that a lone activist is less effective than a group of like-minded individuals.
 
It’s no secret that 27 Boxes was always my personal bugbear, which started when I unofficially joined members of WARM to oppose the declassification of Faan Smit Park, named after the man who left it in perpetuity to the people of Melville, providing it remained a park.
 
After legal action to stop declassification failed, WARM fizzled out. Perhaps its scope was too broad and it became clear Melville’s issues required a dedicated residents association.
 
The fate of Faan Smit Park and its long delayed transformation, felt like defeat to many of us who opposed the ill-considered container-development. The latter’s failure to perform amounted to a crisis, which led me back to the MRA committee.
 
Almost at once I saw the value of being on this committee, where legal expertise and shared responsibility make one hopeful. 27 Boxes is not yet out the woods, but we at least stand a chance of sorting out this problem child. It is but one of many issues getting attention from the committee.
 
Now when people say they are too busy, I challenge them to attend at least one meeting. They will find a group of volunteers who are all busy in their day jobs but who remain determined to preserve and promote Melville.
 
We certainly do not all agree with each other on every issue but we trust each other’s integrity and recognise that compromise is sometimes the best option.
 
Sound implausible? Well, don’t take my word for it; come to a meeting on the second Tuesday of the month. You might even discover – like me – that it is an enjoyable couple of hours getting to know people who share a passion for Melville and who are committed to its well-being.
 
Put another way, to paraphrase the words made famous by President John F Kennedy in his 1961 inaugural address(1), “ask not what your suburb can do for you – ask what you can do for your suburb.”
 
  • MRA meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month at an appointed Guesthouse. Residents & Businesses are welcome to attend. Please contact the MRA a week in advance for any additions to the agenda.
 
 
Suzanne Brenner is a resident volunteer on the 27Boxes Portfolio Sub Committee. 

(1) JFK’s now famous line “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” was allegedly plagiarised from his school headmaster, George St John.
 

PORTFOLIO UPDATES

Communication

The MRA is aware of the need to improve its two-way communication with residents. We currently put information onto the MRA Facebook page the MRA website, and we send out an occasional newsletter to our mailing list.

We would like to hear from you about other communication tools and mechanisms which you would like us to use.

For example, would it be useful to get information in your postbox? Would you like more regular feedback meetings? Should we be putting posters and flyers into Melville’s shops?
 
Please email us at mra-comms@ilovemelville.co.za with your suggestions.

Land Use

In light of the recent stabbing at Emmarentia Checkers, the Melville Residents’ Association calls on the Parkview Police Station and the Gauteng Liquor Board to take the necessary steps to put an end to the unbridled and brazen operation of a shebeen from the public toilets and along the sidewalk on Barry Hertzog avenue outside Checkers.

The shebeen operates seven days a week, in plain view of the public (it is situated alongside a busy road) and contributes significantly to the levels of public drunkenness in the immediate vicinity. This raises the risk of disorderly behavior, including acts of violence, and generates massive piles of beer bottles and trash, making the area an eyesore in the suburb.

The MRA supports all efforts by the residents and other stakeholders in the area, to address the unsatisfactory situation.

 


 

Security

Physical Environment

Finding Melville’s best pavements
We are encouraging residents to improve and maintain their own environment by launching a competition to find the suburb’s pavements. This will include:
  • Best indigenous and water-wise pavement
  • Most improved pavement
  • Best pavement in the suburb
Details will be released in coming months, including prizes, a prestigious panel of judges, and how to enter. We expect to run the competition in Spring, so now is a good time to start thinking about your entry.

We will also be providing tips and guides on cost-effective and sustainable ways to keep a great pavement, and where to find help.

Please remember that pavements are a vital access route for pedestrians, and that includes old people, parents with children, and those without cars.

Please don’t block pedestrian access to your pavement, or let your plants make it inaccessible or dangerous. It’s not nice, and it’s not legal either.

Liquor

The hearing by the Gauteng Liquor Board regarding the transfer of Catz Pyjamas' Pub Liquor Licence to Ballerz Night Club will be taking place 06 April 2017. The MRA together with council will attend to object to the transfer based on the current operation of Ballerz Night Club.  Further updates to follow.

Membership

We would urge all Melville residents to please support, and where you are a member already continue supporting, the Melville Residents' Association through your payment of membership fees. Details of our fees are available on our website
The acquisition of CSS Tactical by Beagle Watch Armed Response has been finalised and includes the alarm monitoring, armed response, public space responsibilities and guarding components within the CSS Tactical areas of operation. This long-awaited transaction will revolutionise the way that armed response services are delivered in your area.

CSS Tactical and Beagle Watch Armed Response are brands which have defined proactive security in their relevant areas of operation. The brands are synonymous with service delivery and accountability. Most importantly, both companies have irreproachable records in using their extensive industry knowledge and experience to deliver proactive security solutions to the communities they serve.

The build-up to this milestone achievement has created much excitement amongst our customers and we will make it our mission to continue to serve our subscribers with passion, dedication, commitment and most of all professionalism.

In the next few weeks you will start to notice changes, in particular the CSS Tactical vehicles will be manned by armed Officers in Beagle Watch uniforms. This is due to the legal requirement from the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) which we are compelled to uphold. While the uniforms may change, the dedication to patrols and to our customers will remain our priority and business will continue as usual, eliminating any form of inconvenience or confusion to you.  

The current security solutions offered to our clients will be analysed and may be revisited in order to deliver a superior service to all who subscribe to CSS Tactical.

All contact details for CSS Tactical will remain the same and all communication and correspondence will be routed through the same channels.

Most importantly the CSS Tactical Control Room number 0861 911 119 is still active and should be saved to your phone and used when required to call for assistance.

A series of communications highlighting the new look of security in your area and any exciting changes, will be sent to all areas to keep you informed and updated.

We thank you for your patience during this crucial time and look forward to an exciting and secure relationship with you.

 
Dave Casey, MD of Beagle Watch


Should you require more information about this transaction or about the Melville Security Initiative, send them an email via msi@ilovemelville.co.za
The Melville Koppies full-time conservation team - in blue - funded by donations from the public (with volunteer conservation manager). The team is assisted by four EPWP workers, a government funded initiative, a welcome addition.

JC, did you know that Melville Koppies is a beneficiary of the MySchool/ MyVillage/ MyPlanet fundraising programme in the MyPlanet category.

This is an easy way to help fund the conservation of Melville Koppies. 

Apply online today at www.myschool.co.za/supporter/apply. The registered name is Friends of Melville Koppies.

Once you have a card, present it at any of the participating partner shops listed on the MySchool website. Your card will be swiped and returned to you and a percentage of your payment will be donated to Melville Koppies.

 
It costs you nothing, but every swipe counts for them.

Follow them on Facebook, visit their website at http://www.mk.org.za and join the next guided hike!
On the 12th of April 2017 the B&W Group will commence with a Black & White street photography project in the neighbourhood of Melville. Coordinated by the Alternative Print Workshop, the B&W Group consists of passionate photographers who meet on a bimonthly basis to discuss all matters relating to analogue film as well as to inspire each other to continue using this intrinsic beautiful form of photography. “I Love Melville” is the group’s first joint communal photographic project, and over the course of two months photographs will be taken of the street life, day and night, of the Melville area.
 
The images MUST be taken with 35mm film cameras, processed and printed in a traditional darkroom, and will be exhibited in June at Studio Gesso, located at the corner of 7th Street and 4th Avenue, Melville. Residents of Melville are welcome to participate in this project and to join us at our next meeting at Delta Cafe, Delta Park at 18:30 on Wednesday evening 12 April.
 
For further queries please email
 
 Henri Cartier-Bresson, Hyères, France, 1932
Well done Kobus Herbst, resident and estate agent who supplied a long overdue sign to Melville Pre-primary on the corner of 3rd Street and 5th Avenue. Maybe a garden company or residents could sponsor a clean-up of the pavement outside? JC, if you are keen to assist, please email us at mra-pe@ilovemelville.co.za
The Melville Cat
For MRA
25 March 2017
 
I was invited to write an opinion piece for the Melville Residents Association newsletter. This comes as no surprise. I have resided in Melville for a decade and I am the most famous and well-respected feline in the suburb. I am also an experienced blogger.
 
I’ve lived in three Melville residences during my life. In 2011 I resided in two homes at once, unbeknownst to the humans involved. I convinced the humans of each home that I lived in their home only, thus procuring double the food (including chicken treats) and double the stroking of a normal cat. The humans eventually discovered my ruse but it was lovely while it lasted.
 
Since 2012 I have resided exclusively with a human called Heather (2Summers), and later with her human partner Ray. Life in the 2Summers household has been pleasant; I still receive a larger than average amount of stroking and chicken treats.
 
I experienced a hiccup in 2015 when the household moved from one side of Melville to the other, and the humans deceived me into coming along. I was displeased with the move at first, as this new Melville territory was unfamiliar to me.
 
I was so displeased, in fact, that I escaped the property to conduct some further explorations and became disoriented and lost. I wandered Melville alone for many days, singing the sad song of my people, and eventually found myself in a foreign territory called Westdene. It was dreadful.
 
A kind human named Danielle rescued me from the streets of Westdene and began to research my identity. She found my writings online; I’m surprised she wasn’t already familiar with them. Danielle is kind, but perhaps not very well read in the feline non-fiction genre.
 
Danielle contacted Heather, who came to Westdene and restored me to my rightful home in Melville. Since that experience I have come to appreciate the value of living in Melville, where I am well known and have access to a steady supply of chicken treats.
 
These days, I am careful to stay in my home territory and spend most of the time in my house and its immediate surrounds. I pay no mind to the other hysterical Melville felines who wander frequently into my territory, stealing bites of my food. Their behavior is beneath me.
 
I just remembered that this article was meant to be an opinion piece. Here is my opinion: Melville is a better place thanks to the Melville Cat.
 
Read more from the Melville Cat, or follow him on Instagram.
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The views expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Melville Residents' Association, its Committee or volunteers.

Copyright © 2017 Melville Residents' Association, All rights reserved.






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Melville Residents' Association · Melville · Johannesburg, Gauteng 2109 · South Africa

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