Angry residents desperate for some peace

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Disgruntled Buffalo City Metro residents living in suburbs around Buffalo Park Cricket Stadium met last week to vent their grievances over noise levels from events held at the venue, especially over the festive season.

TOO MUCH: Residents around Buffalo Park Stadium are complaining about noise levels that they say are harmful

At the meeting it was decided that funds would be raised to hire an advocate to force BCM, through the courts, to adhere to the city’s noise bylaws.

The residents complain that concerts go on until the early hours, giving them sleepless nights and infringing on their privacy and rights as ratepaying citizens.

The meeting, held last week in Baysville, was attended by representatives from the South African Police Service as well as traffic and law enforcement officials.

Meeting co-ordinator Belinda Smith said they did not want to bring a halt to events at the stadium, but hoped their rights would be protected in the interim.

“We understand everybody wants to have a good time, and all the concerts generate good revenue for people in Buffalo City, but people need to be considerate. We need to know that at least by 11pm or possibly midnight, the show is over and we will be able to sleep,” she said.

Smith said a petition with 476 signatures of upset residents, as well as two attorneys’ letters drawing attention to the legal circumstances surrounding such events and seeking BCM’s compliance with its own by-laws, had fallen on deaf ears.

Bunkers Hill resident Michele Rivaroli said while he had lived in the suburb for more than 20 years, the problem with exacerbated noise levels began about four years ago. “It becomes difficult to sleep when your windows are rattling from noise vibrations the whole night.

“Even the health and safety act clearly states that people need to be wearing protective gear if they are going to be exposed to more than 85 decibels, and more than 105 decibels can make people deaf. So not only is what we are exposed to giving us sleepless nights, but it is also detrimental to our health.”

BCM Ratepayers Forum secretary Christo Theart said he had written several letters to BCM on behalf of the forum, which had not been responded to.

Theart explained that BCM had by-laws in place which outlawed “noise nuisance” unless an exemption was applied for and granted.

It is only when an exemption is applied for that BCM can then set limits. However, according to Theart no one was applying for exemptions when events were being organised.

“BCM needs to approve event by-laws, which define how an event is conducted and what the noise levels are. They need to get the event organisers to comply and they need to know the consequences, because we don’t have that enforced in the metro,” he said.

Buffalo Cricket Park stadium manager Stuart Fortuin confirmed he was aware of communication to the Buffalo City manager on different occasions. “We were copied on letters which were for the attention of the municipal manager last month, October 2 and 4, hence on both these occasions, as we were copied, we felt that it did not require our response, as both these letters were not addressed to us,” he said.

East London attorney Ben Niehaus of Niehaus McMahon Inc. said he would represent residents pro bono in court, since their grievances had fallen on deaf ears.

“The time for talking is over. Now we need to act because we have continued to be neglected by the municipality, yet the problem persists,” he said.

More than R30000 has been raised towards legal costs for an advocate who will apply for an interdict to control noise levels and show times for events at the stadium.

Buffalo City spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya appealed to the residents concerned to ask for a meeting with the mayor through their ward councillor. “‘Sound’ advice would be for the local councillor to set up a meeting with the mayor/portfolio head and we sit across the table and find an amicable solution. Unfortunately in this case we are dealing with people who are already preparing for court action, which leaves an interpretation that engaging us would just be an academic exercise. This begins to attract other sinister connotations, something that as government we are against as we promote social cohesion. We would like to appeal to the affected residents not to kick a door that is open. Come in, let us sit down at an appropriate date and let’s discuss how we all manage events, because we have a proud record of incident-free events that boost the economy and create jobs,” he said. — mbalit@dispatch.co.za

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