THE proposed name change of East London and its suburbs is sparking controversy, with questions over whether the stakeholder consultative meetings held this week were an adequate barometer of residents’ opinions.
The proposal calls for the renaming of East London to KuGompo along with the renaming of various suburbs, including Beacon Bay to KuNondyilo, Quigney to Mhlonyane and Southernwood to Tebekana.
The meeting regarding the renaming of East London is to take place tomorrow February 16, at 4pm at in the city hall.
“The meeting for East London is not ward-based and at 4pm most people are still at work. This is just another tick-box exercise and not public participation,” said Buffalo City Metro Municipality (BCMM) ward 28 councillor Marion Mackley.
“The meeting cannot possibly be an accurate barometer of the residents’ feelings,” added Beacon Bay Ratepayers’ and Civic Association chairman Malcolm Symons.
According to Symons, the February monthly meeting of the association had a unanimous objection to the name change by those in attendance.
A petition to obtain signatures against the name change has since been circulating with the intention of lodging a formal objection.
One of the biggest reasons for objections to the change is the financial impact thereof.
“A lot of residents are opposed to the name change, not only of the metro but the suburbs as well. Beacon Bay to KuNondyilo – this would result in major cost implications for businesses who would need to change their letterheads, business cards, webpages and other advertising products,” said Mackley.
“As for tourism, many people will probably then not know where Beacon Bay or East London is for that matter, so no financial benefit is seen,” added Symons.
“With the economy as it is, this money could be more gainfully utilised in underdeveloped areas and on the provision of housing and electricity.”
According to Symons, the proposed name change for Beacon Bay refers to an area of land in the vicinity of the Ronnies Motors showroom and does not seem to have any relevance to the suburb.
“This wasteful and ill-considered exercise is going to cost ratepayers millions.”
BCM spokesman Bathandwa Diamond, as well as BCM councillor and economic development and agencies portfolio head Mawethu Marata, had not responded at the time of going to press.