From the news desk

Breakthrough in Somerset West festival dates

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An agreement has finally been reached between traders and the South African Police Services (SAPS) that will ensure the provision of security for the Somerset West Night Market over the coming festive season. As a result, the respective parties have agreed to host the popular Festival under the Lights from the 12th to the 20th December.

Traders previously spoke out against plans to change the dates of the festival from the 15th-23rd to the 2nd-14th December, over concerns the period would draw little support from the public. There were some suggestions the event could face the threat of cancellation if an agreement was not met.

With the festival now confirmed to go ahead, facilitator Taj Akleker says the breakthrough will come as positive news for traders who are now unlikely to suffer any major decline in business.

“This is powerful news for the traders and we are very happy. The traders have been absolutely in elation.”

Akleker says those who choose to attend the festival are sure to receive a unique and safe experience, with the event having a reputation for being incident free during the last 20 years of its existence.

“It’s a night market with a difference; there is no loud music or platform for any unruly behaviour.

“The market has over the years developed into a family market. People come with their families to literally enjoy themselves. It is a walking meander with 200m of stalls for just about every culinary desire,” he states.

The City of Cape Town has approved the new dates and will be supplying additional law enforcement to cater to the event.

Mayco member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Gareth Bloor says the City were informed by SAPS prior to the agreement that the festival would be placed under a “medium risk” security threat, meaning the safety requirements of the event would need to be upped.

“SAPS said they could only accommodate the event at medium risk until the 16th December with the resources they have. What the City did is look at our existing resources. Recognising the massive economic prerogative we agreed to come on board and provide trading until the 20th by ensuring those SAPS requirements, which usually they would meet, we are now meeting them,” he explains.

Bloor admits the City would have hoped for a lower risk rating to ensure fewer resources were diverted from other parts of the city.

“Of course you’ve got to intervene as best you can. Every time you put resources in one area, where have you taken it out of? Where could it have been deployed?” he adds. VOC

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