From the news desk

‘City tries to curtail our culture’

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Cape Town – The City Council is forging ahead with plans to lease the Good Hope Centre to a film company, for at least three years. Mayco member for tourism, events and economic development Garreth Bloor said the council was expecting to sign a long-term lease by the end of July.

This plan means that the Cape Malay Choir Board (CMCB) will not be able to host their annual competition at the venue in April.

The council has extended the six-month rental agreement it entered into with Film Afrika last July, until the end of next month, while it seeks the necessary approval to put the lease out to tender.

It has, however, already identified Film Afrika as the suitable long-term tenant.

The council has proposed that the event be held at the City Hall or the Bellville Velodrome instead but CMCB chairman Shafiek April said these alternatives were both unsuitable.

“It’s going to be chaos… like putting a square peg into a round hole,” said April.

The City Hall, April said, was not big enough to accommodate the thousands of people who thronged to the competition.

“The city is trying to curtail our culture,” said April.

The CMCB was the only organisation to submit an objection to the council’s plan to subcouncil 16 which considered the matter at its meeting last month.

It, however, chose not to uphold the concerns raised by the CMCB.

The last hurdle to turning the venue into a film studio is to obtain approval from the full council which will meet again at the end of next month.

“If the decision is approved, a tender will be advertised to lease the Good Hope Centre to a film company for at least three years. An appeal process of 21 days must be implemented once a successful vendor has been appointed,” said Bloor.

While the expected annual revenue that will be generated from this agreement is still unknown, Bloor said it would definitely exceed the annual planned revenue of R1.8 million.

Bloor said the revenue the council would receive by the end of the short-term lease next month would already have exceeded the planned annual revenue.

The local authority has said that the Good Hope Centre requires critical repairs costing R16m, while it runs into losses of R1.6m a year.

The CMCB pays around R140 000 to rent the venue for its event.

CMCB secretary Ismail Ely said the choir board was unhappy with how the council was handling the public participation and objection process.

“The (council) is not interested in the plight of the community and its efforts to upkeep our social responsibilities.

“It is only interested in making money at the expense of the community,” he said.

[Source: iol]
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