Trading Licences on the Clarens Square – Dihlabeng Responds

Trading Licences on the Square:

Dihlabeng Responds

Readers will recall that on January 7 of this year, 63 rate-paying businesses signed a Memorandum of Complaint in respect of the granting of trading licences to vendors on the Clarens Square.  This Memorandum was forwarded, courtesy of the Clarens Unit Manager, Peter Reed, to the Municipal Manager in Bethlehem.

We have pleasure in reporting today that two representatives of the Local Economic Development Forum (Thembalethu Dladla, Manager Tourism and Business Development, and Lebohang Mofokeng, Officer Emerging Business) asked for a meeting with the facilitators of the Memorandum of Complaint, Peter Badcock-Walters and Natalie Meyer.  This was duly held in Peter Reed’s office last week and those attending were kindly introduced by Mandy Prior.  The meeting was positive and to the point: The Dihlabeng representatives went to great lengths to assure Clarens that they were seriously concerned and recognised the unique value of Clarens to the Municipality and the Province.  They were also somewhat in awe of the collection of 63 signatures in less than 24 hours!  The Clarens facilitators indicated that the memorandum summarised the concerns of rate-paying business and that straight answers were required to the questions put to Dihlabeng.

The following points were discussed and agreed:

– Thembalethu and Lebohang categorically denied that any licences had been issued for trade on the Clarens Square and confirmed that there is no record of any such transactions.  However they confirmed that there was a record of applications for such trading licences.
– They indicated that in fact the Dihlabeng by-laws are not conducive to ‘hawking’ of any kind.
– They were shocked by the facilitator’s statement that the licences had been seen by several citizens and that information available to Clarens suggested that the licences had been issued or authorised by their chairperson, Councillor Clem Harrington.
– They confirmed that they have every respect for the rights of business ratepayers and therefore wanted to look at a positive way forward.  It was agreed that the priority was an investigation into who had issued the licences, and under what legislation and/or by-laws.  However nothing further has been heard from the LED representatives to date.
– It was agreed that an area should be identified for hawkers (of every kind) to conduct their trade and add to the tourist potential of the town.  It was agreed that an appropriate area should be demarcated, properly constructed and rented out for this purpose.  Thembalethu and Lebohang confirmed that the LED together with the Clarens Unit Manager would investigate this option and look at ways to ‘police’ such a development.
– It was also agreed that Clarens business interests, represented by the Greater Clarens Chamber of Commerce (now in formation), should meet with the Clarens Unit Manager to agree an approach to giving permission for trade and entertainment on the Clarens Square, and commend this to the Municipality.
The meeting was concluded with thanks to the Dihlabeng representatives for travelling to Clarens and general agreement that the LED and should keep the door open to finding satisfactory solutions to these and other problems.