Thursday, June 21, 2012

De Lille gags Smith in carbuncle dispute

MAYOR Patricia de Lille has gagged councillor JP Smith after he openly criticised the city’s plan to push for more commercial activity at Cape Town Stadium by allowing ventures like night clubs and restaurants.

Yesterday De Lille ordered her mayoral committee not to comment on the Cape Town Stadium matter and for only mayoral committee member for tourism, event and marketing Grant Pascoe to be the spokesman on the issue.

This follows Smith’s defiant stance against the plan to make the R4.5 billion stadium financially viable by amending the current record of decision which he was part of a few years ago.

The city wants to overturn regulations banning commercial activity at Cape Town Stadium and build a nightclub, restaurants, coffee shops and sports bars in an attempt to make the struggling venue commercially sustainable.

Before the stadium was built many Green Point residents were opposed to it, citing high costs, noise levels and traffic volumes, and concerns about sustainability.

To appease residents, the province imposed restrictions, banning commercial outlets and the hiring out of office space to third parties.

Smith said earlier that he opposed the move as a matter of principle because he helped put together the previous record of decision which the city wants to amend.

Smith is understood to have turned down a request for a radio interview to speak on the matter after all media queries were directed to Pascoe.

Asked if this was a “gagging order” on Smith and other councillors who might have an alternative view on the city’s plan, De Lille’s spokesperson Solly Malatsi said “absolutely not”.

“Cape Town Stadium is a strategic asset that falls under the authority of (Pascoe) as the political head of the tourism, events and marketing directorate.

“Therefore he is the designated spokeman on the issue,” said Malatsi.

Approached on the matter, Smith declined to comment.

“I was requested to refer all queries to Grant Pascoe. That’s all I can say,” said Smith.

Pascoe said all De Lille did was ask the mayoral committee members “not to go to the media with this thing”.

“The executive director (Anton Groenewald) and myself are to comment. But alternative views are not being disallowed.

“There will be a consultative process and it will include Green Point ratepayers.

“But anything official, I’m the spokeman,” said Pascoe.

Green Point Ratepayers and Residents Association chairperson Bob Goebel said he had a number of questions.

He said changes could only be made by an act of province.

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