The names of some Durban streets are going to change, like it or not. City Manager Mike Sutcliffe has thrown down the gauntlet to his critics, telling them to stop wasting their time objecting to the renaming process.
Council had already unanimously accepted "that some streets would be renamed", he said.
Sutcliffe said in a newsletter at the weekend that there was "little point in... the public simply sending in general complaints that they don't want streets renamed... it is unlikely that council will rescind that decision".
More than 95 percent of submissions received to date had objected to the principle of renaming, he said. Instead of objecting to the idea, he has urged people to provide specific comment in support - or not - of suggestions already put forward for specific streets.
Sutcliffe said in a weekend newspaper that people who wanted to go to the High Court to stop the process would be wasting their time and money.
"We followed procedure and made decisions regarding renaming strictly in terms of the law. I have no doubt that these courts will rule against these right-wing people," he said.
Referring to his right-wing comment, he said this was in the context of people intent on taking petty legal action and using the courts to delay and frustrate the process.
It did not refer to people with genuine concerns. However, he reiterated his view that he did not think people would have a hope of getting anywhere in the courts.
"All the political parties had accepted the process," he said.
The story also quoted an unnamed high court judge, who said that the public could get an interdict against the council based on purpose, reason and viability.
He is reported to have said that taxpayers had a right to oppose a decision that affected them directly - and also that the council was within its rights to change the names on condition it too could show purpose, reason and viability.
Sutcliffe said last night that he would be writing to the Judge President of the province about the judge in question making questionable statements in the press.
Sutcliffe said in his newsletter that the city had received "significant" comment on some of the proposed name changes.
While some comment "is not even worthy of a response", it was important that people understood what the process was so that they could properly contribute to an important part of building the city, he said. He denied that there had been any secret suggestions or "that I have refused to make available the suggestions received".
Commenting on arguments that the proposed names "are a fait accompli and that it is pointless for the public to object as their views will not be considered", Sutcliffe said the renaming committee had not yet deliberated on every proposed name, so it was important for the public to put forward their views.
"Specific views will have to be assessed and so this is an important opportunity for people to provide specific reasons," he said.
He said that there were more than 30 000 street names, with 4 000 being located in the former Durban central area. "Even if all the proposals were to be accepted... this would mean less than one percent of the city's street names would be changed and the rest would have been named during the colonial and apartheid eras," he said.
Durban residents have until May 11 to submit comments, suggestions, criticism or approval of the proposed name changes. Comments are to be sent to: Municipal Manager, 41 Margaret Mncadi Avenue, Durban 4001 or e-mail [email protected]