Ian Neilson writes that the City safely held 68 ward-based focus groups of community representatives on the budget across the metro. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Ian Neilson writes that the City safely held 68 ward-based focus groups of community representatives on the budget across the metro. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Critics chose to attack CoCT budget only on aspects of the process

By Opinion Time of article published Jun 1, 2021

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As a matter of record, the story “Public input process for CoCT budget slammed as 'inaccessible to the poor'’ (Cape Argus, May 27) refers.

The City received about 2 000 comments on the budget, even with the severe constraints placed on the process due to Covid-19.

If there had been 10 000 comments that came in, the same critics would say: Look how many comments came in – everyone must completely disagree with the City’s proposals.

It must also be noted that assertions that the number of comments are low, are not based on data or context. Even amid a Covid-19 year, the response was reasonable if one looks year-on-year.

The City safely held 68 ward-based focus groups of community representatives (with the view to them engaging further with their constituents and interest groups and individuals) on the budget across the City and where residents weren’t able to attend in person we made use of services such as Skype. We continued to issue a number of media releases throughout the process and place adverts in newspapers, we also made use of social media, graphics and video, and ensured the budget was available at most of our libraries.

The statutory 30-day comment process is not the only public process that informs the budget. The factors informing the budget happen 365 days per year through our engagements with residents and communities and our hands-on knowledge, experience and context of what is required in all aspects of the City. The City also has an active sub-council and ward committee system that provides ongoing engagement.

During 2020, the City was named the most trusted metro in South Africa, for the seventh time in a row (Consulta Citizen Satisfaction Index). It is not an empty claim we make and one that is awarded by an outside body.

Our residents have high expectations of delivery from the City and we will continue to deliver on those expectations and improve on our offerings.

It is interesting to note that the critics choose to attack the budget only on aspects of process. They clearly have nothing to challenge the substantive budget proposals.

* Alderman Ian Neilson, Executive Deputy Mayor, City of Cape Town.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus

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