DRIVING school operators running their businesses at the Athlone Stadium parking area say the City has been negotiating with them in bad faith as they have been kept in the dark about whether they could continue to use the area.
They are also up in arms with DA ward councillor for the Athlone area Suzette Little following her decision that driving schools would be prohibited from operating there from today – a decision operators say they were not informed of.
But Little said operators had not organised themselves into committee as agreed during a meeting with the stadium’s management and City officials on June 2. The committee was supposed to provide suggestions to resolve the matter.
The City had moved to ban driving schools from using the area from June 1, but delayed a final decision and gave operators a month to form a structure that would represent them.
The committee would have been responsible for negotiating with officials to reach an agreement on conditions under which operators would run their business.
Driving school operator Mlamli Mguca said they had formalised themselves and a committee was established, but the City was not aware of the committee because it cancelled a follow-up meeting of June 14.
“Their decision does not settle in well because we have nowhere else to go to in order for us to run our businesses. They did not give us any alternative.
"We have been caught by surprise because we have done all what was required. We were still waiting for them to meet us, but the councillor has made it clear that she did not want any vehicles to operate there,” he said.
Mguca said they were being chased out of the area because the City wanted driving operators to pay for using the space. He slammed Little for her allegations that many residents expressed concern about the safety of their children and said when operators had met residents, they had no problem with them running their businesses in the area.
According to Little, there have been a number of incidents resulting in damage to private property in the vicinity of the Athlone Stadium and the damage to the facility’s fencing and gates.
Little said the businesses needed to take responsibility and follow the processes as there were no "freebies".
She said the decision to block driving school operators was in the interest of everyone and there was no reason for operators to be upset about it.
“The decision should not impact them at all. We had a meeting with them and made a suggestion about what should happen. They have to follow the right process,” she said.