Wednesday 23 January 2019
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Mayor: Defeat the water challenge!

As the Mayor of Stellenbosch, I would like to share information regarding the greater Stellenbosch water situation with our residents. This will help to assist with some frequently asked questions and give clarity about our water situation going forward.

Effective education is the key to country success, says visiting Rhodes professor

Prof Matthew Lester (2nd from left) with Kusasa co-founder Dave Riordan, Kusasa ELC Principal Marie-Louise Raymond and Kusasa co-founder Doug Gurr

Professor Matthew Lester, who lectures tax and corporate governance at the Rhodes Business School in Grahamstown, visited The Kusasa Project’s Early Learning Centre in Groendal on Tuesday, 21 November.

Prof Lester’s presentation, entitled “Life after The President’s Keepers” focussed on South Africa’s economic and political woes and what he sees as the solution. An early childhood development centre may seem like an unusual venue for such a presentation but Prof Lester presented a compelling argument that the economic future of our country depends on the delivery of quality education starting with the 3-8 year-old age group. According to the professor research shows that countries derive the greatest return from investment in human capital. Much of South Africa’s basic education system is however dysfunctional and needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up. As most of the skills required for scholastic success are learned before the age 10 the focus of interventions has to be on early childhood development and primary school education. As the saying goes “The rest will take care of itself.”

Wesgro water saving initiative welcomed

FLTR: Jan de Villiers (Stellenbosch Municipality Mayco Member: Infrastructure), Kobus du Plessis (Cape Winelands District Municipality Mayco Member: Local Economic Development), Paul Biscombe (Stellenbosch Municipality Acting Mayor), Judy Lain (Wesgro CMO), Reinher Behrens (FWV CEO) and Tim Roggenbach (Chairman FWV Accommodation Sector) were present at the handover of low-flow showerheads to FWV members.

Wesgro – the Western Cape’s investment and tourism promotion agency – in partnership with the Western Cape Government, CapeNature and Airbnb last year conducted a survey on how they can help guesthouses and B&Bs across the province to save water.

Their subsequent initiative to supply water-saving shower heads and mirror decals to accommodation establishments received an overwhelming response. A total of 2300 showerheads were made available free of charge to the Western Cape hospitality industry. The water-saving showerheads reduce the amount of water used per shower by up to 70% and the amount of energy consumed by 30%.

The uptake of the showerheads was greatest in Franschhoek and Vredendal. In Franschhoek 21 accommodation establishments requested 147 showerheads and mirror decals.

Judy Lain, Wesgro’s Chief Marketing Officer, performed the official handover of the showerheads and decals to the establishments at the Franschhoek Cellar on 13 December 2017.

Unauthorised construction – no warm and fuzzy feelings

The LAB Lifestyle in Nerina Street was built without approved building plans and the required zoning in place.

Labradors, or Labs for short, usually evoke warm and fuzzy feelings, as they’re considered one of the gentlest dog breeds around. The same cannot be said about the new accommodation establishment, The LAB Lifestyle, with its Labrador logo that has been taking shape in Nerina Street over the past few months.

What has taken place at erf 660 in Nerina Street since October 2017 can only be described as a construction frenzy – an illegal one to boot.

Bussing in trouble?

Hylton Ross coaches regularly ignore the weight restriction in Dirkiey Uys Street

Residents of Dirkie Uys and La Rochelle Streets are furious at bus and tour companies whose drivers wilfully ignore the 3.5 tonne vehicle weight restriction applicable to these mostly residential streets.  They also expressed frustration at the apparent lack of traffic law enforcement in this regard.

According to one irate resident no fewer than five tourist coaches illegally drove along Dirkie Uys Street from the Huguenot Museum to the Dutch Reformed Church grounds on the morning of Saturday, 11 November, alone. Two of them went even further and instead of parking in the church grounds parked in La Rochelle Street, only metres away from a 3.5 tonne weight restriction sign.

Residents who have confronted drivers of offending coaches say they have been met with rudeness and arrogance when pointing out that coaches are not allow in Dirkie Uys Street.  A common response is “The tour guide made me do it” as if that excuses ignoring road signs.  Another oft-heard response from drivers is along the lines of “If you don’t want us to bring you tourists, just say so.”

Approached for comment Reinher Behrens, CEO of Franschhoek Wine Valley, said: “Franschhoek welcomes tourists whether by car or coach. In most popular tourist destinations clear parking areas and routes are demarcated for tourist coaches as well as areas and routes where restrictions apply. The use by tourist coaches of Dirkie Uys Street, which carries a 3.5 tonne vehicle weight restriction, continues to be a concern. Threats and confrontation will get us nowhere.  My suggestion is that we arrange a meeting with the relevant coach operators and agree on a way forward.”

‘Prisoners’ in pass accident

Emergency services staged an accident scenario to test their preparedness.

“MVA FHK PASS”, is an all-too-familiar message sent out on local WhatsApp groups. On Wednesday, 29 November, the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) was however the start of a multi-agency exercise involving Stellenbosch Fire and Rescue Services, SAPS Franschhoek, Western Cape Metro Rescue Services, Winelands District Fire Services, Stellenbosch Traffic Services, Department of Correctional Services, Stellenbosch private and public hospitals, ER24 and local paramedics Garth Van Zyl (Medicare EMR) and Kurt Maske.

Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge achievers to jet off to the US

Bridge House’s Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge winners with their teachers in the Bridge House Commerce Department. FLTR: Mr Juan Kidd, Tim Vermeulen (2nd place), Mr Cheslyn Andrews, Mr David Sutcliffe and Bocasho Braaf (3rd place).

Two Bridge House Grade 9 students came in the top three of the Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge. Tim Vermeulen came second and and Bocasho Braaf third. Their prizes include a trip to Silicon Valley, which they’ll undertake next year.

The Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge is South Africa’s leading competition for aspiring entrepreneurs. Contestants are recognised for demonstrating outstanding entrepreneurial thinking skills.

Bridge House was one of only two Western Cape Schools to take part and ranked seventh out of all the participating schools.

Double decker tram

The Franschhoek Wine Tram celebrated the introduction of two double-deck railway trams at a function hosted by Vrede en Lust and the Lust Bistro on 6 November 2017.

With an impressive view of the surrounding vineyards and Simonsberg mountain, guests were addressed by Dana Buys of Vrede en Lust, Hein Koegelenberg representing Franschhoek Wine Valley and Minister Anton Bredell, the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

Fibre for Franschhoek

Ever had your karma corrupted by slow and unreliable internet connections? Well, you’re not alone.  Some months ago local businessman Tony Fishlock, of online safari company ATR Safari had had enough of his business suffering because of internet irritations.  He set about to find out how to get fast and reliable internet access in the village via fibre-optic cable.  (Currently the closest place with fibre-optic connectivity is Val de Vie Estate.)

Fibre optic cables have many advantages. Perhaps most importantly, as they use light rather than electricity to carry signals, they are superfast allowing users to send and receive large volumes of data, quickly and securely. Fibre further allows users to make the most efficient use of cloud services while also easily supporting growing data volumes without compromising on performance. The cables are also not susceptible to electrical shorts and are less vulnerable to theft because they contain no copper.

Many of the technical and planning issues around bringing fibre to Franschhoek have already been addressed while work is continuing on the business model that will support the roll-out. Everybody involved is however optimistic that 2018 will be the year that fibre reaches Franschhoek.

Fibre supplier, SA Digital Villages, has already applied for wayleaves from Stellenbosch Municipality to ‘fibre up’ Franschhoek and have appointed a contractor to design the low level network for every home. A Wi-Fi solution to service visitors in the main road has also been designed.  As a possible phase 2 an aerial fibre solution for farmers is also being investigated.

The cost of the ‘fibre to the home’ network will be carried by SA Digital Villages, who are in talks with Dark Fibre Africa to construct the so-called ‘backhaul’ connectivity to Franschhoek.

Anybody that is interested in the fibre roll-out or wishes to get involved can contact Ruth McCourt on avail@africatravelresource.com or 083 390 2891 for further information.

Franschhoek Wine Tram supports charities

The Franschhoek Wine Tram’s ticket stub charity initiative has resulted in them donating R20 000 each to five local charities for a total of R100 000. The handover took place on 17 November.

Franschhoek Wine Tram makes a donation for each ticket stub deposited by passengers at the end of the tour in one of the charity boxes located at the ticket office. In this way passengers are engaged in the process of charitable contributions and general awareness of the benefitting charities is raised.

“We view these annual charitable donations as an investment in the community; a community whose support has made the Franschhoek Wine Tram possible,” says David Blyth, owner of the Franschhoek Wine Tram.

“Franschhoek Wine Tram has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2012 with just three employees and two wine estates on the service. By the end of this year we will have more than 40 full-time employees and 22 wine estates on the service,” he continues. “The popularity of the service has surpassed all our expectations which is reflected in close to 2000 TripAdvisor reviews we have received to date. Currently we rank 17th out 1063 attractions in the Western Cape – a remarkable achievement given our short history.”

The charities that received donations this year are: ACVV Franschhoek (social work), SPCA Franschhoek (animal welfare), Kusasa (children’s educational charity), Cape Leopard Trust (environmental research and education) and the JAM SA school feeding initiative.

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