Chairman's report - August 2008

In this report I shall be concentrating on the forthcoming AGM which will be held at Muizenberg High School on 3rd November. Preparations by Excom have been under way for some weeks, including the drafting of resolutions to changes in the Constitution.

Discussion of these draft resolutions has highlighted a feature of the way we do things, which is a cause of some concern. Draft resolutions to the AGM must be circulated with the notice convening the meeting, that is they must be printed and distributed 21 days before the meeting. Members may only vote on those resolutions of which they have had notice, and there is no provision for the proposal of resolutions from the floor, or even for the proposal of amendments to the published resolutions.

The draft resolutions are therefore being published in this edition of Marina News so that members will have advance notice and may consider whether they should support or oppose them. One of the resolutions - to allow electronic service of notices- is fairly straightforward, but the other- a system of fines- is likely to arouse controversy.

I should therefore explain why Excom believes it necessary to adopt this remedy. The relevant circumstances are:
  1. A member has failed to maintain his property to the annoyance of his neighbours and so that it decreases the value of their properties.
  2. A member has altered his property without having had prior approval of his plans from Archcom and/Council
  3. A member has departed from the plans approved by Archcom and/Council without having sought approval of the changes.
Items 2) and 3) also represent infringements of Building regulations but an effective remedy requires an active and vigilant Building Inspector.

Our normal procedure is to issue a first warning letter, requiring the member to carry out remedial work. This is followed by a second, reminder letter and finally a third, which threatens legal action. At this point, our Attorneys take over and write to the defaulting member warning that he will be liable for the legal costs of seeking redress. Excom has been criticised for failing to follow up the worst cases by taking Court Action to bring defaulters into line and our Standards committee is accused of being toothless.

Our difficulty has been that legal action for “Specific Performance” (forcing a member to comply with standards or with plans) can only be taken in the High Court. This involves significant costs, with the risk that they might not be recoverable from the defaulting member.

We are advised, however, that should members approve a change to the constitution, we could devise a system of automatic fines, action for recovery of which can be taken much quicker and more cheaply in a Magistrates court.

Whilst Excom supports the resolution, it is for members to decide whether the Association needs to do this to make the enforcement of Standards more effective. To put matters in perspective, there are 5 or 6 cases where no amount of threats or persuasion or peer pressure from neighbours has had any effect and the offending member has allowed his property to become an eyesore. A fine, or a repeated fine, might convince such a member that the money would be better spent on repairs.

Although in general, Excom proposes resolutions to the members at AGMs, there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent an individual member from proposing his/ her own resolution and seeking Members’ support for changes to the Constitution.

An Excom member, acting in his personal capacity, and without Excom support, has proposed that the changes made at the June 2006 OGM be reversed, because the Association decided at the November 2007 AGM to hold over the putting into effect of the security scheme until virtually all members want it, and are prepared to pay for it, and we are not collecting monthly subs as required under the amended constitution, or implementing other clauses of the Constitution which relate to the security scheme.

This resolution will also be put to members at the AGM.

REMINDER - Unpaid subscriptions.
Members are reminded that those whose subs. are in arrears are not entitled to vote at the AGM. We will have the usual registration system in the lobby to the hall, but do not intend to provide a cashier to take subscriptions at the door. It is your responsibility to ensure that your subs are up to date.

New premises.
By the time this newsletter is distributed, we will have settled into our new offices at the Eastlake centre. We will keep the same hours during weekdays, but have decided not to open the office on Saturday mornings as the number of members using the service was negligible.

I represented the Association at a recent meeting of the various NGOs, individuals and Charities which have an interest in the township. The list is very impressive, and full details can be found on our website. Peter Harrison
Chairman MDGA
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