Councillor ‘passes the buck’

Virginia Middleton, Plumstead

My understanding of a ward councillor is that if there is anything needed in the area that is council related, it is “helpful” to direct one’s enquiry or complaint via the ward councillor
(in the case of Plumstead/Southfield) to Carol Bew, who will be helpful in directing the enquiry to the department concerned and make sure that this enquiry is followed up and answered. As we know to direct an enquiry to an email address at the council – well do we ever get a reply. However, from the replies from Carol Bew, she is passing the buck and don’t send any letters to her but direct them to the Council. Otherwise can I please get an explanation on what the designation of a ward councillor is and what he or she is being paid for and why we voted for her?

* Councillor Carol Bew responds: Requests for service issues, like potholes, leaks, etc. should be reported to the City via its various reporting channels so that officials can take action as quickly as possible. Such service delivery issues can also be reported via ward councillors, but this adds an extra step to the process which is ultimately unnecessary when the City has so many touch points available, including the call centre, via email, via SMS, via walk-in centres, or via social media.

Ward councillors play a more overarching role to improve the community as a whole. Ward councillors engage with and attend the meetings of the key stakeholders in the community – these include, but are not limited to Community policing forums, neighbourhood watches, civic and ratepayers’ associations and the SAPS.

There are also the schools, libraries and clinics in the ward that need oversight and monitoring. Besides the Council, sub-council, ward committees and portfolio meetings and their caucuses there are also the political and public meetings that need to be organised and attended. Various plans submitted need to be scrutinised and signed off as well as meetings with officials and residents regarding ward issues.

The ward allocation projects need monitoring in terms of spend. Ward councillors attend and participate in workshops and focus groups, they also prepare and articulate speeches in council and committees and attend on-site inspections.

Ward councillors are also accountable to local communities and report back to constituencies on City matters, which includes the performance of the municipality in terms of established indicators.

One of the most important functions of a ward councillor is to be the voice of all the people they represent and to ensure effective service delivery to them. As such, ward councillors are responsible for reporting to their residents and explaining the decisions of council, ensuring that residents are informed of the proper channels for reporting service delivery requests, and monitoring that these requests are dealt with, once reported.

They have an understanding of the legislation pertaining to local government and fulfill an oversight role within the administration.