Residents object to ‘problem’ building

Wynberg residents’ efforts to get a betting agency in Main Road declared a problem building have failed.

Hollywood Bets, on the corner of Langley and Main roads, has, according to residents, attracted a lot of unsavoury and criminal behaviour (“Patrons no sure bet,” Bulletin June 2, 2016)

Langley Road is littered with betting tickets as well used condoms – evidence of prostitution in the area, residents say. They also complain about drug dealing and drug use happening openly.

They have complained about these problems to Wynberg police and City law enforcement.

They claim the betting agency, which moved into the ground floor of Langwyn flats, has drawn crime to the area and they want it shut down.

The Wynberg Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (WRRA) is worried about the number of betting agencies around Main Road (“Wynberg fights fifth bookie,” Bulletin November 3 2016) because most of them are close to several schools and places of worship – both regarded as valid grounds for objection by the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board.

Ward 62 Councillor Liz Brunette has now
been told by the City’s Problem Building Unit that the property (which includes the flats) is not a problem building, because a site inspection had found it was in a clean state with no evidence
of dumping, unsavoury characters or criminal activity.

Tania van Eck, of Hollywood Bets, said they welcomed the decision as they were a legitimate business and conformed to all municipal and gambling board requirements for a betting establish-

“Furthermore, we’ve upgraded the premises and have also made additional security changes to help counter the illegal activities alluded to by the community. We’re fully committed to supporting all initiatives that will lead to the eradication of illegal drug and alcohol related activities in the area. In this regard, we work closely with the local police force to ensure that we help drive out these undesirable elements,” said Ms Van Eck.

However, WRRA chairperson Kristina Davidson maintains that Main Road is not a suitable spot for gambling outlets. The association, she said, had made its stance clear to the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board.

She said the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Act said licence applications would not be approved if the development was undesirable in terms of social, religious, educational, cultural, economic, environmental, transport and land-use aspects. Wynberg, she said “ticks all these boxes”.

“It’s a civic hub, containing the greatest number of public facilities in the district, including the Wynberg library, Maynardville Park, the cluster SAPS station, the magistrate’s court and health clinics. Wynberg is also home to about 20 schools and 20 places of worship. It’s a transit hub, containing a public transport interchange around the train stations that is used by thousands of commuters and pupils who attend schools in Wynberg,” she said.

“In addition, gambling outlets only aggravate the existing drug and alcohol problems in Wynberg because such establishments attract those very same addicts. The WRRA is opposed to any gambling establishments being opened in Wynberg Main Road, as we believe that such outlets should be allowed only in places where one has to make an effort to get to, not on the doorstep of residential areas.”

Evariste Umba, who runs Life Change drug rehabilitation centre, successfully had one betting shop closed down. She said she would apply the same method to Hollywood Bets. She is due to meet soon with the senior pastor of the neighbouring church to take the issue further.

The Bulletin asked Wynberg police for comment on Monday and Tuesday but they did not respond by the time this edition went to print.