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George Municipality tackles review of By-laws – Special Ratings Area

George Municipality is in the spirit of good governance reviewing, updating and or drafting twenty-nine (29) Municipal By-laws. The Constitution of South Africa gives municipalities the power to pass their own legislation, in the form of by-laws, for subject areas. These by-laws hold the same power and force as other national and provincial legislation but are laws managed by the individual municipality in order to regulate the affairs and the services it provides within its area of jurisdiction.

By-laws differ between municipalities.
The details of by-laws can differ from one municipality to another, and the public is always advised to check their local municipal by-laws which can be found on the relevant municipal website. The most important by-laws being addressed in this round of review by George Municipality, are the Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places, Informal Street Trading, Water and Sanitation Services, Water Services and the Stormwater by-laws amongst others.

Public Participation
This is a huge undertaking with inputs obtained from the relevant municipal service directorate. The draft document is collated and provisionally approved by Council. All By-laws are also workshopped with Council to provide all Councillors an opportunity for inputs.

A public participation process is then followed which allows members of the public to provide their comments and input. Notices making the public aware of the public participation period for each of the George Municipal Draft by-laws will be advertised in local media as is mandatory. We encourage the residents of George to keep an eye out for the notices and to provide input. Once the input has been received from the public and addressed, the final by-law then goes back to Council for approval.

Promulgated in Western Cape Provincial Gazette
A municipal by-law may be enforced only after it has been published in the official gazette of the Western Cape Province on request of the local municipality. The promulgated by-law is then uploaded to the municipal website for easy access by the public. Transgression of a by -law is treated the same as a normal law, if you break a by-law, you can be fined or prosecuted. Most transgressions are handled in the George Municipal Court.

On 30 March 2023 the George Council approved a Special Rating Areas (SRA) by-law for the George Municipality. The intent of this by-law is when read with the policy and framework, it is aimed at creating nodes that are vibrant, consumer friendly, and attracts investment to ensure continued progress of the area.

Special Rating Areas can be residential, business or industrial areas wherein the property owners agree to collaborate and pay an additional monthly rate which, via a non-profit entity they have established, implements various projects and activities they have identified for the area. The intention is also to prevent any degeneration of cities and towns and the consequential urban decay.

The purpose is to find an appropriate balance between facilitating self-funded community initiatives, that aim to improve and or upgrade identified neighbourhoods or areas, by making use of a non-profit company structure as contemplated in the Companies Act and ensure fair and transparent governance by the management body, with the aim to improve or upgrade the special rating area and ensure improved and upgraded services on public property.

Membership of the SRA will be open to all property owners within the SRA boundary who are encouraged to apply for membership, so that they can exercise their rights to influence the business of the SRA.

The Special Ratings By-Law will be promulgated in the Government Gazette of 14 April 2023. The public participation period closed on the 15 January 2023.