Date posted: December 22, 2020
Welcome and intro
Good evening and thank you to those who have come out tonight! As promised we will be keeping this as sharp and short as possible!
In terms of our constitution, we needed to have this AGM now but realise that we are still very constrained in terms of making any big changes, so we felt it would be simplest if we did not make any major proposals from our side until we are in a better situation to really make collective decisions as a community. This speaks not only to our ability to have a proper community meeting but also to our capacity to really organise in this climate, particularly whilst some of us are still very busy with the pandemic and its consequences. It has been quite a year!
Thanks to Committee
As many of you will know, for much of the year I was unable to pay much attention to what was happening in our neighbourhood due to the extreme challenges that the virus created in my work situation, so I am incredibly grateful to everyone in the Committee who stepped in during this difficult time to help out. In particular I must thank Patrick Wright, who deputised as Chair, as well as to everyone else who gave support and has remained actively involved.
I am pleased to say that, although many of us are feeling that after more than 10 years on this Committee it is time we moved along, most of the Committee has agreed to remain in place until we are more broadly in a better place to meet properly!
Review of Year
In terms of incidents in the past year it has remained relatively quiet, particularly during lockdown and since then:
As you can see from the graphic, we have had a total of 8 reported incidents throughout the year, although to this we should add that we were aware of a burglary followed by a mugging on the beach in May that was never actually reported, possibly because it may have taken place at a time when we were all meant to be at home. The vast majority have involved thefts from outbuildings or of poorly secured items on properties, with only two actual break-ins to residential properties.
Sadly, Beach incidents still persist and we are aware of at least three recent incidents of armed robbery in the area surrounding the Kakapo wreck.
So, aside from the Beach situation, this is really good news and has maintained the downward trend we have been recording over the past few years, which is particularly remarkable in contrast to our neighbours who in general saw quite an increase in incidents, particularly after lockdown, with a resurgence in cat-burglar type incidents and more recently several home invasions and plenty of petty crime.
Of course we have been particularly protected this year with a double-dose of dedicated vehicles patrolling our area, which is a situation that cannot last indefinitely but I am strongly of the belief that this does demonstrate very nicely what a concerted and sustained, community-wide effort can achieve, even in a national climate where all the signs are pointing in the opposite direction. I truly believe that we must be one of the safest open access neighborhoods in our country. Not only that but it is one where we are able to benefit from a wide range of community initiatives that include the wonderful state of our Common, a beautifully clean beach, great horse-riding facilities, a Community Centre that is improving all the time, fire protection measures and many more initiatives that are the product of an active community that has really stepped up in taking care of where we live.
What is disappointing however, is the fact that, with most of these initiatives, it is the same old faces we see at the meetings, and it really is time that we saw some new blood in our organisations. Hopefully many of those who did step up to help with the pandemic in some way, will have experienced some of the great positivity that comes from working collectively and will be incentivised to making a more regular difference in our collective home!
This has really been the most vexed issue in the past year. To summarise, we last year at the AGM took a resolution to advocate for the adoption of Deep Blue Security as our preferred service provider. It seems this took some members off guard who subsequently made accusations that we had acted unconstitutionally and without consultation. As you will see from documentation on our website, we stand by how this decision was taken as well as the reasoning behind that decision.
Unfortunately a planned big marketing drive from DBS was scuppered by the lockdown and we have also seen ADT counter this with a R140 per month drop in prices across the board with further special offers to individual customers. This is something we considered particularly cynical, given that they had for years assured us that all increases they had made were the absolute minimum they could afford. Nevertheless we feel vindicated that our move to introduce competition into the area has saved a huge amount of money for residents all over Noordhoek. Our relationship with ADT has however deteriorated further, as despite our reassurances that we continue to see them as a partner in the area and will continue to work with them, they have refused to communicate effectively on a range of security issues. Thus at present the ability of the existing Committee to work with ADT is severely compromised.
Deep Blue currently have just over 50 signed up clients in the area and ADT have, we think, around 200. We remain firm in our belief that the partnership with Deep Blue holds the possibility of far more effective crime prevention in our area, based on their small size and local focus, as well as the use of camera and other technology to make patrolling more effective.
Despite the relatively small number of clients at this point (they need at least 200 to break even) they remain committed to the area and are planning a refreshed marketing drive when they will also be promoting some very exciting new technology that looks set to providing greater safety for individuals in areas like the wetlands and beach.
We are hopeful that it is simply inertia, and the recent tough economic times that have made it difficult for DBS to gain traction. We certainly need at least one dedicated company in the area and despite their commitment, the financial reality is that Deep Blue will not be able to remain here indefinitely, without the clients. So we are hopeful that people will understand that we cannot afford a whole lot of free riders in the area and if a majority of our members still seriously believe they should be staying with ADT, we invite them to come onto the Committee to rebuild that relationship and to steer us that direction. You are welcome to stand for the Committee now or to join us at any point in the future.
As most of you will be aware, a huge amount of communication these days takes place on Social Media, whether we like it or not. So I am hugely grateful to Patrick Wright and Robin Mousley who keep an eye on things and are particularly careful to limit the spread of fake news and to ensure correct information does get put out there.
We have done quite a lot of work on camera maintenance this year but the really good news is that Deep Blue have now taken over the monitoring of all of our LPR cameras and thus far have installed 6 additional cameras of their own in our neighbourhood. In addition to the feed to the DBS monitoring centre, there is a feed to our own control centre in place should we need to use that for incident response and coordination. We are also pleased to note that, in a private arrangement with Avondrust farm , an extensive network of cameras has been set up there, which I am sure is not only bringing more peace of mind to the Dockers but also serves to strengthen security on what was a very vulnerable flank.
The radio network remains active after a bit of a quiet patch whilst Karen, our most active radio coordinator was away. We do however need a few more volunteers to assist with this role, which primarily involves having a base station in your home and taking responsibility for monitoring it on one or more days of the week. Please let us know if this is something you would consider!
The response teams have not been called out this year but we know we have a highly reliable bunch in the teams, who remain ready and available if needed.
It has, similarly, been a quiet year for the K9 team although Ollie has helped out when San Michelle were struggling with the cat burglars and, from what we hear, really impressed our neighbours with this capability. Thank you to our dog handlers!