History of Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers and Residents (FHVRRA)

Ratepayer associations should represent their constituents, the ratepayers. When these associations form, they choose representatives from volunteers as these positions are typically not remunerated. Initially, they have no authority and must defer to general meetings where a majority vote is taken. This appears to have happened in our valley with the Local Board being the first recognised collective of ratepayers. It negotiated on behalf of the ratepayers, signed contracts and sought their approval to raise loans. As trust is built, the group of representatives are given delegated authority to act on behalf of the entire group of ratepayers. However, over time, trust is often broken usually due to not setting the same priorities as the general populace, abusing use of assets or shifting funds to other areas. That is, the Council stop representing the ratepayers. Apparently, this also happened in our valley as at some point, the ratepayers association separated from the management of Fish Hoek or possibly was reformed to hold the management accountable. This could be apropos as in a landmark court ruling on 10 June 2018, the Koster's Ratepayers Association was allowed to take over the municipality's water and refuse system to set it back on course to deliver services.

 

For the formative years, we draw heavily upon two sources, Looking Back by Joyce (Joy) Cobern and Dr. John Clifford's book Fish Hoek Fossickings.

The history of the FHVRRA is intricately linked with the first grant of land at Fish Hoek by Lord Charles Somerset when the land was sold to the occupier, Andries Bruijns on 25 June 1818, by J. H. Brand. After being split into three Lots, the farm was later sold to Hester de Kock on 5 October 1883. She was a 51-year-old spinster at the time. On 8 June 1991, Hester married Jacob Izaak de Villiers. In 1902 she bought the rights to water from the Kleintuin spring at Clovelly and had water piped to her farm reservoir. When Hester de Villiers died in 1914, she left instructions in her will that after the death of her husband, the farm was to be sold in building plots. The sale of plots for the sub-division of the Fish Hoek Estate was mentioned in the weekly paper, The Cape, on 7 December 1917 and advertised for public auction on 16 March 1918. At this time, Fish Hoek was part of the Divisional Council of the Cape. These first plots were sold without water or electricity. The houses built along Hester’s water pipe were allowed to tap into it. As the population expanded, more water had to be provided. A collective loan was raised in 1920 to build a 4,200 gallon (15.9 KL) reservoir at the Main / Simon’s Town / Kommetjie Road circle.

In 1921 the Cape Provincial Council passed an ordinance setting up local boards. Three members were elected to the Fish Hoek Local Board, Messrs Jacobson, Rice and Daniels. This was the first official collective of ratepayers. By 1921 Fish Hoek was again running out of water and the Local Board negotiated with the Railways to connect with the Cape Town City Council’s water pipe at the Fish Hoek Station. The City objected to the unauthorised reselling of water, installed their meter as well and billed the Local Board directly. Meanwhile, Cape Estates Ltd bought land at Clovelly for developing a golf course and demanded that the Kleintuin spring and dam had to be fenced and the water pipe had to be two feet (61 cm) underground. The Local Board had to get approval from the ratepayers to raise a loan to engage a surveyor to trace the pipe re-lay it. In November 1921 the Board sought quotations for the installation of electricity provided the majority of properties agreed to connect, minimum quantity of electricity, the number of lighting points and power plugs required. In January 1922 the Local Board got the City to connect Fish Hoek with a six-inch (15 cm) water pipe from Clovelly to each house with their own meter. By September 1922 not a sufficient number of properties had agreed to connect to the electricity supply even though the Board offered to pay the installation costs for repayments at 7% interest. In 1923 the Local Board signed a contract for the carting away of sewerage from bucket toilets and finally received a sufficient number of properties to “take the current”.  The Board then signed a contract with the Cape Town City Council for the supply of electricity, which they would resell to their ratepayers. On 31 July 1924 the current was switched on.

On 1 January 1927 the Local Board became the Fish Hoek Management Board and was formed with six members. A ratepayers meeting in May 1929 requested the Board to improve the rusted pipes and half the non-functioning water meters and gave permission to raise ₤4,000 for a new water system. In 1930 the Board inquired about using crystals in the smelly buckets, but this proved to be too expensive. In May 1930 the City Electrical Engineer wrote to the Village Management Board to tell them that the transformer house was now too small to supply the increased population of Fish Hoek and would have to be replaced. By August a new Board was in place to adopt the proposal. In 1931 the Village Management Board employed a chartered engineer to draw up plans for a cement path from the beach to Sunnycove. On 16 May 1934 the Cape Times published the Divisional Council’s recommendation to adopt the Railways Authorities’ decision to name stations in one language using one-word, Vishoek, for road signs. The Chairman of the Village Management Board wrote to the Divisional Council stating that the Board had "unanimously resolved that they will not countenance any alteration in the present name of the Township." The Divisional Council rescinded the motion and the name remained Fish Hoek. In 1936 the Board obtained conditional assent from the Administrator of the Cape and the assent of the ratepayers to raise a loan of £49 000 for the scheme and to buy land for the sewerage pump stations. In 1937 the Village Management Board wrote to the Railways asking that the narrow road crossing with gates to keep out wandering animals, be moved nearer to the station to make it easier to see the oncoming trains, but this was not done. Final approval for the sewerage pump station was given in 1937 and work started with a ceremonial turning of the first sod by the Chairman of the Village Management Board, Mr H. S. Jager, on 7 January 1938. The work was completed in June 1940. On 25 November 1940 Fish Hoek became a municipality with a nine member council. The Chairman of the old Village Management Board, H.S. Jager, became the first Mayor of Fish Hoek. In 1941, the Railways crossing was widened so that two cars could pass each other and the gates were removed.

 

We are now scanning years of FHVRRA minutes for uploading and hope to identify the split between managing the municipality and representing the ratepayers.

Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers and Residents Association

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