Residents say no to crèche

The Department of Social Development has no record of Bright Start Educare at 117 Cook Street in Goodwood.

The Department of Social Development says it will look into an unregistered crèche in Cook Street, Goodwood, after residents complained it sprang up without warning and is causing traffic congestion.

Former Goodwood Ratepayers’ Association chairman Brian Lawson, who has lived in Cook Street for 43 years, said he and his wife had noticed the building being painted and cameras going up several weeks ago, but they had thought it was for some other business and not an early childhood development (ECD) centre.

“I thought another business was opening up. They did not inform residents that an ECD would be opening there. There is also no signage outside of the property to indicate that it is an ECD,” he said.

Mr Lawson said Bright Start Educare was causing a “traffic nightmare” in the area.

“One morning, I counted 38 cars parked in the road all dropping off their children at the crèche. One woman even mounted my pavement with her car, and I told her I would report her if she did it again,” he said.

Mr Lawson emailed Ward 27 councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg.

“She said they are currently investigating the matter, and I was given a reference number,” he said.

A neighbour, who wants to remain anonymous, also wrote to Ward 26 councillor Franchesca Walker on Thursday April 5, questioning how the crèche had opened without the surrounding residents knowing about it.

He said that by last week he had still not received an answer.

“If the creche is compliant with all the regulations in question, it should be simple to pull these documents, as they would have been submitted recently to the relevant departments. If they are not compliant, then it would not be available and they should be taken to task and closed,” he said.

He also complained about traffic congestion in Cook Street during morning and evening peak times.

“I feel that we should have been approached as neighbours to get our opinion before granting permission for a crèche to be opened. I have been living here since 2008 and I have neighbours that have lived here for 35-odd years. If the crèche was in existence when I purchased my house, I would have known what I was getting myself into,” he said

He questioned why “no notification” had been sent out to the crèche’s neighbours and asked whether its land-use-management application had been approved and health and fire and safety checks done.

City of Cape Town spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said the property was zoned accordingly (General Business 1) for a “place of instruction”.

A land-use application wasn’t necessary unless a permanent departure was needed from the development rules applicable to the zoning.

Asked whether the crèche – which opened in April – had been given environmental health clearance, Mr Tyhalibongo said: “They do not have a clearance certificate yet as a request was made for building plans to be submitted for internal alterations that were done.”

The Northern News also asked
Mr Tyhalibongo about the food being served at the ECD and whether it had been inspected and approved by a health inspector.

“Yes, but they are not in possession of a certificate of acceptability from the City,” he said. “However, the ECD was informed to make an application for the certificate.”

Mr Tyhalibongo said a public participation process had not been necessary because no land-use application had been submitted.

Mr Tyhalibongo said the City would address residents’ concerns to ensure the crèche was complying with by-laws.

When the Northern News called the crèche on Friday May 11, a woman who identified herself only as Aqeela answered the phone and identified herself as the principal.

She asked us to email our questions to the owner, whom she identified only as a Mr Abdullah.

When Mr Abdullah failed to meet the agreed-to 10am deadline on Monday to answer the questions, Northern News phoned the crèche again. A woman who didn’t want to give her name said Aqeela wasn’t there.

She told us the same thing when we called back a few minutes later. When we called back a third time and asked for Mr Abdullah’s contact details, the woman hung up.

Sihle Ngobese, spokesman for Social Development MEC Albert Fritz, said they had no record of a Bright Start ECD at 117 Cook Street.

“We also have no record of complaints against the facility. We encourage people to come forward to the department and report unregistered ECD facilities. I’ve asked social work teams to conduct a site visit,” he said.

Mr Ngobese said there were close to 1 000 unregistered ECDs across the city which were at various stages of registration and that it did not mean they were operating illegally.

Asked whether an ECD needed a police clearance certificate to register, he said: “They don’t need one. It’s the responsibility of the ECD owner to vet his/her employees and not the department’s.”