Continuation. Collaboration. Commitment. These three words sum up the vision of the new Hermanus Public Protection (HPP) Board as they work together to build a new strategy and future for the organisation. The board members took over last week, following the resignation of the previous HPP Board.
The Village NEWS sat down with four of the five HPP board members, Errol van Staden, Tobie Louw, Barry van Vuren and Clinton Lerm, in one-on-one interviews to learn what motivated each member to come on board. The fifth member, Guy Redford, was unavailable.
Errol van Staden
A business psychologist by profession, Errol van Staden is the managing director of the Dubai-registered Talent Institute, a “virtual” boutique management consultancy. After working for a number of companies in the transport and mining sectors, Errol and his wife Brenda, a clinical psychologist, decided to set up their own company in 1991. “We’ve been unemployed ever since,” jokes Errol.
He says his interest in safety and security goes back to his days in Zululand, where the couple lived for 22 years along the Natal North Coast before relocating to Hermanus in 2012.
“I think Hermanus is a fantastic destination. That’s why people want to move here. However, we do have a number of challenges and we need to plan ahead. We need fresh ideas to deal with all the issues,” he says.
But key to success is having a common vision for Hermanus. “We want to work with the municipality. Our approach is collaborative. We don’t want to create islands,” says Errol, who believes that HPP should be just one part of a larger and more comprehensive safety network.
A semi-retired civil engineer specialising in water management, Tobie Louw and his wife Runette spend their time between their homes in Cape Town and Hermanus, alternating between the fast pace of city life and the calm of small-town living.
“When we get back to our house in Hermanus, it feels like paradise. I’m fortunate to have these two lives,” says Tobie, who, having spent many holidays here, acquired their Fernkloof home in 2011. It was his passion for wildlife conservation and birdlife, in particular, that eventually led to Tobie becoming involved in HPP.
“My mission was to spend more time getting involved in wildlife protection,” he says. But realising that safety and security were just as important for places such as Fernkloof Nature Reserve and the Hermanus Cliff Path, Tobie decided to put his years of managing companies to good use. He was Global Services Group Leader: Water Services for Aurecon, an engineering consulting firm, and also had extensive contacts with South African municipalities and expertise in large international projects. “I thought it was just another way of giving back to the community,” says Tobie.
Tobie has taken his new role seriously and has already visited Cape Town and Stellenbosch to study and better understand the Special Rating Area (SRA) and City Improvement District (CID) structures in these cities.
“Each place is unique and what works in one place may not work in another,” says Tobie, who believes that an SRA works best when a Central Business District (CBD) is included to ensure that sufficient revenues are being received to cover the costs. Tobie believes that “the protection of commerce” is a key part of an SRA.
Barry van Vuren
An insurance broker and financial planner, Barry van Vuren relocated to Hermanus from Pretoria with his wife, Debbie, and daughter in 2014. Hermanus was Debbie’s choice and she affectionately refers to the town as “Hermel”, a play on the Afrikaans word, hemel, meaning heaven.
“I first became involved in security and safety issues when I was asked to help with setting up the Forum and its structures,” says Barry, who is now a director of the Whale Coast Business and Community Forum (WCBCF).
In his capacity as an HPP board member, Barry is focused on getting the database from the Overstrand Municipality of the approximately 5 525 residents who were paying monthly fees to HPP until the end of June 2019. The new HPP Board will contact them individually to explain what the current situation is and what is required to extend the life of HPP.
Key to this success, says Barry, will be public participation, transparency and communication.
Clinton Lerm is no stranger to the Hermanus community. A successful entrepreneur who owns several businesses, including Misty Waves Boutique Hotel and SA Forest Adventures, Clinton is already involved in a number of organisations, including as a director of WCBCF and a member of the Western Cape Southern Africa Tourism Services Association.
But for Clinton, HPP is different. “For me, this is personal. I have young kids. It’s not a matter of just saying let someone else deal with this. I’m involved because we can’t afford to have a gap in security. HPP has been an important part of the safety bubble of this town,” he says.
Ensuring that HPP continues in the interim is Clinton’s key priority. “We were hoping for a seamless transition but this didn’t happen. We got involved in order to fill the gap,” he says, pointing out that Onrus still does not have an SRA after three years. He believes that it will take time to get a new safety and security organisation in place.