05 July 2018
Dear UUST Members,
UUST SECURITY TENDER – FOLLOW UP LETTER 2
In the fight against crime the first and most important element is establishing a united and engaged community. As a result, it has been with great sadness that I have read the unfortunate and unexpected response from some members, to the Request for Proposals (RFP) that has been sent out concerning our security solution.
It was certainly never the intention to create friction within the organisation and in fact it would have been far easier to just serve out my term as Trustee and walk away from the Trust. However knowing it intimately from its very inception, I am acutely aware that we had some serious structural problems; that the Trust was in danger of collapsing and that our security offering needs improvement.
I have chosen to write this update in my personal capacity, as it will allow me to address direct allegations levelled against me. The Trustees will be at the AGM and will be able to weigh in on the debate should the need arise.
I had hoped that we would be able to unpack this at the AGM as it is a multifaceted and complicated issue to commit to writing. It is definitely not one that is appropriate for resolution over an App chat forum where one line accusations, unsubstantiated ‘facts’, threats of resignation, agendas and hysterical reaction cannot be adequately replied to as the issue at hand requires detailed and considered response. Further, given my own commitments; the luxury of the time to do this is simply not available. We run the risk of creating further misunderstanding in this letter, but it seems as though an immediate response is required.
It is my hope that the reader will see this letter in the light that it is intended. There is no hidden agenda and there has been nothing more than a process of investigation and review. I must reiterate; that any action taken, has been our best endeavour; in the interest of the community at large, and in this particular instance, for the communities safety.
WHY THE INVESTIGATION?
There are many things right with the UUST. We have been successful in our fight against crime and have had many wins. In general, our crime stats are below the area average and the relationships that have been developed with Sandile, Harry and Kevin are testament to the personal touch that they have brought to the programme.
As Trustees we are called on to manage the funds as well as service delivery to our members. This is a task that has very real liability associated with it, but more so has a heavy emotional burden when a victim of crime in our area calls to ask why we did not do more to protect them.
Over the last 12 months I have started to communicate more, with similar Associations in the Umhlanga and Highway areas. Through these engagements I learned of the successes and failures of these Associations. Some crime riddled areas now operate as zero crime precincts but other formal structures, similar to ours, have been targeted and saw tenfold increase in serious crimes with no ability to quickly respond and address the new threat.
The stories out of the Highway Area, which two years ago was an area comparable to the USST, are truly frightening. For a number of months, these communities found themselves under siege from criminals with little or no ability to protect themselves. Their corrective action took in excess of 6 months to put in place. Metro and SAPS had to deploy special operations in the area to bring it back under control. The net effect on property prices and general wellbeing of the community was devastating.
The UUST has a proud history of being ahead of the game. Knowing what I now know about what has worked and where the risks lie, I wanted the Trustees to be in a position to review the facts of what is possible in our area. To understand the real-market cost implications of the suggestions being tabled we went to the open market and requested proposals. These proposals allowed us to understand what the various security companies had to offer in the community space. There have been some interesting submissions with good ideas that will strengthen our position if adopted.
WHY DID WE FOLLOW THIS FORMAT?
We are a community of means. Both financially and in latent professional ability. We have the ability to fund and create a precinct that would rival any gated estate. To do this however we need to achieve critical mass and have a sound, sustainable model to invest in the vision. We need economies of scale through mass adoption by our community.
We currently have a 30% member to resident ratio in our area and we are suffering from an eroding contribution base. There has been little or no contribution from the community or our current providers in arresting the situation so that the responsibility of new membership and funding our security team and UUST devolves on the Trustees. We don’t want to do this anymore!
Further; inside the UUST area, sub-communities have organically been created and are running their own initiatives. We have approached these along with other non-contributors and listened to their reasons for not joining the UUST in its current form.
In order to entice these non-contributors into the fold we have had to display true independence to the process. The model that is being used (explained further below) will ensure that all members, new and old, are part of the selection process. More importantly however we will have to be able to demonstrate a renewed value proposition. One that addresses their drivers for adoption and will allow for the quick growth of our membership base.
WHY HAVE WE GIVEN ENS NOTICE?
There has been much comment on this topic. The appointment of ENS was a matter of some debate when it happened more than 12 months ago. At the time Kevin moved from a direct employee of the UUST and created the business ENS and was automatically appointed as a security contractor.
Despite the feelings of some members, the Trustees value the role of ENS as important part of our community and I have every expectation that it will remain that way going forward. As to the model that will facilitate that outcome I cannot say at this time. There are a number of options that could be considered and it will be for the community to decide.
The decision to terminate the contract allows all vendors to be on a common footing. This way, should ENS be appointed as the primary vendor, it will be a legitimate appointment by all members and the appointment will stand up to close scrutiny.
WHAT COULD A NEW MODEL DELIVER?
There are a number of ways to possibly solve each of the points below. The RFP was designed to give us options to consider how best to achieve each. These points will be discussed in greater detail at the AGM. At a high level we hope to achieve the following:
- Sustainability of the UUST through increased contribution numbers.
- Privatised precinct management with a dedicated team to manage all Community & security related activities and the communication related to them.
- The managing of formal community education evenings, domestic training courses and social events to further build unit and empowerment.
- Extensive dedicated resources inside the precinct for the exclusive use of contributing members.
- 24/7 365 resources with pro-active roles and mandates that they can be held to account for.
- To reduce response time to house alarms to less than 180 seconds
- Information in context – the linking of home alarms to precinct staff to reduce response times and assist in threat monitoring.
- Better precinct coverage with deployment of technology
- CCTV cameras viewed from a secure control room in high risk areas (such as the M4 boundary)
- Vehicle Recognition Cameras at all entry points monitoring movement in the area in real-time.
- Deploy data analytic tools that further enhance our pro-active approach.
- Disaster recovery options to ensure we are never left without service
- For management teams
- At a control room level
- For vehicles and staff on site
- Saleable delivery
- The ability to seamlessly and quickly increase assets on site to address unexpected threats.
- The ability to offer asset changes during calculated high-risk periods (e.g. During full moon we may want to add an additional vehicle or guards)
- The ability to offer additional services to our members such as medical response or investigation services.
THE WAY FORWARD AND THE AGM
The AGM has had to be moved out to circa 31 July. Notice of the meeting, the financials and the agenda will go out two weeks prior as required.
At the AGM we will discuss in detail the proposed new plan. This will include the budget and the house count requirements to achieve the service delivery.
The Trustees will request a mandate from the members to take the proposed model to non-contributors and drive adoption to reach the minimum house count to afford the model.
Assuming that we are able to achieve the numbers based on the proposed model, service providers will be approached to offer formal quotes on the requirements. These quotes will be presented to the new member base along with the appointment recommendation from the Trustees.
The members will vote in on the recommendation, and if ratified, it will be adopted by the UUST.
The Trustees are meeting next week to review the proposal and the AGM format.
Hindsight is an exact science. Certainly, if there was an opportunity to redo this process I would have handled the communications very differently. I apologise for any unhappiness that has been unintentionally caused.
The UUST has a very real need to amend its security solution to better address the changes in crime trends. This is a mandate that I take seriously and will pursue so long as I am in the role that I hold. I do not have all the answers but know that to carry on as we have done and expect a different outcome is foolhardy. The UUST community has the ability to demand the best in what the industry has to offer and I will do what I can to deliver that.
The community has recourse should they feel that I have acted outside of the best interest of the UUST and are well within their right to follow this at the AGM.
Upper Umhlanga Security Trust