The mayor Dr Pettitt will launch his election campaign today, though much has already been going on behind the scenes.
Four councillors sit on the mayor’s re-election committee – Greens councillor Pemberton, Socialist Alliance councillor Wainright, Labor councillor Fitzhardinge, and Cr Waltham. Councillor hopeful , Greens Liam Carter McGinty, who will run against ‘former’ Greens councillor Sullivan, is also a member of the committee.
These councillors and others are guiding the re-election campaign and will try to head off issues raised by challenger Ra Stewart by instructing the Fremantle Council CEO to prepare an audit of council’s finances, though of course councillors cannot instruct administrative staff.
“Worst financial health of any local government”
There is good reason to be alarmed about Fremantle Council’s finances under the current mayor. Recently the MyCouncil website said that Fremantle has ‘the worst financial health of any local government.’
Fremantle Council, rated a 42, is 12 points lower than the second worst council – the City of Canning, a council sacked twice in recent years.
Council Fake News Media Release on King’s Square
Council has issued a press release stating that the massive cost of the King’s Square project will not lead to rate rises above CPI.
But, ratepayers are already complaining of rate rises in some cases of 8% and more.
The press release states that the project will leave ‘debt and reserves able to be reinstated within 10 years’ – an impossibility given the current council has spent so much that the reserves have dropped from $60 million to $20 million since 2009.
The press release states that the King’s Square project is ‘sympathetic to the heritage values of the area,’ when it patently is not.
Former Government Minister- ‘Don’t Destroy King’s Square’
While Labor politicians rush to share the photo op, the reality is that it was the Liberals who gave the go ahead for government workers moving to Fremantle to cement the deal. Former Finance Minister Bill Marmion, who says he was the one who pushed the relocation of government workers to Fremantle through Cabinet, told the Fremantle Society recently he does not want to see King’s Square ruined with a large new administration centre.
What else should the council be judged on?
Mayor Pettit eight years ago promised revitalisation. But, at what cost, and when? Eight years later it is still not here. There have been some new buildings, but mostly of very mediocre quality. The dismal Atwell Arcade development, held up by council as a great step forward, and which promised 300 new workers to Fremantle, has destroyed the gold rush roofscapes of the area, has obliterated the best arcade in Fremantle, has not been completed as promised, and when a fire alarm went off recently, saw just 35 people exit the building on both sides.
Even the iconic Culleys Tea Rooms there (which will be 100 years old in 2025) has not survived intact. As one person wrote on Facebook yesterday:
Was SO disappointed to see the new Culley’s recently. Why would they strip it of all the charm that made you visit in the first place? Its reputation is in its history but it looks like any other cafe now.
Yes, there are some very large boxes in the pipeline that developers are pleased to have permission to build, but the relentless and ineffective spending by council has seen Fremantle’s assets crash from $60 million to $20 million.
Members – Questions Please
Please send commentary or questions or issues so that we can represent your views.
Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see the excellent work Garry Gillard has done to get our blog going again:
fremantlesociety.org.au [this site]
Ra Stewart has challenged mayor Pettitt to a mayoral debate in each ward, but he has refused.
There will be a few debates, including one at Notre Dame.
The West Australian
The West Australian this week ran a full page article by Gareth Parker slamming Subiaco Council for the 16 storey Market Pavilion project not proceeding. Immediately, the Fremantle mayor’s mouthpiece blogger Roel Loopers wrote to the West stating that Fremantle can show other councils how to do their job, presumably by inflicting changes to the town planning scheme that ratepayers said they didnt want, and giving developers exactly what they want.
The West, which no longer balances its articles by giving different sides to a story, and which reads like a developer’s advertorial rag, omitted to mention that Subiaco Council has in fact given two approvals for the site, including the 16 storeys sought, and in 2016 even offered $750,000 or ratepayers’ money to help the project.
The problem for the community nowadays is to get fair and balanced reporting.
Congrats to Candidates!
The Fremantle Society announced last week that 6 of its members are running in the upcoming elections. In fact that may be 8, with one member announcing a possible tilt at mayor.
Further details later.
The Fremantle Society works long and hard to encourage good quality decision making by council and to promote the world class values of Fremantle. We are pleased to have possibly 8 members running, though of course all those candidates are independent thinkers who may or may not wish to push the strong heritage, planning, and environmental concerns of the Fremantle Society.
Some candidates have been out campaigning already for a long while. Chief of these is Fremantle Society member Claudia Green, running in City Ward, a fierce and devoted campaigner for better government and responsible finances, who led the Fremantle and Ratepayers Association for years before stepping down to run for council.
Claudia and Fremantle Society committee member Catherine Hammond both feature in today’s Herald.
The Fremantle Society wishes all candidates well and thanks them for running.
More details later, but each candidate needs door knockers and helpers, so please consider giving your time.