Council Elections

bathers beach

Above : Bathers Beach – the Most Popular Place in Freo (Catalyse Survey)

The upcoming elections are upon us and the community is largely asleep and disengaged. Meanwhile the mayor and his team are hard at work spinning their message and attacking anybody with a contrary opinion.

Mark Taylor, who sits on the committee of the mayor’s re-election campaign, had a letter published this week in the Herald attacking the Fremantle Society for ‘bungled interference in local politics.’

Given that there is a possibility of 8 Fremantle Society members running for council, we are proud of our ‘bungling.’

These days it is very hard for ‘community’ candidates to do well in council elections due to the influence of political parties and factions. It is hard work. That is why the Fremantle Society asks again for volunteers to put their hands up to help with door knocking or to provide donations (please contact us through: 9335 2113 or 0409 223633).

Attack dogs like Mark Taylor will become more obvious in coming weeks. A group loosely known as “Fremantle Progressives”  will be footsoldiers for the mayor while he keeps a distance.

Community Survey Results

The $30,000 Catalyse Community Survey results are out.

We know that Fremantle has great festivals, a great Arts Centre, and good rubbish collection. Council’s press release states that 95% of people think Fremantle is excellent, great, or OK to live in, but in reality the percentage of people who think it is ‘excellent’ is just 44%. This is how the survey is reported on the council website. Anyone quickly reading it would think the ‘excellent’ vote was 95%!

A community survey has confirmed local residents love living in Freo. When asked to rate the City of Fremantle as a place to live, 95 per cent of respondents rated living in Freo as either excellent…

Council has expended millions of dollars promoting itself, and that promotion has been partly successful. But, as Ra Stewart said at a community meeting tonight, the ‘council are the servants of the community,’ and are not there to indulge in self promotion.

There are areas where the council needs to do much better.

Economic Development (what the City is doing to attract investors, attract and retain businesses, grow tourism and create more job opportunities):

Community satisfaction has dropped each survey since Mayor Pettitt was elected, despite millions spent on consultants, and his support for poor quality developments.

Only 24% think the council has done a good or excellent job. 53% say council has done a poor or terrible job.

How the City Centre is being developed:

33% say good or excellent. 46% say poor or terrible.

Parking:

Dissatisfaction with parking is still high. 46% rated the council as poor or terrible on this issue.

The survey overall shows strongest dissatisfaction with the over 55s, the ones who often own property and pay the rates.

Residents of Samson were particularly unhappy with council in their responses to a wide range of issues.

Stan Reilly Site

Years ago a report was done about the Stan Reilly site entitled The Future is in the Past, highlighting the huge importance and strategic location of that site. It sits alone and forgotten in the Local History Library.

In 2005, $50,000 was spent producing a development plan for the site, but it was thrown in the bin when it was realised the report was insensitive to the site’s heritage significance. Later, similar amounts were spent planning a joint development with the Dockers and Notre Dame which would have seen a community facility with gymnasium. Now all we are getting is a small car park.

The homeless people currently using the buildings there will be moved out and some $250,000 of our rates given to St Pats to take them elsewhere. The car park, given the poor business decision to sell Queensgate at a bargain price, is another example of poor business practice by the current council.

The Fremantle Society has asked council to allow sufficient time to do a thorough archaeological survey of the historic site before the tarmac tip trucks arrive.

Church of England and King’s Square

The Church of England owns half of King’s Square, along with important property nearby they have not developed. While the Catholics at the other end of town run a highly profitable business with the University of Notre Dame and the 47 properties they control, the Church of England are like mice in a hole, rarely venturing into the light, and providing little leadership in the city centre.

Given the importance of King’s Square as the only town square in Western Australia, and their ownership of half of it, the Fremantle Society wrote to them in February this year, and several times subsequently, without even receiving an acknowledgement. Since our letter was written, the tree in question has been unwrapped and attended to by experts.

Our letter is below.

to  Mr Brian Dixon CEO  Diocese of Perth and Brett Gibson Parish Council of Fremantle

Dear Brian and Brett

The Fremantle Society is concerned to hear about a proposal for a $500,000 ‘adventure playgound’ on church land in King’s Square.

The Fremantle Society appreciates that the church owns half the square and Fremantle Council the other half.

King’s Square is very valuable as the only town square in any town in Western Australia and the Fremantle Society has done extensive work to highlight the value of the square as a square now and for the future.

Please see the attached report by Dr Linley Lutton, which concludes:

“KIng’s Square was always intended to be Fremantle’s central public space and it is well within the capacity of the city council to return it to its rightful status.

The major challenge for this council will be to change its ethos from being development orientated to being community and civic minded.”

The Fremantle Society seeks to  have council follow the recommendations of the $50,000 2006 Ruth Durack Urban Design study which concluded that the best option for King’s Square was indeed as Dr Lutton suggests: to remove the current council administration building and open the square up, not further build on it with a new and expanded administration building the community cannot afford.

Additionally, one of our members is currently working on a conservation plan for King’s Square, which remarkably, has never been done despite the work done by the church on its own building.

The concern of the Fremantle Society is that a large plastic and steel installation in the little that will remain of King’s Square after council build their extended administration building, will seriously erode the quality of what is left. It would be inconceivable in any European town square to have a significant proportion of it taken up with such a large installation.

Can we also raise the issue of the health of trees on church land in King’s Square?  The trees are  important for the character of the town centre and appear to be under stress. In particular the church has allowed one Moreton Bay tree east of the church to be wrapped for some years tightly in Christmas lights and the lights in our view should be immediately removed, given the obvious damage being caused to the tree.

The Fremantle Society would like to know the church’s opinion on the attached report. We believe the church should advocate for a proper and full town square, given the central role the church has played over the years in originally owning the whole square and being central to the civic life of the town.

Would you please pass this on to the current acting rector Rev. Ron Attley and property manager Mr Alan Gray.

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society
7 September 2017

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