Smoke and Mirrors
For the last two years the Fremantle Society has been warning the community that the important ratepayer assets of the city have been flogged off, at often hugely discounted rates, to developers. The relentless sale of car parks alone has been jaw dropping:
Queensgate Car Park SOLD
Spicer Site Car Park SOLD
Point Street Car Park SOLD
Pakenham Street Car Park SOLD
Phillimore Street Weighbridge Car Park SOLD
And, to be sold: Fremantle Leisure Centre Car Park.
Fremantle ratepayer property assets were worth $60 million when Dr Pettitt first became mayor in 2009.
They are now worth $20 million.
Backing up Fremantle Society concerns of poor financial management, Fremantle Council was recently rated by the State Government as the worst performing metropolitan council .
Today, Fremantle Council issued a press release ‘clarifying’ that the Local Government Minister has stated: ‘the Minister said he accepted information from the City’s auditors that, subject to final audit, the City of Fremantle’s 2016/17 FHI score will restore to approximately 85.’
But, why is the Minister relying on the council auditors instead of asking the people in Treasury who wrote the original report?
Political Interference in Local Elections?
Is this yet another example of political interference in local government elections?
People are sick and tired, not only of the mayor parachuting people into positions on council, but of political party machinery meddling in local ward elections and the mayoralty.
Depot another Dumb Deal?
The Fremantle Society wants to see ratepayers get good value from their assets, and has been unimpressed with the financial acumen shown by the mayor and councillors, time after time after time.
Let’s look at the recent expensive purchase by council of a new depot site at 2 Jones Street, O’Connor.
Council said it wanted to move its depot, and gave $7.8 million to Crossgold Pty Ltd for the 1.88 hectare site in 2014, a company who had purchased it for $1.9 million less than 9 years earlier. The price council paid represents a 295% profit for the seller at a time of stalled property prices.
Over three years have passed by, and council has not moved its depot. So, what is the real cost, when rates, water, insurance, consultants and interest are added? Interest alone would be over $700,000.
The Fremantle Society wants to know:
a) Is it true that the site is now worth considerably less than what was paid for it?
b) Is it true that a report will be brought to council about the depot, but not till after the local government elections?
c) Is it true that the site is a contaminated site?
We leave you today with an utterly sensational photograph of the heart of Fremantle c1906, kindly provided to us by Fremantle Ports from the Battye Library collection, seen here at the top of this message.
The image shows Fremantle when it had a real beating heart of successful and diverse commerce, fancy shops, well dressed people, a light rail system threaded through the middle of the town, and a human scale unmolested by the greedy incongruity of what the current council is allowing to be built.
Note the tram on its way to Beaconsfield, and the well dressed children hanging off the Town Hall verandah post. (That verandah should have been reinstated when council restored the building recently. They paid $10,000 for a set of plans to reinstate the verandahs, but they still haven’t been put back).
Yes, there is a proliferation of untidy poles and wires, and blatantly excessive advertising in parts, but this is one of the truly great images of early Fremantle that hasn’t been circulated widely before.
Council’s current plans to reinvigorate the heart of Fremantle are being done without regard to heritage issues, and that is the tragedy.
(i) Please volunteer and donate. The council elections will be over very soon and community candidates need support.
(ii) Fremantle Society AGM: We are delighted to announce that the indestructible legend Vyonne Geneve, who still runs our associate society the Art Deco Society, has agreed to speak at our December AGM about Art Deco, and the book she and her husband recently published Picture Palaces of the West.
(iii) Ann Frank Exhibition: This important exhibition needs volunteers to help run it at the Woolstores.
The Fremantle Society