City Ward Election

Leisure Centre Car Park Sale “Still on the Table”

One important issue in the current City Ward elections is the possible sale of the Leisure Centre Car Park, following the sell off of so many other council car parks, often to developers at bargain basement prices.

Incumbent councillor Rachel Pemberton, who has been a City Ward councillor for the past 8 years, categorically ruled out the sale, despite its sale being listed in council’s current 10 year plan, a plan she said she was unaware of. This week a council source said the sale was ‘still on the table.’

(see today’s Herald p11)

Candidates’ Forum Last Thursday

A healthy crowd turned out for the candidates’ forum at the fabulous Notre Dame venue in Cliff Street. This is what John Dowson said:

I would be, if elected, a servant of the community, reflecting your needs and aspirations.

Obviously, through doorknocking, candidates can identify some issues the community has, and my experience so far is that the community is divided, and often angry with this council.

One of the best ways to see what the community wants is to read the Community Satisfaction Surveys done every few years. When I was last on council the results were shown to councillors on a powerpoint and then the survey taken away by officers. I insisted that each councillor have a copy if they wanted one and that the survey be put on the council website, where you can today find it.

The latest survey shows that people love Fremantle and that is why we live here. But as a potential councillor I am keen to focus on the key issues that concern residents. The 4 keys issues of concern identified in the latest survey are where Fremantle scores well below the industry standard. They are:

  1. How the City is being developed (only 43% of people (and 33% over 55) are satisfied against the industry average of 50%. The drastic changes to the town planning scheme to allow high rise were not supported by the community and they are still not happy.
  2. Economic Development  (dropped from 51% satisfaction under Mayor Tagliaferri to 37% today despite 10 years of letting developers build whatever they want. We need quality and we are not getting it. A key indice is the government FHI Financial Health Index where Fremantle currently has the worst score of any metro council  44 as against our neighbors Melville on 98 and Cockburn 81 (see today’s West article by Paul Murray about FHIs)
  3. Safety and Security in the City Centre (39% satisfied. City Ward voters more concerned than any other ward. We need more police and more on the beat)
  4. Parking in the City Centre (only 39% are happy. I would simplify the system – free 2 hour parking and reduce fines to $10)

Besides these issues there are others that the community doesn’t perhaps even know about:

  1. The saga of 140 High Street where around $1 million of ratepayer money has already been spent taking a landowner to court. $265,776 paid just last week to the landowner by council as they lost in court, but are still pursuing the matter
  2. Tree canopy cover – in 2009 I got council to double the number of trees being planted each year to 1000, but last year only 714 were planted. How can council achieve a 20% tree canopy target when it plants fewer trees than 10 years ago? What about underground power, one of the best ways to increase canopy.?
  3. Selling off our assets cheaply to developers – just last week Josephson Street car park sold for $1.15m as against its valuation of $1.42m.
  4. The poor deals cut by council. As a businessman I am always impressed when I see a good deal, but this council is not good at negotiating effective deals.

Hospital: 1900 workers went from the hospital because council did not negotiate anything, like a small emergency ward and 200 general beds.

New Council Deport: The new council depot site: council spent $7.5 million buying land in Jones Street and didn’t bother to find out that it is riddled with asbestos which will cost $1 million to remove. It has sat empty for years and its value has dropped sharply.

Police: 50% of police in Fremantle have left under this council, because, as the police said, Fremantle Council did not lobby to keep them. 100 police traffic officers have gone from Fremantle to Cockburn. There is no liquor branch any more, despite Fremantle swimming in liquor licence applications for bars and taverns.

You need a council that can negotiate well on your behalf, and that is what I would work to achieve – genuinely progressive and sustainable deals.

John Dowson Candidates’ Forum Thursday 26 September 2019

Authorised and printed by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle WA 6160

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