The above photo shows door-knocking in progress in one of Fremantle’s many pretty streets.
Ballot papers have arrived and people are urged to return them by October 14th.
In trying to see as many electors as possible it has been a sobering and concerning experience to find so much disquiet in the community, and often real anger with council about council’s ideologies and support for mediocre quality development.
People are also unhappy about council finances, with council having the lowest Financial Health Index of any metro council. People don’t want the Leisure Centre car park or Victoria Hall sold off.
Cr Pemberton tried to hose down the idea of the Leisure Centre Car Park sale but had to admit (Herald Sept 28) that she was unaware of council’s own current 10 year Plan, where it is listed for sale.
Council CEO (Herald letters October 5) and Cr Pemberton (her Facebook) have both issued detailed rebuttals to concerns about council finances, but they have raised more questions than answers.
In terms of Victoria Hall, a group called Spacemarket has just announced they have been handed the keys to the hall to run projects there, without it apparently having gone to council.
Look up their partners – they include Sirona and Yolk Property. Sirona we know well as council’s ‘partners’, and we know for example Sirona got council permission to build the ‘technically illegal’ Quest Hotel in Pakenham Street. We know they made $1 million profit from our ratepayer asset the Spicer site by not developing it but flicking it to Twiggy Forrest recently. Yolk, who are currently involved in controversy in Bayswater, built the dismal 4 storey block of units in Pakenham Street and are purchasing the Josephson Street car park from council for $1.15m against the valuation of $1.42 million and have secured permission for a 6 storey block of office units there, 5.4 metres higher than the maximum height for the area.
The close relationship of certain developers with council seems at times unhealthy.
Parking is another key issue with voters. While the new bike lanes are appreciated, the selling off of car parks and the complexity of the car parking system has put many people off coming into Fremantle. Thus my proposal to simplify the system. It is partly a perception problem, as there are enough car bays, but people resent large fines and a complicated system. Fremantle needs to wean itself off parking revenue. That is why income producing properties are so important. Back in 1997 council had $87 million worth of income producing assets.
Cr Pemberton has announced that after King’s square is finished, there will only be $8 million left in the investment reserves.
John Dowson, 4 October 2019
Authorised and printed by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle WA 6160