SOB SOB (Save our Bridge) and SOS SOS (Save our Square)

SOB SOB 

Above is from the latest Fremantle Herald.

Sob sob, the news is not good, but thank goodness next week Fremantle Council will hold a meeting with Main Roads and others to discuss the bridge issue.

A key person at the meeting will be retired Main Roads engineer Lloyd Margetts, who had 35 years experience with the Fremantle Traffic Bridge and knows more about wooden bridges in Western Australia than probably anyone else.

The Fremantle Society has spoken to Mr Margetts and other engineers, and there is no doubt the issues around the bridge are complex, but solvable.

It didn’t help when the Liberal Party under Richard Court got rid of much of the Main Roads expertise and in house ability to fix and maintain wooden structures. The privatisation of so much Main Roads work has led to a massive blow out in maintenance costs with one engineer claiming that outside companies are at times charging “ten times” what the in house cost would have been. This is impacting the ability of Main Roads to organise for the orderly maintenance of our bridge and other timber bridges. The Fremantle Society heard yesterday that the Guildford Association is alarmed to find that Main Roads are trying to claim that the Guildford wooden heritage bridge, even older than ours, is only heritage listed up to the waterline.

The other thing that doesn’t help the Fremantle Traffic Bridge is that the rail bridge was put in the wrong place. Thinking that the traffic bridge would soon be demolished, the rail bridge was built without careful regard to lining up the spans for navigation.

SOS SOS

Save Our Square – just when you thought the dramas and tragedies and wastefulness of King’s Square was coming to an end, the council is advertising in this weeks Herald to change the name of the Square.

King’s Square and Queen’s Square were named in 1833 as part of the Regency planning for our town. Those names should not be messed with because of political ideology seeking to wipe out our “shameful past” as some councillors see it. 

When suggestions were made months ago by councillors that King’s Square should be renamed Midgegooroo Square in honour of a man who murdered four people in cold blood, Cr Pemberton said “Well Captain Fremantle was a child rapist” – a false claim that has deeply offended the Fremantle family and many others.

Please go to Have My Say on Fremantle Council’s website and have your say on this sickening ideology in a world famous heritage town.

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society

Please call John Dowson on 0409 223622 if you want copies of any of our reports or if you wish to volunteer or donate to our work.

2 October, 2020

The Port, the Quay and the Bridge

SOP, SOQ, and SOB, again

Huge issues for Fremantle don’t loom on the horizon – they are here now.

As reported recently, three of the big issues are – the future of the port, the future of Victoria Quay, and the future of the historic Fremantle traffic bridge.

Hence SOP (Save our Port), SOQ (Save our Quay), and SOB (Save our Bridge).

The front page of the Herald this week tells the story of what is proposed for historic Victoria Quay – buildings of at least 25 metres height for a private film business, when privatisation is the last thing a public heritage asset like Victoria Quay needs. While one of the politicians deeply involved is Alannah MacTiernan as Minister for Ports, the other is shown above singing away in Parliament, the clown David Templeman, who as Minister for Local Government has pursued a vendetta against Liberal leaning councils, as Heritage Minister has failed to inject money into heritage or look after government heritage properties, and as Arts Minister has overseen the destruction of the Premier’s Book Awards as part of his revisionist ideology.

With the community cowered with Covid, and developers cosing up to government far too closely, to help spend the billions to be spent for “revitalisation” (something Fremantle has just suffered 10 years of under the developer friendly Fremantle Council), a crisis of accountability looms.

As Dr Honey, the Member for Cottesloe, told the Fremantle Society recently: “WA Inc 2 is on the cards”.

The Fremantle Society wants development in Fremantle, but for it to follow good planning policy.

The Fremantle Society received a letter today from the special advisor for the Planning Minister Hon Rita Saffioti stating why the heritage listed traffic bridge will be demolished, despite millions spent on it recently.

If there was leadership at Fremantle Council to save the bridge, we would have a chance to save it, as the community does not have the money to employ an engineer for an independent report. The bridge also needs an independent heritage report. The Planning Minister proudly announces in her letter that Element WA is being employed by Main Roads to “develop the concept design and develop the heritage interpretation strategy.” That is the same group who, as TPG, were involved in controversial proposals in Fremantle, and are setting off alarm bells in other suburbs.

Please remind Fremantle Council to do something: members@fremantle.wa.gov.au

Fremantle Society committee member Agnieshka Kiera was so incensed at the Minister’s letter she penned the following response, which is quoted verbatim:

So Main Roads is considering retaining the useless 19m long stump of the existing bridge (maintenance of which will cost money) as a token gesture towards heritage. And to provide pedestrian and cyclist facilities on the new bridge (which would add considerably to the cost of the new bridge), instead of doing the right thing by the government’s own heritage act and well-defined conservation standards i.e. to restore the existing bridge for pedestrian and cyclists and build the new bridge for vehicular traffic only! The latter permitting not only to reduce the cost of the new bridge but allowing its visual presence to be less impacting in the already crowded with bridges river crossing. It’s such a typical WA ignorant approach to heritage! Treated heritage like a burden and creating these ridiculous situations where the facade of a historic building is retained as a dummy screen to ‘hide’ the 20 stories hideous development behind – the norm of heritage treatment in Perth. For Godsake, is there anyone in WA, who reads and acts in accordance with the Government’s own heritage legislation and policies, let alone the Burra Charter???? Anyone who treats heritage as an asset, including good economic sense and with the dignity and respect it deserves?

We have done it in Fremantle with the Old Port, where the heritage added another dimension and interest to the former Port’s dump! And we have created a unique public reserve that would serve the community in the years to come as a valuable public space the city so desperately needed! And provided a stimulus to the economic development of the former Co-op building and added to the economic viability of the Fishing Boat Harbour and the Little Creatures! We have restored the former ruin that was the Moores building! Not only we saved its heritage we have also created a viable and tenable, income-generating property that also serves as the community asset and which has acted as the catalyst for others to follow in setting up eateries and other businesses in the West End with heritage as a driver! Not only Bread in Common but also other new businesses in Bannister, Nairn, Pakenham Streets and High Streets! We used heritage as a market advantage to add interest and attract other businesses to the area!

For godsake, it’s so exasperating ….. this wall of heritage ignorance and economic irresponsibility in Perth!

Great to see some passion. Time for members to show some passion also. There is more to life than Covid and Covid.

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society
1 October, 2020

0409 223622

SOB (Save Our Bridge), SOP (Save Our Port), SOQ (Save Our Victoria Quay)

C.Y. O’Connor – where are you when we need you?

With State Government politicians on steroids, having saved us from Covid, and wanting to urgently spend billions of dollars they don’t have, they have rolled through parliament the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2020, giving them power to push ahead very quickly with pet projects.

This will be evident in the heart and soul of our heritage town with the moving of our port, pushing high rise development of Victoria Quay, and the proposed demolition of the much loved timber traffic bridge.

The raison d’être for Fremantle, its port, is moving in just 12 short years, in a move that has no large scale visible support, led by a Minister (Alannah MacTiernan) who over a decade ago was trying to shovel high rise ING buildings all over Victoria Quay as Planning Minister. The capable CEO of the Port is suddenly leaving, and the community is left to fight on three fronts – to SOB (Save our Bridge), SOP (Save Our Port) and SOQ (Save our Victoria Quay).

The Fremantle Society wants our port to stay and continue to thrive, wants Victoria Quay to be developed as a low rise maritime related commercial precinct as detailed in the Fremantle Waterfront Masterplan, and wants the historic timber traffic bridge to stay, whether a new bridge is built or not.

Breaking News

Another news story being broken by the Fremantle Society is the intention to build 25 metre high boxes on Victoria Quay for film studios. This idea arose some weeks ago, but wandered off to Jones Street, O’Connor, where the Mayor kindly offered to give away a $7.4 million ratepayer asset for nothing for years to the film industry. But apparently the developers (_ _ _ _) want ocean views and they are back at the port looking at Victoria Quay.

The idea doesn’t work for two reasons:

a) Victoria Quay is a highly important heritage area twinned with its immediate neighbour the West End, where new development should be no higher than the existing iconic goods sheds.

b) Allowing large sheds for a film industry would be a privatisation of public space, the whole business being high security with little to no public access.

C.Y. O’Connor needs to get off his high pedestal, and chase Alannah out of town.

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society
0409223622
17 September 2020

Deep Concern for River Crossing Shown by Attendees at Town Hall Meeting

Bridge Open and Should Stay Open

The photo above is opening day for our heritage bridge, a survivor from 1939. Large crowds turned up.

Tonight, a large crowd turned up at the Town Hall to discuss the Main Roads proposal to demolish the heritage bridge and replace it with a dreary, standard, unattractive one.

The meeting was not a real town hall meeting encouraging discussion and input from the audience. The speakers were not allowed to be asked questions, and microphone owner Kavi Guppta shut down questions from the audience after a few minutes at 7pm, for a meeting that was supposed to run till 7.30pm.

The Fremantle Society has the following points to make which it couldn’t make tonight:

a) The very large turnout tonight shows the extent of community concern at the way Main Roads is handling this project.

b) Main Roads has admitted to the Fremantle Society that the heritage wooden bridge can be maintained and kept, but they dishonestly keep claiming it was only ever built as a “temporary bridge.”

It was built with an estimated life span of 40 years because Main Roads expected Fremantle Ports to push further up the river with a larger port, necessitating a new bridge. But, now that the port is heading south west to pollute the waters of Cockburn Sound, there is no need for extra room in the river.

c) When Main Roads demolished the wooden bridge in Mandurah a few years ago, they promised locals things that didn’t eventuate, but that bridge was only two lanes wide compared with the Fremantle four lane one, and it was only listed as a level two heritage structure, whereas the Fremantle one is listed at the highest category possible: 1a.

The Mandurah mayor put $30,000 towards bridge events there. When will the Fremantle mayor commit serious funds to saving Fremantle’s heritage bridge? After it is demolished? He has known about this issue for years and our wooden bridge is worth saving from being turned into firewood.

d) There are broader issues – dealing with Curtin Avenue traffic and traffic impacts on residents in North Fremantle, which give further reasons to pause the project and get it right – perhaps making the whole issue a Bicentennial project as suggested earlier.

e) What to focus on NOW: Urgently needed is an independent engineer’s report showing the current state of the bridge, along with a conservation plan that looks at options for conserving it.

Main Roads are already in discussions with the Heritage Council to get demolition approval of the wooden bridge, and refuse to release their report to the public. Time is of the essence.

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society

10 September 2020

john.dowson@yahoo.com
0409 22 3622