Author Archives: Lloyd Hammond

In response to Don Whittington’s “Jon’s a Gem”

I submitted a letter to the Herald earlier this week, but as with a letter I wrote raising concerns on the Sirona development, it was not published. Since Don Whittington’s letter was published in this week’s Herald, I thought it fair to submit my letter as a blog to the Society’s website in order to clarify what was said. The media doesn’t always report accurately. My letter read:

The Fremantle Society has an enviable track record of achievement, particularly with respect to protecting heritage from substandard development. However, the sports cliché that you’re only as good as your last game is apt, whether in respect to business or politics. Last week’s Herald’s “Impolite Society” gives the impression that I don’t think the Society is doing a good job. My gripe with the Society is its apparent reluctance to publically engage and debate some of the big issues confronting Fremantle. I would have expected the Society to have at least made their position clear by now on the Strategic Sites Plan and even more pressing, the Kings Square Precinct MOU with Sirona Capital. I had hoped that a group with the status of the Fremantle Society and with the ear of council would engage its members, let alone its committee, to flesh out what it thinks is a reasonable position on such issues. Are the members happy with what they know of the Strategic Sites Plan? Do they have any concerns about building heights, open spaces, infrastructure, parking, etc.?

Although the Chook’s article suggests the contrary, this is not about personalities but a wish for the Society to engage both its committee and its membership. Some egos would like to believe otherwise, as indicated in the article. I’m concerned about actions not about personalities. And in that regard, there has been little in the way of engagement of membership this year. As I said to Jenny D’Anger, I have heard that a lot of hard work is being done by the Society behind the scenes (unfortunately that’s not worth reporting). Well why not let the membership know? In the same way that we expect the Council to be transparent, consultative and engaging, the Society membership, of which I am no longer a member, also expects such behaviour from the Society’s committee. A lack of communication leads to distrust.

For all the Society membership knows, the committee may be sitting around discussing whether we should be called the “People’s Front of Fremantle” or the “Fremantle People’s Front” (for Python fans).

Lloyd Hammond

With respect to Don’s letter in today’s Herald, his praise for Jon Strachan is admirable. However, I’m not sure why he felt the need to write the letter. I have never suggested that Jon or anyone else in the Society is not hard working. I think Don completely missed the point of my single criticism; that being purely about poor communication. A different matter entirely. Since the letter, the City of Freo’s MOU with Sirona has been passed by council, and not a peep from the Fremantle Society. As Brad Pettitt says in this morning’s Fin. Review, “Sirona Capital are now in the ‘box seat’” [with respect to developing the site]. I can only assume that the Society supports the City of Fremantle’s position.

Christmas Lights for Freo

I was looking at the City Ward candidate, Michael Swanepoel’s blogsite a few minutes ago. He had written a blog about the City of Freo’s reluctance to fit christmas lights down the main drag because of heritage concerns. According to Michael, the CoF staff member said: “Can’t do it. It would ruin the sight lines down South Terrace, and that’s an important heritage feature.”

Gee that p’s me off! There are many good reasons to have Christmas lights in Freo. Any excuses to the contrary are simply a copout. It’s fairly easy to turn the “heritage” argument on its head and use heritage as a reason to light up the city! Yes, there are costs, but christmas lights could be used to highlight our otherwise dimly lit heritage facades and bring a festive feel to our city. I think you’ll find that the council aren’t interested because they can’t justify the expense, probably because they can’t see the economic value in doing so. Freo already has a wonderful ambience, but lighting up Freo for christmas would be an additional drawcard for Freo, particularly businesses operating at nighttime. It would be an additional incentive to bring people to Freo for evening entertainment, particularly given the al fresco dining during summer.

And given Freo’s many artisans, we could produce some fairly original “lights” as well. We could even come up with some novel ways to power christmas lights (OK – I’m getting carried away here!). The options are endless and possibly not that expensive if we dip into the pool of talent in our community. Christmas lights don’t have to be wise men on camels, nativity scenes and angels, they could also be fishing boats, footballers and fantasy creations by local artists – all ya gotta do is stick a light in it!

Lloyd Hammond

Complacency with Council Elections

With three uncontested seats in the upcoming Fremantle council elections, the Mayor was asked in this week’s Fremantle Gazette why he thought that was the case. He replied that this was a reflection of the community’s confidence in the council (I personally saw this as complacency in the community and perhaps worse, that there was a general disaffection with local politics).

So an obvious question is, how does the Mayor view 3 candidates vying for the City Ward? Is this a negative? Whichever way one looks at this question, I would have thought that more candidates means more choice, some healthy competition, a catalyst for debate on local issues, and most importantly independent voices rather than mayoral cronies. A cakewalk into council is not what we should be aiming for!

Lloyd Hammond

Tougher stance on heritage heretics

Bringing the bulldozers in at the dead of night to knock over heritage homes in WA suburbs - a recent demolition on a restored home in Claremont springs to mind – has become just that bit tougher, thanks to heftier penalties introduced on Wednesday in State Parliament.   Until recently the previous maximum penalty was a paltry $5,000, although in 2005 an additional penalty of $50,000 was imposed by the Planning and Development Act.  Considering many new developments cost several millions and more, even $55,000 is a small added expense to pay for demolition.

John Castrilli, Minister for Heritage (among other portfolios) has just introduced legislation to the Legislative Assembly to increase penalties by up to $1million for illegally demolishing or damaging State-registered heritage properties.  The legislation, which was approved by the Assembly, now only requires approval from the Legislative Council to be enacted.

In a recent ministerial media release (24/11) Mr Castrilli said, “the amendments would ensure meaningful protection for heritage properties ensuring their retention for current and future generations of West Australians.”

Great news!!