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).
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.