Freo Massive removes Email: People’s Palace or Murdochs’ Money Machine
The last email you received from the Fremantle Society responded to the mayor’s statement that any stallholders aggrieved by the management of the markets should complain to the government. It also raised other issues about efforts to help stallholders.
That email was posted on Freo Massive yesterday, but has been removed.
If you believe that the Fremantle Markets is indeed the “People’s Palace” as the previous email claimed, perhaps you could remind Freo Massive that it is supposed to be more than a cheer squad for the council.
Questions Put to Fremantle Council
Tom Cockle, principal of an investigative accounting firm, has put the following questions to council as he seeks further information in order to help stallholders at the markets. Following these questions is an earlier answer given by council to Mr Cockle’s first questions.
Thank you for the below information. In order to complete my understanding of the Fremantle Markets commercial arrangements, I have listed below 21 additional questions. As Levi’s business advisor, I have also cc’d Levi, his lawyer Shanti Rubens and my associate Paul Ford.
Most of my questions concern council’s responsibility for ensuring compliance of the Fremantle Markets Operating Strategy for two reasons:
Firstly, the Operating Strategy document is an “essential provision” of the Lease. In effect, this means any non-compliance of the Operating Strategy could be a significant breach of the Lease.
Secondly, the council, as the landlord of the government owned property, is the only party who is contractually responsible for the oversight of the Operating Strategy and ensuring FMPL complies with the terms of the Lease/Operating Strategy (many of these terms are outlined below in bold italics).
Operating Strategy – Fair Market Rent
Clause 4.6 “Rent charged for a stallholding is to be a fair market rent negotiated between the Market Manager and the stallholder and rent review provisions in licence agreements must be capped so that a stallholder’s rent cannot increase through a rent review by proportionally more than any increase in the Market Manager’s rent under the Lease during the period between the stallholders’ rent review and the stallholders’ previous rent review.”
Can the Fremantle Council please provide a copy of their procedure or guideline document which is used to review and assess FMPL’s compliance to clause 4.6 “Fair Market Rent” of the Operating Strategy?
Can the Fremantle Council please advise how often these Fair Market Rent compliance reviews are scheduled to occur?
Can the Fremantle Council please provide copies of the ‘assessment and results’ documents (including copies of any independent valuations/estimates) for all the Fair Market Rent reviews undertaken since the commencement of the Head Lease in 2008?
Operating Strategy – Object
“To maintain a vibrant and interesting retail market incorporating a diverse range of highly individualised stallholdings with a focus on attracting and retaining stallholders with unique or limited outlet products.”
Can the Fremantle Council please provide a copy of their procedure or guideline document which is used to review and assess FMPL’s compliance to the main Object of the Operating Strategy, in specific regard to the focus on “retaining stallholders with unique or limited outlet products”
Can the Fremantle Council please advise how often the compliance reviews for “retaining stallholders with unique or limited outlet products” are scheduled to occur?
If not contained in the procedure or guideline document, can the Fremantle Council please confirm if the review includes both stall holders that have left of their own accord and also stall holders who have been evicted?
Can the Fremantle Council please provide copies of the assessment and results documents for all the reviews of “retaining stallholders with unique or limited outlet products” undertaken since the commencement of the Head Lease in 2008?
Operating Strategy – Working Group
Clause 1.4 “By 31 December in each year the Working Group will provide a report to the Council of the City on the past year’s operations, plans for the ongoing operation and any proposed amendments to this Strategy and the key performance indicators.”
Can the Fremantle Council please provide copies of the annual Working Group reports since the commencement of the Head Lease in 2008?
Can the Fremantle Council please provide copies of all the Working Group meetings minutes and agenda items since the commencement of the Head Lease in 2008?
Can the Fremantle Council please provide copies of all versions of the Key Performance Indicators since the commencement of the Head Lease in 2008?
Operating Strategy – Fremantle Markets Rent Account
Clause 2.3 “The City will set aside the increase of rent derived from the Premises for the first ten years of the Lease as a minimum to assist in obtaining external funding for implementing the Plan.”
Can the Fremantle Council please confirm the amounts of increased rent set aside for the first 10 years of the lease?
Can the Fremantle Council please advise where these figures can be found in the Council Annual Financial Statements?
Operating Strategy – main document
Can the Fremantle Council please provide all versions of the approved Operating Strategy documents (includes amendments approved in the 27th June 2012 council minutes)?
Many references in various documents (eg minutes, lease etc) have been made to the Fremantle Markets Operating Strategy. However, the lease does refer to a Fremantle Markets Operating Strategy Agreement. If this is in fact a separate document to the Operating Strategy, can the Fremantle Council please provide a copy of this document?
Lease / Operating Strategy – Banning Orders
Can the Fremantle Council please provide a copy of any agreed procedure or guideline document for the banning of members of the public from the Markets?
If there are agreed procedures or guidelines, can the Council confirm if these documents provide guidance over the duration / severity of the bans? (Note: VA has been banned for 5 years).
Strategic and General Services Committee Minutes – 10 March 2010
In reference to the Independent Arbitrator’s review of the two fair market rent valuation reports (one from the stall holders and one from FMPL), can the Fremantle Council please provide a copy of the Independent Arbitrators “shorter” report?
Questions relating to your email below
Can the Fremantle Council please confirm if the $813,000 rent figure for last year related to the year ended 30thJune 2018? Note: the Sunday Times reported $813,651 for the year ended 30th June 2019.
Can the Fremantle Council please advise the total amount of building improvement expenditures spent by FMPL since the commencement of the Head Lease in 2008? Note: the Lease identified capped expenditure limits of $87k roof painting, $65k power transformer, $100k building façade and $50k exhaust fans (if required).
Can the Fremantle Council please confirm if the $900,000 conservation works has been funded by the $400k and $500k loans taken out by the council in 2011/2012?
Can the Fremantle Council please provide a breakdown how the $900,000 conservation funds were allocated across the different areas of the Fremantle Markets building?
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Earlier answer from council:
Thank you for your recent comment on the matter involving Fremantle markets stallholder Levi’s Donuts.
The lease between the City of Fremantle and Fremantle Markets Pty Ltd (FMPL) was signed on 10 March 2008. The lease expires on 31 October 2026.
The lease between the City and FMPL stipulates FMPL will pay the City an annual base rent (paid in monthly instalments) over the term of the lease.
The lease states the base rent will be increased every 18 months during the term of the lease, specifically by…
• CPI plus 1% for the first two rent reviews
• CPI plus 1.5% for the next two rent reviews
• CPI plus 2% for all subsequent reviews
In addition to the base rent, FMPL must also pay an Annual Performance Adjustment when the base rent falls below 26% of its annual gross revenues in the previous year.
Total rent received by the City from FMPL last year was $813,000.
The City of Fremantle included regular rent increases as a condition of the head lease to secure a stable revenue source from one of our most important assets and to protect the financial interests of the City’s ratepayers.
The lease required FMPL to undertake substantial improvements to the building – like improving ventilation and air flow, power supply and façade conservation works – resulting in substantial savings for ratepayers. The lease also requires FMPL to properly maintain the asset, which also delivers considerable savings to ratepayers. Since the commencement of the lease the City has undertaken significant conservation works on the building to the amount of $900,000. These include repairing the façade and street front shops, repairs to the external stone walls and windows, and significant improvements to water capture and drainage to protect the integrity of the walls and footings into the future.
The lease also includes a Fremantle Markets Operating Strategy. This provides guidance on the general operation of the market and does not direct the operation of any single stall. The City does not have any involvement with the initial rents FMPL stallholders agree to when first entering an agreement, except that it should be “fair market rent” – which is determined by two willing parties prepared to enter into an agreement. The lease and operating strategy specify that a stallholder’s rent can’t go up by proportionally more than FMPL’s base rent increase as set out in the lease, rents are to be set at market value and that sub-leases up to five years may be provided. Lease terms and the rents charged are a matter for FMPL and stallholders to negotiate based on current market conditions. The markets currently have near 100 per cent occupancy, which would indicate there is strong demand for stalls.
The below is an excerpt from the operating strategy;
4.2 The Markets shall maintain at least 12.5% ratio of stalls as “Casual Stall-holdings”
within the Markets to provide access for day and weekend traders.
4.3 A strategy for identifying and attracting desired stallholdings in accordance with the
object of this operating strategy must be developed by the market manager for
consideration by the Working Group.
4.4 The Market Manager must only let stallholdings under the terms and conditions
provided for in the forms of sub-lease or license agreements for casual and
4.5 The terms and conditions of sub-leases and license agreements must comply with the
Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreements Act 1985 (“the Act”) and include
dispute resolution provisions that refer disputes, subject to section 11(5) of the Act, to
the State Administrative Tribunal for resolution.
4.6 Rent charged for a stallholding is to be a fair market rent negotiated between the
Market Manager and the stallholder and rent review provisions in licence agreements
must be capped so that a stallholder’s rent cannot increase through a rent review by
proportionally more than any increase in the Market Manager’s rent under the Lease
during the period between the stallholders’ rent review and the stallholders’ previous
At the time of adopting the lease the general consensus of stallholders was for security of tenure through long term sub-leases. This has been provided for in the head lease with sub-leases up to 5 years. However, not all stallholders wanted long term leases. There is also a need to keep short term options available to allow for new stalls to take up spaces and test their product, and also to allow the markets to remain “fresh” with regular changes in the product mix.
The Fremantle Markets pay the same property rate on the same basis as every other commercial property in central Fremantle. Over the past five years the City of Fremantle’s commercial rate has increased by an average of 1.78 per cent per year.
Like all leases, the tenant is afforded the entitlement to operate under the conditions of its lease without interference. The City believes the rights of appeal and dispute resolution by profession state government sanctioned authorities is better placed to resolve issues between the tenant and individual stallholders.
Director City Business
Originally posted by the President 17 June 2019.
Fremantle Markets- People’s Palace or Murdochs’ Money Machine?
This photo is the earliest one known of the iconic Fremantle Markets.
The furore over the Fremantle Markets raging now won’t go away by the mayor telling aggrieved stallholders to complain to the government.
When the mayor and others voted 10 years ago to give the markets to the Murdoch family for 18 years instead of holding a public tender process, or letting the National Trust run the place as offered, the distress of the stallholders did not disappear.
So many stallholders left the markets, that a motion was put to Fremantle Council to use the Pine Warehouse building on the Spicer site in Henderson Street as an overflow market. That would have kept dozens of small businesses in Fremantle, provided healthy competition for Fremantle Markets just 20 metres away, and generated good income for the council. Then new mayor Dr Pettitt would not support that idea. Instead, we find that the tenant council put into that building has just left town, owing $88,000 in rent.
John Forrest laid the foundation stone for the markets in 1897, the same day his wife opened the Trinidad asphalt cycling track across the road at Fremantle Oval, and the same day John Forrest opened the new 1200 seat oval pavilion there, the one now in desperate need of maintenance by Fremantle Council. When the markets were opened in 1898, with John Forrest again in town, the Director of Public Works FH Piesse extolled the public benefit of the markets: “The best way in which to obtain cheap food was to encourage the producer.” So began the People’s Palace, where buyer and seller could benefit from an egalitarian venture. The return to the council in its first year was almost 50%, an astonishing success compared to the most recent financial figures, which reveal that of $3.12 million of rent collected last year, council only got $813,000.
In 2008 a report showed that the Fremantle Markets needed $4.75 million worth of works to do urgent works and restoration. The Fremantle Society has asked council – how much has actually been spent improving the markets since that urgent report and why is there a $500,000 debt registered against the markets?
The markets mess needs empathy from council, not disinterest. Stallholders allege they are suffering.
The People’s Palace belongs to all of us, and all of us are poorer when it doesn’t function as intended by our forefathers.
(image from Old Fremantle by John Dowson. Prints available from Finishing Touch Gallery)
Please note the new address for the Fremantle Society: Chris Williams, Secretary, PO Box 8160 Fremantle WA 6160
Please send donations and subscriptions ($20 individual and $30 family) to this new address.
“We Told you So”
The issues at the Fremantle Markets that caused so much devastation 14 years ago to over 100 small local businesses there, have exploded again after investigations by forensic accountants. The festering sore has been ripped open again. As the West reported on 25 May:
“The big margins being charged by the operator came to light through an investigation by forensic accounting firm Venture Analytics, which estimates FMPL is charging on average close to double the rate of Adelaide’s Central Market and five times that of Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne.
The revelations raise questions over both the rents being paid by stallholders and whether the City of Fremantle is realising maximum value for one of its most prized assets.”
Just over 10 years ago, just as it did with the Kings Square Business Plan, Fremantle Council refused to put the Fremantle Markets out to public tender. It was inexplicable to the two City Ward councillors Lauder and Haney, along with others ( Crs Adeane, KIng, and Dowson), that one of the ratepayers’ most valuable assets would not be put out to public tender. But, by a vote of 6-5, council voted to give the lease for a lengthy 18 years to the Murdoch family. Three of those councillors are still on Council and also voted not to put the Kings Square Business Plan out for tender: Pettitt, Strachan, and Thompson.
In what was one of the most traumatic events in Fremantle’s commercial history, over 100 small businesses lost their livelihoods as increasing rents and disputes drove them out. It appears those disputes have continued.
Fremantle Markets have been an iconic Fremantle institution since 1897, and the thought of their failure or demise should bring shudders to those interested in the economic viability of the town. Just look at poor Subiaco, whose markets failed, and who now have accepted a developer’s monstrous 24 storey building on the site, to ‘save’ their markets there. Unbelievable.
When the arguments were raging 14 years ago City ward Councillor Les Lauder (and Fremantle Society founder) said ratepayers would miss out on millions of dollars if it gave the lease to the Murdochs without a public tender process. He has been proven correct.
To add to the problem, the investigative accountants told the Fremantle Society they have discovered that the council has a debt of $500,000 to the Markets.
The Fremantle Society want to ascertain the full financial picture, including what money has been spent to support the conservation plan for the full restoration of the Markets. And it is time for a full government investigation into the finances of council, and councillor decisions.
We ask that members get off their backsides and support such calls. Extensive investigative work has been carried out, and members need to support the disturbing findings so far by asking their own questions.
Orginally posted by the President 1 June 2019.
Sorry Saga of Royal George Hotel Just Got Worse
When Planning Minister Saffioti said last year that she would limit the height of any new development at the rear of the Royal George Hotel to 7 storeys, many in the community took that as a victory.
The Fremantle Society warned that, not only was it not a victory, but there were other problems.
Unfortunately we were right.
The Town of East Fremantle has just written to the Fremantle Society to say that further examination of the modified building height controls show they do not specify a maximum building height that cannot be varied.
The Town of East Fremantle lost control of this whole issue years go when Alanah Joan Geraldine Cecilia MacTiernan handed the property to the National Trust without telling the Town of East Fremantle.
When the Liberal Government raised concerns about the National Trust failure to get the building restored, they took it back from the National Trust and sold the $2 million property to Saracen Properties for $570,000 plus GST, knowing that the developer wanted to build a 21 storey tower at the rear ‘to pay for the restoration of the hotel.’ Having sold the hotel for next to nothing, the developer should not have been given a promise of extra benefits.
Local Member Simone McGurk warned of this at the time.
The Fremantle Society discovered that, remarkably, the hotel and the rest of George Street, which had once been listed as a heritage precinct, no longer was. The Fremantle Society made representations to the mayor, staff, and heritage minded councillors like Cliff Collison, to have the heritage listing urgently reinstated.
Unlike Fremantle Council, which does not value the expertise of its heritage community, East Fremantle council listened, and are working to have the precinct listing reinstated.
In the meantime, Alannah MacTiernan, who is still around (and pushing for high rise again on Victoria Quay), should be lobbied, along with local members of parliament.
Members – Do Something
Too many members are uninvolved, and expect others to do the work of keeping their amenity and heritage.
Values fought for in the past are never safe. They need to be fought for again, and again.
Put on your shoulders what burden you can carry, and help the Fremantle Society protect heritage values and encourage better new development.
Simone McGurk: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa O’Malley: email@example.com
Originally posted by the President 15 May 2019.
If it wasn’t for the excellent work of the volunteer guides at Arthur Head who get no help from Fremantle Council, and the presence of a few outstanding artists such as Greg James and Glen Cowans, Arthur Head would resemble a demolition site, such is the neglect of the area by Fremantle Council. The Fremantle Society today sent the following letter to the mayor and councillors:
To the mayor and councillors
It beggars belief, after 10 years of appalling neglect and abuse of Arthur Head by your council, that you are considering an insensitively located large Aboriginal cultural centre proposal there without any input from history or heritage experts, and that you will be allocating $50,000 in addition to tens of thousands of dollars already spent to pursue this idea.
Yes, the idea of a well developed plan for an Aboriginal Cultural Centre is strongly supported by the Fremantle Society. So is the idea of a well developed Fremantle History Museum, a well developed Immigration Museum, and a well developed Archaeological Centre.
To that end, the former CEO of Fremantle Council 10 years ago developed a museum policy for Fremantle Council following discussions with current Fremantle Society president John Dowson, the rationale being that Fremantle had recently lost four key museums and needed to get some back. That council policy appears to have been ignored, despite over $250,000 spent on developing an archaeological proposal for Pioneer Park, years of work done on getting an immigration museum, and the obvious need for a Fremantle History Museum. However, the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre Visioning Report indicates that considerable money has been spent preparing the current report, though it certainly has not ‘involved the community from the outset’ as it states.
The visioning report you voted on in April, with its ‘preliminarys’, ‘landscape treatement’, ‘adapatable seating’, and ‘site preperation’ selects Arthur Head as a preferred site.
Arthur Head is not a development site, but a heritage site. And it is one of obvious State and national importance.
The abuse and neglect of Arthur Head by your council over the past 10 years has been scandalous. The Visioning Study report’s support for a $40 million large new intrusive building at Arthur Head for an Aboriginal Centre requires the removal of J shed, which now has its own heritage as a centre of arts excellence.
It will also be of concern to many that your report recommends: “There is opportunity for the new facility to begin a reclaiming process by the Aboriginal community of Walyalup/Fremantle, particularly the Manjaree/Arthur Head precinct. “ (p46).
The Fremantle Society is keen to support and help with any proposals which improve Fremantle’s telling of its Aboriginal, archaeological, immigration, and settler history, but the way your council is operating ignores the expertise of the community, the vesting rules for Arthur Head, and other urgent priorities such as saving Arthur Head from further collapse and ruin.
As former Fremantle Society committee member Colin Nichol wrote a year ago, the neglect of Arthur Head is a metaphor for the city’s shortcomings. He quoted the shadow local government minister Tony Kristicevic stating that Fremantle Council should be forced under the new Heritage Act to do its job of maintaining Arthur Head. He stated: “As the custodian of a heritage place, the city has a responsibility to protect, promote, and preserve this historic landmark.”
Mayor Pettitt asked the Fremantle Society to work with the Fremantle Council to get money for Arthur Head. That won’t happen, because if the expensive asset management plans that were put together 10 years ago to prevent the current disgraceful neglect had been followed, there would not be so much damage, and less need for the council to belatedly seek external funds. Also, some of the council remediation proposals for Arthur Head are clumsy and detrimental. The Fremantle Society instead will lobby, and support Arthur Head, using its various experts.
The good work of the previous council at Arthur Head prior to 2010 has been seriously undermined. As Fremantle Society committee member Agnieshka Kiera stated: “The most successful council project according to the Catalyse Survey has been the transformative Arthur Head Project (Old Port Project, boardwalk, Kidogo Gallery, Bather’s Beach etc)” – all done prior to the current council, and all done sensitively.
The $500 million Aboriginal centre proposed for Elizabeth Quay and the $40 million one proposed for Fremantle are worthy aspirational ideas, but they should not be pursued without sensitivity to other histories. By not even-handedly looking at the needs of a range of Fremantle stories that need to be told, and by not consulting properly, you are dividing the community instead of uniting it, in your obvious ideological pursuits.
The former CEO of the National Trust (WA) and CEO of all Australian National Trusts, Tom Perrigo, concurs with Fremantle Society concerns about the location and scale of the proposed Aboriginal Centre at Arthur Head. The Fremantle Society wants Aboriginal heritage and culture to be properly promoted and appreciated, but not the way you are going about it.
The Fremantle Society
8 May, 2019
The Fremantle Society encourages members to support the Heritage Festival currently underway, and to provide feedback to the Society. Fremantle’s own standalone heritage festival has disappeared, now amalgamated into the National Trust one. It remains to be seen whether the end result will be as effective. There is a good range of activities in the current program which runs until May 18th, but in recent years neither the Fremantle Council nor the National Trust has invited the Fremantle Society to participate in heritage events or issues.
The current festival was launched on 18 April, with unfortunately few people in attendance, at the revamped drill hall in Parry Street where the Fly by Night Club used to operate. The Fremantle Society president was there, along with Fremantle Society Secretary Chris Williams, Fremantle Society Treasurer Adele Carles, and former Fremantle Society Vice President Robert Bodkin. The National Trust Chairman Max Kay, who got lost finding the venue, addressed the small crowd in the wonderfully refurbished venue. His getting lost mirrored the unfortunate reality of the invisibility of the National Trust in Fremantle, despite it having many hundreds of listed properties there.
The National Trust has lost its way under its current leadership, and refuses to engage in advocacy for heritage as National Trust branches in other states do, leaving Fremantle vulnerable to the sort of damage we have seen in recent years.
The man responsible for getting the revamped Drill Hall underway, Tom Perrigo, the previous dynamic CEO of the National Trust, was not even invited to the opening. He is not impressed.
The $1 million that was required by the National Trust to be spent on the Drill Hall by Sunset Events will give the hall a new life as a high quality entertainment space, but it will put Victoria Hall, which Fremantle Council disappointingly has for put out for sale, under more pressure to survive as a performing arts space.
Heritage Council nominations close 2 May
The Heritage Council recently advertised for new members.
The organisation, viewed in the heritage community as often little more than a developer’s club, has apparently mandated that half of future members of the Heritage Council should be female.
While equality of opportunity is fundamental, equality of outcome as proposed is odious and insulting to women.
Victoria Quay High Rise Plans:
Phil Griffiths last year criticised the Fremantle Society for criticising the Heritage Council. Ironic, given that after strenuous opposition from Fremantle Council to Fremantle Port’s ING plans for large boxes on Victoria Quay some years ago, with various heritage reports from Fremantle Council and others like the Fremantle Society opposing the scale of the plans, Phil Griffiths wrote a report for the Heritage Council approving the ING plans.
Unfortunately, those plans are back in an even larger form, with Fremantle Ports setting up a new taskforce to push for large boxes on Victoria Quay up to at least 10 storeys in height, and driven by the same people like Alannah MacTiernan, who were behind the ING plans.
The Fremantle Society will be writing about that in more detail very soon.
Originally posted by the President 5 May 2019.