When Fighting Clowns, Always Go for the Juggler

Scandalous Neglect of Arthur Head

Six years ago the Fremantle Herald published this picture of Cr Tim Grey-Smith, Mayor Pettitt, and Cr Rachel Pemberton atop Arthur Head launching their idea for an “Arts Hub” at the state’s premier heritage site, Arthur Head.

The plan, of breath-taking immaturity, failed spectacularly, and has caused great distress to existing famous artists there like Greg James. As a metaphor for the derelict state of Arthur Head under this council, a $100,000 Greg James sculpture was last night stolen from the area.

Cr Grey-Smith, put into power in 2009 by Mayor Pettitt to get rid of the best councillor City Ward had had for years, Cr Les Lauder, is now apparently a senior policy advisor for a WA Labor Minister, while at the same time helping run former Labor politician George Gear’s campaign to oust Mayor Russell Aubrey in Melville. Apparently he has no money however, as recently the debt of $17,000 he owed council was waived. These deals for mates appear to be part and parcel of the current modus operandi.

Cr Pemberton, now running for a third term as City Ward councillor, is boasting of the great achievements of council in heritage matters, failing to mention that council has abolished the heritage reserve fund which used to get 1.25% of all rates, has abolished the heritage committee, the heritage grants fund, the annual heritage awards, and the local history awards.

In addition, under her watch, the iconic Arthur Head has deteriorated so badly that millions of dollars are urgently needed to fix it up.

The Fremantle Society has been asked by council to help raise money, as the government have inspected the ruinous state of the area and declined to help. The Fremantle Society is preparing a positive and progressive plan which pulls together the important themes and assets of the area.

Written and authorised by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle WA 6160

0409 223622. 93352113 and John.dowson@yahoo.com

Ralph Hoare Slams Permanent Damage to Fremantle

Update to Revealing View Post

The above photo of Big Boxes in a small heritage town posted yesterday showing the current view from Fremantle’s National Hotel has brought scathing responses.

One resident:

“That photo is really depressing!”

A business owner:  “It is starting to make me feel sick & tired of this incompetent Regime & its antics ! And, 😤the waiver of debt to Ratepayer is totally unacceptable.”

Another resident:

“WHAAAAATTT! (Can we get our debts ‘forgiven?’)
Just when you think that they can’t get any worse!
Roll on the election counting!”

Prominent Fremantle architect and former President of the Fremantle Society Ralph Hoare writes:

‘A very clear but sad period of development that in 10 years or so has destroyed the essence of Fremantle that was renowned for its clear expression of its heritage past, and now this has now been tipped upside down under the current Mayor’s reign.”

If you agree with this assessment, please ensure you get as many City Ward voters to vote for John Dowson in the current election as you can. Some people like Councillor Sullivan, who lives in South Ward, have two votes in City Ward as well. Every vote counts.

Below is what was posted yesterday with the same image:

Your new Pettitt/Pemberton town centre.

Large incongruous boxes after 10 years of “Revitalisation.’

Your heritage town centre forever damaged.

Other councillors of course helped. Including Cr Grey Smith who owed council $17,000. But the mayor and Cr Pemberton have just voted to allow him not to pay the debt.

Other councillors of course helped.

Authorised and Printed by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle, WA 6160

Contact:  john.dowson@yahoo.com

9335 2113   and 0409 22 3622

Lots of Big Boxes

National Hotel Revealing View

Your new Pettitt/Pemberton town centre.

Large incongruous boxes after ten years of “Revitalisation.’

Your heritage town centre forever damaged.

Other councillors of course helped. Including Cr Grey Smith who owed council $17,000. But the mayor and Cr Pemberton have just voted to allow him not to pay the debt.

Other councillors of course helped.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

Authorised and printed by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle WA 6160

What the Voters are Saying

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

Meet the Candidate(s) and Half Price Meal

A Return to Common Sense …

The Fremantle Society invites you to another Half Price night at the Federal Hotel in William Street opposite the Town Hall.

Tuesday October 1 at 7pm.

The Fremantle Society supports its President John Dowson who is running for City Ward in the current elections.

He will be there to answer any questions you may have.

Maria Vujcic, running for South Ward, and whose family are involved with the Federal Hotel, will also be there to answer any questions.

Please let us know if you are coming and how many seats you would like:


Authorised and printed by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle WA 6160.

City Ward Election

Leisure Centre Car Park Sale “Still on the Table”

One important issue in the current City Ward elections is the possible sale of the Leisure Centre Car Park, following the sell off of so many other council car parks, often to developers at bargain basement prices.

Incumbent councillor Rachel Pemberton, who has been a City Ward councillor for the past 8 years, categorically ruled out the sale, despite its sale being listed in council’s current 10 year plan, a plan she said she was unaware of. This week a council source said the sale was ‘still on the table.’

(see today’s Herald p11)

Candidates’ Forum Last Thursday

A healthy crowd turned out for the candidates’ forum at the fabulous Notre Dame venue in Cliff Street. This is what John Dowson said:

I would be, if elected, a servant of the community, reflecting your needs and aspirations.

Obviously, through doorknocking, candidates can identify some issues the community has, and my experience so far is that the community is divided, and often angry with this council.

One of the best ways to see what the community wants is to read the Community Satisfaction Surveys done every few years. When I was last on council the results were shown to councillors on a powerpoint and then the survey taken away by officers. I insisted that each councillor have a copy if they wanted one and that the survey be put on the council website, where you can today find it.

The latest survey shows that people love Fremantle and that is why we live here. But as a potential councillor I am keen to focus on the key issues that concern residents. The 4 keys issues of concern identified in the latest survey are where Fremantle scores well below the industry standard. They are:

  1. How the City is being developed (only 43% of people (and 33% over 55) are satisfied against the industry average of 50%. The drastic changes to the town planning scheme to allow high rise were not supported by the community and they are still not happy.
  2. Economic Development  (dropped from 51% satisfaction under Mayor Tagliaferri to 37% today despite 10 years of letting developers build whatever they want. We need quality and we are not getting it. A key indice is the government FHI Financial Health Index where Fremantle currently has the worst score of any metro council  44 as against our neighbors Melville on 98 and Cockburn 81 (see today’s West article by Paul Murray about FHIs)
  3. Safety and Security in the City Centre (39% satisfied. City Ward voters more concerned than any other ward. We need more police and more on the beat)
  4. Parking in the City Centre (only 39% are happy. I would simplify the system – free 2 hour parking and reduce fines to $10)

Besides these issues there are others that the community doesn’t perhaps even know about:

  1. The saga of 140 High Street where around $1 million of ratepayer money has already been spent taking a landowner to court. $265,776 paid just last week to the landowner by council as they lost in court, but are still pursuing the matter
  2. Tree canopy cover – in 2009 I got council to double the number of trees being planted each year to 1000, but last year only 714 were planted. How can council achieve a 20% tree canopy target when it plants fewer trees than 10 years ago? What about underground power, one of the best ways to increase canopy.?
  3. Selling off our assets cheaply to developers – just last week Josephson Street car park sold for $1.15m as against its valuation of $1.42m.
  4. The poor deals cut by council. As a businessman I am always impressed when I see a good deal, but this council is not good at negotiating effective deals.

Hospital: 1900 workers went from the hospital because council did not negotiate anything, like a small emergency ward and 200 general beds.

New Council Deport: The new council depot site: council spent $7.5 million buying land in Jones Street and didn’t bother to find out that it is riddled with asbestos which will cost $1 million to remove. It has sat empty for years and its value has dropped sharply.

Police: 50% of police in Fremantle have left under this council, because, as the police said, Fremantle Council did not lobby to keep them. 100 police traffic officers have gone from Fremantle to Cockburn. There is no liquor branch any more, despite Fremantle swimming in liquor licence applications for bars and taverns.

You need a council that can negotiate well on your behalf, and that is what I would work to achieve – genuinely progressive and sustainable deals.

John Dowson Candidates’ Forum Thursday 26 September 2019

Authorised and printed by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle WA 6160