Council Elections

bathers beach

Above : Bathers Beach – the Most Popular Place in Freo (Catalyse Survey)

The upcoming elections are upon us and the community is largely asleep and disengaged. Meanwhile the mayor and his team are hard at work spinning their message and attacking anybody with a contrary opinion.

Mark Taylor, who sits on the committee of the mayor’s re-election campaign, had a letter published this week in the Herald attacking the Fremantle Society for ‘bungled interference in local politics.’

Given that there is a possibility of 8 Fremantle Society members running for council, we are proud of our ‘bungling.’

These days it is very hard for ‘community’ candidates to do well in council elections due to the influence of political parties and factions. It is hard work. That is why the Fremantle Society asks again for volunteers to put their hands up to help with door knocking or to provide donations (please contact us through: 9335 2113 or 0409 223633).

Attack dogs like Mark Taylor will become more obvious in coming weeks. A group loosely known as “Fremantle Progressives”  will be footsoldiers for the mayor while he keeps a distance.

Community Survey Results

The $30,000 Catalyse Community Survey results are out.

We know that Fremantle has great festivals, a great Arts Centre, and good rubbish collection. Council’s press release states that 95% of people think Fremantle is excellent, great, or OK to live in, but in reality the percentage of people who think it is ‘excellent’ is just 44%. This is how the survey is reported on the council website. Anyone quickly reading it would think the ‘excellent’ vote was 95%!

A community survey has confirmed local residents love living in Freo. When asked to rate the City of Fremantle as a place to live, 95 per cent of respondents rated living in Freo as either excellent…

Council has expended millions of dollars promoting itself, and that promotion has been partly successful. But, as Ra Stewart said at a community meeting tonight, the ‘council are the servants of the community,’ and are not there to indulge in self promotion.

There are areas where the council needs to do much better.

Economic Development (what the City is doing to attract investors, attract and retain businesses, grow tourism and create more job opportunities):

Community satisfaction has dropped each survey since Mayor Pettitt was elected, despite millions spent on consultants, and his support for poor quality developments.

Only 24% think the council has done a good or excellent job. 53% say council has done a poor or terrible job.

How the City Centre is being developed:

33% say good or excellent. 46% say poor or terrible.

Parking:

Dissatisfaction with parking is still high. 46% rated the council as poor or terrible on this issue.

The survey overall shows strongest dissatisfaction with the over 55s, the ones who often own property and pay the rates.

Residents of Samson were particularly unhappy with council in their responses to a wide range of issues.

Stan Reilly Site

Years ago a report was done about the Stan Reilly site entitled The Future is in the Past, highlighting the huge importance and strategic location of that site. It sits alone and forgotten in the Local History Library.

In 2005, $50,000 was spent producing a development plan for the site, but it was thrown in the bin when it was realised the report was insensitive to the site’s heritage significance. Later, similar amounts were spent planning a joint development with the Dockers and Notre Dame which would have seen a community facility with gymnasium. Now all we are getting is a small car park.

The homeless people currently using the buildings there will be moved out and some $250,000 of our rates given to St Pats to take them elsewhere. The car park, given the poor business decision to sell Queensgate at a bargain price, is another example of poor business practice by the current council.

The Fremantle Society has asked council to allow sufficient time to do a thorough archaeological survey of the historic site before the tarmac tip trucks arrive.

Church of England and King’s Square

The Church of England owns half of King’s Square, along with important property nearby they have not developed. While the Catholics at the other end of town run a highly profitable business with the University of Notre Dame and the 47 properties they control, the Church of England are like mice in a hole, rarely venturing into the light, and providing little leadership in the city centre.

Given the importance of King’s Square as the only town square in Western Australia, and their ownership of half of it, the Fremantle Society wrote to them in February this year, and several times subsequently, without even receiving an acknowledgement. Since our letter was written, the tree in question has been unwrapped and attended to by experts.

Our letter is below.

to  Mr Brian Dixon CEO  Diocese of Perth and Brett Gibson Parish Council of Fremantle

Dear Brian and Brett

The Fremantle Society is concerned to hear about a proposal for a $500,000 ‘adventure playgound’ on church land in King’s Square.

The Fremantle Society appreciates that the church owns half the square and Fremantle Council the other half.

King’s Square is very valuable as the only town square in any town in Western Australia and the Fremantle Society has done extensive work to highlight the value of the square as a square now and for the future.

Please see the attached report by Dr Linley Lutton, which concludes:

“KIng’s Square was always intended to be Fremantle’s central public space and it is well within the capacity of the city council to return it to its rightful status.

The major challenge for this council will be to change its ethos from being development orientated to being community and civic minded.”

The Fremantle Society seeks to  have council follow the recommendations of the $50,000 2006 Ruth Durack Urban Design study which concluded that the best option for King’s Square was indeed as Dr Lutton suggests: to remove the current council administration building and open the square up, not further build on it with a new and expanded administration building the community cannot afford.

Additionally, one of our members is currently working on a conservation plan for King’s Square, which remarkably, has never been done despite the work done by the church on its own building.

The concern of the Fremantle Society is that a large plastic and steel installation in the little that will remain of King’s Square after council build their extended administration building, will seriously erode the quality of what is left. It would be inconceivable in any European town square to have a significant proportion of it taken up with such a large installation.

Can we also raise the issue of the health of trees on church land in King’s Square?  The trees are  important for the character of the town centre and appear to be under stress. In particular the church has allowed one Moreton Bay tree east of the church to be wrapped for some years tightly in Christmas lights and the lights in our view should be immediately removed, given the obvious damage being caused to the tree.

The Fremantle Society would like to know the church’s opinion on the attached report. We believe the church should advocate for a proper and full town square, given the central role the church has played over the years in originally owning the whole square and being central to the civic life of the town.

Would you please pass this on to the current acting rector Rev. Ron Attley and property manager Mr Alan Gray.

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society
7 September 2017

B RA D

The mayor Dr Pettitt will launch his election campaign today, though much has already been going on behind the scenes.

Four councillors sit on the mayor’s re-election committee – Greens councillor Pemberton, Socialist Alliance councillor Wainright, Labor councillor Fitzhardinge, and Cr Waltham. Councillor hopeful , Greens Liam Carter McGinty, who will run against ‘former’ Greens councillor Sullivan, is also a member of the committee.

These councillors and others are guiding the re-election campaign and will try to head off issues raised by challenger Ra Stewart by instructing the Fremantle Council CEO to prepare an audit of council’s finances, though of course councillors cannot instruct administrative staff.

“Worst financial health of any local government”

There is good reason to be alarmed about Fremantle Council’s finances under the current mayor. Recently the MyCouncil website said that Fremantle has ‘the worst financial health of any local government.’

Fremantle Council, rated a 42, is 12 points lower than the second worst council – the City of Canning, a council sacked twice in recent years.

Council Fake News Media Release on King’s Square

Council has issued a press release stating that the massive cost of the King’s Square project will not lead to rate rises above CPI.

But, ratepayers are already complaining of rate rises in some cases of 8% and more.

The press release states that the project will leave ‘debt and reserves able to be reinstated within 10 years’ – an impossibility given the current council has spent so much that the reserves have dropped from $60 million to $20 million since 2009.

The press release states that the King’s Square project is ‘sympathetic to the heritage values of the area,’ when it patently is not.

Former Government Minister- ‘Don’t Destroy King’s Square’

While Labor politicians rush to share the photo op, the reality is that it was the Liberals who gave the go ahead for government workers moving to Fremantle to cement the deal. Former Finance Minister Bill Marmion, who says he was the one who pushed the relocation of government workers to Fremantle through Cabinet, told the Fremantle Society recently he does not want to see King’s Square ruined with a large new administration centre.

What else should the council be judged on?

Mayor Pettit eight years ago promised revitalisation. But, at what cost, and when? Eight years later it is still not here. There have been some new buildings, but mostly of very mediocre quality. The dismal Atwell Arcade development, held up by council as a great step forward, and which promised 300 new workers to Fremantle, has destroyed the gold rush roofscapes of the area, has obliterated the best arcade in Fremantle, has not been completed as promised, and when a fire alarm went off recently, saw just 35 people exit the building on both sides.

Even the iconic Culleys Tea Rooms there (which will be 100 years old in 2025) has not survived intact. As one person wrote on Facebook yesterday:

Was SO disappointed to see the new Culley’s recently. Why would they strip it of all the charm that made you visit in the first place? Its reputation is in its history but it looks like any other cafe now.

Yes, there are some very large boxes in the pipeline that developers are pleased to have permission to build, but the relentless and ineffective spending by council has seen Fremantle’s assets crash from $60 million to $20 million.

Members – Questions Please

Please send commentary or questions or issues so that we can represent your views.

Send to: john.dowson@yahoo.com

Please see the excellent work Garry Gillard has done to get our blog going again:

fremantlesociety.org.au [this site]

Mayoral Debates

Ra Stewart has challenged mayor Pettitt to a mayoral debate in each ward, but he has refused.

There will be a few debates, including one at Notre Dame.

The West Australian

The West Australian this week ran a full page article by Gareth Parker slamming Subiaco Council for the 16 storey Market Pavilion project not proceeding. Immediately, the Fremantle mayor’s mouthpiece blogger Roel Loopers wrote to the West stating that Fremantle can show other councils how to do their job, presumably by inflicting changes to the town planning scheme that ratepayers said they didnt want, and giving developers exactly what they want.

The West, which no longer balances its articles by giving different sides to a story, and which reads like a developer’s advertorial rag, omitted to mention that Subiaco Council has in fact given two approvals for the site, including the 16 storeys sought, and in 2016 even offered $750,000 or ratepayers’ money to help the project.

The problem for the community nowadays is to get fair and balanced reporting.

Congrats to Candidates!

The Fremantle Society announced last week that 6 of its members are running in the upcoming elections. In fact that may be 8, with one member announcing a possible tilt at mayor.

Further details later.

The Fremantle Society works long and hard to encourage good quality decision making by council and to promote the world class values of Fremantle. We are pleased to have possibly 8 members running, though of course all those candidates are independent thinkers who may or may not wish to push the strong heritage, planning, and environmental concerns of the Fremantle Society.

Some candidates have been out campaigning already for a long while. Chief of these is Fremantle Society member Claudia Green, running in City Ward, a fierce and devoted campaigner for better government and responsible finances, who led the Fremantle and Ratepayers Association for years before stepping down to run for council.

Claudia and Fremantle Society committee member Catherine Hammond both feature in today’s Herald.

The Fremantle Society wishes all candidates well and thanks them for running.

More details later, but each candidate needs door knockers and helpers, so please consider giving your time.

John Dowson
President
0409223622

john.dowson@yahoo.com

You and Your Council

Six Fremantle Society Candidates

With the withdrawal of Mike Finn from the October election race, there are now six candidates who are currently members of the Fremantle Society, and a further five who are former members. A new candidate joined the race today, who is not a member of the Fremantle Society, Adin Lang for City Ward, as predicted by the Fremantle Society.

Whether the candidates support the ideals and objectives and issues of the Fremantle Society is largely up to members. We need members to be informed, active, and engaged. The Fremantle Society continues to work to encourage people to run and continues to provide issues for discussion.

While Fremantle has a commendable percentage of eligible voters filling out their postal votes, 65% of eligible voters do not vote.

Fremantle Herald

With just weeks to go, the Fremantle Herald again this week had not one letter about the elections. Last week’s paper featured the mayor Dr Pettitt over the whole of the front page. This week we get the mayor’s photo again, along with the Labor candidate for Beaconsfield, Hannah Fitzhardinge. Over the page is the Greens candidate for South Ward, Liam Carter, and an article having a dig at the Fremantle Society (which is trying to focus on the big issues).

This bias has nothing to do with the full page ads the council runs each week in the Herald. Today’s full page ad from Fremantle Council features verge mowing, strangely just reintroduced weeks before an election with a personalised and expensive mail out to every resident, along with a reminder about the upcoming spraying by council of poison all over our parks.

What did you think?

The Fremantle Society wants to see the results of the 2017 Catalyse Fremantle Community Survey well before the election, because the 2015 results were alarming enough. In 2015 the following survey categories showed a DECLINE compared with 10 years earlier when Peter Tagliaferri was mayor and Cr Pettitt first joined council.

– council leadership (down)

– open and transparent council (down)

– how community is consulted (down)

– how community is informed (down)

– control of anti social behaviour (down)

– how heritage is preserved (down)

– streetscapes (down from 83% satisfaction to 69%)

– parks and green spaces (down)

– care for seniors (down)

– disability access (down)

– footpaths and cycleways (down)

– rubbish and recycling (down)

– planning and approvals (down)

– economic development (down from 72% satisfied to 40%)

– parking in city centre (down)

Among positive results were youth facilities and festivals.

King’s Triangle

The two images above represent the proposed $50 million administration centre. Fremantle’s senior architect Rob Campbell has written to the Fremantle Society after examining the latest plans. Kerry Hill architects are getting $1.2 million for their drawings, and major problems raised when the plans were first released still exist, Rob believes.

Rob Campbell says the only reason for an underground library, which the staff don’t want, was the initial demand for upper floor office space. But that demand has gone, and the whole building could be pushed up to avoid the unpleasant and expensive to build underground library, leaving off the top floor which council want to keep as a speculative investment (costing $5.4 million to build).

Rob Campbell told the Fremantle Society: “Whoever is pushing the design is making it more expensive and less of a civic building.”

Rob Campbell is concerned with the sharp angular nature of the building, especially when viewed from the corner of High and Newman Streets (near the crosswalk next to Myer). He said the sharp angular turn of the building at such an acute angle is “architecturally awful and not in the Fremantle tradition. It is a terrible mistake which undermines the architectural presentation.” He said it was council playing developer and not creating a civic space, because that awkward corner retail space would be difficult to rent and would compete with the adjacent Sirona development.

Rob Campbell also believes that the new building should pay greater respect to the historic Town Hall, with greater separation from it.

The full text of Rob Campbell’s analysis will be made available.

Contracts for this unnecessary council headquarters will not be signed until next year and the Fremantle Society still believes its vision for a true town square without this building is a better long term option.

John Dowson
President
john.dowson@yahoo.com

Your Town. Your Issues?

What are the Issues?

Council Elections

The Fremantle Society has a range of issues and concerns it hopes will be addressed by candidates in the upcoming council election. Here are some. There will be MORE!

1) Heritage Grants

Funding for the Fremantle Heritage Conservation Grants Policy: This policy of giving grants to owners of heritage properties sits on the council website (see above), but there is no money available, and has been none since 2011. With over 3,000 heritage listed properties in Fremantle, there needs to be incentives to get people to restore their property for the common good. A businessman in High Street may be tempted to reinstate his original shopfront layout, which would be a dramatic improvement to the authenticity of the important shopping street, but a quote of $200,000 would quickly quash any interest. However, a council grant of even $20,000 might be enough to make him consider the project.

Subiaco and Perth, with far fewer heritage properties, are two councils that give generously to owners. $100,000 a year minimum is asked for this fund, the same amount as 2010.

2) Community Satisfaction

Firstly, to obtain objective data, the Fremantle Society is seeking the results of the Catalyse 2107 Community Survey so it can be compared with earlier surveys -to understand what the community feels about the council. Council already has the results. Previously such results were released in July, and the 2017 results should be released well before the election.

3) Environmental concerns

The Fremantle Society believes that environmental issues are not being treated seriously or effectively enough. Examples:

(i) Fremantle has the second worst tree coverage of any council in the state. Council promised a significantly improved tree coverage from 10% to 20% by 2020 but has not committed the funds to achieve any real progress in the next few years. Next year council will be planting FEWER tress than it did in 2009. Council apparently has committed no money to underground power, an important step towards a greater tree canopy. Plus, Council has not progressed the Significant Tree Register, and there are only 11 listings on it. This lack of attention to such an important issue is disappointing.

(ii) Despite spending over $300,000 to join One Planet, basic things are not being done. For example, there in NO air quality monitoring in Fremantle. The nearest air quality monitors are in Swanbourne and North Rockingham. There should be air quality monitoring in a port city with at times noxious cargoes. Clean air is a basic right and residents have the right to know that their council is monitoring their air quality.

4) Better Quality Buildings

Fremantle has suffered a tsunami of poor quality development detrimental to its heritage, undermining the very reason people come here in the first place. The community deserves a higher quality urban fabric, not a lower quality one. We want a review of the Design Advisory Committee and a review and implementation of the Local Identity and Design Codes which council spent over $100,000 on. These would be a positive guide to improved sustainable and compatible development.

5) Council finances

The Fremantle Society and FRRA have long raised the issue of the sustainability of council finances and the selling off of ratepayer issues. The Fremantle Society believes it has a better plan for King’s Square, and even at this late stage wants the square saved to become a true open town centre. The contract for the proposed administration centre will not be signed until next year. The ratepayers cannot afford a $50 million administration building, one that requires the sale of further assets like the Leisure Centre car park and Samson Rec Centre, and higher rates.

Fremantle Society Committee Statement Concerning Claudia Green

From August 15 Committee meeting: “President John Dowson’s statement in the most recent email to members relating to Claudia Green was based on Ms Green’s resignation from the Committee last year which was disruptive (around the time of the Beaconsfield by-election). ”

Committee Member Statement

Mike Finn says he is withdrawing from the council election race for City Ward due to the negativity and hostility of social media towards those who volunteer their time.

He believes his withdrawal will help fellow Fremantle Society member Claudia Green in her run for City Ward.

Mike says he will continue as a committee member of the Fremantle Society, and strongly supports the Fremantle Society’s determination to seek better quality development in Fremantle that builds on its special and valuable character rather than undermining it.

Fremantle History Society

The hard working committee at our sister society the Fremantle History Society produces wonderful newsletters, organise interesting events, and can be joined by sending $25 to the Membership Coordinator, PO Box 1305, Fremantle 6959. Or secretary.fhs@gmail.com

They have two important upcoming events:

a) Tour of the recently restored Dalgety Building on the corner of Cliff and Phillimore Streets 16 September at 10.30am. This large and magnificent building has been there since 1902. It would be worth joining the Society just to do this tour. The restoration there is first class, though incomplete. The 6 flagpoles and the chimneys have not been replaced. The cupola is still missing. The sectioning of upper windows on the north side has unfortunately disappeared, and the marble floor has lost its 100 year old patina by being ground into a shiny flat surface. But, what a building.

b) Studies Day: Sunday 22 October at the Fremantle Army Museum at 1pm.

Thanks Garry

Garry Gillard has resurrected our blog. Check it out (fremantlesociety.org.au). Amazing work. He has his own websites and a wonderful coverage of Fremantle history on one called Fremantle Stuff.

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

Council Elections:
Mike Finn Declines to Run for Council

Well known Fremantle businessman and committee member of the Fremantle Society Mike Finn (above looking out of his Market Street premises) has withdrawn from his intention to run for City Ward in the upcoming October local election.

The coming election is vital for the future of Fremantle given the financial problems and damage to heritage caused by the current council.

The mayor and six councillors are up for re-election. The Fremantle Society has worked long and hard to research issues, make submissions, lobby for high quality development, and encourage people to be involved in local politics.

At the moment Ra Stewart appears to be the only person willing to run for mayor against Dr Pettitt. In North Ward at least one person will be running against incumbent Doug Thompson, while in South Ward Liam Carter (Green) is interested in running against Cr Sullivan (former Green). The mayor is supporting former mayor Jenny Archibald to run in East Ward to replace Cr Coggin (Labour) and Fedele Camarda intends running against Cr Fitzhardinge (Labour) in Beaconsfield. In Hilton, Fremantle Society committee member Catherine Hammond will run against Cr Wainright (Socialist).

In City Ward Claudia Green (not a Green) was first out of the blocks to run the election race. Mike Finn, longtime businessman in Fremantle running Kakulas Sisters, expressed interest. Now, according to Cr Sullivan, the mayor is getting Linda Wayman to run. And Adin Lang could run as well.

Unfortunately, the keyboard warriors have written so much inaccurate and conspiratorial material about the election manoeverings, and upset so many people, that Mike has decided he has better things to do and will not run.

A major problem in Fremantle is the apathy of voters, the lack of candidates, and the low voter turnout. People should be encouraged to run, of whatever background or philosophy, but social media now seems to encourage personal attacks and wild speculation. Most people have enough to do in their day keeping a job and looking after their family without entering a Roman Circus.

The Fremantle Society was delighted when Claudia Green became the first to show interest in running in City Ward and we said so. But, the Fremantle Society has never formally endorsed Claudia Green. Two Fremantle Society committee members decided to run (Mike Finn in City and Catherine Hammond in Hilton).

This does not mean the Fremantle Society will not support other candidates, whether they are members of the Society or not.

The Fremantle Society has repeatedly asked for member’s views, and again we ask if you have specific issues you feel candidates should support and focus on.

The mayor and his big team have been campaigning for months already even if you havent noticed it. Just don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

John Dowson
President
john.dowson@yahoo.com

Next issue: Environmental Fraud in Fremantle

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