Freo's View

FREMANTLE’S ‘SILENT MAJORITY’

Posted in fremantle by freoview on February 23, 2012

When bad decisions are made, people try to find excuses and use spin to support those decisions. This blog has now received several comments claiming Fremantle council is acting correctly in forcing Planning Scheme Amendment 49 down our throat, because they do so with the approval of the, so called, silent majority.

Let me take that argument further then and ask if this is the same silent majority that did not be bothered putting submissions in, and the same silent majority that did not get off their bums to vote at local government elections. If that is the case,  we now have a council selected by the non silent minority acting on behalf of the silent majority that did not vote for them. That seems a strange interpretation of democracy for me.

It’s this kind of spin that riles me, like Mayor Brad Pettitt childishly claiming that people at the PSA 49 workshops were not so much concerned about heights, but merely about the impact of height.

In his media release the Mayor writes that people were more worried about shadows and lose of amenity, etc. Yes, Brad, shadows created by oversized buildings, loss of amenity because of out of scale buildings, etc.

No matter what anyone writes to me, or whatever excuses they are finding, deep in my heart I know PSA 49 is bad for Fremantle. It is wrong because it lacks vision and detail. It is a mediocre plan, akin to bulldozing upward.

Roel Loopers

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13 Responses

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  1. Lloyd Hammond said, on February 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    On the issue of who is the silent majority… (which was dealt with in your earlier post), there is a lot of indefensible arguments on this topic.

    Let’s not forget that there was only ONE authorised, professional, unbiased survey conducted, not by the Fremantle Society, nor by vox pops, nor by speaking to one’s friends. It was conducted at the request of the City of Fremantle, who as we know, engaged a professional firm to undertake a random phone survey of 200 people (statistically, 200 is a representative sample). It is not unreasonable to assume that the CoF hoped that the survey would justify their planning policy. After 10 months, we now know that 66% of people surveyed were opposed to increased height of up to eight storeys. This is very strong evidence of where the majority view lies.

    An issue raised by one of your respondents (James) was the fact that a tiny minority responded to PSA49 and somehow reflects the numbers that are opposed to it. The low response rate (on both sides) is purely an exhibition of community apathy and nothing else. Maybe James and others do not realise, but many (possibly most) Fremantle residents are not even aware of PSA49!

    Cheers,

    Lloyd

    • James said, on February 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      My post was actually a response to Freoview’s reply to Paul…

      I agree that as it stands, both groups (in-favour and opposed) engaged in the process may well both be in the minority.

      I never claimed the remainder of the population are in-favour.

  2. Andrew Sullivan said, on February 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Let’s see, it’s perfectly okay for Roel Loopers to say “…no matter what anyone writes to me, or whatever excuses they are finding …. I know PSA 49 is bad…”.

    But if I say I have spent years doing the research, have faced all individuals or group or wanted to hear my opinion, have listened to all sides of the argument, have read the submissions from all sides, have liaised with landowners and developers, have workshopped with my fellow elected members on the issues raised in the consultation period, have made changes to the scheme both small and large, and done my duty to make a decision on behalf of the people of Fremantle, I am disrespected because I’m not of the exact same opinion as Roel.

  3. freoishome said, on February 23, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    And if I say
    I have spent years doing the research, have faced all individuals or group or wanted to hear my opinion, have listened to all sides of the argument, have read the submissions from all sides,

    haven’t been given the chance to liaise with landowners and developers,

    have workshopped with my fellow ratepayers on the issues raised in the consultation period,

    want a very different approach to developing the plans and changes
    and done my duty as a ratepayer,

    but am not party to the decision making,

    I am disrespected by my councillors because I’m not of the exact same opinion as Andrew.

    Does that make me unworthy to
    have a different opinion,
    to get a reply to thoughtful views from the decison makers
    to hear explanation of why they deem these different thoughts, opinions and comments to be useless?

    Paul

  4. John Dowson said, on February 24, 2012 at 12:38 am

    No Andrew, you have failed to represent your community, the majority of whom do not want the greatly increased heights.

  5. perthsounds said, on February 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Roel, obviously you prefer the lower rise buildings, but do you think that this new development will look better than what it is now?

    Leo

    • freoview said, on February 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      That pretty much depends on the architects and what council will approve, leo.

      Roel

  6. Freo rip said, on February 24, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    It’s not surprising that many, including councillors, have fairly strong and hardset opinions, particularly on issues such as development. I’m really not surprised that none of Andrew’s workshopping, reading submissions and consultation changed his original views. Andrew’s views, as other councillors and politicians, are within reason, fairly immutable. If you elect Andrew, you expect to get Andrew’s views in policy form, ditto for Brad, Josh, Dave, Sam, Rachel, etc. No surprises really. Similarly, I could be exposed to a plethora of material on the health benefits of fastfood, the security benefits of invading Iraq or the intelligence and wit of George W. Bush, and my opinions wouldn’t change.

    So in some ways, the community consultation was a farcical exercise that we had to have (sounds like the recession we had to have). If the community didn’t want PSA49, they shouldn’t have elected these councillors. You really do get what you vote for. Our councillors, love ‘em or hate ‘em – are intelligent, generally well intentioned people who have arrived at different conclusions to what many of us have. I shake my head at some of their decisions, but they were democratically elected by those who could be bothered to vote.

    I greatly respect John Dowson’s opinion. However I don’t agree with him that Andrew has failed to represent his community. The community voted for this particular team, and Andrew was one candidate who walked in uncontested. Unless it can be shown that there is some vested interest, our pollies tend to support policy they think will work. It’s very rare, and often bad form, if a politician votes purely according to popular opinion. In fact, we expect them to be better informed than the general public. That said, I’m equally disappointed with many facets of PSA49, just as much in terms of what it lacks as well as what it explicity allows.

    I think we should leave off the finger pointing and put our energies into working constructively to get the best out of PSA-49. Hopefully that will mean a tight design guidelines document in the very near future and eventually, some quality development.

    The council must keep its eye on the ball, and the community must keep its eye on the council. We’ll get there!

    Lloyd

    • freoview said, on February 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      I pretty much agree with what you have written, Lloys, so it comes back to the apathy when it comes to election time, when most residents of Fremantle elect not to vote.

      No doubt this council is full of intelligent younger people, and that is good, as the oldies should leave it to decide what the future should bring. They have the best intentions, I am pretty sure of that as well, but when it comes to PSA 49 they were narrow minded and unwilling to change their views, and that is what disappoints me.

      The community consultation we had to have was a waste of time and I am upset council thought they had the right to waste my time, because they were never going to listen, no matter how much Brad ad Andrew will deny that. had they listened Woolstores would have ended up being 8 storeys only, Target only six, etc.

      Roel

    • rachelpemberton said, on February 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      well said Lloyd.

  7. John Dowson said, on February 26, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Lloyd, I don’t see that there is anything wrong with a bit of finger pointing now and again- after all it is human beings who vote at Council, not computers or machines. You even have Cr Pemberton now agreeing with you.

    I look forward to seeing how the ‘tight design guidelines’ will actually represent true design guidelines. After all, genuine design guidelines will have to assess, among other things, the character of the place. But wait, character depends on, among other things, HEIGHT. And, the mayor has written on Roel’s blog, he looks forward to the community helping with the design guidelines- “the other aspects that aren’t height.” Impossible, because height has to be part of any design guidelines. No wonder Roel is sick of wasting his time on this whole pre determined nightmare.

  8. Freo rip said, on February 28, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I agree, height is a significant parameter when it comes to a City’s character. The height debate was energetically debated as part of PSA-49 and no doubt it will continue to be, but PSA-49 is now policy. We all made our opinions heard. It’s time for some pragmatism and to realise that there are many other significant parameters, including architecutral style, choice of materials, energy and environmental considerations, affordability, street level access and connectivity, relationships to adjacent buildings etc. that must also be debated and hopefully incorporated into design guildelines. Height aside, how we interact with these buildings at street level will be very important to Fremantle and its overall character. We must now focus on how to achieve the most effective design guidelines possible, so we’re not caught with our trousers down in front of a DAP.


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