Fremantle is in the news for all the right reasons, with an ABC TV report last night on the proposed ban on plastic bags in our city. Fremantle Council will next Wednesday vote to adopt a local law banning single-use plastic bags, that is likely to go through council unopposed. There is already a ban on plastic bags in the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Freo Mayor Brad Pettitt said there’s a lot of support for the ban from the Fremantle community, and that the idea came from local community groups.
Fremantle Council last year introduced a plastic bag ban but it was rejected on a technicality in State Parliament by National and Liberal MPs. Under the previous law, customers would have been able to purchase environmentally-friendly bags but only if retailers charged 10 cents per bag. That mandatory charge has been deleted from the law that will go to Council next week, because according to legal advice, local government cannot legally impose a mandatory charge for retailers to collect.
If the proposed law gets approved, retailers who ignore it would face a fine of $150, while repeat offenders could be fined up to $2,500.
Brad Pettitt said while the thin non-degradable bags would be prohibited, alternatives such as paper and compostable bags would still be available.
The City of Fremantle Strategic and General Services Committee met on Wednesday evening to debate some interesting agenda items, with the two major ones the applications to create bars at the Kidogo Arthouse and Moores Building art centres.
Kidogo owner Joanna Robertson said she would take advise from Council on building toilets inside the lean out, but asked that consideration should be given to allow for a weather protection structure to be built to accommodate the alfresco use of the area, which get buffeted by strong sea breezes often.
Councillor and Chair Andrew Sullivan rightly pointed out he believed the toilet issue at Bathers Beach was not resolved and ad hoc, and even with Kidogo and the Fishermen’s Co-op building being developed there would still not be public toilets at the inner city beach. He said he had hoped that the inside solution at Kidogo would also have accommodated an outside solution for public toilets, and that having toilets inside the art centre was only the second-best option and not the first-best one.
I agree with Andrew Sullivan that it can’t continue that the onus is on private operators to in fact run public toilets for the City. The fish&chips outlets in the area constantly get non-customers using their toilets and they need to keep them clean at a cost. That is a cop-out from the City which business owners should refuse to accept. The argument by Councillor Dave Hume that Council does not want the footprint of the former kerosene store changed, is not dealing with the reality that the area is being more and more used and public toilets of some sort and somewhere at Bathers Beach are required. Putting the head in the Bathers Beach sand instead of finding a proper solution is not good governance.
The item was approved under delegated authority, so Joanna Robertson can now go into the nitty-gritty of getting planning approval, a liquor license and a new lease contract with the City. Good luck!
The Moore&Moore Cafe application for a bar is not supported by the Fremantle Arts Centre, which manages the Moores Building Contemporary Art Centre there. Director Jim Cathcard believed there would be a clash between the use as a gallery and a bar, and there could be issues at exhibition opening and events if a bar was run simultaneously. Mayor Brad Pettitt pointed out that venues can de-license themselves for specific occasions, as the Fly by Night does when schools and community groups perform there. He also believed there could be another solution found to house the artists in residence who are staying at the Moores, and I agree with Brad on this.
One concern I have is making sure that the art on display is safe from damage and theft in a bar environment. People using the cafe don’t get intoxicated but many people consuming alcohol do, and that needs to be addressed. As the Mayor pointed out, Fremantle wants small bars, especially in the ghost town-like West End that is dead after dark, so solutions need to be explored. The item was deferred to full council.
I contacted Fremantle CLANCYS manager Justin Rogan to find out why the Racing and Gaming Department rejected their application to run a bar at Victoria Hall, during the three months period the building at Princess May Park is refurbished. Justin is on holiday in Vietnam, but here his reply:
The application for “removal of license” from Clancy’s to Vic hall was submitted on the recommendations of racing gaming liquor, so that was what I did. I submitted a comprehensive submission with supporting letters from Mayor Brad Pettitt and Tom Griffiths (Economic and Marketing Manager COF) and others, and a 500 signature petition.
The applications was accepted across the RGL desk about 5 weeks ago, they even went as far as to waive the $3500 application fee and the requirement for a “public interest assessment test” which is arduous. All indications were that it was a fairly straight forward process. As we hadn’t heard from them we contacted them last week, only to find that there had been very little progress and when pushed for a decision, as timing was critical, the application was refused due to an interpretation of the liquor licensing act by the director.
Basically the application was the first of its kind and deemed too risky to grant as it would provide a precedent for future applications, basically tainting all operators with the same brush and once again making decisions/based on the fear of the lowest common denominator. There are around 20 staff who now won’t have employment over that period, not to mention the hours of work and planning put in by the team over the previous few months.
We will endeavor to try to resolve the issue and are looking at venue options around Freo as well,
Clancy’s Fish Pub
I am baffled by Fremantle Council’s decision not to fine Hush Cafe owner Daniel Leppard for repeatedly ignoring orders not to proceed with changing the interior wall of the High Street property. He was told to abide by the planning rules and received at least two stop work orders, which he elected to ignore, so it is not as if he acted in good faith and out of ignorance. He knew what he was doing was wrong, but decided to go ahead with it anyway. And it wasn’t the first time either, as Leppard had previously ignored to get planning approval for the previous Hush at Market Street, a Council officer told me.
Far too often in the Perth metro area property owners and business operators show disregard for heritage buildings. They let them fall into disrepair or make unauthorised alterations out of selfish greed, and sadly councils let them get away with it often.
I have absolutely no sympathy for Daniel Leppard. The Hush Cafe owner acted in selfish interest when he decided to go ahead with the unauthorised alterations to the building, but when confronted and threatened with legal action he played the poor small business owner who might be forced out of business by cruel council officers, if he had to replace the plaster at a cost of around $ 10,000. So what?! Leppard deliberately ignored CoF officers’ demands to stop work and he deliberately damaged the heritage wall, so let him pay. To believe he will reinstate the wall once he leaves the business is pretty naive. He’d probably sell it on as an ongoing business and make it someone else’s problem.
Someone who starts a business in Fremantle’s beautiful heritage area and in a heritage listed building knows he will have development restrictions. To ignore them is plain vandalism and council has no reason to be lenient with such a rogue business owner.
Mr Leppard told the Fremantle Herald that his painting of the wall looked “cool and grungy” and shows respect for the heritage building, but it was not his judgement call to make and the experts told him not to proceed with it. If it was about personal taste and preference many of Freo’s heritage buildings would no longer exist or would have been altered unrecognisably. Daniel Leppard can only blame himself and he really has no excuse for ignoring Council orders. What he did should not be accepted.
There are a lot of good cafes in High Street and surrounding streets, so I suggest that anyone who is serious about preserving Freo’s heritage gives Hush the cold shoulder and instead supports one of the other cafes in the area, to let owner Daniel Leppard know we are not impressed with his attitude. I for one will never have a coffee at Hush again.
Senator Mathias Cormann, the Federal Minister for Finance, will be speaking at Fremantle Notre Dame University this Wednesday April 9 from 6-7 pm. His lecture will be about his personal reflections on his career as a lawyer in politics. This is a free event and all are welcome.
The location is the Michael Keating room in the former Fremantle Hotel, corner High and Cliff streets.
West Australian newspaper columnist Paul Murray is not impressed that Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt condones unlawful behaviour by cyclists and that the Mayor wants to reward them by giving law breakers free lights and bells.
Like many people I have spoken to Murray believes the police should be allowed to do their job, and that Fremantle can’t expect special treatment because some of our free and easy cyclist don’t want to wear helmets and can’t be bothered having a bell on their bikes and lights at night.
Those who do the right and lawful thing questioned why they should be paying for the necessities, when those who can’t be bothered to buy them get them as a present from the City of Fremantle for breaking the law. It would be quite different to have something like a Free Bell Day at Kings Square as a promotion to encourage bike riding, similar to handing out free trees.
As I said in my previous article about this, I believe this is once again one of those naive thought bubbles where all the consequences are not being considered. The fact that the Mayor announced it on ABC radio without Council having approved the idea also shows that our Mayor thinks he’ll get his way and that the Elected Members will just sign on the dotted line whenever he wants it.
Fremantle is not outside State law, and while we should do everything to encourage more people to use their bikes and keep cars out of the inner city, rewarding law breakers is not the solution, and it sends the wrong message to children.
Paul Murray’s column is in the West today.
There has been a lot of criticism about Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt’s announcement that the City will be giving away free bicycle lights and bells to those who get caught by police for not having them. Many people questioned why ratepayers should pay for other people breaking the law, just to support the Mayor’s philosophy that Fremantle needs to encourage the use of bikes. Others questioned how the Mayor can go to the media with something that has not yet been approved by council, as he is the spokesperson for the City of Fremantle, unless of course the Mayor wants to pay for this scheme out of his own pocket.
Questions have also been raised about the legality of a local government being exempt from State law and why residents and ratepayers of other cities should not expect the same treatment. And will the City of Fremantle also pay for bike bells and lights for non Freo residents who get stopped by police in our city?
The other issue is that COF would have to buy hundreds of lights and bells wholesale and that local retailers would miss out on selling these items to the public and that is unfair competition.
A friend of mine who recently bought lights and a bell told me this morning he will be sending a demand for reimbursement for $ 55.00 to the City, as he believes he should be rewarded for doing the right and legal thing.
It feels as if this is yet another thought bubble that has not been considered deeply and carefully. Financially rewarding people for breaking the law seems a very strange and inappropriate way of promoting bicycle use.
ABC radio presenter John McGlue was wondering why the City of Fremantle wants to reward unlawful behaviour of those who ride their bicycles without lights and bells and offer them the items for free. He interviewed Mayor Brad Pettitt about this new idea the City wants to implement in collaboration with the Freo police. What it means is that if you get caught without a light on your bike, or the bell is missing, Police will only give you a caution and you’ll receive the missing item free of charge, courtesy of the City of Fremantle ratepayers.
The Mayor kept saying it was a good and relatively cheap idea, while McGlue did not like the idea that people will get rewarded for not obeying the law. Free or half-price helmets might be next on the cards, Brad Pettitt told the ABC.
The Jan ter Horst house, that Fremantle monument crying out against government incompetence, on top of the hill in Beaconsfield, became a Christmas meeting point for the neighbours, and to ring the century-old bells Jan has on his roof deck. The oldest bell is from 1796.
The house must have one of the best views in the area. 360 degrees uninterrupted from the hills to Perth and Scarborough and from Rottnest to way past Kwinana. Stunning!
Ter Horst’s battle against Fremantle council and State Government has become legendary and one can still see him driving around Fremantle with a coffin on the roof of his car. He’s a stubborn old Dutchman.
The first lines of the Metallica song For Whom The Bells Toll seemed apt this morning:
Make his fight
on the hill in the early day
constant deep chill inside.