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 decision by Western Australian Planning Minister John Day to overrule Subiaco council and allow a 16-storey building on the former Subiaco Markets site on Rokeby Road has huge implications for all local councils because it renders communities powerless to decide their own destiny and lifestyle.
The State is muscling in to local government more and more, with Direction 2031 forcing all councils to increase living density and demanding they allow higher buildings in their councils, no matter if it destroys the unique character of those suburbs.
It should greatly worry us all that the Design Advisory Panel and the Minister can overrule any council decisions on building heights, design and quality and that we no longer have a say on how we would like to live.
The result will be a sanitised Perth metro area with councils looking more and more the same and sterile, with the individuality of character being taken away from them. In years to come it might not make much difference where one lives, because Fremantle could look a lot more like West Perth.
There is no doubt that the urban sprawl of Perth can’t continue. It is not sustainable that we develop hundreds of kilometres along a coastal corridor and all have our own patch with a single house and garden. Higher density needs to be encouraged, but it needs to be done with restraint. To put a sixteen-storey building in the centre of Subiaco is vandalism. It’s disgraceful to alter the character of the comfortable shopping area there and is akin to allowing 16 storeys in Freo’s High Street mall.
We should all be very worried that the power of local governments is being drastically eroded by our State Government, and we should ask what the purpose and benefits of council amalgamations are when councils can’t decide their own future anyway. Is local government still relevant?
Local Government Minister Tony Simpson has announced today that the Local Government Advisory Board will not deliver its recommendations for local government amalgamations until late August, and not as was promised by mid this month. It means we in Fremantle will have to keep our fingers crossed that we will get new boundaries that are sympathetic to the proposal put forward by the City of Fremantle, Fremantle Forever and the Fremantle Society.
City of Fremantle mayor Dr Brad Pettitt has been appointed to the Heritage Council of Western Australia to represent the interests of local government. Making the announcement today, Heritage Minister Albert Jacob said Dr Pettitt’s appointment followed a rigorous process completed by the Western Australian Local Government Association to identify the best possible candidates.
“Dr Pettitt is extremely well qualified for the position and will make a strong contribution to the work of the Heritage Council,” Mr Jacob said. “With Fremantle having arguably the highest concentration of heritage places of any local government in Western Australia, Dr Pettitt has a unique insight into the challenges and opportunities associated with the ownership and development of our State’s historic places. “With a ‘can do’ approach and track record in driving change through clear vision and collaboration, Dr Pettitt is well placed to support the critical work of the Heritage Council in recognising, protecting and promoting Western Australia’s rich cultural heritage.”
Heritage Council chair Marion Fulker welcomed Dr Pettitt’s appointment. Ms Fulker said the Heritage Council had been working closely with stakeholders and the State Government on a review of the Heritage Act and the project had reached an important stage with new legislation being drafted. “The draft Heritage Bill, which includes the next stage of public consultation, will be published in the coming months. Dr Pettitt’s extensive local government experience, together with his professional qualifications in sustainable development, will be invaluable to the council as this work progresses,” she said.
It is good to see new residential development not far from the Fremantle CBD and THE OTHER SIDE development at Knutsford Street by Landcorp is very welcome, as part of the urban infill project. The 5858sqm site will have a variety of buildings and heights, from single to multi, and town houses, with street level commercial and retail activity.
The Fremantle Works Depot site is also earmarked to become a development site in the not too distant future and that would create a great new residential suburb not far from the golf course and Booyeembara Park, and only a minute or two away from public transport along High Street.
Driving past today I noticed the interesting remnants of an old shed at Knutsford Street and took this photo.
A reminder that WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan will be at the Fremantle Town Hall this evening at 6 pm to explain the new Community Policing.
It is hard to stay inside when it is such a perfect day. Stunning blue sky, the sun blazing and 20 degrees, so what better way to spend part of the morning than wandering along the shore of the Swan River at North Fremantle. I am planning to go back there soon and shoot more streetscapes and take photos of some of the lovely buildings they got up that way.
I sincerely hope that North Freo will remain with the City of Fremantle when the new council boundaries are announced by State Government in late July. Fingers crossed!