Freo's View

COURT CHALLENGE WILL DAMAGE BRAND FREMANTLE

I realise the Kings Square Project and its handling by the City of Fremantle has divided community opinion, which has now resulted in the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association engaging prominent lawyer John Hammond to try to stop the development.

I also know that by publishing this article the same opponents will bring up the same arguments we have read many times and heard at Council and during public meetings. I don’t want to rehash all the pros and cons, but ask what it would mean for Fremantle if a court challenge succeeded.

The first hurdle is probably that the Department of Housing would not sign a long-term lease with Sirona Capital unless it can guarantee that the development will go ahead within an appropriate time frame, so even if the legal challenge is not successful it could delay the Kings Square Project substantially.

The legal and financial ramifications for the City of Fremantle and its ratepayers, should a court challenge to stop the development be successful, could be enormous, as it is likely that Sirona Capital would want compensation in the millions of dollars from COF. It is also likely that Kerry Hill Architects which won the Civic Centre architect competition would want compensation if the building is cancelled.

At the end we could end up with huge costs to the City and no development at Kings Square, and that would be a huge shame in my opinion.

It is very disappointing that the Kings Square Project public relations has been so inadequately managed by the City and has left too much room for doubt, although many Councillors made very strong presentations and assured the community they had listened to and challenged expert consultants and staff and were satisfied they had crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is.

I do support the Kings Square Project because I believe substantial inner city development is essential for Fremantle to grow and become a shopping destination again, but I am disappointed about the lack of transparency and the City citing commercial confidentiality.

A few hundred dissatisfied Fremantle residents who are not happy with the answers they received about the financial details, will now question the democratic process and the right for local government to make tough decisions, sell assets and invest in the future. It will be very fascinating to hear the legal arguments in court.

Whatever the outcome, I fear this will do serious damage to brand Fremantle when it has just started a very good recovery process of many new buildings in the CBD and many more planned for the very near future. It makes me sad that we are such a divided community and that there is so much negativity and political point scoring. There will be no winners at the end of it.

Roel Loopers

18 Responses

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  1. freoview said, on August 22, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    I would have tagged with FRRA or full name in the past and will do it again when I write more about this issue.

    Roel

  2. martin said, on August 22, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Roel,

    I am just referring to a link to articles that YOU have written that contain a reference to FRRA.

    ie list it in your Categories section, not the Associates section. I am assuming that with all of the references that Mark has listed (Herald etc) that you would have mentioned FRRA at some point.

    For example there was a public meeting earlier this year that was organized by FRRA / Freo Society / FICRA at Notre Dame where approximately 180 local people turned up. I remember that notice of this public meeting was advertised in the Herald. This community meeting discussed the very concerns about the Kings Square Business Plan that are being raised by you in this blog.

    I am sure that you were aware of this meeting and its topic, so I can only assumed that it is in your archives somewhere? I think they were heavily involved in the Skate Park discussions too? Based on Mark’s list there may be quite a lot of others in your archive too?

    Martin

  3. freoview said, on August 22, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Hi Martin,

    I was not aware either that FRRA had a website, probably because I never had a need to look for it, so will have a look later today and add it to that section of my blog.

    Roel

    I just Googled FRRA and can’t find a website, Martin. An article by Claudia Green on the FICRA page and articles I have written, so what is the actual website for FRRA? I am not interested in Facebook links or articles written about them, but only in their own FRRA website as a link for my readers.

  4. martin said, on August 22, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Hi Roel,

    Perhaps it would be helpful to all those people who cannot find FRRA for you to put a FRRA tab on the right hand side of you blog page (with all of the other ones), and then your readers could find all references to FRRA in the one place?

    This would save a lot of confusion out there, and would mean that Mark would not need to clutter up your blog page with his rendition of War and Peace…

  5. freoview said, on August 21, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I will publish this comment, Mark, but won’t publish comments of such incredible length in future. Your comments are longer than my blog posts, so be succinct or it won’t appear here.

    Roel

  6. Mark said, on August 21, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Well if u don’t read the local paper, don’t go to council meetings, and don’t see any of the events they have done, don’t read community websites , adds in the paper, what can I say, they are out in the public domain and active
    FRRA has held weekly meeting at the council rooms for years, has an AGM once a year, had members run for council, in two elections, a third coming up soon.
    Hosted meet the candidate events for local elections.
    FRRA has hosted community events, at schools, local business, and council chambers.
    The Fremantle Society has a face book page with a post dedicated to FRRA.
    Then again FRRA has a face book page too, not that any of the, who are they, why are they hiding, I can find them crowd has looked. No, social media definitely the last place to look and this google deal is far too complicated right?
    Especially when the first google link I got was a letter from FRRA to the community, introducing its self on a community website set up for community communication by the Fremantle council. LOL
    http://ficra.freospace.com.au/?p=1094
    With a contact phone number and email address.
    Again we see more council agenda spreading miss information, spin and attacking community based groups who dare to question their will. All a distraction by their agents to cloud the real issues at hand.
    Their miss use of council funds, going against councils own policy, a poor business plan, secret meetings and a possible loss to the city of $50,000,000.00
    Nothing to see here folks but what about those bastards daring to ask questions, they are going to cost the city a fortune, and destroy its image, seriously, pull the other one. God we have to increase the rates again because a community group dares to ask questions.

    Here are a few links to see what FRRA, Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association has done over the last 3 or so years. And places to find info on these Illuminati of community groups
    Interviewed by the news groups, local press, but can’t find any information on them? Is your computer turned on?
    All these links took a couple of minutes to open and copy/paste the url’s, all off google.

    https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2014/04/11/bush-in-sorry-state/
    https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2013/12/13/secret-sewerage/
    https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2013/08/30/new-voice-in-freo/
    https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2013/10/04/conflict-claims-spark-skate-park-probe/

    https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2014/10/03/parking-curbs/
    https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2014/09/12/bathers-beach-backfire/
    https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2014/04/17/parks-improve-mental-health/
    https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2015/02/27/groups-aim-for-council/

    https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2014/12/19/deputy-frozen-out/
    https://fremantlereform.com/uncategorized/groups-demand-square-rethink-fremantle-herald-interactive-plus-a-little-wa-inc/
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-21/fremantle-kings-square-redevelopment-stalls/7346386
    https://www.businessnews.com.au/article/Council-pressed-over-Kings-Square-finances
    https://freoview.wordpress.com/tag/fremantle-residents-and-ratepayers-association/

    Roel actually did an article on FRRA re-launch in 2013, https://freoview.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/fremantle-residents-and-ratepayers-group-launch/

    The ABC has written about their comments on this issue too, channel nine was in contact over this as well, years back. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-21/fremantle-kings-square-redevelopment-stalls/7346386

    FRRA has hosted events that have been advertised in the local paper and through precincts.

    FIRCA is part of the precinct system setup by council, and is run by those members in the community who take an interest in their community where they live.

    FRRA is not a precinct group.
    Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association (FRRA) is an incorporated, membership based organization representing residents and ratepayers across the City of Fremantle. It was re-established in 2013 by a group of residents in response to shared concerns about the way the City of Fremantle was making decisions on behalf of residents and ratepayers

    Its main belief is for good governance and transparency, exactly what Fremantle council is not good at.

    If you are worried about someone costing you allot of money then I suggest you look at what council is up to as they are trying to sell of the city assets faster than Barnett is selling off the states,

    Once the city has sold most of its revenue generating assets where do you think the short fall will come from. What will pay for the massive loan their new build monument will place on the city? Where will the money come from? Oh yes more massive rate increases.
    What assets they have kept seem to be given out free or well below market rates, to select groups or individuals, which in most cases add nothing to the city.

    Why are they selling assets below market price?
    Why are so many assets given away for free to a few select, connected groups?
    Why aren’t they put out for open tender?
    Why don’t they show the all the documents from close door meeting from years ago?
    Why would they sell a car park to build one at 1/2 the size for the price that they sold the old one for, sounds like well below replacement cost sale to me, who benefits from this and at what cost to the city’s financial stability?

    It’s quite funny/ridiculous to think a residences and rate payer groups is effecting the finances of the city when it’s the council is going against its own policies in asset management.

    I spent 18 months going to council meetings on a regular basis, 2-3 times a month, and what I saw in general was really concerning.

  7. freoview said, on August 21, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Yes indeed important to keep the full cost up to date and review after so many years, Craig and no doubt that will be required whe applying for federal funding.

    Roel

  8. Craig said, on August 21, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    The damage is being done by CoF stonewalling.

    Surely it would just be easier if CoF made available transparently their financial workings/spreadsheet for the Kings Square project to back up their representations there is a positive net PV and an internal rate of return of 6% for a civic administrative project that earns minimal income.

    Also the Kings Square business plan is dated Nov 2012 and is outdated for the current office market situation which is under pressure and the plan needs updating. Particularly as the 24 Aug 2016 council agenda (page 57) indicates that a full cost review of the current project design has not been done yet (!) and CoF is applying for federal funding for the project.

  9. Mark said, on August 21, 2016 at 10:37 am

    My first Google attempt,
    The first link was
    http://ficra.freospace.com.au/?p=1094
    A website set for Fremantle precincts set up by council.
    With email address and contact number
    Couldn’t be easier

    I don’t know of any representative running at the last federal election
    The group is community based not political

  10. Jon said, on August 21, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Martin your logical approach to this is great.

    I think a commonly used expression is “Do Not let the facts get in the way of a good story”

    Clearly that was the councils plan from the beginning, it’s how they wrote their business plan all fluff and no substance

    It’s seems council has released its hounds to run down this FRRA organisation to distract attention from the real issues that you keep raising.

  11. Anne Mogan said, on August 20, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Yes why can’t I find out who they are? Where is their website?

  12. martin said, on August 20, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    It looks like we have a clear idea how the Council intends to fend off the questions posed by FRRA – attack the people asking the questions. They always resort to this when they desperately don’t want to address the issues.

    Pathetic!

    2 years of questions – still no answers from Council.

    Are you saying that FRRA does not have the right to ask questions in a democracy. If Freo Council has nothing to hide, then they should have nothing to fear.

    Perhaps you should be asking our democratically elected representative why they simply refuse to answer very straightforward and reasonable questions about the financial management of OUR funds!

    In 2 years, Jeff McDonald is the only Councillor that has stood up and bothered to look into these questions. He has made an effort to understand the concerns raised, formed his own view, and then he voted against the extension of the Sirona contract. He has an MBA, and is the only Councillor with any form of financial qualifications.

    In 2 years, not one other Councillor has sought to understand the concerns raised by rate payers. Not a single one has made the effort to contact those asking these questions to better understand their concerns. Not one!!!

    They have all either looked the other way, or arrogantly dismissed the right for someone to ask these questions.

    You have a very strange perception of what constitutes a democracy. Every individual and every group, has the right to hold their elected representative responsible for their actions. Are you saying FRRA should simple shut up and go away, and reward Council for Stone-walling them? If Council openly honestly and transparently answered their valid and reasonable question, this would have been resolved 2 years ago.

    Roel, why the scaremongering? Why not comment on what FRRA has actually said and done rather than speculating about what they might say and do in the future. Why all the speculation, rather than sticking to facts? Why have you extrapolated this into something it isn’t?

  13. Sacha said, on August 20, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Unfortunately it’s some of the residents that are the biggest issue for Freos future. How do me and my fellow enlightened resident friends join this FRRA group to try to make them see the bigger picture?

  14. Bob said, on August 20, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    I’m pretty sure they can’t stop you joining, and if you’re a member you’ll be allowed to find out at least how many and probably who they are as well.

  15. freoview said, on August 20, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I wonder how many financial members FRRA actually have but that might be ‘commercially sensitive’ and something they don’t want to disclose.

    Roel

  16. Lionel said, on August 20, 2016 at 11:53 am

    It is a bit rich to dismiss ‘a few hundred ratepayers’ as ‘questioning the democratic process’ when all they are really doing is exercising their democratic freedom. Just because you don’t agree with their position doesn’t automatically make them wrong or evil. They are fully entitled to take the action they have and quite frankly, they wouldn’t be taking this action if there wasn’t any reason to.

    What claim would KHA or Sirona have against the COF if the courts ruled against the development? None as far as I can tell.

  17. Anne Mogan said, on August 20, 2016 at 11:39 am

    I’m sorry if I am a bit dumb but I know nothing about this association who are supposed to be representing me! Where can I find out more? I’ve tried googling them but can only get references to them, mainly by you Roel and the woman who represented them at the last federal Election. Who are their members? How democratic are they? Are they like FICRA just a clique of individuals with their own specific agendas. If they going to cost me a lot of money as a ratepayer who generally enthusiastic about the development of Fremantle I’d like some more information. I

  18. Mark said, on August 20, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Pretty sad when a community group has to take the council to court to get answers.

    I doubt a business could successful sue if a court order stop the deal, anyway they have run over their expiry date several times

    Amazing to see Councillors bend over backwards to possibly loss 10’s of millions of councils $. To support one business in town

    I think councils has done the damage on brand freo already with hiding of documents, questionable business plan etc,

    This message has spread quite far and wide already, I have had friends emailing from as far as the uk and Austria to ask me what’s doing on


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