MORE IMPACT WITH BALANCED FREMANTLE SOCIETY
The Fremantle Society will have its AGM on December 7 where president John Dowson will be re-elected unopposed.
The Society has played a very important role in protecting Fremantle’s heritage for more than forty years, but I believe it has lost its way by being too negative and too narrow focussed, and rumblings within the membership suggest that Downson’s anti-height, anti-development and anti-change rhetoric is wearing thin not only outside the Society but also among the community group’s members.
It is a shame that the negativity is making the Society irrelevant, as many people in the community, Councillors and CoF officers no longer take Dowson’s criticism serious and stop listening to what the Fremantle Society has to say about the future of Fremantle.
The Society needs to find some balance and a strong committee that will guide its president and stop the relentless negativity in the media, as it is counter productive.
I have no doubt at all that John Dowson means very well and that he is passionate about protecting Fremantle’s heritage, and so am I, but blaming Fremantle Council, particularly Mayor Brad Pettitt, for development rejected by CoF but approved by state agencies DAP or SAT, is unfair and makes one question the integrity of the Fremantle Society.
The Society always had a very strong voice and was respected and listened to and while it did not win all the battles, it has done some remarkable work. Instead of whingeing about a down pipe in the wrong location Dowson should have been proud of the great outcome of the Warders Cottages, for which FS fought so hard, and also for the Society’s achievement finally getting the Gunners Cottages at Cantonment Hill restored.
I agree with Dowson that a lot of new development in Fremantle is ugly and inappropriate and I will stand side by side with him and FS fighting the Notre Dame University proposal for the corner of High and Cliff streets and other mediocre and inappropriate buildings, such as the one proposed by the Yolk developers for the former Spotlight site in Adelaide Street.
The Society needs to do what it does best and find the right battles to combat instead of the blanket approach of no change, no height, no development, because Fremantle is in desperate need of residential, commercial and tourist development and the Society should be supportive of positive change and progress in our city.
I sincerely hope John Dowson and the new committee will find a more balanced and respectful way of expressing their views, so they have more impact and will be taken serious again.