Freo's View


Posted in city of fremantle, development, fremantle society, kings square, local government by freoview on January 25, 2017

Claims by the Fremantle Society that the City of Fremantle is insolvent were strongly rejected as ridiculous by Deputy Mayor Dave Coggin at the Ordinary Council meeting on Wednesday. Coggin demanded that the Society would send him the report by the certified public accountant they claim had provided the Fremantle Society with the advise that the City was technically insolvent.

Another ridiculous claim by the Fremantle Society was the lack of community consultation on the Kings Square Project.

I don’t know where these people were when Planning Scheme Amendment 49 was debated and the Fremantle Society under my presidency had a scale model in shopping centres to show the proposed heights, which we rejected and wanted lowered, but we did not succeed.

There was also extensive community consultation on the Kings Square development and even a Citizen Jury which I addressed on behalf of the Society, and I went to all the other community meetings to make suggestions. One outcome of that was that Newman Court now no longer will have vehicular access and parking.

Also ridiculous is the expectation that a private developer like Sirona Capital would make the roof tops of the two new buildings accessible to the public. Who is going to pay for security and public liability and how many privately owned buildings in the Perth CBD have public roof top access?

More ridiculousness in the claim that Fremantle Council has a conflict of interest in recommending to JDAP approval for the two Kings Square buildings. The City is not the decision-making authority, and as Councillor Doug Thompson pointed out as a body Council cannot have a conflict of interest or perception of that, but individual Councillors need to make their own decision if they believe they do have a conflict of or financial interest, which none of them declared.

Saying that Council cannot debate the development of a property they have sold would mean for example Council could not make planning approval for the Hilton Doubletree hotel development on the Point Street carpark site the City sold.

Councillor Rachel Pemberton said Sirona Capital was very serious about creating the best possible outcome and had even instigated workshops to improve the building design and enhance the character of the inner city. High calibre people from all sections of the community had attended the Sirona workshops and we will get an outcome we all will be proud of, Pemberton said.

Planning officers told Council and the public gallery that the developers had made significant changes over the last three months in collaboration with the Design Advisory Committee and the DAC now believed the design was at a stage where it was acceptable for them to recommend approval, but more changes would be required and be part of the City’s recommendation to JDAP.

Roel Loopers

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  1. john Dowson said, on January 26, 2017 at 12:49 am

    The facts are the Fremantle Society did not complain tonight at council about a lack of consultation- tonight it pointed out that the important Design Advisory Committee minutes were only available last Friday night when the agenda was put on the internet and the changes made to the building from 12 December when the design committee said the plans were not acceptable to 12 January when they were deemed ‘acceptably good’ were not clearly evident. The developer had years to get the plans right, but council managed to put the biggest plans in council history out for public comment over the Christmas period and without them even going to the planning committee.

    The fact that the plans became ‘acceptably good’ is a long way from the ‘exceptonal design standard’ that HAD to be met in order to get the bonuses they did – up to 28.2 metres, higher than the 10 storey Johnston Court.

    As for a possible council conflict of interest, the Fremantle Society has been contacted by two lawyers who claim Fremantle Council could have a conflict of interest based on the case of a council in the Eastern States being found so.

    As for your success in getting rid of the proposed reintroduction of Newman Street, that is not supported by many urban design experts.

    As for the financial questions we put to council, here they are. They were drawn up by a senior practising accountant without direction from us, and are based on the latest financial report released by Fremantle Council:

    1. Please explain why the six months ended December 2016 statement of income does not include any depreciation on non current assets, given the amount is approx $7m for the full year budget? Without the half year depreciation of $3.5m included the commentary on the YTD Dec 2016 financial performance it is grossly misleading.

    2. For comparative purposes and transparency why are the variances between actual YTD Dec 2016 and actual YTD 31 Dec 2015 amounts not shown or any commentary provided?

    3. The answer provided by the council for the question asked at the 12 Dec 2016 annual general meeting of electors concerning the depreciation of the existing administration building is not accepted. The accounting policies in the council’s financial statements (note 1f) for depreciation clearly states that buildings are depreciated over their useful life, and not upon demolition date. In addition the accounting notes state the carrying value of assets should be written down immediately to its recoverable value if the asset carrying value is greater than its estimated recoverable amount, which has clearly not been done at 30 June 2016. Consequently the financial statements for 30 June 2016 are not fairly stated and materially misleading and the financial statements should not have been approved by councillors. Has the use of demolition date in non compliance with council’s accounting policies been discussed with the auditor, council management and the audit & risk management committee, or raised as an uncorrected misstatement?

    4. The budget EOY statements presented indicate that current liabilities $14.6m will exceed current assets $13m (excluding restricted cash) at 30 June 2017 and the council is technically insolvent. What concrete plans does the council have to improve the rapidly deteriorating financial ratios and position?

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