Freo's View



Those people who constantly hammer Fremantle Council with criticism about vacant shops, homeless people, anti social behaviour and crime would do well to pay attention to recent media reports.

Shops, cafes and restaurants in Mount Lawley along once extremely popular Beaufort Street are closing in large numbers and they blame high rents and a drop in foot traffic for that.

The decline in retail is happening all over metropolitan Perth, Australia and the world as the traditional high street shopping destinations have been replaced with huge suburban shopping centres on the outskirts.

Media reports about excessive shop lifting and anti social behaviour in Cockburn, Rockingham, Canning, etc have become common, and the West Australian dedicated two pages of their weekend edition on the issues of homelessness in the Perth CBD.

There are no easy solutions for any of these problems and the call from traders for councils to demand that property owners charge lower rents is as unrealistic as it would be unlawful. Governments can not dictate what rents property owners can charge and while high rents in the present retail climate appear almost indecent and selfish there is very little local or state governments can do about it.

Some owners are better and allow pop-up shops to fill vacant shops, but only for a very limited time, so that is only a short-term ‘solution’.

Crime and anti social  behaviour are State responsibility and while Fremantle and most councils do have their own very good security officers they are often powerless as they do not have the right to issue move-on notices or arrest people.

There is no doubt though that the perception of not feeling safe will keep people away. Foot traffic numbers in the Cappuccino Strip have dropped dramatically while they have increased quite a bit in High Street in the West End. The latter is probably mainly due to Notre Dame University students pounding the pavement.

It is always strange to notice on busy Freo weekends how many people are walking along South Terrace but when I turn into High Street the street is nearly void of pedestrians.  Visitors seem to prefer Collie and Essex streets for their East West movement and ignore the far more attractive historic High Street.  Why is that, I wonder?

A prominent Freo business owner urged me last week to promote that we collectively stop talking our city down and that we have to start telling ourselves and our visitors how special Fremantle is.

Only yesterday at the Roundhouse two German tourists told me how much they liked Freo and how friendly people here are, and the volunteer guides hear those kind of remarks very often. We receive so much positive feedback from overseas and interstate visitors that it is hard to believe that some Fremantle residents and traders here have such a negative opinion about our gorgeous little city.

Freo is a great place but like most other suburbs has similar problems and struggles with the retail economy,  anti social behaviour and crime. Attracting more visitors to Freo will partly help with that, and that can only be achieved by not talking our city down, but by talking it up. Let’s give it a try!

Roel Loopers


4 Responses

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  1. freoview said, on May 26, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Thank you Nic!



  2. A Beautiful City said, on May 25, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Another great article!


  3. Gnangarra Lake said, on May 24, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    of course no one is using High street, theres no reason to. If youre on the Cappicino strip & the markets you across the Esplanade to Fishing boat harbour, round house. arthur head. If you head to Victoria quay then you head towards the train station. You do that because thats where the parking is, and where the activities are. It’d be better to consider holding more events in High Street rather than damaging the Esplanade. besides the temporary police station there is no reason for any one to use that stretch of road


  4. w3st3ndr3sid3nt said, on May 24, 2019 at 10:42 am

    There were another two assaults last week at the Fremantle Beach Backpackers – one against a young male backpacker by up to 5 guests who asked for a refund as he didn’t feel safe, another (aggravated assault) against a female guest that Julie saved as none of the guest came to her rescue. On top of these, a noise complaint was made by the neighboring therapists and 3 used condoms were left on the Henry Street footpath. This was 1 week of incidents at the Backpackers. Just this year further assaults and drug arrests have occurred. Yet the Council does not want to remove their lodging house license.

    Your argument to talk up Fremantle reminds me of incest victims we deal with who are told (usually by their mothers) to not report their fathers for crimes but to remember all the holidays that he may have taken the family on or other nice times. The problems cannot be dealt with unless they are confronted and not hidden away.

    No one comes down the West End as there is little to attract them. I also spoke to a prominent business owner just last night who said he is moving on from the West End as there is little opportunity for growth.


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