I don’t engage in conspiracy accusations about Fremantle Council, but since the declaration of gifts to Elected Members and COF staff is on the F-POL committee meeting this Wednesday I decided to check out the Register on the COF website.
The gift declarations I could view were for the period of July 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 and in that period not a single Councillor has declared they received tickets to concerts. That is even more remarkable since two Councillors; Pemberton and McDonald declared a conflict of interest on the recent Sunset Events/J Shed item because they had received free tickets.
The Mayor and former CEO declared they had received tickets to AFL matches. The Mayor also declared travel and accommodation gifts to seminars.
So who at COF actually monitors the Gift and Travel Register? Is the CEO responsible for it and why are Councillors not reminded about their duty to declare gifts?
This is just another lack of transparency and accountability the community gets so irate about and hence the perception remains that something is not right. Surely this can be improved with an email from the CEO to all Elected Members and staff and someone being made responsible to check that the declarations are made and entered on the Register immediately.
My question to the CEO: How many complimentary free tickets to events were given to Fremantle Councillors in the last 12 months? Who were the Elected Members concerned and why are these gifts not on the Register?
Let’s put a stop to gifts. If Elected Members and staff are required to attend events to monitor and report on them the City of Fremantle should pay for it. That way no one can ever accuse anyone at COF of repaying favours to event organisers.
The Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee-FPOL will on Wednesday debate a new Attendance and Events policy for Elected Members and staff of the City of Fremantle.
Reading the agenda item I am not sure why there is a need for it as Regulation # 12 of the Local Government Regulations of 2007 clearly state what a gift is and what Elected Members are required to do.
The Act states that a Notifiable Gift is one between $ 50 and $ 300 over a six months period and that a Prohibited Gift is one of $ 300 or more by the same person/organisation to an Elected Member over a period of six months. Reading this I wonder why not more Fremantle Councillors have declared a conflict of interest dealing with Sunset Events related items, as two tickets each for two concerts within a six months period clearly would have exceeded $ 300.00 and also is classified as a prohibited gift.
I also believe there is a loophole that needs to be addressed, as legally it could be argued that if events promoter sign a deal with the City of Fremantle that includes free tickets and tickets are distributed by officers to community organisations, Councillors and staff members, those tickets are not directly gifts to Elected Members or staff and hence do not require disclosure and registration on the Gift Register.
That would only create more conspiracy innuendo and not help transparency and accountability.
Stopping free tickets for Councillors would be the best to stop community suspicion, so why not rotate two elected members per event to monitor what goes on and report back to council or committees. The City pays for these tickets and the community can no longer argue that members get influenced by event operators by getting gifts in the form of tickets.
The City of Fremantle is looking for an experienced industry professional EVENTS MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR who will be responsible for liaising with a range of private commercial and community based event promoters to ensure a good outcome for events held within the City. The role will see you responsible for delivering the City’s corporate events such as Australia Day and ANZAC Day and for managing the City’s facilities associated with events, including the Town Hall, suburban halls and reserves.
12 month contract/full time hours – leave cover
Salary range $85 689 to $89 839 pa + super
In consultation with the Manager arts and culture you will regularly review the criteria for event approvals and when required assist the City’s Festivals Coordinator with event advice. You will also develop and manage project budgets and grant applications, develop event risk management plans and prepare reports.
This position supervises two events officers and a bookings officer and reports to the Manager of arts and culture.
To be successful in this role you will need to demonstrate successful experience in delivering large public events and managing staff. You will also possess excellent report writing, organisational and research skills. Tertiary qualifications or demonstrated relevant experience are a requirement for this position.
This is a 12 months contract covering existing staff leave and the successful candidate must be available to commence the contract no later than 1 August 216.
Applicants who do not meet the selection criteria of the position will not be considered.
I hope the City of Fremantle will follow the lead of the City of Perth, which will no longer make free tickets for Councillors and staff a requirement when approving events.
From social media feedback it appears the Mayor and some Councillors attend all the Sunset Events J Shed concerts and there is really no need for that as these concerts are not one off events. Instead concert noise levels should be checked by an officer of the City.
One Councillor often advertises on Facebook that he has got free tickets to events and if anyone wants to come along.
With all the mateship accusations levelled at Elected Members it would be in their own interest if they no longer accepted freebies from events organisers, no matter if these tickets are distributed by the Director or not.
If there is a need to monitor events it should primarily be done by officers and maybe there could be a roster system so that two Councillors also attend events on behalf of Council and report back to them, that way all the conspiracy crap can be eliminated.
On a similar note can I also observe that there must be a lot of patrons leaving J Shed events with bottles of alcohol as we find a lot of empties around the area afterwards. I doubt the organisers have a take away liquor license, so they should stop people from taking alcohol out of the compound.
It is a real shame there is no data base where events organisers can check if an event they are planning would be clashing with other events in Fremantle.
Today there are four events around six o’clock that I would have liked to go to, but now I am going to have to miss out on at least two of them.
The Fremantle Network is Doing Housing Differently at the National Hotel from 5.30, Fremantle Prison has a workshop at 6pm about future events there, and Notre Dame University has a speaker from Caritas in Malawi.
And to top it off there is a lovely community event at Leighton Beach with the Full Moon Drum and Dance from 6 pm.
Whatever your preferences, go and participate and help make a positive difference to our community!
It looks like Fremantle will have a big Perth Fashion Festival event at Bathers Beach on November 29 this year. The proposal is on the agenda of this Wednesday’s Strategic Planning and Services Committee and would see the boardwalk and area near it blocked off from the general public all of that Sunday, with the boardwalk being used as the catwalk for the models to show the latest local fashion designs.
The Bathers Beach House operators would extend the licensed area and become part of the ticketed event that no doubt would bring glamour and socialites to our inner city beach.
Another big DJ music event at Leighton Beach is also up for Council approval on Wednesday, so Council needs to be careful not to overdo it and make the same mistakes with our beaches as it has done with the overused and struggling Esplanade. Public open spaces are there for all to enjoy and there should only be a few events a year that restrict access for the general public.
And no bean bags on the beaches please. Last year thousands of small balls were polluting Leighton after a music event, so bean bags should be banned as part of the City of Fremantle approval for such events.
I am looking forward to another great summer, the Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets and all the festivals, but let’s spread them out so that not only inner city people are inconvenienced by events.