Freo's View

FREMANTLE SOCIETY WANT CAT BUS SCRAPPED

 

Fremantle Society president John Dowson has sent emails to the members that argue for the scrapping of the popular CAT bus in Fremantle. Dowson says the $ 800,000 a year for the bus service should go to the repairs of Arthur’s Head.

I am all for redirecting as much money as the City can afford to finally get the stabilisation work at historic Arthur’s Head done, but not at the cost of stopping the CAT bus service.

John Dowson writes that it is only an idea and not the position of the Fremantle Society committee, and that new South Fremantle Councillor Marija Vujcic is willing to put a motion to Council about it.

Dowson claims that Deputy Mayor Andrew Sullivan is also keen to scrap the CAT bus, but when I bumped into that South Fremantle Councillor, with appropriate social distancing, he said that was not the case.

The CAT bus is popular with local Freo people and tourists and a great way of connecting the CBD with South Fremantle, and for people to get to the Arts and Leisure centres.

I am all for keeping the CAT, but the financial situation of the City is precarious, so time will tell what savings need to be made, now that one of the major lines of income, parking fees and fines, has dried up because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Roel Loopers

DISAPPOINTING COMMUNICATION FROM THE FREMANTLE SOCIETY

It is really disappointing to read Fremantle Society president John Dowson’s rants that he emails to the members.

JD writes about the FPOL committee meeting and a question from the public “How, when and where were the Fremantle rate payers involved or included in the planning of a tavern design concept to be located in the cultural and civic centre?” the answer came back: “The City undertook a Kings Square Urban design strategy in 2012/2013 which was developed through community consultation.”

That is correct. I was at several community meetings, including a so-called Citizenship Jury about the Kings Square plans, as the then president of the Fremantle Society.

JD also attacks Council’s suggestion to rename Kings Square and change it to an Aboriginal name: When the suggestion comes to council this Wednesday to rename King’s Square after Midgegooroo, a cold blooded murderer whose execution was even cheered by some Aboriginal onlookers, council may reluctantly give the community a few weeks, but only to give their suggestions for a name change.

History tends to write its own reality, and I remember well that John Dowson some years back defended the reputation of Captain Fremantle in a letter to the Fremantle Herald, when claims were made Fremantle had been a rapist. JD said the case never went to court and Fremantle was never convicted of rape, so let the same fairness apply to Midgegooroo, who was accused of being a murderer, but he was never convicted of that alleged crime in a court of law either, so the Noongar elder was unlawfully murdered by white settlers.

John Dowson is clearly of the belief that if one repeats claims often enough they become reality: The ideological whitewash of traditions and heritage in Fremantle is scarily becoming more and more evident as the rebranding and neglect of heritage gathers pace. When the Fremantle Society was told several years ago that a Fremantle Council consultant had indicated the superb Moreton Bay fig trees in King’s Square had to go as they affected the sight lines to the new administration building, the speaker was not believed. The trees are now gone.

Fact is that the Moreton Bay fig trees at Kings Square were very sick and arborists from the eastern states and WA advised Fremantle Council that the trees were becoming a danger to the community, as big heavy branches had fallen down, so the removal of the trees had nothing to do with sight lines. Every effort was made to try to save them with soil injections, etc, but unfortunately that was not successful and hence they were removed. It was about community safety.

I hear that even some committee members of the Fremantle Society are not happy with the president, so the real danger is that the very important contribution the society has made to Fremantle over decades is now being eroded by a man whose main interest appears to be political council bashing. What a shame, because we need community groups such as the Fremantle Society to scrutinise what is going on in our city, but that has to be done with facts, fairness and balance, not polemic.

Roel Loopers

 

FREMANTLE SOCIETY TO ARTHUR’S HEAD RESCUE

 

I hear the Fremantle Society has set up a sub-committee that will concentrate on lobbying and trying to get funding for the urgent repairs of Arthur’s Head, so good on them!

What Fremantle Council has been doing about it is pathetic and absolutely inadequate. The area is vested in the City, but they wash their hands off one of our state’s most significant historic and tourists areas and just wait to see if the state government, or anyone else, will cough up the $ 2 million needed. That is not good enough!

I have been told the action by the Fremantle Society will be bipartisan and trying to get as many people on board as possible, so I will be happy to promote anything the group will be doing in that regard.

I have a suspicion that the WA Labor government is not going to do anything about it until the next state election, but that is too far away.

Arthur’s Head has been looking awful for two years now with all the ugly fencing around it. The look at the Whalers Tunnel and the cliff face from Bathers Beach is a total eyesore, but it has been put in the too hard basket by Fremantle’s elected members. I find that extremely disappointing.

So go for it, Freo Society! Lobby politicians from all parties at state and federal level, look for grants, try to get financial support from the resources industries, etc. because Fremantle deserves better than having to accept a major problem that is not being addressed with the urgency it demands.

Roel Loopers

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NARROW-MINDED PERSPECTIVE OF FREMANTLE’S HERITAGE

 

Fremantle Society president John Dowson is losing all his credibility when he sends these kind of nonsense messages and photos to FS members:

JD perspective

Australia Day Gone – Now Fremantle

Australia Day was cancelled without consultation.

Now, without consultation, the name Fremantle has been supplanted by Wanju Nidja Walyalup Whadjuk Boodja.

The sign above blocking the view of one of Australia’s most important heritage streets, High Street Fremantle, mentions Fremantle as an afterthought.

Mayor Brad Pettitt has been paid over $1 million already to be mayor of Fremantle, not another name that has not been discussed with the community.

 

Let us look at a more objective perspective, because the reality is that any face-level sign will block the view when one is very close to it, so below the photo I took of the same sign this Christmas morning.

A more objective perspective than John Dowson’s photo.

 

It is also remarkable that John Dowson must have discovered the Fremantle way-finding signs just now at the end of December 2019 when they were installed in June 2016, so three and a half years ago.

Dowson appears to have an issue with the Noongar message on the signs, and that is astounding for someone who has made his reputation on the protection of heritage. Would Dowson want the City of Fremantle to simply ignore the 40,000+ years of Whadjuk Noongar heritage and pretend it all just started in 1829 when European settlement started?

Roel Loopers

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WOOLSTORES PLANS A BIG IMPROVEMENT

 

Predictably the Fremantle Society has lodged a submission with the City of Fremantle against the planning approval for a mixed use development of the Woolstores shopping centre site, as the FS  president shared with his members.

John Dowson argues that there is no need to rush the development of the site and that the City should take possession of the six shops near the corner of Elder Place and Queen Street, which was investigated by Fremantle Council last year, but no action taken.

The Society has many arguments against the development, and I too have heard some architects say the plans were disappointing, while others find it acceptable. I believe the development would be a huge improvement to the bland and boring building that is currently there, so that would be a big step forward to modernising that run-down part of Fremantle’s CBD, and for me that is a priority for our city.

Of course the plans could be different and better, and if we asked 25 architects we would get 25 different plans, and everyone of them would receive criticism from the public and other architects. That is the simple reality of life and anything creative. Someone else will always have another, maybe better, idea on how to improve our city.

For example, as a layman, I would have liked to see the corner of the building at Cantonment Street be rounded, to compliment the other corner and also the roundabout there, and there are no doubt many other ideas on how the plans could be improved, but too many cooks…..

I am more interested in the big picture and see the development in context with what is happening at Kings Square, the Little Lane residential development over the road, the proposed Hilton Doubletree hotel development, the Energy Museum development, a possible new use for the Adelaide Plaza next to the Basilica, and maybe a new hotel on the former Spicers site at William Street.

All these developments, once realised, will make that part of Fremantle much safer, and far more attractive and it will start creating the 24/7 economy and lifestyle that Fremantle needs, if our retailers and hospitality providers are going to survive.

We all want perfection and outstanding architecture, but that will not happen overnight. We need to accept that progress is slow and not always perfect, but the plans for the Woolstores are a big improvement for this significant site, and I hope they will be approved, and that Silverleaf Investments will commence with the construction very fast.

Roel Loopers

DOWSON NOMINATES FOR FREMANTLE CITY WARD

Posted in city of fremantle, democracy, election, fremantle society, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on September 12, 2019

 

The biggest surprise at this year’s Fremantle local council election is no doubt that Fremantle Society president John Dowson has nominated for City Ward and will do battle with incumbent Rachel Pemberton.

Dowson spent four years on Fremantle Council previously, so he knows the ropes of local government.

In a city that is going through a bit of a development boom Dowson’s negativity about most new buildings might not sit well with those in the community who believe change is good and necessary for Fremantle, but I have no doubt that the more conservative voters will see Dowson as a good alternative to the Green-leaning Pemberton.

Roel Loopers

ITS APRIL FOOLS. SMILE!

Posted in april fools, city of fremantle, fremantle society, Uncategorized by freoview on April 1, 2019

 

fools-1

 

I missed the Blessing of the Fools today to celebrate April Fools Day, so I publish a golden oldie I took a few years ago at Fremantle’s St John’s church.

I  also have to make a confession that my blog posts about the sale of the Hilton hotel site to Twiggy Forrest, the secret merger talks between Freo and East Freo councils, and the departure from Fremantle of Fremantle Society president John Dowson were all made up stories to celebrate the first day of April.

And I added the City of Fremantle’s funny April Fools about Freo Time and daylight saving.

It was all done in good fun, so I hope I fooled a few of you and that it gave you something to smile about!

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE SOCIETY PRESIDENT LEAVING FREMANTLE

 

 

It is not official yet, but I was told last night that shock waves are going through the Fremantle Society with their president John Downson indicating that he will soon be relocating permanently to England.

Dowson is said to be deeply frustrated that the Society has been unable to make an impact on Fremantle planning matters and bad architecture, and he is outraged about what he calls the incompetent Fremantle Council, planning department and State’s JDAP and SAT, which approve in Dowson’s opinion inappropriate buildings in our city.

The Fremantle Society committee is very worried that they might not be able to find anyone to replace John Dowson because it has been very difficult over the past years to find members willing to put their hat in the ring and take on an official function, hence FS has now members on committee who don’t live anywhere near Fremantle.

Already during the last two years Dowson has ran FS partly from London, where he bought an apartment in a new upmarket subway station development, and from cruise ships on which he lectures about Fremantle’s history.

I see John Dowson’s departure from Fremantle as a good opportunity for the Fremantle Society to consider how to make the group relevant again and less political and council-bashing. It needs to go with the times and rejuvenate and redevelop itself and not be anti change and anti development. I hope the group won’t falter and collapse in a heap because of the departure of its powerful president.

If the Brits can cope with Brexit and Dowson is another thing, but good luck to John Dowson, who has been very controversial but with his heart in the right place for Freo.

Roel Loopers

 

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FREO’S YELLOW ART REMOVAL A DELICATE ACT

 

high 5

 

I was a wee bit skeptical about the claims by Fremantle Society president John Dowson that the City of Fremantle did not want to take back to its original tuck pointing the building on the corner of High and Cliff streets that is at the centre point of the yellow art removal controversy, and Dowson’s assertion that tuck pointing the building would cost about the same as repainting the entire facade.

City of Fremantle Director of Infrastructure and Project Delivery Graham Tattersall says that many buildings in High Street have condition problems; for some, the multiple coats of paint over the years have taken its toll and in some instances this has also damaged the sub-strata.

Director Tattersall told me that in reality the cost of repairing and returning the building to its original tuck pointed style would be considerably more costly than that of the planned works related to the foil removal.

Tattersall said “The City is wholly supportive of owners electing to take this opportunity to contribute for further works to restore or further improve their buildings (where requested, we agree to contribute the value of the yellow foil works towards the cost of an owners revised scope) and would not decline requests of this nature.”

“A number of property owners have taken the opportunity to engage the City’s contractor to carry out additional work on their properties at their own expense, which has greatly improved the appearance of the street, but as these are privately owned buildings it’s up to the property owner to make that choice.”

I think it is important to clarify this and also point out that building owner, former Freo Mayor Peter Tagliaferri, has taken out a writ against the City for $ 50,000 and that this legal action is continuing.

I have been watching how very time-consuming it has been to remove the paint of the brick building in Pakenham Street that will became the home of the Fremantle Republic gin distillery and micro brewery, and hence wondered if the claims by the Fremantle Society that the cost of tuck pointing and painting were similar could be correct. The Freo City director says they are not.

Roel Loopers

WHY WILL FREO CITY NOT BRING BACK THE OLD FACADE?

 

yellow art

 

I am surprised to hear that the City of Fremantle did not want to entertain the idea of stripping back the entire paint of the building, owned by former Mayor Peter Tagliaferri, on the corner of Cliff and High streets to its original tuck pointing, as part of the removal of the yellow artwork.

Fremantle Society President John Dowson sent a comment to Freo’s View that FS had suggested to the former Mayor to do that and not repaint the facade, but that the City had rejected the idea. If that is a fact that is disappointing because architect Michael Patroni, the owner of 10 High Street diagonally opposite Tagliaferri’s building, will take that building back to its original tuck pointing.

The owners of the Fremantle Republic gin distillery, micro brewery and tavern in Pakenham Street received a State heritage grant to take the facade of that building back to its original tuck pointing, so I would have thought the City of Fremantle would have embraced the idea of the Fremantle Society and do the same with the Tagliaferri building.

The Society president claims they did get a quote for the tuck pointing work that was approximately the same as repainting the building, so cost don’t appear to be a factor.

Roel Loopers

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