I dislike one-eyed sport fans as much as I dislike one-eyed supporters of political parties. People who can only see black&white and only the failures of the other teams and parties are not my cup of tea. Life is more complex than just criticising the opposition and not seeing one’s own mistakes and shortcomings. We all know that it matters not all that much which political party has the power as parties no longer have strong principles and values, so to keep bashing on about certain issues makes one look a bit insincere at times.
Here in Fremantle we have very vocal opponents of the present Council, and as everyone knows I don’t shy away from giving our Elected Members and officers a kick in the bum now and then when I believe they deserve it. And it happens more often than I would like it to be. But we can’t generalise and blame the City of Fremantle for everything that happens. For example drunks, violence and anti-social behaviour are issues for the police, not a local council, and it is far too easy to compare Fremantle with other suburbs or cities in other states where these things don’t happen.
Why does Freo appears to have an unfair large percentage of anti-social problems? Partly because we have quite a bit of Homeswest housing and partly because we have St Patrick’s looking well after people in need and supplying them with free meals and blankets, clothing, etc. so that attracts people in need to our city. We even have the Freo Street Doctor, something places like Claremont and Cottesloe don’t have, hence they have fewer issues attracting those who are unfortunately at the bottom of society. Can we blame Fremantle Council for that though? I don’t believe so.
The parade of the needy starts the same way every day. Breakfast at St Pat’s and then groups move to Princess May Park and Woolstores shopping centre. If they misbehave police will give them a move on notice which basically shifts the problem somewhere else, so off they go to Kings Square, from there to Pioneer Park and on to Bathers Beach. Some stay around and sit and beg for money. Late in the afternoon the ‘procession’ back to St Pat’s goes on the return journey. And then there are those who use the busses near Target who often misbehave and make that area feel unsafe for those of us who go shopping there.
I don’t blame Freo Council for that, but I do blame them for having created a ghost town at night on Arthur Head that attracts homeless people like moths to a light, and I blame Freo Council for not keeping our city as clean and tidy as it should be. Policing and law&order are the responsibility of the State Government and far too complex issues for small local councils to deal with, and so is social housing, so Freo Council should concentrate on the things they are responsible for and they can improve on, and we all know there are quite a few.
Priorities for our Council should be how Fremantle can attract new exciting retailers instead of opening more and more temporary pop-up shops. How can Freo City combat the perception that parking is a problem in the inner city? I walked past the carpark at the Italian Club on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at midday and there was plenty of parking just a stroll away from the Cappuccino Strip. The Point Street carpark is near empty on most days, so why do motorists keep claiming we have parking issues?
So to go back to the start of this ‘ramble’ we have every right to feel unhappy with the City of Fremantle about certain issues, but we should not be one-eyed about it and also acknowledge that many of the problems are not the responsibility of local government. So let’s write letters to State Government and demand they look after Freo better. My rather cynical view though is that no matter which political party is in power Freo has got Buckley’s getting much support from them.