Freo's View

LABOR WANTS TO KEEP BEACONSFIELD SEAT

Posted in city of fremantle, election, local council, politics, western australia, women by freoview on June 17, 2016

The Labor party is trying to hold on to the Fremantle Council seat of Beaconsfield that has become available now that former Deputy Mayor Josh Wilson resigned to contest the Federal seat of Fremantle. Hannah Fitzhardinge, a former advisor to WA Premier Geoff Gallop has put her hand up to sit next to Labor’s Councillor Dave Hume.

The by-election will be held probably in September at a date yet to be announced by the Electoral Commission.

Fitzhardinge told the Fremantle Herald that Fremantle Council does not have gender balance, which also applies to most local councils and State and Federal governments, and that she wants better pedestrian safety on South Terrace with mural gardens and street beautification. That process is already well under way of course and was only recently addressed by a large South Fremantle Precinct meeting.

Hannah Fitzharding also wants  the relocation of a State department to Freo and attract more State funding, which has been the aim of the City of Fremantle for years.

I am all for more women in power positions everywhere but the gender balance stuff does not cut it for me as I fear it can become tokenism. I believe Hannah can easily win this on her own merits and the voter participation will be very low. She would no doubt be a great addition to Ingrid Waltham and Rachel Pemberton and Fremantle Council, so I wish her the best of luck!

Roel Loopers

STEP FORWARD FOR KELP BAR RESURRECTION

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle, local council by freoview on October 16, 2014

After nearly three years of trying Fremantle  Kidogo Arthouse owner Joanna Robertson has finally been given the green light by the City’s Strategic Planning and Services Committee to go ahead with submitting a planning approval to build toilets at the heritage listed former Shipswrights Building/ Kerosene Store.

This is not the end of the saga by a long shot because the financial implications will be huge for her as Council is expecting her to also pay for the sewer connection between the Bathers Beach House and Kidogo.

Architect Pul Burnham, who designed Little Creatures and the Clancy’s refurbishments, designed an unobtrusive small dwelling, that is not connected to the old building, on the northern side of the art gallery.

What is most amazing shortsightedness by Council is that they did not consider to engage in a joint venture with Joanna where they could have added much needed public toilets at Bathers Beach. The attraction to Fremantle residents and visitors to go to Bathers Beach will drastically increase but there are no change rooms or toilets and that will mean the private operators in the area will run de facto public toilets and that is unfair to them and unacceptable.

To open a tiny bar for just around 100 people and having to pay the additional costs for the sewer extension could well mean the lovely Kelp Bar will not be revived and that would be a shame and a loss to Fremantle.

Roel Loopers

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FREO SKATE PARK BIG SUCCESS

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What a delightfully positive article by a mother about the Fremantle skatepark in today’s Fremantle Herald. Do we need a more tangible example that it is a huge success?

No doubt those who complain about the costs to build it and future maintenance costs will find a negative angle, but I think it is just great that the Esplanade Youth Plaza has been embraced by most in the community.

It is a great and very respectful place for young people to hang out, for families to connect and for oldies like me to admire the acrobatic skill of the skaters, BMXers and scooter riders.

Roel Loopers

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STOP MEDIOCRITY FREMANTLE

I wonder how many people have the same experience. A friend at Kellow Place received three identical letter from the City of Fremantle advising her about the plans for Stevens Reserve and the highrise development there. The carbon-free sustainability city wasting paper and postage because someone, again, has messed up at COF.

When will it stop, When will the CEO take charge and start kicking butt.

Some people obviously are not doing their jobs properly because there is no leadership, or performance criteria to keep the job. Who cares when the salary is deposited in the bank account every fortnight. Why strive for perfection when she’ll be right will just do fine.

Dare I mention the bin at the Round House was overflowing with booze bottles again today.

Yep, I know I am a pain in the arse, but I am only the messenger who tries to clean up the mess COF is creating.

Roel Loopers

LACK OF CREATIVITY FOR THE FUTURE OF FREMANTLE

The first sitting of the all new City of Fremantle Special Projects Committee was a rather strange one that made me wonder why it was public. This was more a brain-storming session between councillors, officers and CODA consultant Kieran Wong, with the Director of Planning and Development Services Phil St John sometimes rallying the subdued group like an AFL footy coach, to stay focused and come up with big picture thinking, concepts and vision. “We want to put together a vision of your ideas”

I understand council wants to be seen to be transparent and inclusive but this committee could well be held in-camera rather than public and only three people plus me were in the gallery with not even the local newspapers bothering to turn up.

The other strange thing is that the committee was there to talk about the Activity Centre Vision Plan,but although it is mentioned in the agenda that the consultant for Visioning 2029 had documented the workshops, no report was tabled or attached and the lengthy and costly community process was not mentioned. That to me is putting the cart before the horse. Why start another visioning project when we have not even evaluated the one we did last year?

Should two-way traffic everywhere, or in the West End, be considered and what would that mean? First of all it would mean a substantial loss of parking bays to the detriment of the businesses in the area, as Councillor Simon Naber rightly pointed out.

There was also the suggestion to make future new parking only available on the periphery and discourage private vehicle traffic through the CBD because we only want people driving in the CBD who have that as their destination. That however would not work by forcing people to park on the periphery who have the CBD as their shopping/business/entertainment destination. That needs a lot of rethinking.

The reactivation of the Passenger Terminal came up, but with Fremantle Ports having recently spend millions on refurbishing it, I doubt it will become a public space any time soon.

There is hope for Arthur Head with Chair Rachel Pemberton mentioning the “anticipated boardwalk” there. Bring it on asap!

The strangely low-energy meeting talked about connectivity, sightlines, connection through the convict establishment, and having more events at Fremantle Oval to take the stress off the heavily-used Esplanade. The latter is a good idea and the oval might even be suitable as an occasional outdoor live music area for Sunset Events when they take over the Artillery Drill Hall from the Fly by Night.

Share, or naked, streets were obviously also on the agenda as that is one of the buzzwords around the western world and placemaking fraternity, and I am all for it as long as it is done sensibly and not to the detriment of local businesses.

Of course more and better bicycle links were discussed, and preferred transit corridors, as was a lightrail loop, a fast transit bus to the airport, and CAT bus connection from North to East Freo.

What did not come up and should be part of any strategic plan for Fremante is to find alternative off-street parking for Notre Dame University students, because the West End is a no go zone to try to find parking for shoppers and visitors when the students are attending campus. Dare I suggest the corner of Cliff and High for a low-rise creative UNDA carpark, without upsetting all my heritage friends.

Councillor Bill Massie asked why the City spend so much money on bike lanes when only a very small, less than five percent, of the population uses bikes. I think that went straight one ear in one ear out with some of the green pipe dreamers on council, who refuse to be realistic that cars will remain the preferred form of transport for the majority of the population for a very long time.

Lowering vehicle speed is obviously essential if the shared streets idea takes off.

While Bill Massie said we need as many vehicles in the city as possible because businesses are bleeding, Robert Fittock said that business who relied on vehicles should change strategy. I don’t believe the debate should be about vehicles or not vehicles, but how Fremantle can make it fast and easy for people to come to the inner city by all forms of transport and accommodate parking in a walking distance from the shops.

Did I get inspired last eve and did I have the wow feeling of having listened to great ideas, outstanding concepts and something new and fresh? Not at all. There was a lack of creative, out of the box thinking, trodding over old ground and rehashing old placemaking sessions. I had a real sense of deja vu, of having been there before, a council ground hog day. I think the Director would have been pretty disappointed with the lack of substance he will now have to work with.

Roel Loopers

SOCIETY WORRIED ABOUT PLANNING CHANGES

The Fremantle Society has the No 1 letter in the West Australian about the planned changes to the local council planning process. Here it is:

The Fremantle Society is very concerned about State Government’s latest plans that will further erode the power of local communities to influence or decide their destiny. Sterile sameness will be the result of taking planning approval away from local Councils. The individuality and uniqueness of suburbs and the amenity of these will gradually disappear as the development industry does it business. For example, Fremantle is not Ferndale and Cottesloe is not Cullacabardee, so why mandate the removal of the tools that help create and maintain this identity.

 

The plans by Colin Barnett should worry all of us who believe in local government, community engagement and the essence of locality through local planning. Taking away more and more power from councils is a serious erosion of our democratic rights. We wonder what the alternative government might do about these and other so-called reforms that strip power from community.

 

Henty Farrar

President Fremantle Society

 

DEMOCRACY IS ALL OF US

Posted in city of fremantle, local council, local government by freoview on July 24, 2014

The way people take part in the democratic process intrigues me. I can understand the cynicism about federal and state parliaments, as the immature kindergarten behaviour of elected members is certainly not something that instills confidence. Oppositions say no as a matter of principle to anything the government proposes and vice versa.

At local level in Fremantle and other councils, where it is not political party orientated, it is more of a NIMBY democracy, and I don’t mean that disrespectfully. It is just that most people only turn up at council and committee meetings when items are on the agenda that concern their own backyard. Rarely do people turn up who have an interest in the common good and want to participate in making Fremantle a better place for all.

This often results in comments and questions which are based on ignorance, as the process of local governance is not understood, and more or less the same questions are asked and the same accusations are made time and time again.

For example, some people who oppose the planning scheme change for McCabe Street in North Fremantle claim that the City would never allow buildings of such height in the CBD. Where were they just about two years ago when the local papers were full of people protesting against Planning Scheme Amendment 49, that allows for substantially higher buildings in the inner city? Do people care so little about the rest of the City that they can’t be bothered to inform themselves about what goes on in other parts of town? Have we become so self-centred that what happens in the west end is of no concern to those who live in the east, north or south of Freo?

I enjoy going to council and committee meetings and listening to the discussions.  I want to see for myself how elected members reach conclusions and why they vote for or against them. I am impressed to see how well-informed most of them are and how hard they try to make what they believe are the right decisions. None of them are flippant or pretend to have all the knowledge, and often Councillors will seek last minute clarifications from officers who attend the meetings.

Local government is very complex and it is also very difficult because the councillors who make the decisions live in our community. They are our friends, acquaintances and local business people. It’s impossible for them to please all and they have to rely on the expert advise officers give them. One can detect the frustration sometimes for the unthankful task, but the process is fascinating and I recommend to observe it for yourself. Take part, because democracy is all of us!

Roel Loopers

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