Freo's View

ARE FREO COUNCIL RATES RAISED OR NOT?

Posted in Uncategorized, local government, city of fremantle, property by freoview on June 4, 2020

 

As always the debate about council rates being raised or not rising in Fremantle has become political, with both sides of the argument saying the other side is wrong, so what is really happening?

Is Fremantle Council, as reported in the Fremantle Herald last week, raising rates by 10% or is there no rise in rates revenue?

The simple question here for me is do property owners pay more in rates this coming financial year than they did last year? Do they who paid e.g. $ 2,000 in rates last time, have to pay $ 2,200 this time?

To make the debate more factual and apolitical I copy the comment from Ian Kerr, who does not live in Fremantle, but who was a Councillor at the City of Vincent for 14 years:

Because the Valuer-General has revised GRV down in a falling property market, City of Fremantle needs to increase the rate in dollar by 10% in order to maintain the same level of rate revenue in total. Overall, ratepayers will pay the the same amount as previously.
As always in such revaluations, some values will have been adjusted by more than others, so some people will find they are paying less and others (especially those that have made improvements to their property) will pay more. This is always difficult to explain to ratepayers (as I know from 14 years on Vincent Council) but Council has no say in this – and the Valuer General is required, by law, to undertake a revaluation every three years.

I hope Ian Kerr’s comments clarify the issue.

Roel Loopers

LET’S HAVE A FREO CHRISTMAS IN JULY!

 

I bumped into Ruth and Nigel Goodman of Bitches Brew framers, printers and artspace in High Street, and Ruth came up with this great idea to get activity going and bring shoppers back into Fremantle.

She suggested we should do a Christmas in July, with street stalls selling hot chocolate, mulled wine, window displays, Father Christmas, etc. and I believe that should be supported by the City of Fremantle and Chamber of Commerce, who could coordinate and promote the event, maybe on a weekend, starting Friday night?

Let’s get out there and support our local traders, now that we are getting a semblance of normality back!

Roel Loopers

KINGS SQUARE LOOKING IMPRESSIVE

 

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Sirona Capital is adding some definition at street level of the Henderson Street carpark, with the installation of windows, and that looks a lot better than the black hoardings.

At The Walyalup Civic Centre detailed work has started on the main Kings Square entrance and brickwork. Personally I can’t wait for our new council building to open later this year.

Roel Loopers

 

FREMANTLE ARTS CENTRE RE-OPENING!

Posted in art, city of fremantle, fremantle arts centre, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on June 3, 2020

 

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Here a very welcome message from Jim Cathcart, the director of the Fremantle Arts Centre:

“I am pleased to let you know Fremantle Arts Centre re-opens to the public on Monday 15 June.

In the galleries we are presenting Revealed 2020: New and Emerging WA Aboriginal Artists and Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri in WA: Hunter Dreaming. Both exhibitions will run until Sunday 26 July.

Our shop FOUND and reception also re-open on Monday 15 June, while Canvas Café and FAC’s beautiful grounds are already open. Meanwhile, FOUND online is open for business 24/7 at https://shop.fac.org.au/

In relation to FAC’s courses, we will present a July Kids’ School Holiday Program, with a full Term 3 Adults’ Program to follow. The classes, dates and booking information will be announced as they become available.

From Mon 15 June – Tue 30 June we will be open 10am–4pm, 7 days.

We will, of course, be implementing all the necessary public health protocols and social distancing measures that have become common over the past few months.

I look forward to seeing you soon, back at FAC.”

– Jim Cathcart, Director

To read Jim’s full statement visit https://www.fac.org.au/2020/06/fac-opening-monday-15-june/

DON’T DEMOLISH FREMANTLE TRAFFIC BRIDGE!

 

The building of a new Fremantle traffic bridge is likely to be brought forward, in the State Government’s attempt to create jobs by fast forwarding major public works. A new bridge is badly needed, so I welcome the news, however the Fremantle community and Council should have a say in this matter, because we do not want just any ugly modern functional bridge, but something iconic and very Freo.

We also do not want the demolition of the present bridge because it is part of Freo’s heritage. It should be preserved and used, maybe as a dedicated bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, a viewing platform where we can hold events and markets, and make it a tourist destination.

The destruction of the North Fremantle town centre would be absolutely unacceptable, so one very important question is where will the bridge end in North Freo?

I sometimes disagree with the opinion of the Fremantle Society, but I absolutely agree with what Agnieshka Kiera, who was the City of Fremantle’s heritage architect for 25 years, wrote about preserving the old bridge, so I partly copy her well argued opinion piece.

We want extensive community consultation, and not just Main Roads creating a bridge that can accommodate a lot of vehicles fast!

Here is what Agnieshka Kiera wrote:

  • the historic Fremantle bridge has to stay. Not only for the reason of its heritage significance and, being listed on State Heritage, planning and compliance reasons. It should also stay for its greater importance to the city as the strategic urban feature and gateway to Fremantle, as follows:
    • since its construction the bridge has provided the vital pedestrian (and traffic) connection, not only between Fremantle and Perth but equally importantly between Fremantle and North Fremantle historic town centre; 
    • while the main vehicular traffic connection to Perth has been taken over by the Stirling Bridge, the much-reduced traffic using the historic bridge has helped to keep the North Fremantle’s historic centre accessible and to date a viable local hub of commercial and social activity;
    • the bridge acts as an important entry point and gateway to Fremantle: on the approach to Fremantle by the bridge, the closed vista of Cantonment Hill and the Signal Station, the Fremantle Port to the right and Swan River to the left, all the iconic urban features and Fremantle icons, create an exceptional landscape setting, reinforcing the city’s identity as the historic landmark of Western Australia;
    • the proposed bridge could potentially relieve the historic bridge of the vehicular traffic altogether and let it act as the vital pedestrian/cyclist link with Fremantle proper. There are numerous very successful examples around the world of saving the historic bridges from demolition. And while building new bridges to take on the modern essential role of carrying the vehicular traffic, many cities conserved the old bridges utilising them for the ancillary (mainly pedestrian) purposes. The most famous examples include the Burt Bridge in San Francisco, the Brooklyn Bridge on New York’s East River, Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Pot du Gard in France, Chenguyang Inmud and Rain Bridge in China etc. Each of them was replaced by a new bridge while being preserved for new functions. The same could be done in Fremantle, as freeing the Fremantle Bridge from vehicular traffic would facilitate its proper restoration as the pedestrian/cyclist bridge;
    • However, the plan in Brad Pettit’s blog doesn’t show where the new bridge’s roadway goes. Would it go through the North Fremantle old centre? It looks very likely. Would this result in some massive demolitions of the heritage buildings on its way? That would be the death not only to the old bridge but to the North Fremantle historic centre as well. The Fremantle bridge’s traditional role as a gateway and the significant connection between North Fremantle and Fremantle proper via Queen Victoria Street would be destroyed. That is a devastating prospect and should be stopped.

 

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE’S UNLAWFUL CLOSURE OF PEDESTRIAN ACCESS

Posted in city of fremantle, local government, pedestrians, Uncategorized by freoview on June 2, 2020

 

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On March 10 this year the WA Statutory Planning Committee ruled for the second time that it does not support the closure of the PAW-Pedestrian Access Way between Swanbourne Street and Kellow Place in Fremantle, but nearly three months after the ruling the gates are still locked and access denied to use the PAW.

This has been a long saga with the first 12-months trial closure starting in April 2016. Permanent closure was then endorsed by Fremantle Council, although there was strong opposition from local residents who argued that the claims of criminal behaviour were not true, and police records showed there was no increased crime in the area.

The WASPC refused the City permission to close the PAW permanently, but Council then directed officers to negotiate with the WASPC to see if they would be willing to change their ruling. That was rejected on March 10 this year, so why is the PAW still closed?

To be fair, residents received a letter from the City of Fremantle that because of Covid-19 the removal of the gates would be delayed, but surely that should not take a quarter of a year. That is unacceptable!

Open the PAW immediately, Freo City. It is not a big job and can be done in a few hours.

 

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE RATES UPPERCUT.

Posted in city of fremantle, covid-19, economy, local government, property, Uncategorized by freoview on June 1, 2020

 

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Fremantle Council has not officially  released the budget yet and the cuts they will have to make due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but those who have unrealistically called for rates to be reduced are in for a big shock, if the article in the Fremantle Herald this week is correct and that rates will increase by 10 per cent. That is huge and might well be unprecedented.

The sad reality is that the City of Fremantle has a huge decline in revenue from parking, property leases, etc. Reportedly that is some $ 2 million a month CoF is missing out on, hence some services will have to be cut, staff and councillors took a 20 per cent pay cut, and some have lost their jobs.

It is easy to put blame on councillors and directors, but no one in the world could guess that the worldwide pandemic would cripple the economy everywhere, but is shows also that a small local council such as Fremantle need to be extremely prudent with expenditure because it relies too much on parking and tourism, in a world where High Street retail is declining rapidly.

Fremantle has had no income from festivals, concerts, events, etc. this summer, because of the social distancing restrictions, and it does not have enough money in the bank to make up for that loss of income.

The 10% rate rise is a huge shock, although some claim it is not a real rate rise because the rate in the dollar based on gross rental values is going up about 10% because the average GRV has gone down about 10%. The total rates income is exactly the same.

But I fear there is more to come and that some good services will be cut, while public works will not been done.

These are incredibly hard times for so many people, so hard for many small businesses that might not survive or might not re-open at all. The WA Treasurer has warned we will get into a recessions, and that is basically happening in Fremantle as well.

I just hope and wish that Freo will get out of it a better place, with much development still happening, but how patient is the community going to be and how long can businesses struggle on?

Stay safe and well, Freo!

Roel Loopers

CLEAN UP THE ARTHUR’S HEAD MESS!

 

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It is WA Day long weekend and the calls for an Aboriginal cultural centre are loud and clear. We want it, and ideally it will be built in Fremantle!!

But the neglect of historic Arthur’s Head and the expensive rented fences in the area really annoy me, but no one in Fremantle or Western Australia appears to care much about the awful neglect of one of WA’s most significant heritage precincts. It is a disgrace and the Western Australian government should hang their heads in shame about not caring!

What is also not acceptable is putting wrong information on tourist signs, such as this one at the entrance of the Whalers Tunnel, that claims that convict labour was used to build the tunnel.

The tunnel was built in 1837 and convicts only arrived in WA in 1850! What is probably meant is that prison labour from the Roundhouse jail was used to build the tunnel, but that is a different story.

Clean up this mess, Premier Mark McGowan. This is one of the most important public works you should push forward as a priority!

Roel Loopers

 

SOUTH BEACH A CLASS PARKING TO CONTINUE

Posted in beaches, city of fremantle, local government, parking, south beach, Uncategorized by freoview on May 29, 2020

 

Good to hear that Fremantle Council did not support the motion by South Fremantle Councillor Marija Vujcic to ban overflow parking at Wilson Park at South Beach. At Wednesday’s digital meeting none of the other 12 elected members supported the motion, so overflow parking on busy summer weekends, for the Sunset Food Markets and other events will remain.

That is a pragmatic decision by council, because stopping parking on the A Class Reserve would have meant that many motorists would have to find parking in local streets, and that would have a negative impact on the residents in the area.

Roel Loopers

 

FREO CAFES ALLOWED TO EXPAND ALFRESCO

Posted in alfresco, cafe, city of fremantle, covid-19, food, hospitality, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on May 26, 2020

 

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I asked Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt this morning how council would support cafes and other hospitality venues and allow them to extend their alfresco areas, so that they can accommodate more people, while the Covid-19 social distancing rules are in place.

I received following reply and encourage all those who need a bit more space to put tables out to contact the City of Fremantle.

The City of Fremantle will provide as much flexibility as possible to enable cafes and restaurants to make the most of the easing of social distancing restrictions.

With the State Government expected to make further announcements increasing the number of people permitted to ‘eat in’ at local venues, Mayor Brad Pettitt said the City would do what it could to help businesses maximise their trading footprint.

Most notably, this could include temporarily expanding alfresco areas beyond usual boundaries provided they remained safe for pedestrians and did not impede other businesses.

“Obviously as things start to open up we want to encourage business operators to make the most of the opportunity to increase trade,” Mayor Pettitt said.

“Sitting outside for a coffee or meal on a sunny winter day is always a pleasure in Freo and we are keen to do whatever we can to support this to happen.”

Business operators looking to temporarily expand their alfresco areas are encouraged to contact the City’s Environmental Health Team on 1300 MY FREO (1300 693 736) for advice and support.

For example Chalkys cafe, which I frequent often, could put tables east of their present alfresco area, or move them around the corner in Little High Street. When Premier Mark McGowan announces that more people will be allowed into the hospitality premises it is good to know they can expand and that Freo City will be supporting them!

Roel Loopers

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