Freo's View

FREMANTLE COMPETITIVE LEASING POLICY UNFAIR TO ESTABLISHED BUSINESSES.

Posted in art, arthur head, city of fremantle, local government, retail, shopping, traders, Uncategorized by freoview on June 11, 2019

 

Item 1906-1 on Wednesday’s FPOL Committee agenda of Fremantle Council raises interesting questions as to why the City of Fremantle has a ‘competitive manner leasing policy’ for its properties.

The item is about renewing the lease of the Fremantle Public Golf Course at Montreal Street and officers suggest that Councillors agree to an exemption of the competitive manner leasing policy because the Lessee has a proven record.

I believe it is pretty fair to extend the lease for the present Lessee but question why that does not apply to other Lessees or License Holders in Fremantle, such as the artists of the Bathers Beach Art Precinct.

It is not as if the competitive policy allows the City to get more money for its properties, because the City sets the rents, so it can only be about wanting change for no practical reasons.

Why does the City want established artists who have been professionally and successfully operating to engage in a competitive process, when there is no guarantee that new artists will be equally successful and able to pay the rent? There have been several failures at Arthur’s Head where at the end the City had to write off outstanding rent because it was not recoverable.

There are not many sculptors who still do traditional life-size bronze sculptures the way Greg James does at J Shed, so that should qualify as unique as well.

Jenny Dawson has run her ceramic art business successfully for twenty years at J Shed and pays full commercial rates to the city, which are determined by an outside consultant.

I have heard the argument from Councillors that if the artists pay commercial rates at Arthur’s Head it won’t be difficult for them to pay full rates elsewhere in Fremantle, but that is bollocks, and even more so for retail art galleries such at Glen Cowans and David Giles.

Establishing a small business is bloody hard work, and starting somewhere else all over again sets back a business by years, so it is time Fremantle Council reconsidered its competitive manner leasing policy because all it does is penalise successful established businesses, and that is very unfair.

Roel Loopers

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COMMUNITY NEEDS TO SUPPORT LOCAL TRADERS

Posted in city of fremantle, hospitality, local government, parking, retail, shopping, Uncategorized by freoview on June 7, 2019

 

retail

 

There is a bit of a discussion going on on Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt‘s Facebook page about the decline of retail when he posted the good article by Nathan Hondros on WATODAY about it. Hondros’ article “Striponomics’ The reasons Perth’s main streets are struggling is no big secret is worth a read.

The usual quick fixes are suggested by some readers; free parking and councils forcing property owners to reduce rents, but neither is a solution in a world where retail has been declining for at least five years and where major shopping centres have replaced traditional high street shopping.

I don’t know all the reasons for the decline in Perth, Mouth Lawley, Subiaco and elsewhere but I do know that the City of Fremantle has been trying hard to keep and get a diversity of retail in the city, instead of more and more cafes and taverns.

Fact is that councils can’t force property owners to lower rents and that many retailers are struggling because of rising outgoings such as power, water and gas. More competition might lower coffee prices for patrons but at the end that is not sustainable either for the operators.

Pop-up shops are the flavour of most councils but they are not a long-term solution because most of those who start a pop-up realise they can’t earn enough if they have to pay full commercial rates plus outgoings, so pop-ups do what their name suggest; they pop up and die after three or six months.

The always suggested free parking is not at all a solution because free parking will be taken up all day by commuters from Fremantle to Perth, backpackers, and Notre Dame students, so that would not leave too many bays for shoppers.

There is plenty of parking in Fremantle on weekdays and residents get free street parking before 11am and after 3pm.

Fremantle Council has a small ratepayers base so parking fees and fines are essential income for our city. Free parking would mean higher rates and I doubt property owners would agree that they had to pay for free parking of others. If it happened they would pass on the council rate increase to their tenants.

On very busy Sundays Fremantle might have the occasional parking issue, but surely no one expects Council to cater for weekend parking by creating more parking bays that would be vacant the rest of the week. It is like suggesting we should have 16-lane freeways to cater for rush hour traffic when for the rest of the day six lanes are sufficient.

I love the feeling of a good old high street, where there is a diversity of shops and were shop operators live above or behind their shops, as was the case in my home town of Hague in the Netherlands, where our family of seven lived behind the corner shop my parents ran, the pharmacist family on the other corner lived above their shop, the grocery shop people and the bookbinder next door lived behind the shop, as did the butcher on the other side of the street.

But times have changed and 25% of Australians engaged in on-line shopping last year, and money is tight with too many unemployed people.

There are never easy solutions, but we can all help by shopping local, even when it costs a few dollars more. Councils can not enforce shopping diversity or lowering of rents and we can only keep asking for property owners to keep the rents as low as possible so that our traders can survive and new traders are more willing to take the risk of starting in Freo.

Roel Loopers

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PIPES FOR FREMANTLE UPDATE

Posted in city of fremantle, community, hospitality, parking, retail, tourism, traders, Uncategorized, water by freoview on May 31, 2019

 

I received the latest update for the PIPES for FREMANTLE from the Water Corporation so I’ll publish it in full here so that the Freo community is aware of all the details:

Please read the below update about upcoming work to renew the ageing water mains across Fremantle.

Meeting with City of Fremantle

On Monday 27 May 2019 members of the Water Corporation project team met with City of Fremantle CEO Philip St John and Mayor Brad Pettit to discuss the work including concerns raised by the business community.

Together, we all agreed the work must be done as quickly and safely as possible, with the least amount of impact as practically possible to the whole community.

We are currently working closely with the City to identify flexible working hour options for each individual street for renewal. Each street is home to residents and businesses, or a combination of both. This means a 24 hour, seven days a week approach may not always be the best option for a residential street, as we do prefer to offer customers some reprieve from the work.

Other flexible working hour options can include working on the weekends, longer shifts and the potential for both day and night work shifts where appropriate.

Customer survey

You will soon receive an invitation to participate in a survey about your preferred working days and hours for the construction work to be carried out. This information and your feedback will be used in determining suitable working days and hours for the project.

The survey will be sent within the next week.

Awarding a contract of work

We’re still yet to award a contract. This is taking longer than expected, however we will share this information with all customers once it becomes available.

Project timeline

To ensure we’re vacating the area before the summer months, we’ve decided to split the renewal of streets into two packages of work.

Streets for renewal mid-July to November 2019

Bannister Street, between Pakenham Street to Market Street
Collie Street, between Marine Terrace and South Terrace
Essex Lane, between Collie Street and Essex Street
Essex Street, between Marine Terrace and South Terrace
High Street, between Little High Street and Market Street
Marine Terrace, between Cliff Street and Suffolk Street, and Howard Street and Price Street
Norfolk Street, between Marine Terrace and South Terrace
Streets for renewal March to mid-2020 (months be confirmed)

Pakenham Street, between Collie Street and Leake Street
Leake Street and Cantonment Street, between Pakenham Street and Queen Street
Nairn Street, between Pakenham Street and Market Street
Market Street, between High Street and Bannister Street
South Terrace, between Bannister Street and Norfolk Street
Please note, the above timings are subject to change pending a contract being awarded. Work will be carried out in a staged approach. We will share a proposed construction schedule and traffic management with customers once this information becomes available.

Pipes for Perth pop up shop – 66 High Street, Fremantle

A Pipes for Fremantle pop up information centre will be located at 66 High Street, Fremantle, for the duration of the construction work. Members of the project team will be on hand at the shop to discuss the project in detail, answer questions and listen to any concerns the local community or businesses may have.

Business information sessions will take place at the pop up shop between 18 and 20 June 2019.

Further information about the information sessions, opening hours and an official pop up shop open date will be provided shortly.

The next project update will be sent Friday 7 June 2019.

Who to contact

For more information, please visit watercorporation.com.au/pipesforfremantle. Alternatively, telephone our dedicated Pipes for Perth Customer Solutions team on (08) 9420 3529, available weekdays during business hours or email pipesforperth@watercorporation.com.au.

Kind Regards
Community Engagement
Water Corporation

 

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ANGST ABOUT NEW WATER PIPES FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, hospitality, retail, traders, traffic, Uncategorized, water by freoview on May 30, 2019

 

There is quite a bit of apprehension about the Pipes for Fremantle works which are scheduled by the Water Corporation to start in June in the Fremantle CBD.

Traders and Council staff are concerned about the inevitable impact the road works will have with road closures, accessibility problems and loss of parking bays, so what can be done to make it as good as possible?

Of course the first that was considered was free parking, but it is doubtful it would have a tangible impact and would be more of a goodwill gesture than anything else.

How can Watercorp make it any better because there is day-time and night-time trading in the inner city, so moving the essential renewal of the pipes to the evenings is not a solution. Day and night work would make the project faster and roads would be closed for a shorter time, but is that practical?

To put it bluntly, without wanting to create panic, there are no easy solutions. The work has to be done or we might end up with water mains bursting and flooding and other damage, so our struggling traders will have to cop it again. I hope for them that financial compensation is an option because there is little doubt that the water pipes work will impact on their businesses.

Streets for renewal include:

  • Bannister Street, between Pakenham Street to Market Street.
  • Collie Street, between Marine Terrace and South Terrace.
  • Essex Lane, between Collie Street and Essex Street.
  • Essex Street, between Marine Terrace and South Terrace.
  • High Street, between Little High Street and Market Street.
  • Leake Street, between Pakenham Street and Market Street.
  • Marine Terrace, between Cliff Street and Suffolk Street, and Howard Street and Price Street.
  • Market Street, between High Street and Bannister Street
  • Nairn Street, between Pakenham Street and Market Street.
  • Norfolk Street, between Marine Terrace and South Terrace
  • Pakenham Street, between Collie Street and Leake Street
  • South Terrace, between Bannister Street and Norfolk Street

We estimate this construction work will take now place between June and November 2019.

Streets no longer included in this package of work include:

  • Henry Street, between Marine Terrace and Phillimore Street.
  • Pakenham Street, Leake Street to Phillimore Street.
  • Phillimore Street, between Henry Street and Pakenham Street.
  • Short Street, between Pakenham Street and Market Street

Renewal of the water mains on these streets will be completed at a later date.

Roel Loopers

 

FREMANTLE MARKETS MANAGEMENT CRITICISED

 

 

Two articles in the West Australian raise concerns about the rents and management of the Fremantle Markets, and that is a real shame because it is one of Freo’s most popular weekend destinations that attracts many thousands of visitors each day of trading.

The West questions if the City of Fremantle is getting maximum value out of its property when the Market operators pocketed some $ 11 million over the last five years and under the contract agreement only paid back $ 3.8 million to the City.

I understand building maintenance is City of Fremantle’s responsibility.

It is alleged in the articles in the West Australian that rents for stallholders in the markets is seven times more than along the Cappuccino Strip, although the markets only trade three weekend days a week and on public holidays. It is claimed that in this time of rent increases in the markets rents along the Cappuccino Strip halved because of the economic downturn.

Some market stall holders, according to the West Australian and Fremantle Herald, claim there is Russian dictatorship management at Femantle Markets after a doughnut trader was evicted for trying to re-start the tenants association, which is denied by markets CEO Natasha Atkinson.

The decision by a previous Fremantle Council to grant an extension of the markets lease to the Murdoch family was highly controversial at the time and created a lot of anger in the community.

The Fremantle Markets are very popular with tourists, visitors from all over Perth, and locals and have in my opinion improved a lot, especially in the food hall. It is the go to attraction in Freo on the weekends, so it is a real shame it is getting so much negative publicity. It is time for Fremantle Council to mediate and support the traders.

Roel Loopers

LET’S TALK FREO UP!

 

Those people who constantly hammer Fremantle Council with criticism about vacant shops, homeless people, anti social behaviour and crime would do well to pay attention to recent media reports.

Shops, cafes and restaurants in Mount Lawley along once extremely popular Beaufort Street are closing in large numbers and they blame high rents and a drop in foot traffic for that.

The decline in retail is happening all over metropolitan Perth, Australia and the world as the traditional high street shopping destinations have been replaced with huge suburban shopping centres on the outskirts.

Media reports about excessive shop lifting and anti social behaviour in Cockburn, Rockingham, Canning, etc have become common, and the West Australian dedicated two pages of their weekend edition on the issues of homelessness in the Perth CBD.

There are no easy solutions for any of these problems and the call from traders for councils to demand that property owners charge lower rents is as unrealistic as it would be unlawful. Governments can not dictate what rents property owners can charge and while high rents in the present retail climate appear almost indecent and selfish there is very little local or state governments can do about it.

Some owners are better and allow pop-up shops to fill vacant shops, but only for a very limited time, so that is only a short-term ‘solution’.

Crime and anti social  behaviour are State responsibility and while Fremantle and most councils do have their own very good security officers they are often powerless as they do not have the right to issue move-on notices or arrest people.

There is no doubt though that the perception of not feeling safe will keep people away. Foot traffic numbers in the Cappuccino Strip have dropped dramatically while they have increased quite a bit in High Street in the West End. The latter is probably mainly due to Notre Dame University students pounding the pavement.

It is always strange to notice on busy Freo weekends how many people are walking along South Terrace but when I turn into High Street the street is nearly void of pedestrians.  Visitors seem to prefer Collie and Essex streets for their East West movement and ignore the far more attractive historic High Street.  Why is that, I wonder?

A prominent Freo business owner urged me last week to promote that we collectively stop talking our city down and that we have to start telling ourselves and our visitors how special Fremantle is.

Only yesterday at the Roundhouse two German tourists told me how much they liked Freo and how friendly people here are, and the volunteer guides hear those kind of remarks very often. We receive so much positive feedback from overseas and interstate visitors that it is hard to believe that some Fremantle residents and traders here have such a negative opinion about our gorgeous little city.

Freo is a great place but like most other suburbs has similar problems and struggles with the retail economy,  anti social behaviour and crime. Attracting more visitors to Freo will partly help with that, and that can only be achieved by not talking our city down, but by talking it up. Let’s give it a try!

Roel Loopers

 

WHAT FREMANTLE CAN LEARN FROM FRANCE’S MULHOUSE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, hospitality, retail, Uncategorized by freoview on May 23, 2019

 

City of Fremantle Heritage Coordinator Alan Kelsall made me aware of a very positive article in The Guardian by Angelique Chrisofis about the revitalisation of the town of Mulhouse in the east of France, which should inspire Fremantle to continue with its efforts of recreating the high street ambience of the past.

According to Chrisofis the town “was once considered eastern France’s grimmest town” and ten years ago “was a symbol of the death of the European high street”

The town of 110,000 residents had a very high rate of youth unemployment, poverty, crime and anti-social behaviour, but that all turned around when Council took action.

Mulhouse set out to rebalance the housing mix. Generous subsidies for the renovation of building fronts expedited a facelift of more than 170 buildings. Security and community policing were stepped up. Transport was key – with a new tram system, bike schemes, shuttle buses and cheap parking.
But making the town’s public spaces attractive was just as important, with wider pavements, dozens of benches, and what officials deemed a “colossal budget” for tree planting and maintenance, gardening and green space. Local associations, community groups and residents’ committees were crucial to the efforts. A town centre manager was appointed to support independents and high-street franchises setting up.

The big change happened and 470 new shops and businesses opened over the last eight years. 75% of them are independent!

Read the full article in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/may/20/from-bleak-to-bustling-how-one-french-town-beat-the-high-street-blues-mulhouse

In this context it is good to hear that Notre Dame University is considering a Masterplan for their Fremantle West End campus, in close collaboration with the City of Fremantle.

The uni recognises that it has grown well organically over the last 20 years but that it will be good to plan more ahead for the future with Freo City’s planners and Council, in light of the fact that NDA acquired the former Customs House buildings. Very positive!

 

Roel Loopers

REAL SUPPORT FOR FREMANTLE’S SMALL BUSINESSES

Posted in city of fremantle, hospitality, local government, retail, shopping, traders, Uncategorized by freoview on April 3, 2019

 

Great new idea to support Fremantle’s small businesses!

Small businesses in Fremantle will have access to subsidised training, support and mentoring under a new pilot program being trialed by the City of Fremantle.

The City has appointed independent small business advocates Freo Now and local business support organisation Business Foundations to offer the Business Capacity Building program.

The program will initially be open to up to 40 retail or hospitality, bricks and mortar small businesses based in the City of Fremantle, with the City contributing 80 per cent of the cost.

Business Foundations will provide general business advice and performance assessment services, while Freo Now will offer assistance with sales and promotion and financial management.

At the end of the pilot period, the City will consider extending and broadening the program based on the feedback of businesses and the service providers.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the capacity building program was designed to give local small businesses a helping hand in a tough economic climate.

Many small businesses close within a year because they have not done their market research and just follow a dream, so a program that deals with the hard-hitting facts of running a small business in challenging economic times is fantastic.

To apply for the program go to the Business Capacity Building page on the City of Fremantle website: https://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/business/your-business/managing-and-growing-your-business

Roel Loopers

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NEW WATER PIPES FOR FREMANTLE CHANGES

Posted in city of fremantle, community, hospitality, retail, shopping, Uncategorized, water by freoview on March 27, 2019

 

The WATER CORPORATION has advised that the work on the Fremantle water pipes in the inner city this year will be completed before Christmas and that several streets have been deleted from the initial plan, so below the details.

Project timeline

Previously we informed you work will be completed by late 2019. During our discussions many businesses raised concerns about work continuing and impacting trade during the summer months. To ensure our construction work is completed before the busy Christmas and summertime retail period, we have reduced the number of streets originally planned for renewal.

Streets for renewal include:

Bannister Street, between Pakenham Street to Market Street.
Collie Street, between Marine Terrace and South Terrace.
Essex Lane, between Collie Street and Essex Street.
Essex Street, between Marine Terrace and South Terrace.
High Street, between Little High Street and Market Street.
Leake Street, between Pakenham Street and Market Street.
Marine Terrace, between Cliff Street and Suffolk Street, and Howard Street and Price Street.
Market Street, between High Street and Bannister Street.
Nairn Street, between Pakenham Street and Market Street.
Norfolk Street, between Marine Terrace and South Terrace.
Pakenham Street, between Collie Street and Leake Street.
South Terrace, between Bannister Street and Norfolk Street.
We estimate this construction work will be completed between June and November 2019.

Streets no longer included in this package of work:

Henry Street, between Marine Terrace and Phillimore Street.
Pakenham Street, Leake Street to Phillimore Street.
Phillimore Street, between Henry Street and Pakenham Street.
Short Street, between Pakenham Street and Market Street.
Renewal of the water mains on these streets will be completed at a later date.

Who to contact

For more information, please visit watercorporation.com.au/pipesforfremantle. Alternatively, telephone our dedicated Pipes for Perth Customer Solutions team on (08) 9420 3529, available weekdays during business hours or email pipesforperth@watercorporation.com.au.

Roel Loopers

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COMPARING SHOP VACANCIES

Posted in city of fremantle, retail, shopping, Uncategorized by freoview on March 23, 2019

 

Retail vacancies

I pinched this graph from Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt’s blog who responded to some of the negativity on social media on his blog. Read his blog post here: https://cofremantle.wordpress.com/

This one is about comparing the retail vacancies in the major shopping streets in the Perth metro area. It is always good to have the facts at hand and it shows that there are a lot of empty shops in a lot of streets.

Roel Loopers

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