It is a worry to read in the Sunday Times this morning that Fremantle Sunset Events director David Chitty has admitted his company does have financial problems and paying suppliers after a less than successful Southbound event.
Several companies claim Sunset Events owes them tens of thousands of dollars with one of them making strong personal attacks on Facebook.
The worry for Fremantle is what this will mean for the Jerome Laneway Festival, but more importantly what it will mean for the 25-year-lease Sunset Events has signed for the No 1 studio in J Shed at Bathers Beach.
Rumours are that the company still wants to go ahead with a scaled-down version of the tavern and music venue, after planning approval for it was refused by Fremantle Council, the WA Planning Commission and the State Administrative Tribunal.
Will Sunset Events be able to commit hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a tavern, toilets, commercial kitchen, etc?
Maybe it is time for City of Fremantle officers to pro-actively engage with the events organisers and find out if it would be better to move on and for them to relinquish the lease and for the City to find a more appropriate use for the historically significant location.
Sunset Events has abandoned plans to create a tavern and outdoor music venue at J Shed on historic Arthur Head. They will be handing the keys for Unit One back to the City of Fremantle by October 7.
The proposal for the tavern was strongly opposed by the J Shed artists, heritage groups, local residents and Fremantle Ports and the proposal for the 850 patron tavern and 1,500 patron concert venue was also rejected by the City of Fremantle and the WA Planning Commission after the strong community protests.
This is a very good outcome for the Fremantle West End, for heritage, for tourism and for the Bathers Beach Art Precinct I believe. The City of Fremantle should never have initially approved the proposal for a smaller venue as the heritage location at Bathers Beach is not suitable for a venue of that scale and purpose.
I am proud I have stood side by side with the J Shed artists, residents and heritage groups from the very beginning and our resolve never faltered. We deservedly won!
Fremantle is in for more Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with Sunset Events director David Chitty telling the Fremantle Herald that his company will challenge the refusal for a tavern and live outdoor music venue at J Shed on Bathers Beach by the WA Planning Commission at the State Administrative Tribunal.
Chitty admits though that it is unlikely they will win at SAT, but Sunset Events would then consider getting approval from the City of Fremantle for a scaled down version. One can assume this would be for the much lower patron numbers the City of Fremantle approved two years ago.
It looks like the Fremantle west end residents, heritage groups, Fremantle Ports and J Shed artists will have to continue their fight against this madness for a long while to come, and with the inconsistent decision-making record of Fremantle Council one cannot even start to guess the outcome. Playing Lotto is more predictable than Fremantle Council decisions.
There have been a few comments in regard to yesterday’s article about Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt declaring a conflict of interest on the Sunset Events proposal for J Shed because his partner works at CODA, the architect consultants for Sunset for that project.
Brad Pettitt has responded stating that legal advise he received pointed out that now that his partner has moved in with him, she is legally his de-facto and hence the conflict of interest. She is by the way not a CODA director, as far as I am aware
Those who believe it would have been more transparent if the Mayor had declared earlier that he was in relationship with a CODA employee do have a point, but before throwing stones should check the rules and regulation for Councillors in the Local Government Act.
I have no issues with the debate and people criticising elected members, but I want to make it absolutely clear that CODA should not be tarred with anything as they have done nothing wrong and only tendered for City of Fremantle contracts.
CODA are a very professional and reputable architect and city planning company that has received national awards. I have had the pleasure of dealing with CODA director Kieran Wong on several occasions during community or stakeholder sessions on Victoria Quay, Kings Square and Cantonment Hill and was very impressed with how thorough Kieran was.
Wong is a very likeable person who does not bring a big ego to meetings and does not patronise and talk down to people. He gives you the facts, the opportunities and limitations and then he carefully listens and takes on board suggestions and ideas. That was clearly shown when he delivered three options for Victoria Quay, and while the preferred plans by Fremantle Ports don’t please everyone, CODA did a very good job in my opinion.
The reality of commercial life is that people work with those they feel comfortable with and who will bring the desired outcomes, so there might well be a slight bias at the City administration toward CODA because they worked on projects together before. That happens in other departments and government agencies as well. For example Fremantle Ports has used the same graphic designer, Acorn, for twenty years although every 3-4 years the contract goes out to tender. It is clear there is a preference toward that company but that does not in any way indicates anyone goes to bed with anyone.
I photographed for 11 years for the Midland Redevelopment Authority, 13 years for Fremantle Ports, 8 years for the State Energy Commission and had many other lengthy assignments for government departments and agencies without bribing anyone or having relationships or affairs with staff, so let’s chill about it.
I believe it is good that the City of Fremantle uses highly professional and experienced local consultants instead of people from interstate. If anyone believes proper tender process has not been followed at the City of Fremantle it is best to send questions to the new CEO Phil StJohn. And let me point out yet again that Mayor Brad Pettitt can not make decisions like granting contracts on his own. Full Council does make decisions for the City of Fremantle, not individual elected members!