Freo's View

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

 

FREMANTLE COUNCIL REJECTS SUNSET J SHED TAVERN

Ordinary Council of the City of Fremantle this evening rejected the proposal by Sunset Events for an 850 patron tavern and 1,500 patron outdoor music venue, plus micro brewery and coffee roaster at J Shed on historic Arthur Head, to the delight of community and heritage groups and local residents, who have been fighting strongly against it for over two years. This is however still not the end of it as the final authority for the development is the WA Planning Committee.

Mayor Brad Pettitt and Councillors Wainwright, Pemberton and McDonald all declared a conflict of interest and were not part of the deliberations and voting. Only Councillors Hume and Sullivan voted for it, while Deputy Mayor Dave Coggin and Councillors Waltham, Strachan, Naber and Jones were against the development.

The many residents, representatives of community groups and neighbouring artists stated that the J Shed/Arthur Head area can be activated in a more respectful and appropriate way than was proposed and that from 78 submissions sent to council 76 were against the tavern and live music venue. It was also clear that the excessive noise levels of 0ver 100 decibel recorded during the trial period this summer violated the Environmental Protection Act.

Sunset Events director David Chitty said the trial period was to show how the large concerts would work and that they wanted an answer if the development could go ahead or they would move on.

Councillor Jon Strachan, as the Chair of the Planning Committee, explained why the committee had rejected the approval three weeks ago and said that any fair and reasonable assessment of the proposal showed it did not comply with many of Council’s own policies. He said the proposal did not fit in with his vision for the site.

Only Councillor Andrew Sullivan spoke in favour of the proposal, saying that this was only about planning approval and not about the concerts. I am nonplussed about this statement as one cannot recommend the building of a tavern without also agreeing with the purpose it is built for. It’s a bit like approving a sewer but then rejecting that faeces run through it.

Councillor Bryn Jones said a tavern and live music venue does not compliment the work of the artists at J Shed and is very inconvenient for them. “Are we going to have a 21 year war or buy the artists out and make the whole building into a tavern?”

The question now is if Sunset Events will be a good corporate citizen and accepts the vote of Full Council and the Planning Committee and withdraw its application at the WAPC, or if they will try to get approval against the wishes of Fremantle’s Elected Members and the Fremantle community. Common sense should prevail and they should pull out, I believe.

Roel Loopers

FREO’S ART PRECINCT REQUIRES CREATIVE THINKING

Posted in art, city of fremantle by freoview on November 16, 2015

One of the things that irks me most about the City of Fremantle is its lack of consistency and its piecemeal ad hoc decision making. The Bathers Beach Art Precinct is a good example of that and where the City is doing it all wrong. And while Councillors have commented on this blog that it is a work in progress it is important to make the right steps and make the right decisions to improve that work in progress, but that is not happening.

The BBAP was conceived to activate Arthur Head, but that has not eventuated. What has happened is putting Sunday painters into the former pilot’s Cottages and create a country-style low-brow cottage industry up on the historic hill that looks pretty embarrassing. Only the highly professional and creative Glen Cowans photography stands out like a shining beacon along Captain’s Lane. Even the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre has done little to attract people to the area because of a lack of events that create an Aboriginal experience for overseas visitors to Fremantle.

The City still does not know what is actually wants to do with the area and gives out very confusing messages. The wood workers at the number 4 studio of J Shed have been given their marching orders because their work is supposedly not compatible with the Bathers Beach Art Precinct philosophy, but supposedly a pub and outdoor music venue at the number 1 studio is fine.

The Walyalup Centre will be sharing their space with an Aboriginal health service, so where does that fit in with an arts precinct and activation of the area?

The BBAP is basically a shambles and I hope that the new City’s arts and culture manager Pete Stone can put his stamp on it and sort out the mediocre mess it has been allowed to become.

Arthur Head is a ghost town at night that attracts anti social behaviour and it needs to be lit up as a feature for tourism and a deterrent for those who want to shoot up, defecate, vandalise and misbehave. Our City’s most important heritage area has been going down hill ever since the City evicted the residents of the historic Pilots Cottages and told the Fremantle Port pilots to find another office and that is not acceptable.

Roel Loopers

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FREO COMMUNITY OPINION FLUSHED DOWN LIKE TOILET PAPER

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on October 7, 2015

shit

 

There were a lot of Curtin University students at this evening’s Fremantle Council Planning Services Committee meeting. Their teacher told the Councillors and packed public gallery the students have to write 1,500 words about their observations, so let me help them out and suggest they start with the word farce.

Farce is probably a too nice word to describe the shambles Fremantle Council has become under Mayor Brad Pettitt’s it’s my way or the highway leadership.

And didn’t our Bradman, he who was sent from space to rescue Fremantle from boredom, make it very clear that he did not give a damn about community submissions and the people who had just addressed Councillors. Oh no, Bradman was sick and tired of that boring place called Arthur Head, a place where nothing happens, the White Gum Valley resident told the people who actually live a stone’s throw away. Braddy knows it so much better than those who have lived there for years, and than the Roundhouse heritage guides who welcome more than 110,000 people a year into the old goal.

Naw, we need activation the Mayor lectured us all, because basically that heritage stuff is boring like bat shit. Might I remind you that under his leadership Arthur Head was made into a ghost town when his Council signed off on the Bathers Beach Art Precinct that has attracted many undesirable people and anti-social behaviour to the heritage area.

Councillors tried to pacify the residents by proposing little motions and passing them, and it felt a bit like they were trying to smooth small ripples in a tsunami, because the community had already expressed they did not want a music venue and alcohol outlet at J Shed.

Forget the new alcohol policy and anti-social behaviour, drunks, etc. It’s insignificant in the big picture. His Worship told us it is just a two-year trial and might not turn out all that bad. That was very reassuring especially since advertising of alcohol would be restricted maybe somehow, or whatever, but not the consumption off it.

His eminent Worship told us there are no complaints when the Fremantle Arts Centre have concerts for 3,400 people in that heritage area, so why would that be different in a venue whose core business it is to sell alcohol. Yes sorry Brad, we are not as intelligent as you are and did not make that connection.

The Mayor was leading the way to get approval for the Sunset Events proposal one way or the other. Brad, like a spoiled single child, gets what he wants or he bang his fists on the table and tells officers off, as he did tonight but without the banging of the fists because that is not a good look in public. It appeared he intimidated and influenced the decisions of some Councillors anyway.

But the next item on the agenda  showed the real farce of it all when Bradman told us that the facade of the former Workers Club in Henry Street “tell an important story of how we evolved in Fremantle.” That apparently does not apply however to the extremely historic significance of Arthur Head, that just needs to be activated according to the Mayor, who even offered the locals to come and show them nothing is going on there, apart from some 110,000 people visiting the heritage site every year. Bradman is also happy to replace the successful family fun Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets, that attracted up to 5.000 people each Saturday in summer, with herding 1,000 people into a small fenced off area for ticketed events.

There is little use boring you with all the things people said when they addressed the Council Committee this eve, because most of it was ignored by our Elected Members and barely mentioned in the debate. In the City of Fremantle community consultation is like toilet paper. One flushes it down ideally without looking at it.

Roel Loopers

ROEL FOR FREO! Beaconsfield Ward. Truly Independent. 

Written and authorised by Roel Loopers of 5 Maxwell Street, Beaconsfield 6162.

PERTH THINK TANK BUT FREO DRINK TANK

Posted in fremantle by freoview on March 22, 2014

Did anyone notice the difference between the big city thinking of Perth and provincial thinking of Fremantle? Read today’s West Australian to find out that planning has begun for a cable car between Kings Park and the new Elizabeth Quay, because the tourism industry and State Government believe Perth needs a good tourist attraction to boost visitors numbers.

Strangely neither the State, nor the City of Perth, or the tourism industry recommended to put a micro brewery and live concert venue in Kings Park or on Elizabeth Quay, to boost visitors numbers, unlike country town mentality Fremantle that believe we can only attract more people through selling more booze at historic Arthur Head. Don’t worry that alcohol will discourage the thousands of overseas Muslim visitors going anywhere near it.

While Perth has a think tank, Fremantle appears to have a drink tank, but at least the drunks will have free City sponsored lights and bells on their bikes here.

Roel Loopers

PUB WILL IRREPARABLY DIVIDE FREMANTLE COMMUNITY

Posted in fremantle by freoview on February 25, 2014

Around 220 people attended the Fremantle Special Electors Meeting at the Town Hall on Monday.  FICRA had called for the meeting about the Sunset Events proposal to build a pub at J Shed and the A Class reserve at Arthur Head.

The majority of Councillors attended the meeting, but there is nothing I have heard from them that has convinced me it is going to be a close call on Wednesday, when full council will sign off on this proposal.

This was not an evening against pubs, music, drinking or Sunset Events, but a meeting about the inappropriateness of the scale of the proposal and the inappropriateness of the location. It was also not an evening against youth, and the old artist who attacked young people should get a life and stop generalising that young people are drunks and misbehave, because the vast majority of them don’t!

FICRA put a motion forward to decline the lease and to put out a new EOI that restricts the lease area to the J Shed building, not the A Class Reserve.

Historian Professor Bob Reece spoke of the abstract values involved here and that Arthur Head is a complex and rich historical site, and one of the most significant ones in the State. He said that instead of building a pub over them the archeological sites of the Whaling Station and Mews Fisheries building could be opened up for tourism.

A spokesman for Sunset Events claimed the majority of people in Fremantle are in support of the proposal without offering facts to support that, because many of the submissions in support come from far outside Freo, while single submissions against the proposal were sent in on behalf of hundreds of people by groups like FICRA, Fremantle Society, etc.

Someone questioned if this is the right level of activation for the area, and that really is the crux of the issue in my opinion, but sadly most of our Councillors will just ignore all the reasons why the proposal should not be approved and will allow it to go ahead.

It was flabbergasting to hear that the traditional owners have not been consulted yet, which means that on Wednesday Council will approve the lease without knowing if Aboriginal people support or reject a pub at Bathers Beach.

Evenings like last night give one a good feeling about the community, but sadly on Wednesday the gap between Council and the community will get wider and a civil war-like stand-off will be created, similar to the Fremantle Markets issue that still riles many and cost then Fremantle Mayor Peter Tagliaferri his political career. Mayor Brad Pettitt, and Councillors who also have political aspirations, should be very aware of this, as the community will not let them get away with again ignoring their wishes.

I fear it will all become pretty nasty after Wednesday, with legal action, State Ministers involved, etc. and all that because of the stubborn attitude by a Council more interested in pleasing Sunset Events than the residents of this City.

It is a shame that a pub will irreparable divide our community in times when Australia is distraught about what alcohol is doing to our society. This is the one Council should have let go to show they are listening, and to create a much better relationship with the community and galvanise support for issues and developments that really matter. But deep listening has not been a strength of Fremantle Council, and an opportunity to heal the relationship with the community will been lost on Wednesday.

Roel Loopers

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