Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt will next week at the full council meeting declare a conflict of interest for the debate on the Sunset Events proposal for a tavern and live outdoor music venue at J Shed at Bathers Beach. The Mayor will declare the conflict because his long-term partner is an employee of CODA, the architects assigned by Sunset Events to design the tavern.
While this is the correct procedure one has to wonder why that conflict of interest did not exist last year when the temporary approval for live concerts was given, when the Mayor already was in a relationship with the CODA staffer.
Cynics might see this as a convenient way out for the Mayor who now won’t have to take part in the debate and won’t have to vote, so whatever the outcome no one can blame him.
Thinking about J Shed I feel this is a lost opportunity to create something special at historic Arthur Head. J Shed could have been a community and arts hub like the lovely Fibonacci Centre in Blinco Street that has artists and yoga studios, a small exhibition and performance space, a cute cafe and a nice deck to sit on. The Fib has small concerts, poetry readings, exhibitions, functions, a monthly flea market, etc. and is such a relaxing venue. Imagine something like that at Bathers Beach, a small deck for alfresco enjoyment of the Indian Ocean and sunset, a space suitable for weddings and wedding function, for art exhibitions and collaborations with the artists at J Shed.
Then imagine the City, with a grant from Lotterywest, uncovering the remnants of the old Whaling Station and creating another historic tourist attraction in the area. Increase the connectivity between the Fishing Boat Harbour and the Maritime Museum by extending the board walk and one has a jewel that will attract people from all over the world and many locals.
Fremantle does not need another entertainment precinct. We already got that well covered in the CBD and we know the often negative impact that has on the community. Check out the FARE (Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education) website or their DRINKTANK blog to see what impact drinking has on the community and our national health system, and it might be time for the City of Fremantle to consider their own alcohol policy.
One of the major gripes in Western Australia is that no matter how hard state and local governments try to fight crime and anti-social behaviour it is not backed up by the justice system that is seen as often being too lenient. A report in the West Australian about extended trading hours for the Fremantle National Hotel appears to confirm this once again.
When the National applied in 2013 to extend trading hours on Thursdays and Fridays to 1 pm and on weekends to 2 pm, the Police Commissioner objected to it, citing alcohol-related violence and crime in Fremantle with more than 500 people a year submitted to Freo Hospital because of issues related to alcohol.
Subsequently the Liquor Commision rejected the application by the National Hotel, but now Supreme Court Justice Jeremy Allison has ruled that the Liquor Commission made a mistake in its ruling because it had not sufficiently considered if the application for extended trading hours was in the public interest.
Anyone walking or driving through Freo in the early hours knows that it can be a bit of a mine field where one hopes to get through without being attacked by drunken or drugged fools, and shop owners have to clean up the mess next day of broken glass and people having urinated on their premises, but our Supreme Court believes there might be some “public interest” in allowing people to drink more and longer on four days a week.
People in the West End of Freo can start to be seriously worried about the proposed tavern and live music venue at J Shed where no doubt operators Sunset Events will also want extended trading hours once they are settled in. The City of Fremantle will leave it to the police to deal with the mess they have created by granting permission for the establishment of a pub in the most historic area of our city.
The Little Creatures bar and brewery at the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour was packed full today and a large number of people was well under the legal drinking age because the brewery was holding a community fair with clowns and face painting, sand sculpture, free popcorn, and koala and snake cuddling.
Of course as a contributor to the Drinktank blog by FARE(Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education) I have to be a wee bit critical of holding an event for children in a big booze barn, but I have acknowledged Little Creatures in the past for their very responsible service of alcohol, and I am a big believer that children deserve the best and a lot of fun, so good on the Creatures crew for organising this during school holidays.
I trained it all the way to the big smoke last night to watch the world premiere of The Fremantle Candidate play produced by Fremantle’s Deckchair Theatre company and played at PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Art).
I had not been to a Deckchair production for quite some time as I was too often disappointed in the past, so last eve’s play was a pleasant surprise. The play directed by Chris Bendall and written by Ingle Knight was excellent in my humble opinion and I thought most of the acting was outstanding.
Steve Turner looked the part and almost like a picture of the John Curtin statue at Kings Square and he played the role with great conviction and acting skills.
I did not know much about former Prime Minister John Curtin and learned some things last night, especially his problems with alcohol became a major part of the play, and that alone would be worth seeing the play for, as it was a reminder of how little it takes to get into habitual alcohol consumption, it becomes a routine and then an addiction.
I was told that Deckchair is putting up some matinee performances as well, so Freo people don’t have to come to Perth at night, so hop on the train and see a very good local play.
I noticed Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and his partner in the audience, as well as the Member for Fremantle Adele Carles, councillor Jon Strachan, Americas Cup hero John Longley, and former Fremantle Society president Ian Alexander (nursing a broken leg).
P.S. check out the alcohol related DRINKTANK blog by FARE.