Freo's View

FREO NEEDS SUBSTANCE NOT HYPERBOLE

Posted in city of fremantle, elections, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on September 19, 2017

 

Over the last ten years that I have been scrutinising Fremantle Council, by attending most council and committee meetings, I have come to understand how diverse and challenging local governance is.

Councillors need to be interested in almost everything and have good common knowledge of what goes on in Fremantle. Elected Members vote on every item that comes to Council, so it is important for the Freo community that Councillors are not only interested in their own backyard, street or suburb.

During local government election campaigns in Fremantle we hear claims of uniqueness, as some candidates state that they are only one with certain qualifications to do a proper job as Councillor, because they live or work in the ward they have nominated for.

Elected Members need to make a positive contribution, have ideas, and aim for solutions and good outcomes. Stubbornly sticking to a philosophy, or just being negative about decisions of the past, does not make for a good Councillor.

Integrity, consistency, outstanding communication skills, willingness to compromise, and convincing fellow Councillors, so that we get the best outcomes, are essential skills for elected members. And so are innovative and creative ideas, long-term strategies, and deeply listening to the community.

One candidate claims that no one else can claim her local government activism and knowledge. But this candidate only attended Council when she wanted to protest about something that happened in the West End. Here ends her Fremantle interest.

The three other City Ward candidates don’t attend council meeting, so their  interest in Fremantle local government is questionable.

I have lived all over Fremantle for 25 years. I registered my commercial photography business in WA in 1985 and had my office in Freo from 1992 to 2016.

I am the only one of all five City Ward candidates who can honestly claim to have attended most Council and committee meetings for over ten years, and therefore have a thorough understanding of local government process.

I walk the City Ward streets every day of the year and engage with the community, so say hello and have a chat with me when you see me!

There is a whole lot more expected from a Councillor than looking after your own interest, street and suburb, so VOTE ROEL FOR CITY WARD!

Roel Loopers

Let’s cut the crap and get some substance: CITY WARD CANDIDATE FORUM Thursday September 28 at 6.30 pm, upstairs at the National Hotel!

ALL THE CANDIDATES FOR THE FREMANTLE ELECTION

Posted in city of fremantle, elections, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on September 15, 2017

 

Nominations for the Fremantle local government election have now closed and ballot papers will start to be delivered by Australia Post from September 24.

Whatever your opinion is, PLEASE VOTE!

Nominations are as follows:

MAYOR: Mayor Brad Pettitt and Ra Stewart.

BEACONSFIELD: Councillor Hannah Fitzhardinge and Fedele Camarda.

SOUTH WARD: Councillor Andrew Sullivan, Marija Vujcic, Ben Moodie, Jennifer Suffling, Liam Carter.

NORTH WARD: Councillor Doug Thompson, Michelle Corbo.

HILTON WARD: Councillor Sam Wainwright, Catherine Hammond.

EAST WARD: Jenny Archibald, Michelle Cunningham.

CITY WARD: Roel Loopers, Linda Wayman, Julie Morgan, Claudia Green, Adin Lang.

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

 

Roel Loopers

VOTE ROEL FOR CITY WARD!

 

FREMANTLE ELECTION FORUMS DATES

Posted in city of fremantle, community, election, Uncategorized by freoview on September 8, 2017

 

Candidate Forums

 

The Fremantle community is always good at organising election candidate forums, where voters can listen to those who want to represent them on council and ask questions during the Q&A.

So write the dates down in your diaries, or record them in any of your electronic devices.

The big mayoral one between Mayor Brad Pettitt and candidate Ra Stewart is on Tuesday October 3 at 6.30 pm at Tannock Hall of the University of Notre Dame, at Cliff Street, opposite the Fremantle Herald.

East Ward candidates will have their forum on September 19, Beaconsfield/Hilton candidates on September 20, City Ward is on September 28 and South and North Wards are yet to be determined.

I will update you as we go when I got starting times, but most of them will probably be from 6 pm.

 

Roel Loopers

 

AUSTRALIA DAY THREAT TO LOCAL COUNCILS

Posted in aboriginal, australia day, city of fremantle, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on August 15, 2017

 

Australia Day smoking ceremony in the Fremantle Roundhouse

 

According to a report in the West Australian today the Federal Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has written to all 547 local councils in Australia, and warned them that they will be stripped off their right to hold citizenship ceremonies, if there are politically motivated attacks on Australia Day.

Fremantle Council this year stopped the Australia Day firework on January 26 and instead had a One Day event on the Esplanade on the 28th.

The fireworks still went ahead and were paid for by the Fishing Boat Harbour traders.

I am not sure that I consider the now national discussion about a more appropriate date to celebrate Australia Day as political motivated. It is only genuine consideration for Australia’s indigenous people, who consider January 26 as invasion day.

 

Roel Loopers

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ESSENTIAL FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Posted in city of fremantle, community, democracy, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on August 4, 2017

 

Unlike federal and state government local government is unique by the fact that there is no opposition party in local councils.

There is no shadow front bench, party rooms, whips, or leader of the opposition, so all elected members at local government have a conscience vote on every issue, something we often wish would be the case more at the two other forms of government.

Local government has no oposition, and practically that means that the community becomes the de-facto opposition. That sounds like very good grassroots democracy to me, as long as the community is willing to engage in the process, and that often is the problem.

For a local government like Fremantle Council to perform at its best exceptional community consultation is essential, but that is difficult to achieve because of community apathy.

You can take a horse to water but can’t force it to drink, and that is the case with community consultation where most people don’t bother to engage.

To make local government work community input needs to be pro-active rather than re-active, and it is essential that the elected members treat community input like a discussion in a political party room, with all the respect it deserves.

Unfortunately most people don’t even vote at council elections, let alone engage in the process of consultation, so it is often left to a few who polarise issues and are against most things council decides. That kind of negative engagement is not helpful and divides the community, and both sides are to blame for that.

I believe it would be helpful to get a better understanding of how council works by having regular monthly meetings with community groups, as is already done at the more active precincts around Fremantle.

It would also be helpful if more people attended council meetings, but I have no idea how to achieve that, unless we do live streaming, so people don’t have to leave home to witness the democratic council process.

FICRA, FRRA, the Fremantle Society, the Chamber of Commerce, etc. should all be part of the deliberations and debate and have an input. Not just on one off occasions, but as a matter of monthly routine.

If council engaged earlier and more intensely with the community, a lot of the re-active negativity could be avoided, and positive outcome based dialogue could be had with the community.

That would result in the community being part of the solutions and taking ownership of the issues at hand. It would no longer be us and them, but all of us together shaping the future of Fremantle.

I believe Freo is capable of that kind of mature debate and would love to see it implemented.

The community apathy is happening in most councils in Australia and is not specific to Fremantle though.

While the inevitable future local government reform and council amalgamations might result in more cohesive and effective administrations, there is no guarantee it would result in better community embracing governance.

It could be an interesting project for Notre Dame University students of politics to find creative ways of how to improve local government, how to improve community participation, and how to improve voter participation at council elections.

It is worthwhile to think about this and find ways of accommodating change and progress while respecting our unique city and its history.

Roel Loopers

LOCAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT JUST (ABOUT) RUBBISH

Posted in australia day, city of fremantle, local government, politics, Uncategorized by freoview on July 31, 2017

 

With the Fremanle local government election just two months and three weeks away I have been contemplating what the role of local government actually is.

Some people in our community believe it is all about delivering services, collecting rubbish, cleaning streets, etc. but is there a bigger picture our Elected Members should also be involved in?

I personally believe there is because local politicians are the closest to grassroots democracy and should inspire state and federal governments.

I asked Dr. Martin Drum, Professor of Politics and International Relations and Chief of Staff of the Vice Chancellor at Fremantle Notre Dame University and this was his reply:

“Elected representatives have both a deliberative and representative function. We focus a lot on the deliberative part, where our MPs and councillors are empowered to make decisions on our behalf. They decide what proposed developments can and cant proceed, they decide what does and doesn’t get funded. Some people argue that this is all our elected representatives should do.

But our representatives are also expected to represent the community which elects them. In electing them, we have authorised them to do this. Representation is arguably even more important than deliberation because it helps shape the identity of a community. Our councillors are the voice of the people they represent. If you ask me, its especially important for elected representatives to speak up for people who dont have the capacity to represent themselves.

Fremantle is a special part of Western Australia. It’s a little different to other areas. Local representatives need to speak to this difference. That is why the council, the sum body of local representatives in Fremantle, should feel free to speak up about the date of Australia Day, especially if their community has communicated this to them.

Elected representatives get judged not only by the decisions they make but also by how effective they are at representing people.

Whether a particular policy position is a good or bad one (such as moving Australia Day, opposing Roe 8, banning plastic bags) is up to the Fremantle community to judge, but there is no doubt that elected representatives are entitled to speak about them. We expect that people we elect become a voice of the people they represent, so they should speak up.

Those who are running as alternatives should likewise feel free to express their views on these issues. Competition for political office is healthy and should be welcomed. We then expect the public to judge them on that come the next election. That’s why I think being accountable and transparent is important.

Personally I always hope that debate focuses on the issues rather than the person, but that’s a pretty idealistic position these days.”

There is no doubt though that Council needs to have its priorities right and that people in the community rightly complain when basic maintenance is not done. One has to consider and acknowledge though that the day to day running of the City of Fremantle is done by the administration.

There is also an absolute and non-negotiable need for excellent community consultation, which was lacking on the Australia Day changes. This should have been handled much better as it polarised the community and became a political, and sadly sometimes racist, debate.

The positive thing about the initiative of Fremantle Council is that the Australia Day date and plastic bags ban now have become a national debate and that looks like pretty healthy democracy to me.

I agree with Dr Martin Drum that the debate should focus on issues rather than on the person. Respectful dialogue is essential to move forward together, and I especially am aware that it is not always easy to keep that in mind when one has a passion for Freo.

 

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE VACANCIES NOT TOO BAD

Posted in city of fremantle, hospitality, real estate, retail, shopping, Uncategorized by freoview on July 21, 2017

 

Fremantle is doing pretty well in the commercial vacancy rate comparison with other councils.

The West Australian this week released the vacancy figures for Bayview Terrace in Claremont at 10.16%, Napoleon Street in Cottesloe at 6.81% and Rokeby Road in Subiaco at 5.94%, but failed to mention Fremantle shopping streets.

The best performing street was Oxford Street in Leederville that has no vacancies.

When we compare Freo’s main shopping streets we are doing alright here and it is not as bleak as some people think.

Commercial vacancies in Fremantle high streets are:

  • High Street mall and west end 5%
  • South Terrace 3%
  • Cappuccino Strip and Market Street 5%

However the more run-down part of Fremantle that is waiting to be developed has higher vacancy rates:

  • Cantonment Street 16%
  • Adelaide Street 21%

Adelaide Street is of course waiting for the Hilton Hotel and Little Laneway (Spotlight site) developments, while Cantonment Street will be transformed with the Woolstores shopping centre development.

 

Roel Loopers

 

FREMANTLE RATES WELL

Posted in city of fremantle, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on July 15, 2017

 

City of Fremantle ratepayers can’t complain much about recent council rate rises. They are on the lower bottom of the scale, when compared to the other 23 local councils which have set the rates for the new financial year.

Fremantle has a rate increase of just 1.9% and that is excellent compared to the 4.95% rise in the City of Bayswater.

There are only six of the 23 councils which have increased rates by less than Fremantle, the lowest being the Town of Claremont with just 1%.

Our neighbour the City of Cockburn has a rate rise of 1.75%

East Fremantle will decide their rates on July 25, so stay tuned for that.

 

Roel Loopers

SAT IS THE NEW TAG

Posted in fremantle by freoview on July 29, 2014

Most people hate TAGS, those spray painted initials by immature and disrespectful fools on buildings. TAGS are the ugly part of graffiti and cost local councils many thousands of dollars each year to clean up. Creative murals of graffiti art however are fantastic and should be encouraged.

To spray TAGS, and leaving one’s mark like a dog that urinates against trees, is illegal and incurs fines, but with recent development I wonder if we should still be worried about TAGS when SAT appears to be a far worse new form of urban vandalism.

SAT is state government initiated and sanctioned ‘graffiti’ that destroys cities and suburbs. SAT overrules local councils and makes planning departments obsolete. SAT erodes democracy because the community no longer has a say about the lifestyle they want to live and about the character of their cities. SAT dramatically and irreversibly changes the face and character of suburbs, with little regard for the wishes of the residents, ratepayers and elected council members.

Local government is invaded and pushed aside by the Western Australian State Government, who demands higher density living and forces unacceptable high-rise in low-rise city centres. Subiaco and Cottesloe will never have the same appeal again, once modern ugliness has destroyed the ambience there.

The proponents of high-rise keep assuring us that we will get iconic buildings, and that is true to some extent, because a building that totally dwarfs adjoining buildings and streets will be iconic in the sense that it sticks out like a huge eyesore. Sixteen storeys in the centre of Subi? You must be kidding!

The rationale for putting high-rise in the centres is that the buildings need to be close to public transport, shopping, etc, while these high buildings really should be built on the periphery so that they don’t destroy the uniqueness of many of the older suburbs. High-rise near the Mandurah railway station for example would make sense because, for all the wrong reasons, the station was not built in the city centre.

There is nothing wrong with higher density living. I believe it is essential because we can no longer afford the urban sprawl, as it has become far too expensive to build the infrastructure needed for it. But city planning has to be done with respect for the character of place. Sterile sameness of monotone concrete boxes is not the best solution to cope with increasing population. Far more sensitivity needs to be shown by our State Government that appears to be on an ego-driven high-rise crusade.

In Fremantle we can accommodate high-rise in the Knutsford Street. It’s a five-minute walk to public transport and an easy twenty-minute walk or five-minute bike ride into the city centre. Beaconsfield and Hilton and probably even White Gum Valley could also accommodate higher rise. Be warned though that there are a few elected members in Freo who can envisage an “iconic 21-storey building” on the Woolstores site.

People make cities. People create the ambience and lifestyle they want to live in, a place where they have a sense of belonging and where the community takes on ownership. By dismissing the wishes of the local communities, state government is making local governments irrelevant, because they can no longer decide what they want their cities to look like.

SAT is vandalism far worse than TAG and it needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand.

 

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on SAT IS THE NEW TAG

FORCED HIGHRISE IS STATE VANDALISM

Posted in fremantle by freoview on July 15, 2014
Could this be Fremantle's future?

Could this be Fremantle’s future?

 

The decision by Western Australian Planning Minister John Day to overrule Subiaco council and allow a 16-storey building on the former Subiaco Markets site on Rokeby Road has huge implications for all local councils because it renders communities powerless to decide their own destiny and lifestyle.

The State is muscling in to local government more and more, with Direction 2031 forcing all councils to increase living density and demanding they allow higher buildings in their councils, no matter if it destroys the unique character of those suburbs.

It should greatly worry us all that the Design Advisory Panel and the Minister can overrule any council decisions on building heights, design and quality and that we no longer have a say on how we would like to live.

The result will be a sanitised Perth metro area with councils looking more and more the same and sterile, with the individuality of character being taken away from them. In years to come it might not make much difference where one lives, because Fremantle could look a lot more like West Perth.

There is no doubt that the urban sprawl of Perth can’t continue. It is not sustainable that we develop hundreds of kilometres along a coastal corridor and all have our own patch with a single house and garden. Higher density needs to be encouraged, but it needs to be done with restraint. To put a sixteen-storey building in the centre of Subiaco is vandalism. It’s disgraceful to alter the character of the comfortable shopping area there and is akin to allowing 16 storeys in Freo’s High Street mall.

We should all be very worried that the power of local governments is being drastically eroded by our State Government, and we should ask what the purpose and benefits of council amalgamations are when councils can’t decide their own future anyway. Is local government still relevant?

 

Roel Loopers

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