Freo's View

FREMANTLE GOES BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH NEW CEO

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on February 4, 2016

New Freo CEO

 

The City of Fremantle announced today that they have appointed Phil St John as the new CEO of the City, taking over from Graeme McKenzie who was in the position for 12 years.

St John is well known in Fremantle as he was the Director of Planning at COF for eight years before moving to the City of Wanneroo in late 2014.

I must admit I found it a surprising decision, as St John is not exactly the new broom I believe the COF administration needs. There could well be too much familiarity with staff already. No doubt though that St John is a highly professional and very likeable administrator, so I hope he will put his own stamp on it soon and make some necessary changes and improvements.

Welcome back, Phil!

Roel Loopers

WILL STATE DEPARTMENT MOVE TO FREMANTLE?

Posted in city of fremantle, development, state government, western australia by freoview on February 3, 2016

According to a comment made here on Freo’s View by Fremantle Councillor Bryn Jones State Government will announce in about a month if it will move a department, likely to be Housing, to Fremantle or not.

In my opinion only such a move would save the Kings Square project development as there appear to be no other options for Sirona Capital and the City of Fremantle.

The Kings Square development was lauded as the beginning of Freo’s economic recovery but three years on we are still seeing no progress, so let us hope that the Barnett government will support our city and move a department here.

I understand that there is a cut-off time in May for the contract between the City and Sirona so a March announcement by the State would be timely and might come just in time to keep the project alive.

Roel Loopers

FREOS’ NEW CEO IMMINENT

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on February 2, 2016

Fremantle full Council will have a special non-public meeting this week to decide who will become the new CEO of the city after the retirement of Graeme McKenzie, so stay tuned to see who will lead Freo’s administration during the important times of change and progress.

It will be fascinating to watch how/if the new Chief Executive Officer will find a way out of the Kings Square project mess and if the City of Fremantle will become more transparent during his reign.

Roel Loopers

FREO HILTON DEVELOPERS BLAME CITY FOR DELAY

Posted in city of fremantle, development by freoview on February 1, 2016

Freo Hilton Hotel

The West Australian reports today that the two-year delay of the 150-room Double Tree Hilton hotel at Princess May Park is due to the many lengthy discussions between the SKS Group and the City of Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee and heritage department.

Construction of the seven-storey hotel was due to start late last year but it now appears it will not happen for a long time, leaving that part of town in a derelict state.

Fact is that the initial design I first viewed at a public viewing was unacceptable, boring, uninspiring and disrespectful to the heritage area, so the City’s DAP and heritage department tried to get changes that would improve the proposed building.

New buildings in a historic city like Fremantle need to acknowledge and compliment the heritage of place and create a new amenity with character that respects and enhances, but instead we see developers proposing bland boxes that have no reference to the history and lack a sense of place. SKS general manager Francis Foong should not blame the development process and COF but his company’s own uninspiring design of the building.

Roel Loopers

THE END OF THE FREO’S VIEW BLOG?

Posted in city of fremantle, community, fremantle by freoview on January 21, 2016

I am disappointed that the use-by date for this Freo’s View blog seems to be approaching after I launched it just a bit over five years ago. I started the blog to create a daily community forum, inform Freo people about events, exhibitions, concerts, new businesses, etc. and to scrutinise the City of Fremantle, and I am known for not holding back in my criticism of Fremantle council and the administration when I believe it is warranted.

But this blog was never intended to become the mouthpiece for Freo Council and Mayor bashers who will find any excuse to attack, attack, attack and rarely offer positive comments about anything.

I am not interested letting my blog become the political on-line shouting match for Liberal party supporters and Green party haters, because I am unwilling to think that narrow-minded and black&white.

This blog failed to attract participation from the many people in Fremantle who support what Council has been doing, so it is now one-sided and one-eyed negativity and I am not at all happy about it, as I never intended  it to be like that.

I started this blog to support Fremantle and I mean all of Fremantle, but the comments section has deteriorated into Brad Pettitt and Council bashing that I no longer want to be part of.

I will wait till the end of March to see if this blog can attract comments from people who believe Freo is a pretty good place, people who don’t believe everything Council is doing is shit, just as a matter of course, and I want people who want to be part of the solution, who bring in bright new ideas, who are willing to commit time and effort and attend community and Council meetings, so that we all together can create a better Fremantle.

If I fail to get more balanced comments on this blog I will let it die because the constant negativity has become very repetitive, boring and tiring. I am unwilling to support all that negativity and let my blog become the voice of Fremantle Council haters.

I believe in fairness and balance and if that is not possible than so be it and I will stop publishing Freo’s View.

Roel Loopers

FREO MAYOR NEEDS DOSE OF REALITY

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle, local government by freoview on January 19, 2016

Because of my computer crash I am a bit behind with Fremantle news so I was rather surprised to read Brendan Foster’s article on WAToday that Freo Mayor Brad Pettitt wants to develop Victoria Quay all the way from the Maritime Museum to the bridges.

Brad Pettitt is very aware that buffer zones do apply around Fremantle Port and that residential and hotel development is not allowed there, so his suggestion that the port could operate as a container port and have accommodation at south quay is ignoring these basic facts.

It is also rather dangerous for our Mayor to suggest a state agency like the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority could be in charge of such major development in Fremantle as the MRA can and will overrule local planning and could for example think it is appropriate to have some very high rise buildings at Victoria Quay contrary to the City of Fremantle’s own planning policies.

It is becoming harder and harder to take the Freo Mayor serious as he is clearly not liking facts much and keeps coming up with his silly media grabs that are so remote from reality that they are laughable.

As long as there is a Fremantle inner container port and dangerous goods are being processed there it will not be possible to build residential or tourist accommodation along Victoria Quay.

Roel Loopers

 

 

WHEN WILL FREO’S HILTON HOTEL START?

Posted in accommodation, city of fremantle, development by freoview on January 14, 2016

 

It is disappointing to see that there is still no building start for the Hilton Double Tree development at Fremantle’s Queen Adelaide and Point street as it was projected to start late 2015.

The site now looks derelict but the City of Fremantle told me the developers have agreed to tidy it up. They demolished the retail buildings but left the Point Street carpark standing and operational. According to my source the SKS Group have not yet applied for a building permit although all development approvals have been given by the WA Development Assessment Panel.

I contacted SKS yesterday and asked if they could tell me an estimated time of building commencement but they have not responded to my email.

The Hilton development is in my opinion critical to Fremantle’s economic recovery as it would create substantial tourist accommodation, which is lacking in our city. It is also essential for the creation of a much better Princess May Park and the modernisation of the eastern part of the CBD, so I hope the delay will not be as lengthy as the Kings Square project one.

Roel Loopers

WHO WANTS GREATER FREO?

Posted in community, fremantle by freoview on January 13, 2016

There is a new community movement in our city named Greater Fremantle. Their Facebook page states “Greater Freo is a community campaign aimed at finding out if the people of Fremantle and Greater Fremantle, would like to see their City become Greater.” That does not mean a lot really so I wonder who and what is behind this movement.

What would a “greater Fremantle” be? For some it might be more free parking, for others the ban on plastic shopping bags.

Anyway we can all find out who the people behind Greater Freo are during an information session on Thursday January 21 from 6.30-7.30 pm at the Swan River Ballet at 1 Rockingham Road, Hamilton Hill. I’ll definitely go as it intrigues me to find out more

FEDERAL LABOR WANTS PERTH FREIGHT LINK INQUIRY

Posted in environment, fremantle, perth freight link by freoview on January 7, 2016

Federal shadow minister for infrastructure Anthony Albanese has demanded that the Federal Auditor-General investigates Canberra’s involvement with the WA PERTH FREIGHT LINK.  Albanese claims there has been “systemic failure” in the government’s infrastructure program that was announced in 2014.

Federal Government pledged to support the $ 1.6 billion PFL project with $ 925 million, but Supreme Court Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled in December that the approval by the state’s EPA-Environmental Protection Agency and the Minister for the Environment for the Roe 8 highway was invalid. Premier Colin Barnett has since been quoted that the state will go through the environmental approval process again but that it does not have to accept the outcome of the process. This means the state government could go ahead with Roe 8 even if a new EPA report recommends against approving it.

Anthony Albanese wrote in his letter to the Federal Auditor-General that it is a concern Canberra is involved in the Perth Freight Link, the now collapsed EastWest Link project in Melbourne and the $ 6.8 million cost overrun of the WestConnex motorway in Sydney.

Roel Loopers

THE LAST DAY OF THE YEAR

Posted in city of fremantle, community, fremantle, local government by freoview on December 31, 2015

It is the last day of the year, one which I will spend as volunteer tourist guide at the Roundhouse and moving home yet again. It has been a roller coaster year of very deep and worrying lows but ending on a high for me personally so I suppose that makes it a good year.

It has been a roller coaster for Fremantle and Western Australia as well. It hasn’t been a good year for the Barnett government with the announcement of a huge budget deficit and the Supreme Court ruling that the EPA and the Minister’s approval for the Roe 8 highway was invalid.

The gap between Fremantle Council and the community has widened again with many believing our elected members no longer listen to us. The J Shed music venue was as controversial at the Esplanade skatepark but Council was unwilling to show solidarity with those in the community who fear that live music concerts at historic Arthur Head will substantially increase anti social behaviour in the area.

It has not been a great year for Freo with the economic recovery basically only being a building boom, but retail is still struggling. There are some positive signs though with the city being packed with people on Sunday and even yesterday on a Wednesday. Visitors’ numbers from the eastern states to Fremantle have also significantly improved.

The Kings Square project and major catalyst for Fremantle’s recovery is still in limbo and that is very worrying as major development in the east of town could well pull businesses and people away from city square and make the square even less attractive and lively.

The overdue upgrade of the High Street mall is in process and with the new Atwell Arcade building opening in the first quarter of the new year this could be the start of the revitalisation of that area.

It is a shame the start of the Hilton Hotel at Princess May Park has been delayed as new tourist accommodation is in my opinion essential for the economic recovery of Fremantle.

It will be good to have a new broom sweep through the City of Fremantle administration with the appointment of a new CEO, so we can only hope that the selection panel will look for more that just green credentials.

Fremantle Council need to do more and better to communicate with the community and should stop clever spin and instead be honest and transparent. Council also needs to go back to what Councils are elected to do and that is local government for local people. It is time to concentrate more on the daily grind maintenance and progress of our city and less trying to be a pseudo state government. We need hands-on governance and administration so that our city looks cared for and clean and tidy and safe. The Council election in May showed that most Freo people no longer care who is representing them with more that 70 per cent of voters not bothering to send in their ballot papers. That to me is a sure sign of a Council that no longer has the confidence and support of the community who are so disillusioned that they believe no one listens to them any way and that community consultation in Fremantle has just become tokenism of ticking a required box to satisfy the Minister for Local Government.

My wish for Freo for the New Year is more collaboration and respect and less the terribly negative us and them attitude where the Council and administration are seen as the enemy of the community. That is not a healthy relationship between the people and government. I sincerely hope the new Fremantle Society committee will not simply become another community group interested mainly in Council bashing and negativity but that they will make a positive difference and be part of the solutions and help Fremantle to modernise, revive and change.

Fremantle is blessed with many passionate, committed and creative people who have many ideas on how we can improve our city. It is essential that Council listens to them and not take them for granted. It is imperative that Council does not believe it has all the answers and solutions and that it can ignore community input. And it is essential to run a local government that deals with reality and the day to day needs of this community, a Council that stops looking for green credentials worldwide while neglecting the basics that local government are elected to look after.

There is huge scope for improvement at all levels in Fremantle, at Council, the administration and community groups, so I sincerely hope real genuine effort will be made by all to work together for the benefit of our very special and unique city that we all love.

HAVE A VERY HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

Roel Loopers

 

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