Freo's View

SUNSET, SHIT OR GET OFF THE POT!

 

The City of Fremantle FPOL debate about the Sunset Events proposal for a tavern in J Shed at Bathers Beach was a bit of a lengthy, but futile exercise in democracy as three members declared a conflict of interest, so the committee had no quorum, but it has to be a full council decision anyway.

There were quite a few residents and artists who spoke against the J Shed proposal but Chairperson Andrew Sullivan explained in detail that this was not a case of ripping up the contract between the City and SE and that the process had to run its course.

Sunset Events is asking for a one-year delay in starting the lease, until July 2018, so that they don’t have to start paying rent from July this year on, but none of the Councillors believed that was acceptable.

It was questioned why it had taken the events organisers so long to apply for planning approval and a liquor license and that they had wasted eight months since their first proposal was rejected by the WA Planning Commission.

The sentiment in the chamber was that Sunset Events needs to get a move on, or as Councillor Sullivan put it eloquently “Shit or get off the pot!”

A spokesman for the proponents said that Sunset Events had no intention to walk away from the J Shed project and that the stable was strong and ready to invest and committed to it.

The Officer’s Recommendation of not supporting the proponent’s request for a delay was the voting outcome by the committee, but it will now all be debated again at full Ordinary Council meeting in a few weeks.

Roel Loopers

FROM THE FREMANTLE FPOL COMMITTEE

Posted in city of fremantle, community, development, Uncategorized by freoview on June 15, 2017

 

Here a few more snippets from Wednesday’s City of Fremantle Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee.

* Olwyn Williams, the CEO of the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce argued that the statistics published in the agenda were incorrect and that visitors’ numbers and overnight stays in Fremantle had declined, not improved.

She was also not impressed with the place marketing plan update, but when questioned by Elected Members did not say what the Chamber wanted the City of Fremantle to do differently, but that more effort should be made into destination marketing.

Williams argued that the Fremantle Story website did well locally but did not sell Fremantle to overseas and interstate visitors, and that stronger emphasis needed to be placed on marketing Fremantle outside of Fremantle.

* The CEO of the State Heritage Office addressed the FPOL Committee at length arguing that the people who bought the historic Warders Cottages in Henderson Street should get preferential treatment and free parking permits, but the Elected Members did not agree and unanimously voted to reject the request.

I agree with Councillor Sullivan that in the long term parking in the Henderson Street Mall should be abandoned, especially once the Spicer’s site carpark has been developed into a new commercial building.

It would also be substantial revenue loss for the CoF to give away free parking to residents of the 14 cottages. I remember my neighbours at Captain’s Lane at the Roundhouse had to pay close to $ 20,000 a year to have two parking bays on the carpark below Arthur Head.

* Councillor Rachel Pemberton was not a happy person last night, especially about the item of the City signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Portuguese Club, which would like to move to the St John’s site at Parry Street and become part of the Fremantle Park community hub.

Pemberton argued that it would be hypocritical off her fellow councillors if they voted with the item when they had voted against handing over the DAADA building on Beach Street to the Aboriginal community. Pemberton said the same process of a public and open Expressions of Interest period should apply in both cases.

While I can see where Pemberton comes from the process is different because the Portuguese Club exactly knows what they want, while the failure of the Walyalup Centre at Arthur Head has shown that the different Noongar families and elders still have a long way to go in agreeing what a new cultural and community centre for them should be.

* A new parklet in Pakenham Street at a new cafe on the corner of Bannister Street was approved, but Councillors agreed that parklets need to be monitored by staff as some of them are just a waste of space and not frequented enough.

I believe the new parklet will be a traffic hazard as it is already difficult to see traffic coming from the left in Pakenham Street when one drives from Bannister Street into the T-junction. It will be the fourth parklet in Pakenham Street and two more parking bays gone in the West End.

* Last but not least I want to compliment Councillor Andrew Sullivan on the way he chairs the FPOL Committee. While it makes the sittings a bit longer, and at times even a bit long-winded, Sullivan makes a real effort of explaining in detail to the public gallery how proper council process works.

That is very important because so many people in the community do not have an iota of an idea and make presumptions and accusations based on ignorance.

Roel Loopers

GRASS NOT ALWAYS GREENER ELSEWHERE

Posted in city of fremantle, election, fremantle society, Uncategorized by freoview on June 4, 2017

Interesting to hear that the FRRAemantle Society committee has decided to not support former Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association convenor Claudia Green for the City Ward council election. FS Committee voted to support Michael Finn, one of the Kakula’s Sisters owners instead.

I have no doubt that many FRRA members will not at all be happy about that and now regret the recent merger with the Fremantle Society. FS president John Dowson endorsed Ms Green, so that will make for uncomfortable Society committee meetings.

I would welcome some small business owners on Fremantle Council as that expertise is missing and most people cannot imagine what it is like to run a small shop or cafe.

These small businesses are often not well represented at local and state government levels since they cannot afford to become a member of the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce, and it is mainly Fremantle BID that tries to look after and promote them.

Roel Loopers

 

NO FREO PORT AND ROE 8 IN SPENDING CHECK

Posted in economy, finances, fremantle, state government, Uncategorized, western australia by freoview on May 15, 2017

I am surprised and disappointed that WA Premier Mark McGowan has not included the cost it has taken to prepare for the sale of Fremantle Ports in the inquiry into the spending of the Barnett Liberal/National government.

A meeting I attended at the Port well over a year ago was told they were spending millions of dollars on lawyers, consultants and experts to make the port ready for privatisation, which will not be going ahead under the new Labor government.

The inquiry announced by the Premier today will be headed by former under treasurer John Langoulant and will investigate 26 projects.

They include: Elizabeth Quay, Perth Stadium and Swan footbridge, land assets sales, Ord River Irrigation Project, Pilbara accommodation, Pilbara underground power project, Ningaloo Centre, Bulgarra sports complex, Wanangkura stadium Port Hedland, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Children’s Hospital, QE II Hospital, Karratha Hospital, St John of God Midland, IT at Department of health, outsourcing of non-clinical services, NurseWest, Muja power station, Synergy billing, Synergy and Western Power contracts, Western Power Woodlands and Vista, Road Safety Commission’s Rugby WA partnership, Buyback Scheme renewable energy, Temporary Personnel Services common use arrangements, Next ICT project.

But not Roe 8 and Fremantle Port and that wonders me a lot. Why were they excluded from the extensive list?

Roel Loopers

MAKE MY ELECTION DAY FREO

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

The Fremantle local government election campaign started early this year with Ra Stewart announcing she is standing for Mayor and Claudia Green contesting the City Ward position that will be vacated by Simon Naber.

Dave Coggin has already left so his seat is available, and four other seats plus the Mayor’s will be up, so it’s going to be a signifiant election.

Because of some critical observations I have made about Ra Stewart there are already people who assume I have something against her, with one West End resident claiming I am the publicist for Mayor Brad Pettitt.

So I want to make a few points that will hopefully stick. I am PRO Fremantle and whoever shows me that they have the vision, long-term plans and solutions, innovation and creativity to lead our beautiful city toward inevitable economic recovery and vibrancy will have my support.

All candidates, including all sitting members, will get a fair go on Freo’s View, but if they make accusations that are unfair or not based on facts I will call them up on that. If all you have is criticism of the present Council but no ideas on how to do it better than I will point that out.

Council bashing alone won’t do and I expect balance and fairness from those who put their hand up and want to be our next community representatives on Council.

I don’t care if my local members are to the right, centre or left of politics as long as they have the best for Fremantle in mind and I will judge them on that.

If you want to put me in a box or drawer and assume you know where I stand, just go ahead with name-calling. I have had heated arguments with Freo’s Mayor and have at times been extremely critical about certain aspects of Fremantle Council, to the point that the former CEO confronted me at a public meeting and told me he was sick and tired of me calling for his head. CoF staff en-masse complained when I finally was given a photographic assignment some years ago, because I was too critical of the City of Fremantle.

I have been called a lapdog of Fremantle Council on social media, and on a promise by the Mayor to get on council, as if a Mayor ever had the power to appoint Councillors.

I have been called an anti-development NIMBY, and the narrow-minded president of the Frraemantle Society called me Adolf and an apologist for bad development, when I have been more vocal against inappropriate development in the CBD than most people.

But I am very much for the modernisation and development of the ugly east part of the inner city because I strongly believe that with more people living and working in the city and tourists staying in new hotels our traders will significantly start to benefit from that in 2-4 years from now. It is the game changer Fremantle needs!

I believe in balance and fairness and expect people who make accusations against our Elected Members to at least give them the courtesy of informed criticism based on facts, not some of the ridiculous ignorant comments I read on social media and in letters to editors.

I am not anti Ra Stewart or anti Brad Pettitt and I am not anti Fremantle Council either. I want the best for Freo and will do my utmost to support those who will make a significant positive difference to the city I love. If you want to attack me for that just go ahead and make my day! ; >)

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE SOCIETY NOT TRUTHFUL

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle society, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on May 5, 2017

While Fremantle Society President John Dowson is always keen to question the integrity and transparency of Fremantle Council he does not care much about telling his members blatant lies to make Council look bad.

Dowson sent this email to FS members recently “…..the new administration building will only have HALF as much office space for staff as the current one! The 400 staff will have 800 sq metres of space, or 2 sq metres each, with the new “Hot desking” technique of not giving staff their own offices. This encourages staff to arrive early, around 5am, to secure the best positions.”

But the facts are very different according to the City of Fremantle. The present administration building has a net floor area for staff of 1,804 square metres and the new administration building will have 1,839 square metres of net floor area for staff, so  1,039 square metres more than the Fremantle Society President claims it will have.

In his desperation to make political points John Dowson does not bother to check facts it appears, so be warned who you vote for at the October election, especially when the candidates are supported by John Dowson’s hot air.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE COMMUNITY GROUPS MERGER

Posted in city of fremantle, community, local government, politics, Uncategorized by freoview on May 4, 2017

 

The long-established Fremantle Society and the relatively new Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association have merged to combine forces for the Local Government election in October.

From what I gather FRRA will be swallowed up by FS and the groups will operate under the Fremantle Society name.

Many members would have been part of both groups, so it makes sense to reduce administration and duplications.

I hope a larger FS will make a more positive contribution to Fremantle and become part of the solution, instead of only being relentlessly negative and one-eyed about Fremantle Council.

It would be transparent if the larger Fremantle Society would now disclose how many paid members it does have, to substantiate its claims that it represents a large percentage of Fremantle residents.

Community groups are very important and can be hugely influential when they are willing to engage in respectful dialogue with Elected Members and Council staff, so I hope new Society members will push for that and stop the anti everything attitude of its president.

Roel Loopers

FREO FAIRNESS ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Posted in city of fremantle, community, elections, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on May 1, 2017

 

The Fremantle Mayoral election campaign is under way very early with the launch of Ra Stewart’s campaign launch on Friday evening and the first election advertisement in the Fremantle Herald.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has yet to officially declare if he will be standing again but all signs are that he believes he still has a job to finish and will try to remain Mayor for another four years.

We are an opinionated lot in Freo, and Councillors and the Mayor have plenty of supporters but also plenty of haters who will criticise just about anything Council does.

I would love to see an election campaign of visions, ideas, innovation and the realisation of how strong local government grassroots is. Only at local government can we come to Council and address our Elected Members. We cannot do that in State or Federal government and we need to take advantage of the opportunity to let our Councillors know what we like and dislike.

It is probably too much to ask the community for fairness and balance and give Council credit where it is due, because we tend to focus on the negative aspects of Council decisions and tend to ignore the achievements.

I have always disliked what happens in politics when opposing parties just slam everything the other party proposes, instead of open-mindedly also acknowledging good ideas their opponents have. I found that childish and immature.

The Fremantle community is very engaged, but reading many of the comments on social media, letters to the newspapers and hearing them on talk-back radio, I am also stunned about the lack of knowledge, and people making complaints that are based on ignorance because they fail to inform themselves.

It is not fair to the Elected Members to assume one knows something and criticise them for decisions they have not made, when it is very easy to find out what has been happening at Council by reading agendas and minutes, or better even, as I do, attend Council and Committee meetings so one can hear what is being debated at Council and observe how good or bad we are represented by our Councillors.

Politics at all levels will find many people disappointed with what our politicians decide, while others will be delighted. That is just how it works and it will never change. Politicians will never ever please everyone and will either be considered too left or too right by the community, whatever our personal preferences are.

When Council approves a new family home it is likely that it upsets at least the two neighbours to the left and right, while the applicants will be over the moon, or if the proposal is rejected the neighbours will be happy but the proponent will hate Council. That is one of the many realities Councillors have to deal with every day and they do their utmost to make the right and fair decisions.

I was very much against Planning Scheme Amendment 49 because I believed it would open the doors for too excessive heights in the CBD, and I still believe those heights should have been restricted to 8-9 storeys only, but when I witness the massive development in the inner city that will see Fremantle’s economic prospects turn around dramatically in the next few years, I have to acknowledge that this is the result of PSA 49 being implemented by Council.

The Esplanade Youth Plaza was hugely controversial and I too believe that it should have been added to the reserve by building it on the Italian Club carpark site, but the enormous success of the skatepark cannot be ignored.

The Australia Day decision was very controversial but has now started an Australia-wide debate if we should change the date of it, and the doom and gloom predictions that it would be a disaster for Fremantle traders did not eventuate.

The Kings Square Project will probably be debated for another ten years but I have no doubt it will help to revitalise the inner city to the benefit of our traders. I find it futile to debate if or if not we need a new civic centre after the decision about it was made years ago, and if it should or should not be erected at our City Square.

What remains disappointing though is that the City of Fremantle still has not made public the full business plan they signed off on with Sirona Capital. We were told before the State Government signed a lease for the offices that it was commercial confidentiality that prevented the business plan being made public, but that excuse is no longer valid.

It is tactically very silly of Fremantle Council to not let us read the Kings Square contracts because it will just give more ammunition to the conspiracy theorists who believe there is something sinister about it all. Transparency and openness should not just be election buzzwords but a given at local government.

We’ll have the chance over the next five months to question and scrutinise the candidates who will step up to represent us and they should all get a fair go. That includes the sitting members because most of them have worked extremely hard over the last four years to do the right thing by the city they love. They too deserve fairness and not the utterly ridiculous and untrue assertions that they are all mere puppets to the Mayor and vote whatever he tells them to vote for. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I have observed personally for around ten years now.

Councillors are very very thorough and they take their responsibilities very serious. The challenge for us voters will be to see through the hot air and bulls… and decide if new contenders will do a better job than those who have the local council experience and knowledge. Be aware that it is easy to make empty promises when one does not understand the process of government.

I will endeavour to act as the Devil’s advocate and Freo’s conscience and report with fairness and balance during the election campaign, as I have done on Freo’s View for seven and a half years.

All Council candidates will get a fair go here and if they send me info about their campaign I will share that with the community, however I will insist on respectful dialogue no matter if you are far left or far right, somewhere in the middle, or just an undecided voter.

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on FREO FAIRNESS ELECTION CAMPAIGN

UNCONVINCING MAYOR CANDIDATE

Posted in city of fremantle, election, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on April 27, 2017

Interesting to listen to an interview of Fremantle Mayoral candidate Ra Stewart on 6PR’s Perth Live show with Oliver Peterson.

Stewart cited a decline in retail and vacant shops as a Fremantle Council problem, when everyone knows that retail has been in decline for years everywhere in Perth and Australia.

The Australia Day changes were divisive and not the role of local government, Stewart said and that Fremantle had failed to take its position as the jewel in the crown because everybody loves Freo.

Interesting to note in that regard that other councils such as Cockburn, Hobart and others are also considering changes to their Australia Day activities.

Ra Stewart said she would bring Council back to basics, if elected, and implement sound financial management of city assets. I believe that is a fair point as Freo’s finances are not great and could have been handled better.

She also believes Council need to consult with the broader community and find out what their priorities are. The City of Fremantle did that with its Visioning Fremantle 2020 extensive community consultation sessions a few years ago, that lasted nearly a year.

Stewart believes there are lots of opportunities for Fremantle, and when asked about it by Oliver Peterson said that Mayor Brad Pettitt showed a lot of promise in his first term and that “there had been some investment in the city”

That must be the under-statement of the millenium as Fremantle has not seen the kind of enormous investment through development it is experiencing in over thirty years. Some development alright!

Ra Stewart also said she believes she would be able to pull all the community groups together. Anyone in politics knows that this is an extremely naïve statement, because for every person one pleases, someone else will be dissatisfied with government decisions.

One thing I do agree with is that Ra Stewart believes the City of Fremantle should have organised a big celebration of the anniversary of winning the America’s Cup. That is definitely an opportunity lost that the City’s marketing department, and BID, and the Chamber of Commerce, and the yacht clubs all missed.

Anyone who wants my vote to become the next Mayor of Fremantle needs to have realistic and achievable ideas, substance, a long-term vision for our city, and good knowledge of how council works.

The unconvincing interview I heard did not give me the feeling that Stewart would do a better job than the incumbent, so let’s wait and see if more impressive candidates nominate.

Roel Loopers

INGRID WALTHAM NEW FREO DEPT MAYOR

Posted in city of fremantle, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on April 26, 2017

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East Ward Councillor Ingrid Waltham was elected by Fremantle Council as the new Deputy Mayor. She will replace Dave Coggin who has resigned from Council to take up a position as advisor to the Premier of Western Australia.

I am a big fan of Ingrid Waltham and find her a very thorough and deliberate Councillor who thinks deeply about all the issues at hand in Fremantle. One cannot question Waltham’s integrity and it is also good to have someone not connected to a political party in a major position at Council.

It was nice to see Josh Wilson MP attending tonight. Dave Coggin replaced him as Deputy Mayor when Wilson was elected as the Federal Member for Fremantle.

In his final speech at Council Dave Coggin said how proud he was to have served the City of Fremantle and with what this Council had achieved.

He was also very complimentary about the leadership of Mayor Brad Pettitt who allowed the other elected members to shine and have their own visions and ideas, contrary to what some community groups claim that Fremantle Council is just a bunch of greenies who all vote with the Mayor.

Mayor Pettitt said he had really appreciated Coggin’s directness and honesty and that he often had changed his mind about issues after having had a discussion with the Deputy Mayor about them.

Roel Loopers

 

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