A report in the Sunday Times today shows that the accusations against Fremantle Council not looking after its retailers well enough and that parking problems keep shoppers away are hot air.
The new Perth Labor MP wants a City Summit because of the dire retail economy in the big smoke, which shows Fremantle’s retail problems are neither unique nor to blame on Council.
Of the 950 shops in the Perth CBD 150 are vacant at a 16 per cent vacancy rate. Along Barrack Street and St George’s Terrace a staggering one in five shops are empty, so it does not look well at all.
We know that retailers in Subiaco and elsewhere have also been struggling for years, so this problems is all over the Perth metropolitan area.
Yesterday the West Australian reported that many restaurants are closing in Perth as well and that shows that we need to do more for tourism, conventions, festivals, etc. and can no longer rely on the patchy mining industry that booms and busts often and lacks the stability our retailers and hospitality industry need.
It is unfair to lay blame for the economy on individual local councils as there is clearly a bigger picture at play well outside the power of local government.
The Sunday Times reports today that seven out of the twenty-eight metropolitan mayors are ‘moonlighting’ and have other jobs.
Local government is not intended to be a full-time job for Mayors and Councillors but the workload is significant as I know from observing the huge number of hours Mayor Brad Pettitt and most Councillors spend on looking after Fremantle.
For the Freo Mayor it is a full-time job with additional local government work at the Heritage Council for which he annually receives $ 9,000 in addition to the Mayor’s payment of around $ 140,000. Correct me if I am wrong as I can’t find the exact amount.
But the City of Swan Mayor does only two days full time at council there and received nearly $ 140,000 per year, while Jim O’Neill, the Mayor of East Fremantle gets $ 43,000 for 25 hours a week and works another 45 hours per week as deputy-principal of the Willeton Senior High School.
I believe elected members should get properly paid as many of them spend the equivalent of full-time job hours on serving the community.
An article about young architects and city development in today’s Sunday Times magazine has me wondering about certain facts in the article.
Journalist Jade Jurewicz mentions successful architect Nic Brunsdon, who among many innovative things such as Spacemarket and MOANA also started the Many 6160 retail and design incubator in the former Myer building at Fremantle’s Kings Square.
The article claims that Many pumped $ 1.7 million into the Fremantle economy since it opened in 2013 and because of Many there has been a 25 per cent reduction in vandalism in the area.
Where do these figures come from? Many is only open for four days a week, so I doubt it has a severe impact on the reduction of vandalism at Kings Square and I doubt it is highly successful as a retail environment as one rarely sees shoppers in the building.
I like fresh new innovative ideas, but the fact is that many mini retailers tried Many and left because it was not financially successful for them. Many is more or less a slightly more upmarket weekend market where presumably many traders have more secure income on weekdays to support their Many shop income, so how it has pumped $ 1.7 million into Fremantle, as the reporter claims, I’d like to know.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt is also quoted in the article and rightly says that cities develop in layers. Archeologists will no doubt also agree with our Mayor, but while the layers of innovation, development and progress are good, the physical layer of boring and mediocre new buildings in our city will have a long-lasting negative affect on the character of Fremantle. At present it looks more as if we are trying to put layers of manure on top of fields of beautiful roses. That is not acceptable!
The Sunday Times reports today that WA Premier Colin Barnett, who is also the new Minister for Tourism, has indicated the promotions for WA should be focussing on Perth and not on the natural beauty of our state.
The Premier told the ST that Brand Perth should be our selling point focus, not beaches and the rugged Kimberley. The Premier believes that is what Asian tourists want.
Strange then that the national tourist body only recently said that Chinese tourists want a country/outback experience, and 95 per cent of visitors to the Fremantle Roundhouse I talk to have expressed that they find Perth dull and much like other big cities but that they love the heritage of Fremantle, Ningaloo Reef, the outback, Margaret River, Albany and the rugged coastline.
On that note I wonder if/what the City of Fremantle is doing in regard to offering package deals for the Street Art Festival to attract interstate and overseas visitors. This is a great free three day festival that deserves package deals with tourism operators and airlines. We could for example have a night performance in the Fremantle Arts Centre only for those who arrive here on a package deal for the SAF.
Reading the number of visitors the VIVID light festival in Sydney attracts, I believe Freo could step up a little in that regard as well and not just rely on large numbers of visitors from the suburbs on the long Easter weekend.
Fremantle Federal MP Melissa Parke got married to arts patron Warwick Hemsley at the Freshwater Bay Yacht Club on Saturday.
Melissa did not invite this top bloke blogger so unfortunately I did not take any photos I can show you and the article in the Sunday Times today will have to do.
Sunday Times journalist Joe Spagnolo reports the couple left by boat from Point Walter for the wedding event at FWBYC.
Melissa is a gorgeous, genuine and sincere person whom I respect so I wish her and new hubby a great and long life together!
It will be interesting to see where Mrs Hemsley will reside and if she will move away from Fremantle or if Warwick will make the move to Freo.