Access ramps for our swimming pools

If you use the Leisure Centre you'll know that it's closed for six months for a major $3.3 million upgrade including re-tiling and a geothermal heating system. Also both the 25 and 50 metre pools are going to have full access ramps installed. This will make them a whole lot more accessible, and not just for people in wheelchairs, but for everyone dealing with the reduced mobility that comes with age. I know people who, while not regarding themselves as having a disability, simply can not use the ladders.

I'm passionate about about making Fremantle more inclusive of people with disabilities and improving the Leisure Centre was a priority of mine when I first ran for council. At a Disability Services Commission event I became aware of a Department of Sport & Recreation grant that the City could apply for to co-fund the project which it did. A big thanks to fellow councillors for supporting this project.

Refugee bashing takes an ugly turn for the worse

The bi-partisan contest in refugee bashing has hit new lows. This is a real kick in the guts coming so soon after the great Refugee Welcome Walk & Fiesta in Fremantle.

See here my speech at the July 22 refugee rights rally in Perth:

If you want to put an end to this destructive scapegoating then get along to the National Day of Action 1pm Saturday 24 August Murray St Mall Perth, organised by the great activists in the Refugee Rights Action Network.

Parks & Play Spaces

The July council meeting adopted the 2013-16 Play Spaces Plan which seeks to prioritise equipment and upgrades for our various parks, categorising them as either "major" or "local" play spaces. It identifies Griffiths Park as the major play space for Hilton with the others (Collick Reserve, Grigg Park and Moorni Boorne) being local play spaces.

The need for a new park and play equipment servicing residents in the northern part of Hilton (north of South St) was acknowledged. This has been raised by residents before.

A new park would be best located somewhere central to the precinct it's meant to serve. Years ago the City proposed to block off a portion of Marimont St to make this possible but a backlash from residents who wanted to keep the street open stopped it. A suggestion has been that the City acquire some land from Anchor Foods on Clarke St and combine it with the verge. What do you prefer?

The plan proposes new play equipment for Plane Tree Grove in O'Connor and the improvement of the equipment in Samson Park. Meanwhile a resident has also suggested fitness equipment for Samson Park. What do you think?

The plan proposed some places where equipment might be removed and not replaced at the end of its life, including the Collick Reserve. However because there was so little community feedback on the plan an amendment was passed requiring any decision to remove play equipment to be brought to council. Do you or people you know use the Collick Reserve? If so let me know.

Council Budget 2013-14

Below is a summary of some of the capital works projects proposed for the Hilton, Samson and O'Connor areas.

Hilton:

Stairs and ramps connecting the back of the Hilton Community Centre to the Hilton Harvest gardens $26,400
Resurfacing remaining slab footpaths on the eastern side of Collick St, $85,400
Bike connection across Carrington St connecting Lefroy St and Rennie Cres, $90,000
Street-scaping for Hilton Town Centre
Re-surfacing Victor St $69,000
Re-surfacing Nicholas and Grigg intersection $44,000
Improved lighting, landscaping and BBQ for Grigg Park $30,000 and play equipment $23,000

Samson:

Recreation Centre, replacement of louvres $19,800
Samson Park Fire Hazard reduction plan, $30,000
Renew play equipment in Samson Park, $11,500.
Landscaping of the area at intersection of South St and McCombe Ave, $197,640
Extra benches in Samson Park

O'Connor

Trees for the portion of Stockdale Rd near the intersection with Stock Rd
Re-surfacing Ladner St $168,000
Re-surfacing Ladner St and Peel St intersection $142,000

Items scheduled for 2014-15 include:

New management plan for Samson Park, $82,000
Replace fencing in Samson Park, $30,000
Joslin St replace slab footpath

Bannister St, a low-income housing opportunity

The Bannister St site carpark site is being prepared for sale by the City. The City can attach sale conditions to the tender and the June council meeting accepted my ammendment to include a 15% social housing component. This begins, in a small way, to make up for the significant loss of social housing caused by the Departments of Housing's closure of the Warders Cottages and the Burt St sites.

Esplanade Youth Plaza

There's been a lot of heat in the local press about the Youth Plaza to be built on the Esplanade. Below is a letter I submitted to the Fremantle Herald on the topic (but not published):

Despite all the heat and hyperbole over the Youth Plaza, there remains some criticisms of it which still needs to be rebutted.

I'm sensitive to the loss of unstructured open green space. However in this case I don't think the argument holds. At the recent Concert for the Kimberley, with over 20,000 in attendance, the slice of park next to the railway where the facility will be built was still largely empty.

It's been suggested that the the Youth Plaza could go on the car park adjacent to the Italian Club instead. But even if we were to annex this car park to the Esplanade as "compensation", it doesn't logically follow that this would be the best place for it.

Furthermore there's a good case that it would be better to green the car park at other end of the Esplanade so as to connect it through to Bathers Beach.

To be sure $1.6 million is a lot of money, even if $600,000 of that is coming from Lotterywest, and yes funds are going to be taken from the 2013-14 general play spaces budget to help pay for it. But let's put this big upfront capital expenditure in a bit of context.

PTA slashes NightRider service

June 15 saw the last NightRider bus service from Fremantle. In their advice to the City the PTA said that, "...the already low patronage has continued to decline to an average of less than ten passengers. The significant cost of providing this service can no longer be justified on such low patronage." The decision was made without any consultation with the council, CBD businesses or wider community; or a full benefit-cost ratio analysis including the social costs and consequences of cancelling the service.

The PTA might have considered that the $5 dollar flat fare is expensive and that the dedicated buses they use for the service are the older high-floor non-disability accessible ones. The same resources might be better put into extending the regular bus services. The two NightRider routes essentially follow the path of the eastbound 99 (Circle Route/South St) and 106 (Canning Highway) services. The money spent on the eight individual scheduled NightRider services could instead be used to make both the 99 and 106 run half-hourly through to 1:30am. I've asked the Mayor and CEO to try to get the PTA to the table.

PCYC to manage Hilton Community Centre

The May council meeting agreed to a twelve month trial lease in which the PCYC will be responsible for managing all the spaces at the Hilton Community Centre. The rooms will still be available for hire to community groups and the council employee currently based in Hilton will continue to manage programs from the Meeting Place in South Fremantle. The arrangement will see the centre open and staffed more in the evening.

The PCYC is looking for community members to join its committee. For more information contact Rebecca Slavin at fremantlepcyc@wapcyc.com.au or 9314 3157. Meanwhile a big thanks to everyone who donated to me and others participants in the recent PCYC fund-raiser.

Progress with Main Roads on Hilton Town Centre

On May 10 City of Fremantle representatives met with MainRoads to discuss the Hilton Town Centre. MainRoads commissioned a consultant to sketch some extensive street-scape concept plans; including underground power, light poles with banners, sculptural features, themed street furniture, trees, new footpaths, red bitumen and more.

However MainRoads has not yet put aside money for the project, and some measures such as putting high voltage power underground are very expensive. At our next meeting MainRoads will come back with a figure to be complemented by money from the City and hopefully developer contributions. When that happens we will have a sense of how much we can afford to do and be able to begin a proper community consultation process.

Looking for Samson volunteers

After a number of years of great work by Erica Lewin, we're looking for someone new to take on the role of Samson precinct Convenor. Without a functioning precinct group Samson issues will tend to go to the backburner, so we need your energy and ideas. The job doesn't have to fall on one person's shoulders, in fact it's better if there's a team. Get in contact with me and fellow Hilton ward councillor Bill Massie if you'd like to give it a go.