council news

At last! Improvements to the Hilton Town Centre

At long last we can begin work on improving pedestrian safety and the street-scape in the Hilton Town Centre!

Councillors and staff met with Main Roads (who control South St) about five years ago and discussed a range of options and how we might co-fund them. Then everything stalled and we never heard from them again.

In September 2016 councillors met our new Director of Technical Services on the site at about 4pm on a weekday afternoon to show him just how dangerous the environment is for pedestrians. Nine cars sailed through a red light at the pedestrian crossing in the space of twenty minutes! He was left shaking his head in disbelief.

In another twist, last year Main Roads turned off the facility for vehicles trying to exit Paget and Victor Streets. You might know that cars queued at these intersections for a sufficiently long time would trigger a synchronised red light at South/Carrington and the pedestrian crossing, creating a gap in the traffic to allow people on these side streets to access South St.

This facility was introduced after extensive negotiation with Main Roads a few years ago, so we were shocked to discover they had just turned this off without even telling the City of Fremantle, let alone consulting with us.

Verge collections, expanded depot drop-off and resource recovery

Traditionally Fremantle has done one bulk waste collection per year. Over the last couple of years the City trialled two collections per year. While this provided an obvious convenience it has a downside - the vast majority of the material does not get recycled and goes to landfill.

The contractor picks out the most valuable pieces of metal and people scavenge some of the stuff. However the level of resource recovery is actually really low. This is a problem environmentally and adds to the cost as unlike Cockburn, Fremantle does not have its own landfill facility so has to pay someone else to take landfill material.

This year the City will be combining the bulk verge collection with an expanded depot collection facility to be open more days per week and taking a larger range of materials. This would effectively be our equivalent of the “tip pass” and only open to Fremantle residents.

Not everyone has access to a vehicle that can get things to the depot, so it will be complemented by a dial-a-van service to pick up things like bulky white goods all year round. It should be up and running in a couple of months time.

We'll be keeping a close eye on this combination of verge collection, expanded depot drop-off and personalised pick up to see how it works in terms of convenience, cost and environmental outcomes.

Rates and Gross Rental Value explained

The 2017-18 budget includes a 1.9% increase which while never welcome is less than many other local governments have imposed.

Rates are based on a Gross Rental Value which is calculated by Landgate and reviewed every three years, including this year. For this reason some properties’ rates bill will increase by more than the percentage increase imposed by council and others have decreased, depending on the fluctuation of property prices.

The state government has has reduced the rebate for seniors and pensioners. However unlike some of our neighbouring councils, Fremantle does not charge a separate levy for waste and recycling but combines it in the overall rates bill. This means the pensioner rebate applies to the whole amount.

Pocket Park for northern Hilton

At its April meeting council voted to endorse the proposed "pocket park" at the end of Clarke St. For over a decade residents in this part of Hilton have wanted a park within safe walking distance. At last it's going to happen! Many thanks to the residents for sticking at it for so long and for all their creative input. Thanks also to Gavin Giles (Strategic Projects Officer) for running such an inclusive community design process. There is more detail on the City website. Construction will begin in October 2017.

Plan to fix the Freo Station entrance

There is terrible access for buses, pedestrians and cyclist around Fremantle Station. This is the design being proposed by the council and some observations:

The current configuration of the intersection and bus station is woefully inefficient and ugly. At the moment buses coming up Market St have to give way to pedestrians at a zebra crossing, do a hard left turn, a hard right turn across traffic and then give way to the same pedestrians at another zebra crossing.

There is also no safe, efficient and legal way for cyclists to get to and from the station even though this is perhaps the biggest bike parking station on the rail network. The proposed design would allow pedestrians, cyclists and buses to come and go from the station without constantly getting in each other's way, plus it would restore a garden and town square in the station forecourt.

Buses heading north along Market St would turn into Cantonment and then Queen St in order to access the bus station. That is a bit circuitous in its own way but would in practice make for a much more efficient path.

"Zero Tolerance" for begging and street drinking sends the wrong message

At its October meeting the council considered a number of measures proposed as part of the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Plan 2016-2020. Included were proposals to promote a "Zero Tolerance" approach to begging and drinking in public places. I voted against these measures. My reasons for this are explained below, based on a statement I wrote in response to a question from the Fremantle Herald about the matter:

I am concerned that talk about "Zero Tolerance" pushes us down the path of criminalizing and stigmatizing poverty without dealing with the underlying causes.

I accept that there have been cases of aggressive or intimidating behaviour by people drinking in public or begging. However threatening, intimidating and menacing behaviour in public is already illegal. The police don't require the City of Fremantle to make declarations about "Zero Tolerance" in order to enforce the law.

On the question of begging it's my understanding that this activity by itself is not illegal, so it's not entirely clear to me what the policy will achieve apart from putting up signs declaring "Zero Tolerance".

The policy also proposes to establish charity donation points to allow people to give to those in need while discouraging "opportunistic" begging. Whether this will work or not I don't know.

Council votes to relinquish Warrawee Women's Refuge

I'm sad to report that at its April meeting council voted 6 votes to 5 NOT to reapply for state funding for the Warrawee Women's Refuge. This means the City will relinquish the service and the Department for Child Protection and Family Support will have to find another organization to take it on.

The City founded the refuge back in 1972 and has the distinction of creating the first purpose-built facilities in Australia.

The state government has been cost-shifting by systematically underfunding Warrawee relative to other refuges and expecting us to make up the shortfall.

However the City has also reduced the scope of the service in response, so it's not correct to suggest it was a growing "burden". Some perspective, I think we spent more on Australia Day and ANZAC Day activities this year.

In a letter to the Department the City has advised of its decision, but suggested council would reconsider if more funding was offered.

I think this might be a pretty feint hope and I'm sceptical that a new service provider will be given any more funding than the City receives. However I would be very happy to be proven wrong on either count and report an unexpected happy twist to the story.

Some wins for affordable housing

I'm glad to report two small wins in the attempt to preserve affordable housing in Fremantle.

Firstly the council decided last year to dispose by tender the small car park at the corner of Packenham and Bannister Streets, and accepted an amendment from me to require that 15% of any housing development include affordable housing. The successful tenderer will be incorporating four studio apartments to be sold to the Department of Housing as part of its KeyStart shared home loan program.

Meanwhile council was also proposing to sell the retirement village in Tapper St White Gum Valley to a private developer. While the site's status as a retirement village would have been protected, over time the units may have been lost from the stock of affordable housing. Fortunately council accepted an alternative proposal to transfer management to Co-operation Housing, a local tenant-run organisation, retaining the units' status as genuine social or low-income housing into the future.

On the negative side of the ledger the affordable housing quota for development in the so-called Amendment 49 area in the inner city has been reduced from 15% to 10% in a proposed change to the planning scheme. This was done in an attempt to attract investors to develop on some of the sites in the area. I wasn't convinced there was any evidence to demonstrate the existing quota was stopping development, moving an amendment to keep it at 15%, but this was lost 2 votes to 11.

Submission to the LGAB in support of the retention of the suburb of Samson within the City of Fremantle

Below is my submission to the Local Government Advisory Board regarding the reform of local government boundaries supoorting the retention Samson within the City of Fremantle. Many thanks to the Samson residents whose contributions helped form the document.

Interestingly the City of Melville, while supporting Stock Rd as its boundary with Fremantle, made its own submission asking that it be able to retain Bicton, in contradiction with the submission it has lodged jointly with Fremantle and Kwinana.

This then begs the question, if Melville can keep Bicton; why not let Samson remain with Fremantle if that is what the residents concerned want?

Submission in support of the retention of the suburb of Samson within the City of Fremantle

Sam Wainwright, Councillor Hilton Ward, City of Fremantle
March 2014

This contribution to the deliberations of the LGAB is wholly supportive of the submission made by the City of Fremantle with the exception that it proposes that Samson (and the eastern part of O'Connor) be retained by an enlarged City of Fremantle rather than transferred to the City of Melville.

This submission contends that keeping Samson with Fremantle (whatever its eventual boundaries) better serves the purpose of creating local governments based based on coherent and real communities of interest (historic, social, economic, environmental and other):

1. Historical/cultural

Politics in the Club: Against Barnett's cuts and privatisation

Politics in the Club

Cuts & privatisation
Can we stop Barnett’s axe?

"Politics in the Club" is a new initiative in the Fremantle area. Every month we'll be inviting a range of interesting and inspiring speakers to discuss the topics of the day. Politics in the Club will be a genuine community forum encouraging questions and discussion from the audience. Come along and have your say.

The first Politics in the Club will focus on the cuts and privatisation agenda of the Barnett government:

1200 public service redundancies - 500 health jobs cut - 500 disability jobs outsourced - 500 education jobs cut- hospitals outsourced…are Freo hospital emergency and the port next?

Speakers include:
Al Rainnie (Curtin Graduate School of Business)