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.
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.
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
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):
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?
Al Rainnie (Curtin Graduate School of Business)
There is widespread support both in the community and on council for a long overdue upgrade of High St; both to address the safety of the intersection with Stirling Highway, and to provide residents on High St with a separated local access road.
However Main Roads, and through it the state government, are effectively holding our community to ransom by insisting that any "upgrade" be based on a six lane road reserve flanked by walls.
This would cut a swathe through the area and wipe out 100 trees (including some mature Tuarts). It would also see five pedestrian crossing points reduced to only one overpass, effectively cutting the Gibson Park precinct off from White Gum Valley and East Fremantle like a Berlin Wall. It would be a massive disincentive to walking and cycling.
Widening the road from four lanes to six lanes will also increase its capacity by 50%, bringing a similar increase in both noise and diesel particulate pollution.
Main Roads insist they need to increase the road capacity to meet future traffic increases. But such increases are only "inevitable" because of systematic failure by the state government to properly invest in public transport and freight on rail.
In addition to the well publicised "deferring" of their public transport commitments, they are also sabotaging more sustainable freight transport. Take these three examples:
In October along with Councillors Waltham and Strachan I represented the City of Fremantle at the annual Bike Futures conference in Melbourne.
Check out this diagram compiled by Chris Loader (who runs www.ChartingTransport.com). It's based on Australian Census data and documents a spectacular growth in bike journeys to work across Fremantle between 2006 and 2011. This is all the more impressive as the efforts to make Fremantle truly bike friendly were only just beginning in 2011:
As you'd expect the growth is especially concentrated in suburbs like South Fremantle and Beaconsfield. However as more bike infrastructure starts to get rolled out to Hilton this financial year, we should see a growth there too. Meanwhile the City has again put in a grant submission for a pedestrian/bike overpass to connect Hilton and Samson at a mid-point between South St and Winterfold Rd. I'll keep you posted.
Melbourne bike infrastructure 2013
It's a real honour to have the support of so many residents and to be re-elected as a Councillor for Hilton Ward. There is a lot more work to be done and some big challenges in front of us, an active and engaged community will be the key to making positive change.
The current situation
1. The State Governments plans to amalgamate councils in July 2015.
2. It proposes to merge Fremantle, East Fremantle, Melville and parts of Canning.
3. Fremantle is making a submission to the Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB) that the merger does not make sense and argues instead for the creation of a Greater Fremantle council.
What about Samson?
The City of Fremantle submission proposes to transfer Samson and the eastern part of O'Connor to Melville in return for Bicton and Palmyra, creating a Greater Fremantle with Stock Rd as its eastern boundary.
The rationale is that Stock Rd makes for a clear and legible boundary that will give the submission a greater chance of success. While I understand that argument, I don't think it is a good enough reason for Fremantle to cast off Samson.
At a special meeting of Council on September 16 I moved an amendment to the submission that Samson be included, but this was lost 4 votes to 7.
But what do Samson residents want?
In a survey conducted earlier this year 42% of Samson residents voted in favour of a merger Melville, while 42% voted for options which would see Samson stay with Fremantle.
A further 17% voted for Option C which corresponds to the current proposal. However the explanation in the survey failed to mention that Samson was not included. As a result I think it's fair to conclude that a narrow majority of those surveyed favoured staying with Fremantle, something I wholeheartedly support.
In an extensive survey of City of Fremantle residents 70% indicated their opposition to a crude merger with Melville and 75% wanted to be able to vote on any new council boundary. The Barnett government's local government amalgamations plan disregards these wishes and is a direct contradiction of its pre-election promise.
Over 200 people crammed into Kulcha on 8 August to kick-start the campaign against the Barnett government's proposed merger of Fremantle, East Fremantle, Melville and parts of Canning. Around 1000 attended the Fremantle Forever Rally and Concert on September 1.
They key principles suggested as a guide for the campaign are on the Fremantle Society Web site: http://fremantlesociety.org.au/blog/2013/08/06/freos-mayor-call-for-arms... Please sign the petition against the merger here: http://chn.ge/192sqgC
The Barnett government is also proposing to scrap the "Dadour Amendments". These are provisions of the Local Government Act which allow the residents of a council to reject a merger in a poll if they don't want it. This is a basic democratic right, one that Barnett said before the election he would respect. You can sign the petiton to protect your right to have the final say on any mergers here: http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/my-local-government-my-decision