council news

Upgrade High St? Yes, but not at any cost to our health and community!

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:

Onya bike Freo!

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

Thanks for your support

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.

Council amalgamations: Where to for Samson?

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.

Stop the mega-merger!

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

Samson, in the tent or not?

Below is a letter submitted to the Fremantle Herald (but not published) taking up the issue of Samson's place in local government reform:

Kaye Land (Herald Letters, August 24) is correct that the City of Fremantle's submission to the local government review process proposed to transfer Samson and parts of O'Connor to Melville by creating a greater Fremantle with Stock Rd as its eastern boundary.

Councillor Bill Massie and I advocated retaining Samson, with Bill suggesting that the City make a more ambitious proposal for a greater Fremantle extending all the way to North Lake Rd. However the majority of council chose to stick with the Stock Rd option.

Ironically the state government's disregarding of the City of Fremantle proposal in favour of a holus bolus merger with Melville gives us another opportunity to consider the creation of a greater Fremantle that includes Samson and more.

While I'm convinced Samson does belong with Fremantle, what matters most is what Samson people themselves want.

In the community survey conducted earlier this year 42% of Samson residents voted in favour of Options A and B which involved a straight out merger of Fremantle and Melville, while 42% voted for Options D and E which would see Samson stay with Fremantle.

In the middle 17% voted for Option C which corresponds to the proposal the City made to the local government review process.

Progress towards a bike friendly Freo

We're starting to make substantial progress towards transforming Fremantle into a bike friendly place. In 2009-10 the City only spent a pitiful $39,000 on bike infrastructure. But since then the annual spend has been increased to over $400,000 per year.

Necessarily most of the works in these first few years has concentrated on fixing problems around the CBD. With this done we can start shifting some of the expenditure east. The 2013-17 Bicycle Plan adopted at the July meeting of council includes around $90,000 to create a dedicated bike crossing of Carrington St at the Lefroy Rd-Rennie Cres intersection.

Currently there are no safe crossing points across Carrington St between Marmion St and Winterfold Rd. A crossing at this point would effectively connect Hilton Primary School, the Hilton Community Centre, the Dick Lawrence reserve, the Beaconsfield shops and the South Fremantle SHS on one axis.

After journeys into the CBD, it's short trips like this where there is the greatest potential to shift people from car to walking and cycling. A big thanks to the Freo Bicycle Users Group and the Mayor for their support.

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.

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.

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.