council news

Crossing of South St at Collick completed

The construction of the pedestrian crossing of South St at Collick St has nearly been completed. At last there is a place for parents with prams, people in wheelchairs, kids on bikes or those with reduced mobility to cross at this end of South St. A big thanks again to Hannah Fitzhardinge and the parents at the Jarvis St childcare for campaigning to get this project done.

Local government reform survey

The recent survey of views on local government reform produced some mixed results. Respondents from Hilton were strongly opposed to a merger with Melville (69% against). In contrast options A, B and C (all of which would see Samson merged into Melville) gained a majority (around 55%) among Samson residents.

However the the survey only got 1227 responses of which only about 100 came from Samson. Is that big enough to make it truly representative? The Samson results were also partly clouded by the fact that on the survey map “Option C” shows Samson being merged into Melville, while the text explaining that option makes no mention of this.

The most consistent thing across all suburbs of Fremantle was the desire of residents to have a vote, on any proposed change to local government boundaries. Whether or not the Barnett government respects this wish remains to be seen. If you'd like a copy of the survey results let me know.

Inner Freo's shrinking pool of low-cost housing

A February 11 Special Council Meeting adopted a business plan to proceed with the Kings Square redevelopment. The project will be funded in large part through the sale of council owned sites, including the Spicer site (currently the Pine Warehouse and adjacent car park).

At the meeting I moved an amendment proposing that the future use of the site be for a mix of diverse, affordable and low-cost housing; rather than a hotel. However this was defeated 8-1.

The closure of the Henderson St Warders cottages and the demolition of the Homeswest units at Burt St will see the loss of 80 low-income dwellings in the inner city in one year, only partly offset by a maximum of 27 new dwellings in the new Burt St development.

I'm sure many of my fellow councillors were shocked to see the increase in the Liberal Party vote in the state seat of Fremantle in March. But with the sky rocketing cost of housing in WA, there's not many affordable dwellings anywhere west of Carrington St. This brings with it an inevitable demographic and political shift.

If council wants to retain Fremantle's character and diversity it will need to take stronger action to create opportunities for more affordable housing. The Bannister St car park site is being lined up for sale and I'll be encouraging council to prioritise affordable and low-income housing for this site too.

Kings Square redevelopment, an opportunity for diverse and affordable housing too!

On Monday 11 February there will be a Special Meeting of Council to consider the final adoption of the Kings Square Redevelopment Business Plan. The plan would see the the City sell some of its own commercial property and parking assets to the owner of the Myer site in order to pay for a complete rebuild of the council facilities, including the library. See more at: www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/cityoffremantle/Projectsmajor/Kings_Square_project

At the meeting I will be moving three amendments, the most significant of which proposes that the Spicer site (currently the car park in front of the Pine Warehouse) be used for a diverse housing development incorporating low-cost, affordable and disability accessible housing; similar to the Burt St development, rather than a hotel as is currently proposed.

The amendments are:

1. Change the first preference use for the Spicer site to be for diverse housing; incorporating targets for low income, affordable and accessible housing similar to those achieved in the Deed for the development 19-21 & 23-25 Burt St.

Reasons

1. While facilitating the provision of diverse and affordable housing and the establishment of a new hotel both satisfy objectives in the City's Strategic Plan, there is no question that a diverse housing development would respond to a far more urgent social need. The City will be, and should be, judged on how it responds to this need.

Burt St to create diverse housing

The January Council meeting approved a scheme amendment and associated Deed between the City and the Department of Housing to allow for a residential development on Burt St (opposite John Curtin High School). The Department owns the land and wished to build a mix of public and private housing. The Deed requires significantly more low-income and other diverse housing than was originally proposed by the Department.

Cappuccino Strip: remove the buses or the cars?

The October council meeting passed a resolution to ask Transperth to divert its buses away from South Tce/Market St and via Parry St/Beach St as a trial over summer. I voted against this for the following reasons:

1. It would mean the loss of the bus stop at the corner of Market St and High St for northbound passengers, and require southbound passengers who catch the bus at the markets to walk to the hospital. This is a pretty big inconvenience for passengers using these stops, especially people with reduced mobility.
2. This is a significant diversion for buses connecting passengers to the station, especially at peak hour. We should be trying to direct traffic in ways that prioritises public transport, not private motor cars.

Mr Buswell: Show respect - Fund Warrawee!

In recognition of the fact that government contracted community service providers don't get enough money to do their jobs the Barnett government announced to great fanfare in early 2011 that most service providers would get a 25% funding increase in 2011-12 and a further 10% over 2013-14.

However there are two major problems with this “good news” story. The first is that that they are using the increase in funding to contracted not-for-profit providers to mask their big cuts to government provided services, and their program of shifting services from the government to the not-for-profit sector which enables them to slash the wages and conditions of workers in the process. What they are giving with on hand they are more than taking back with the other.

Banning begging: unfair and unworkable

There was recent speculation in the media that the City of Fremantle was intending to introduce by-laws to ban begging, especially after the Mayor was canvassed on the issue by the 7:30 Report. A discussion paper proposing such a thing was drafted by officers on the propmting of some CBD business operators. Below is a letter on the proposal I wrote that was published in the Fremantle Herald:

A number of letters writers to the Herald (August 18) rightly questioned the idea that the City of Fremantle might try to ban begging on the streets to "improve" the shopping environment. It's clear that this would be very hard to enforce; and even if it could be done, would just push people from place to place without tackling the underlying causes.

Hilton Harvest wins disability inclusion grant

Recently the Disability Services Commission confirmed that Hilton Harvest (via City of Fremantle) had been successful in its application for a $50,000 grant to make the gardens more inclusive of people with disabilities.

I'd like to record the hard work of Hilton Harvest Convenor Helen Whitkin and my partner Janet Parker for putting the grant application together. Thanks also to Hilton Harvest as a whole for agreeing to add this dimension to their already inspiring project.

Meanwhile it's looking likely that the City will enter a formal agreement to employ people with disabilities in its parks and gardens. The City was dragging its feet compared to many other big employers and had no specific policy to assist people with disabilities get work.