council news

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.

Parents win fight to save "Buster the Fun Bus"

By Justine Kamprad (from www.greenleft.org.au)

Local parents have successfully spearheaded a Fremantle community campaign to save a service called “Buster the Fun Bus”.

Buster is a van staffed by two community workers from the City of Fremantle. It makes stops at various parks in the Fremantle and Melville area, setting out activity tables and toys for children to enjoy outside.

The focus of the service is community building. It brings parents together and gives them relaxed access to community workers.

The service is co-funded by the Cities of Fremantle and Melville and the state government. In early June, the Department of Community Services announced it would cut its annual $60,000 contribution.

Leisure, Arts and CCTV staff win better conditions

In late 2010 Councillor Wilson and I successfully moved the "Employment Values" policy to steer the council away from employing people on fixed term contracts, to respect workers' right to organise and to set a target of 5% indigenous employment.

We also moved an amendment to our own resolution that sought to end to the City's practice of employing Leisure Centre, Arts Centre and CCTV operator staff on an inferior scale of wages and conditions to the main staff body. Unfortunately this amendment was lost, after which Councillor Wilson and I had to keep out of the issue.

Change to fees for sporting reserves

At the March council meeting officers tabled a new schedule of fees for the use of sporting reserves (both the buildings and playing fields). The rationale for the new schedule was that up to now the City has imposed inconsistent and ad-hoc fees, with some sporting clubs paying a lot more than others; and that it should apply a transparent and uniform charges to similar users.

State government forces closure of Regional Resource Recovery Centre. Are toxic incinerators on the way?

Currently all the organic waste in your green top bin gets turned into compost at the Canning Vale RRRC. But the Department of Environment and Conservation has refused to renew the centre's operating licence, supposedly because it produces "unacceptable odours".

The RRRC diverts more than 60,000 tonnes of waste per year from landfill and prevents 70,000 tonnes tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. The RRRC took $100 million of your money to build. Now the Barnett government wants it to sit idle and force the participating councils to put their waste into landfill, and pay the $23/tonne landfill levy for the privilege. This will raise them $1.5 million per year, 75% of which just goes to general revenue.

Affordable housing quota lifted to 15%

In debate around the principles guiding the new town planning scheme for the eastern end of the CBD at the February Council meeting, I moved two amendments in support of more affordable housing. The first lifted from 10% to 15% the amount of affordable housing required by developers who opt for the third tier of "additional discretionary height". This was passed 12-1, and brings the council in line with the state government's modest target.