20 people in the public gallery for August’s Council meeting was more than I have seen for months, brought about by development applications in Jarvis and Swanbourne Streets attracting interest. Unfortunately emotions were running high and two speakers made unfounded disparaging remarks about members of Council. Controversial planning issues require good decision making skills and I know all Councillors, whichever way they voted, applied those skills. While it is tempting for an aggrieved applicant or neighbour to consider a Councillor’s vote as total support or rejection of their case, the truth is far from that. By their very nature controversial decisions are generally line-ball calls, for me one of them came down to 49/51%, I only came to a decision when listening to the summing up by the mover of the motion. Each and every one on Fremantle Council puts in a lot of work, work motivated by a desire to make Fremantle a better place, are we driven by passion? Yes! Are we driven by motives of self-gain? Definitely not.
On a more positive note, it was good to see the council machine working well on the Point Street site. Council is determined to ensure it’s site between Cantonment and Adelaide Streets acts as a stimulus for good development in the run-down east end. Amendment 49 relaxes the planning constraints on this site, while the amendment is still with the Minister for determination; Officers of the City are preparing themselves to act as soon as approval is given. The planning department brought an item to rescind a policy that will be redundant under amendment 49 and simultaneously corporate services presented Council with a Business Plan for sale of the site by tender, a plan aimed at achieving high quality development.
The upgrade of Cappuccino Strip and Little Market Street was supported. It was good to see City Ward Councillor Pemberton working with the traders to get an improved outcome with the use of ‘urban stone’ pavers in Little Market St, securing it as a Place-Making hub.
At a community level a request to change a Local Law to allow ‘off leash’ dog exercising on North Fremantle’s Gilbert Fraser Oval took it’s first steps. If this is an issue of interest to you look out for an opportunity to make a submission, because ultimately it is the strength of submissions that will determine the outcome. Another community issue was support for grant funding from the Department of Sport and Recreation for Fremantle and Mosman Park Cricket Club. With Local Government reform just around the corner Fremantle needs to take more interest in Mosman Park, there is a strong ‘community of interest’ across this border. Draft Public Art Policy and Plan’s were adopted – look out for Fremantle Arcadia, Temporary Public Art Plan.
Two Councillor ‘Notices Of Motion’ came from Strategic and General Services Committee, one from the Mayor for Council support for Oxfam’s GROW Campaign to support subsistence farmers regain food security in a world of ever increasing demand for arable land and water. The other was from Cr Wainwright and myself, authorising us to take Council’s concerns relating to inequities in community services funding to a Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) meeting. Currently councils get 15% (soon to be increased to 25%) less funding than Not for Profit and religious organisations to provide essential community services. This prices committed councils such as Fremantle out of the market.