I’d like to make it clear from the start that I like it when people engage in civic affairs.  So G4F has my full support and in that spirit of support I would like to comment on their Manifesto as printed on page 5 of this week’s Fremantle Herald.

The first three paragraphs could have been taken from the Council’s Strategic Plan, so it’s good to see we all agree on so many things.

I will address the “What is to be done?” dot-points of the manifesto one by one:

  • The first one advocates a visionary plan for public investment in Fremantle including locating Government departments here and initiating large infrastructure investment similar to that being undertaken in the Perth CBD.  I could not agree more, while a promise from Treasury to relocate the Department of Housing in Fremantle is a good start, it should be seen as just that, a start.  Regarding infrastructure investment, even the necessary new bridge, which went through months of workshopping, has been abandoned.  Successive State Budgets have limited funding in Fremantle to dredging the harbour and major road works on High Street.  These do not represent good civic projects that would enhance Fremantle, the type essential for a vibrant second city.  This is an area I see G4F can do a lot of work, just consider Brian Burke to see what lobbying power a former premier can have.
  • Point two relates to the railway station and it’s forecourt.  Coda on behalf of Fremantle Ports have run workshops on this very issue.  While the PTA continue to be less than supportive, plans to improve both connectivity from the station to Victoria Quay and Fremantle via Market and Queen Streets are exciting developments.  Fremantle Council convened the Fremantle Union to progress these very issues.
  • The next point advocates commercial and residential developments in the eastern part of the CBD adjacent to the railway station.  This is exactly what Amendment 49 was adopted for, to stimulate such commercial and residential development.
  • The next point is a very bold recommendation for integrated transport planning with particular emphasis on port related freight.  I think this is one area that the Council’s work is bearing fruit.  Integrated transport planning is a central platform for all political parties in the upcoming election.  Council also supports freight onto rail, but with investment to protect existing residents amenity.  A long awaited second port to the south, be that privately funded or Government owned would relieve some of the pressure on Fremantle’s infrastructure.
  • Crime and anti-social behaviour are very much in the media at the moment.  Fremantle Council’s lobbying has finally resulted in a larger police presence on our streets.  The Mayor and some Councillors are looking at interstate and international examples to continue to improve the situation here in Fremantle.  It is time for venues that promote binge drinking to change their modus operandi.
  • Lastly G4F call for a Strategic Plan to stem the ebb of retail and the arts from Fremantle and development of strategies to improve investment in Fremantle’s building stock while keeping rents realistic.  With regards to retail, Council has introduced ‘pop-up-shops’ to maintain vibrancy when places become vacant and has introduced WAs first fully functioning Business Improvement District (BID).  We are also moving to introduce ‘demolition by neglect’ legislation and the Mayor also suggested the controversial concept of increased rates for shops that remain empty for over a year.  I fully support the roll out of the NBN in Fremantle.  The arts are very close to my heart, they are one of the reasons I came to live in Fremantle all those years ago.  It is with great sadness I saw the demise of Deckchair Theatre and now read of the struggles the Fly by Night are having.  One of the best ways of supporting the arts is to attend performances, I hope to see members of G4F and their families at the next event.

Are G4F Cappuccino Philosophers, or are they really going to work to make a difference to Fremantle?  I sincerely hope it is the latter, I look forward to seeing their representatives lobby the State Government, attend Council meetings and even a chance to discuss Fremantle’s future with them.

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