Mayor welcomes G4F

FREMANTLE mayor Brad Pettitt has welcomed the creation of a ‘circle of elders’ to help save the port city from doom and gloom.

Last week the Herald revealed a small coterie of prominent portsiders had formed G4F to help develop strategic policies to turn Fremantle’s economic malaise around (“Save our city”, Herald, February 23, 2013).

Dr Pettitt doesn’t see the group’s formation as a vote of no confidence in his leadership, even though some of its manifesto appears to muscle in on his territory. It talks of a strategic plan to tackle ebbing retail and the exodus of creative industries—which was supposedly covered by the council’s omnibus Economic Development Strategy adopted in 2011.

Fremantle needs all the help it can get, was Dr Pettitt’s upbeat response.

“Fremantle has long needed a positive and pro-active group of heavy hitters to advocate for greater investment and public funding for Fremantle at the state and federal levels,” he said.

“I have had many of the group’s members come and see me about particular issues but having them operate as a group will be more strategic and effective.”

Dr Pettitt said G4F had acknowledged in its manifesto that the current council had begun to tackle issues following years of neglect.

Just four days after the Herald’s story, which mentioned G4F’s concerns about the lack of a coherent vision for Fremantle, the mayor posted his own “unofficial” version of the council’s vision on his blog. He had been trapped on the Cocos Islands by Cyclone Rusty at the time.

“The Council’s vision for Freo is that it maintains its economic and cultural heritage by continuing to be Perth’s second city—a place of consequence not just another dormitory suburb where people go home to sleep and tourists visit on the weekend. Fremantle will be vibrant seven day a week economically rejuvenated city with more people living, working and playing in it each day,” he blogged.

“I pretty much agree with [G4F] there is plenty more to do if Fremantle is to be rejuvenated in a timely manner and the low level of state support has been frustrating to say the least,” he later told the Herald.

The mayor expected some “robust debate” with G4F members in the coming months about the direction of Fremantle.

“I will be offering to meet with the group on a regular basis as I currently do with other groups like the Fremantle Society,” he said. “While I am confident we have got the foundations for recovery right, seeing the fruits of this sooner rather than later is going to require a major joint effort.”



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