Letters 19.10.13

12. 42LETTERSBarton’s right
I FULLY support councillor June Barton’s comments (Herald, October 12, 2013).
As a former systems auditor at the City of Melville (1987—1991) I was amazed to hear the extent to which the council currently delegates its responsibilities to the CEO, and also the evident constraints under which elected councillors find themselves in their endeavours to communicate with ratepayers.
Section 2.10 of the WA local government act 1995 includes, under “Role of councillors” : (a) represents the interests of electors, ratepayers and residents of the district; and (b) provides leadership and guidance to the community in the district;  and (c) facilitates communication between the community and the council; and (d) participates in the local government’s decision-making processes at council and committee meetings; and (e) performs other functions as are given to a councillor by this Act or any other written law.
The final comment about “the CEO, who’d been given the authority to sell assets valued up to $8 million without approval from the elected council” I find, frankly, hard to believe!
This brought to mind the city’s $20 million+ gamble, some years ago, into the very doubtful investment of ratepayer reserve funds, resulting in loss—all for an alleged expected additional interest of only 0.05 per cent, compared to its usual investment strategy.
W Trevor Tobin  FCPA
Fionn Court, Ardross

A draining experience
AFTER reading your article about Vanessa Weigall’s unsatisfactory experiences with Fremantle city council, dealing with stormwater flooding of her home (Herald, October 12, 2013) I felt compelled to write about my experiences in Davies Street, Beaconsfield.
Late summer storms flooded my house and garden causing extensive damage inside and out, but I had a very different ratepayer experience communicating with south ward councillor Andrew Sullivan and council staffers.
From 2009 to 2012 Davies Street underwent rapid redevelopment with the construction of homes on formerly vacant grassy and partially vegetated land. Block-clearing, building and heavy traffic on verges led to increased rainwater run-off and debris washing down the road into an early 20th century drainage system.
I wrote to the council about my concerns and sought advice and assistance from engineering works staff whose inspection confirmed major work on street drainage was necessary though not immediately possible. Workers immediately delivered sandbags and shortly afterward constructed an 8cm moulded concrete barrier at the entrance to my paved driveway to mitigate further runoff into my property.
Responses to subsequent phone calls and correspondence with staffers and Cr Sullivan led to further drainage work being done.
My ratepayer experience dealing with the the council highlights how effective a small local government organisation can be when communication between it and constituents is preferably relational, rather than adversarial.
Dr Patricia Meckelburg
Davies St, Beaconsfield
The Ed says: This letter has been brutally whipper-snippered for length.

That ‘70s show all over again
REBECCA AUBREY (Herald letters, October 12, 2013), why do you as an educated person still propose urban traffic concepts from the 1970s to resolve today’s congestion?
Have a look at LA or San Diego, low-density cities similar to Perth. They built highways like mad for an ever-growing number of people and cars. The effect: Still bumper to bumper.
Moscow and Beijing have experienced the same since the ‘90s. Roe 8 might ease traffic for a few years, but not help in the long run, as has been shown across the globe.
So is it worth the cost? Are roads the global drug for politicians? I use my bike to get to work in Welshpool once or twice a week. That makes 20 to 40 per cent less contribution to traffic. Quite effective model I would say (well, 30km can be pretty exhausting at times).
Kristian Walter
Leaside Way, Spearwood

Heritage is all in a spin
A FANTASTIC Thinking Allowed article from Fremantle councillor Rachel Pemberton (Herald, September 28, 2013).
The argument presented was cogent and included the following : “In Freo we place high value on heritage, our traditional streetscapes…”.
Unfortunately the article “Going…gone” about the demolition of the old foundry in Beach Street illustrates the council is doing the talk but not the walk—and the Pemberton article is exposed as more spin than substance.
By approving demolition “to a consortium which is yet to submit a proposal to council” the City of Fremantle is acting just like the City of Melville; as a consequence Freo has undermined its own qualities and position, and made itself irrelevant.
I no longer live and work in the Fremantle, but I am still concerned for the city’s amenity and I must say stewardship during Mayor Pettitt’s years is beyond comprehension. And makes voting for Mathew Hanssen seem possible.
Whatever happened to  long-term Fremantle architect and resident Murray Slavin? Was his Mayoral tilt a few elections ago just a ploy to get rid of Utting? Is Slavin too busy making money to engage in public service?
Greg Smith
Rose Ave, Bayswater

Myred in greed?
I WAS born in Freo and have lived and loved it all my life…and as others of the same experience would say, it is the varied cross-section of people and their social groups that have created the Fremantle village appeal.
Though there have been many changes, some leaving me bereft.. others delighted, I still believe we have maintained the tapestry that sustains the charisma of Freo.
I love that “Myre” has contained within it the tactile beauty, original thought and artistry for all to adore. This kind of imagination and commitment to one’s passion was most wondrous and we appreciated it fully. However, a part of me was disappointed, though not surprised, at the very less than “admyreable” bandwagon money grab and misrepresentation at what objects are worth, attempting, I feel, to exploit customers.
The asking price for many things, possibly with the exception of the Chocolate Artisan and some art, was painfully disproportionate to actual value of products…even if they are the art of an individual.
Sadly, this is happening everywhere in WA…and though I could afford it, on principle I will not pay it.
Oh, and why do people think they can charge $30 for mum’s old sunglasses because the presentation is set in a groovy atmosphere out of a funky suitcase?
Stop trying to turn Fremantle into Claremont! The people won’t have it.
Britt Allen
Enderby Close, South Fremantle

Verging on laziness
AFTER waiting for Cockburn city council to clean up the grass verge in the circle on the road behind our property I gave it a ring.
Details were taken down and the following day I received a call back saying my request would be done. During that conversation I was informed the council only cleans verges if a request is forwarded. Now I understand why the area looks like a slum, because although we pay rates the council only clears its own verges if asked to do so.
So, ratepayers of Cockburn, if your verges are overgrown. remember you need to ring to ask those poor overworked people on council if they would kindly clean up.
Rosanna Bunting
Phoenix Rd, Hamilton Hill

What a choice
WHAT a wonderful choice of mayoral candidates (Herald, October 12, 2013). The preening boy with his skateboard or a time traveller from the 1950s who thinks we should produce more refuse.
Nick Burningham
Forrest St, Fremantle

MAY I congratulate you on the spread of topics, which I found so enthralling in last weekend’s paper (Herald, October 12, 2013).
We even had two Cockburn readers’ letters out of the total of eight, and the lead story was a gem. Merely change the name from Melville to Cockburn and you have the greatest story ever told.
I personally have never, in more than 40 years of watching our council’s performances, seen such an irresponsible bunch of toadies.
Our council is totally under the control of a team of overpaid, self-serving arrogant posers. However, due to the fortunate fact Cockburn is such a rapidly growing and diverse area, the total handing over of power to the CEO and his trusty men only goes to hide the inadequacies of our elected representatives’ ability to communicate with the very people who elected them.
Truly a sad state of affairs in an alleged democratic system. Come on, electors of Cockburn, wake up to the situation, and by using your vote on October 19 ensure we in this wonderful and progressive city once again resume our legal right to have a say in our own future, by way of our duly elected representatives.
Colin Crook
Doolette St, Spearwood

Pettitt misses the conflict point
BRAD PETTITT told a recent forum two conflict-of-interest concerns regarding proposed development on the Esplanade were “immaterial” because they did not influence his decisions.
He missed the point that potential conflicts-of-interest need to be disclosed so the community can be confident they have been managed. As it was, the cost of the plaza proposal increased by $400,000, and the current location was chosen, under the extensive influence of the individual around whom both conflict-of-interest concerns exist.
“Immaterial” Dr Pettitt? I am not confident. For the record, the conflicts-of-interest relate to Skateboarding Australia representative Ben Bowring, whose extensive advice on the plaza was followed by the council over a nine-month period. We now know Mr Bowring owns a Fremantle-branded skateboarding gear and clothing business that he is seeking to expand (he is also urging the council to hold international skate competitions on the plaza).
On Skateboarding Australia’s board is the CEO of Convic, whom the council chose to build the plaza without going to tender, and whose advice regarding siting the plaza has been followed since before community engagement processes began.
It does not appear Mr Bowring did anything wrong: His business connections are known to the council. But the council, in numerous public decisions citing his advice, never disclosed his business connections.
Eloise Dortch

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