To save East Freo you must vote and vote

BRUCE SELIGMAN is a “concerned” East Fremantle resident. His concern is his town will become an after-thought if it’s merged into it bigger southern cousin. He says locals have the chance to stop that happening, by voting NO at the February poll.

THERE are many reasons why the amalgamation of the Town of East Fremantle into a “Greater” Fremantle council as determined by the Barnett government is not in the interest of East Fremantle residents.

These include:

• expensive and disruptive process (for up to five years);

• political parties likely to enter into local government elections;

• no evidence of long-term savings;

• East Fremantle has low rates and sound finances;

• East Fremantle maintains its infrastructure, in particular its roads, footpaths, parks and gardens well;

• loss of representation; and,

• loss of community focus.

However it is the loss of representation and community focus which have the potential to have the greatest effect on the future of East Fremantle.

Fremantle’s mayor Brad Pettitt gave an excellent talk to Glyde-In members a couple of weeks ago. He assured those present that as mayor of the proposed “Greater” Fremantle council he would do everything he could to support the continuation of East Fremantle as a community with its own focus.

This would include ongoing support for activities such as Glyde-In, George Street festival and the various sporting clubs as currently provided by the existing town council.

However, he did admit that even as mayor he could not guarantee this as the prioritising of support for local activities was a decision of council rather than the mayor.

Brad also explained the model which the Barnett government had accepted, in particular the lack of wards in the proposed Greater Fremantle council could result in East Fremantle having no representative on council.

In this situation the interests of East Fremantle residents such as the current level of support for community activities would have no direct representation and could well suffer. Even if the present plan was modified and wards allowed, East Fremantle would almost certainly still have dramatically reduced representation.

In this era of globalisation, sense of community is disappearing. East Fremantle is lucky that its relatively small size allows a community focus with activities such as the Sharks, Tricolore, Glyde-in, its sailing clubs and bowling club.

This community focus would all be subject to dilution and consequent loss fo the community spirit which can add so much to a quality lifestyle.

The recent joint letter from the mayors of Fremantle and East Fremantle has given the impression to many East Fremantle residents the amalgamation of East Fremantle into the proposed Greater Fremantle is a fait accompli.

This is not so.

East Fremantle is one of only six councils permitted the opportunity to reject amalgamation. As outlined in an earlier letter from East Fremantle’s mayor, there is a two-stage process which allows a poll/referendum of residents to decide whether they are in favour of or against amalgamation.

The first stage, a petition requiring a minimum of 250 signatures seeking the poll, has already been lodged with close to 600 signatures. The second stage, the poll itself is scheduled to be held on February 7, 2015.

If at least 50 per cent of East Fremantle’s electors vote and a majority of those electors vote “No” the minister must reject the recommendation for the amalgamation.

But at least 50 per of electors need to vote in the ballot for a “No” vote to be valid, so when the voting papers arrive please:

• exercise your democratic right by voting; and,

• vote NO to amalgamation to save East Fremantle.

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