WITH just two weeks to go until East Fremantle’s merger referendum deadline, 28 per cent of the town’s eligible voters have cast their vote.
For the result to have legal weight more than 50 per cent must vote and, for the merger with Fremantle to fail, more than half of those who vote must vote “no”.
Town resident Bruce Seligmann is leading the “no” campaign and has authorised full-page advertisements urging locals to reject the merger.
The retired executive says town residents risk losing control of assets they’ve built up over more than a century: “Fremantle has a massive debt and they just want to grab all of our assets,” he warns.
The town’s big blocks and leafy streets are also under threat: “Our planning scheme makes it difficult to subdivide and approve high rises, while Fremantle want to rezone the area around our council building to allow high density.”
Mr Seligman’s campaign includes newspaper advertisements, 13 banners strewn across the town and 4000 flyers hand-delivered to letterboxes. Two more letter-drops over the next two weeks to beat the February 7 deadline.
“We have around 20 volunteers raring to go,” he says.
The town council officially opposes amalgamation but has formally decided to surrender, regarding it as an inevitability.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Fremantle, ratepayers’ and residents association chair Mark Woodcock is opposing a bid by Brad Pettitt and East Freo mayor Jim O’Neill to be appointed as commissioners.
He says commissioners must be independent and ideally in place for the least amount of time possible for an election to be held of the new merged council (assuming the East Fremantle referendum fails).
by STEPHEN POLLOCK