FERN turns over new leaf

FERN wants out of the doghouse, less than a year after a loud, all-night party prompted Fremantle council to impose a curfew.

Ferner Karen Bartz has gathered nearly 500 signatures on a change.org petition asking the council to keep the place open till 9.30pm (it’s currently 7.30pm, except for Mondays and summer, which can be a little later).

To stop activists sleeping at the centre or keeping it open after hours a security guard now locks and unlocks the gates.

Ms Bartz says the group’s internal working relationships are much better—most of those associated with hardcore activism and the party have left—and she’s confident there’ll be no repeat.

“That event was very much a reflection of what was going on within the group at the time,” she says.

• Karen Bartz

• Karen Bartz

“People wanted people to leave the group and it was very messy. But things have changed since then. We all work really well together.”

Ms Bartz is keen to host “dinner by donation” evenings for locals, and notes the decade-old centre has always been drug- and alcohol-free. It is a venue for sustainable community events and dinners, and is home to Ms Bartz’s Heaven Raw Cafe.

Council business chief Tom Griffiths says the curfew is fair because of “several years” of lease violations, such as anti-social behaviour requiring police attendance at the site. “These operating hours provide ample time for community activities while maintaining a balance for surrounding residents and businesses.”

Mr Griffiths refused to say how much the council was spending on security. The petition will likely be tabled April 22.


Leave a Reply