Activation agenda puts success on the table

COLIN NICHOL isn’t happy with how Fremantle council is managing its ‘activation’ agenda.

THIS Fremantle council seems unable to cope with success -—the success of others that is. It has already watched nine popular arts and culture attractions leave the city, with that same prospect still hanging, notably, over the head of Bizircus.

There was the controversial axing of the nationally noted Fly By Night Club from the Drill Hall after 28 successful years, chopped down to the Victoria Hall and now struggling while its former home stands so far underused, about six months after being taken over by new promoters.

An attempt, marked by distress of the-then occupants, to “activate” the Pilots Cottages atop Arthur Head from an already quite busy area to one of comparative quietude, has not advanced the city’s interests.

There seems to be a hint of council’s apparent fixation with forms of social engineering in current activities, rather than of competent management. The success of the remarkable Sunset Markets alongside Kidogo Arthouse is next to be rewarded — by removal to the more remote and less suitable South Beach, where it will certainly not reactivate the city centre as the council claims is its goal.

• Greg James and Jenny Dawson

• Greg James and Jenny Dawson

Attention turned some time ago to the acclaimed semi-industrial arts community at J Shed, adjacent Bathers Beach, below the Round House. First it was an attempt to impose, to the businesss there, unacceptable and unworkable new tenancy agreements. That painful, long battle was eventually won by those long-term and highly-regarded artisans to achieve security, only to have another bogey rear up to threaten their successful operations.

This time council wants to almost surround them with a liquor outlet combined with musical entertainment, noise and patrons from which would interfere with their operations and unavoidably penetrate more widely, along with inhibiting their access as well as causing parking and customer blockage.

All in the name of “activation”, this could potentially de-activate their operations and place them in jeopardy of breaching their tenancy conditions.

Contra-wise, the obvious undesirability of combining a drinking venue with industry — the use of high-temperature kilns, pouring of molten metal, fumes, steam and constant movement of commercial and other vehicles including lifters and forklift — raises the consideration of the interference of these established activities with the licensed area and its drinkers.

Alcohol and industry are not a desirable match. Further, all operations would suffer from major parking shortcomings. It looks like a situation of dealing a blow to successful operations in the cause of another, for which success is questionable.

As surveys and other preparations for the tavern/brewery proceed on site this week, the constituency of strong opposition to this use of the historic area of first contact is growing and notable, including deep concern by the local indigenous leaders, present day residents, local businesses concerned about interference with established businesses, adjacent authorities, blurring of historical connections and the effects of yet another licensed premises in the central city.

Must failure out of success be risked, is all this necessary, is it good management, does council enjoy proper understanding of this area?

39 Melissa Park 15x3

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