COCKBURN city council will spend up to $50,000 fending off the Greater Fremantle movement.
Greater Fremantle wants to expand the port city’s boundaries to take in Hamilton Hill and North Coogee and its proposal was recently accepted for formal inquiry by the Local Government Advisory Board.
But Cockburn reckons there’s little support for the push, and is considering formal polling to prove it.
The 250 signatures which sparked the inquiry equate to about 3 per cent of affected ratepayers, and only got through because of a rarely used provision in the Local Government Act, says Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett.
“The city intends to do all it can to convince the affected communities to support the city’s position in rejecting the proposal,” Mr Howlett said.
Greater Fremantle organiser Adin Lang condemned the council’s war chest.
“$50,000 on a public awareness campaign — I think it’s outrageous,” Mr Lang says.
“We got our petition this far without spending a dollar.”
While door knocking, Mr Lang claims he found 90 per cent of residents in North Coogee favoured joining Fremantle, and 70 per cent in Hamilton Hill.
He wouldn’t be drawn on what he’d do if Cockburn’s polling contradicted his own claims of support.
The heritage-listed South Fremantle power station and Cockburn Coast development would also be roped into Freo under Mr Lang’s plan, and Mr Howlett worries that will lead to delays.
Mr Lang argues the power station was historically within Fremantle: “If I was to pick any council in WA to develop a heritage asset, I would pick the City of Fremantle.”
Fremantle Mayor Brad Petitt says he’s impressed Greater Fremantle’s campaign has made it to this stage, and the the strong community response it drew, but he thinks it’s unlikely to succeed.
“A formal enquiry is the correct process but given that Cockburn has indicated they will not support this boundary change and the minister for local government has said he will not agree to any boundary change not agreed to by both councils, this formal enquiry is likely to be unproductive,” Dr Pettitt said.
Lara Kirkwood, founder of the popular Facebook page Cockburn Chat, informally asked members what they thought of Mr Lang’s proposal, and found 38 were against redrawing the borders, and 5 in favour.
“I can’t believe they keep giving this man air time”, Ms Kirkwood told the Herald.
“My stance is hands off Cockburn!”
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM