Society olive branch

FREMANTLE mayor Brad Pettitt has extended an olive branch to the Fremantle Society, after a prolonged stoush over heritage and the Kings Square redevelopment.

Dr Pettitt has written to society president John Dowson, offering to hold regular face-to-face meetings in a bid to diffuse tensions.

“It would be good to have a more constructive dialogue and I’m hoping by starting these meetings in the new year we can achieve that,” says Dr Pettitt.

Tensions spilled over this week when the society, in cahoots with the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association, tabled a no-confidence motion in the council at the annual electors meeting.

“The financial analysis provided by the city’s auditors suggests that the city’s assets may be deteriorating at a greater rate than spending on renewal or replacement,” read the joint statement.

“It states that the city’s ability to service debt out of its uncommitted or general purpose funds available from its operations, is limited and declining.

The two organisations said this was a concern given the council committing $50 million towards a new admin building, requiring further debt.

The motion, and another to not accept the annual financial report because of the omission of key information surrounding asset renewal investment, were defeated.

On another front, the society has written to city ward councillor and Pettitt ally Simon Naber asking him to resign, saying his absences from council meetings and committees this year has meant residents weren’t properly being represented.

But Mr Naber told the Herald while he’d done some travel for his work, he felt making it to 8 out of the 12 council meetings was acceptable and he wouldn’t be taking up the society’s recommendation.

The society is also calling on the council to extend the public comment period on the latest development application for the Kings Square project, covering the old Myer and Queensgate buildings, saying Christmas holidays means people won’t get adequate time to consider them.

“The only consultation on the plans was a 30-minute session just before Christmas with a set of plans lying on a table,” Mr Dowson complained.

“When I was there, only two members of the community were in attendance, one of them being a councillor’s wife.

“The mayor and council regularly put out lavish videos to promote themselves, and 100,000 copies of a magazine promoting their activities, but it cannot hold a proper workshop for a project that will involve the majority of the ratepayers’ assets being sold.”

by STEPHEN POLLOCK and STEVE GRANT

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