FREMANTLE traders away from the Cappuccino Strip have had a win against road closures, with a council report backing their claim it cripples their businesses.
The council enthusiastically backed restaurateurs who initiated a trial closure of the strip last April, kicking in $10,000 to help them expand their alfresco areas and provide entertainment.
But business owners in surrounding areas say trade nose-dived because potential customers got stuck in traffic snarls and turned away from Freo.
A staff report to this week’s finance and policy committee meeting found the closures failed to attract more people into the city and merely concentrated them in the strip.
Clint Clarke from Port Jarrah Furniture initiated a petition of 69 businesses which prompted the review and delivered a passionate speech at Wednesday’s meeting.
“Freo is quiet during the week and businesses rely on that 12-5 trade on a Saturday and Sunday to survive,” he told the chamber.
“The city has to be equitable and not just look after the cafes on the strip; it’s not all about people enjoying a parmigiana on the bitumen.”
Mr Clarke later told the Herald he was angry councillors kept harping on about the wonders of Copenhagen and seemed to be trying to recreate it in Fremantle.
“Copenhagen has a population of 800,000 people in the city, and last time I looked Fremantle had 32,100 – they’re not the same,” he says.
Following his speech councillors adopted a staff recommendation that future event organisers be obliged to prove they’ve got broad business support for a closure, which would also need a council vote before going ahead.
The measure wouldn’t affect council-run events such as the Fremantle Festival or existing events such as the Blessing of the Fleet.
Mr Clarke says the traders accept the regular festivals are an important part of Fremantle life, but says customers won’t return if they’re forced to march more than a kilometre to shop merely so some greedy cafe owners can cash in.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK and STEVE GRANT