FORMER Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri has launched a stinging attack on the current council, saying it’s “out of control on many fronts”.
“I have stayed out of all this to give them space … but enough is enough. I am embarrassed and distressed at where Fremantle has gone,” Mr Tagliaferri told the Herald this week.
He says his decision to speak out followed a call from mayor Brad Pettitt last week, who briefed him on the broad details of the deal cut to get the Dockers out of Fremantle Oval.
“I told him that this was politicking and not about saving money for ratepayers,” Mr Tagliaferri said. He reckons the Dockers were breaking the lease and the council could have got the oval back for nix if it had played its cards right.
But Dr Pettitt says the council had to accept the reality it wasn’t going to get the oval for free.
“Council made its decision in the best interests of ratepayers and the community to ensure the community had its oval back and that the city had an affordable option to temporarily relocate staff to later this year.”
Mr Tagliaferri also ripped into plans to redevelop Kings Square, saying it would send the city into a decades-long economic abyss.
“This Kings Square deal has disaster written all over it.”
The former mayor says the council sold Queensgate far below its real value and created an “obvious” problem with its income stream.
“It was a cash cow – they sold the family farm,” he says.
Mr Tagliaferri, who spends a lot of time down south running the Manjimup Gateway Hotel but still has a Beaconsfield home and numerous investment properties in the CBD, says the loss of parking bays through the city through the sale of Point Street, Queensgate and Henderson Street mall, will have a $6 million annual impact on local businesses because people will find parking difficult and go home.
However, the council’s city business director Glen Dougall says there’s still 5000 bays around the city and more are planned with the redevelopment of the oval and Stan Reilly site next door.
“The City of Fremantle has never seen or heard of this alleged impact on business,” Mr Dougall said.
Mr Tagliaferri said he was also furious to receive another call from Dr Pettitt this week asking for advice because the council wanted to pressure the state government about speeding up the reuse of Fremantle Hospital following the closure of its emergency department.
“When I left office, at the handover I said to Brad that the closure of the emergency department was the biggest problem facing Fremantle.
“Well, that was eight years ago – the horse has bolted.”
Mr Tagliaferri said before he left office he’d already met with former health minister John Day as well as department chief Neil Fong to look at options for revitalising the hospital, which included discussions about selling houses across the road in Alma Street.
But Dr Pettitt said successive administrations have found it hard to move the Barnett government over the hospital.
“Senior City of Fremantle staff met with Fremantle Hospital staff several times prior to the opening of FSH including the head of Fremantle Hospital David Blythe,” Dr Pettitt said.
“We had a good working relationship and the resolution of the Fremantle Oval issue gives a fresh baiss to move this issue forward to have the site properly utilised.”
by STEVE GRANT