A PETITION opposing a small bar at 10 High Street has had 565 signatures in three days.
Many of the signatures are from patients or former patients of the psychiatrist clinic next door, which will close if the bar is granted a liquor licence.
Psychiatrist Kevin O’Daly runs the practice and specialises in treating drug and alcohol-affected patients, some in states of “crisis”, and says his clinic cannot operate with a boozer next door.
Many patients attempting to stay sober currently have to be dropped off outside the clinic, or walk down Phillimore Street from the train station to avoid the gauntlet of bars.
A petition started by Felicity Holroyd calls on the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor to reject the liquor licence for 10 High Street.
A testimony from one of his patients reads, “Dr Kevin O’Daly, my psychiatrist, a man who saved my life and undoubtedly has saved countless others, is at risk of being forced out of his office in Fremantle because a pub is to be opened next door.
“This is especially concerning considering that many people with mental illnesses turn to alcohol and substance use to cope.
“It takes a lot of effort to stay sober and resilient.
“I don’t want everyone to know about my business but this is so important I want to share it.
“This man is the reason I survived severe mental illness and can now contribute to society…hundreds of patients like me are seemingly being swiped aside so people can have a beer and chill.
“I think there are already plenty of places to go to do that.
“Places that aren’t next door to somewhere where people like me like to quietly attend and keep our business to ourselves.”
Petitioner Suzanne Baker said “Dr O’Daly saved our daughter’s life”.
Many were similar to the sentiments of signatory Rebecca Weldon: “Mental wellness is so much more important than another bloody pub in Freo.”
Submissions to the department closed June 16.
THE people behind the 10 High Street bar proposal have responded to our coverage, with one of the applicants Greg Leaver penning this letter on their behalf:
“You might of heard about our plans to set up a small bar on High Street. The idea is to create a ‘little sister’ venue to our small bar around the corner in Nairn Street, Strange Company. We have received a lot of positive feedback about the proposal from locals including residents in the West End and from the City of Fremantle. People are telling us that this is exactly the way they want to see the hospitality scene evolve in Fremantle—high-quality venues with a focus on people and conversation.
“There has been fierce opposition from our neighbour next door, Dr Kevin O’Daly. We’ve offered several times to sit down with him to see if we can work out a compromise but unfortunately he has declined so far.
“Instead he has chosen to try and mobilise the community and the media to support his view by exaggerating the scale and impact of what we’re trying to achieve.
“So, let’s get the facts straight on this small bar:
• It will be small, in fact the smallest bar in Fremantle by a long shot with a capacity of only 50 guests, opening from 5pm until midnight, five nights a week.
• It will be mellow with a friendly and welcoming vibe.
• It will be food focused with plenty of seating, table service and food available at all times.
• It will be quiet with only low-level background music at a conversational level and will have state of the art acoustic attenuation to stop any sound escaping into the neighbourhood.
• It will be a discrete, architecturally designed basement bar with low external lighting, minimal street signage, and a curtained front window with a closed front door. Unless you know it’s there you will blink and miss.
“The doctor has described a supposed threat the bar will pose to the safety and wellbeing of the clients of his psychiatric clinic.
“So how reasonable is Dr O’Daly’s objection? He moved his practice into High Street two years ago. At that time there were (and still are) seven licensed venues on High Street. That includes a licensed restaurant directly across the road, and two bars within a two-minute walk down the road. It seems walking past these venues is not a threat to the well-being of his patients but walking past our discrete bar would be.
“Do psychiatric clinics require sound proofing from the real world or is Dr O’Daly overstating the situation?
“If he is worried about living next door to a bar, this also needs to be made clear so we can sit down to discuss this as well as his other concerns.
“Polarising people is never a good thing. It seems in his opinion, we can either care about mental health or we can have bars, but I think we’re tolerant and smart enough to do both. Like most of the community, we are concerned about mental health issues in our town and support the availability of health services to everybody.
We understand being in central Fremantle involves a mix of uses and people. We want our bar and Dr O’Daly’s practice to co-exist harmoniously. It’d be great to do this collaboratively – so if you’re reading this Doctor, take a break from your campaign and come talk to us!”
Dr O’Daly responded that he’d already explained why he couldn’t operate his practice next to even a small bar, and said “our sole concern is our patients’ wellbeing”.
by DAVID BELL