MICHELE CORBO reckons he might have seen the future of retail in Fremantle, and it’s got him worried.
Recently a shop full of vending machines appeared at the Woolstores Shopping Centre in Fremantle, promising everything from condoms, pain killers, cans of baked beans through to phone cables.
Mr Corbo, who’s taking on council veteran Doug Thompson in north ward, says they’re a bad sign for Fremantle and he wants the council to start planning on ways to protect local retailers.
“We’re taking people out of the equation,” he says while surveying the staff-less, concrete- floored shop.
“No one is immune to this.
“Eventually there’ll be one that gives you legal advice.”
As the Chook talks with Mr Corbo, a customer wanders into the store to buy a cable for his phone. He’s attracted by the fact it costs $5 less than a convenience store, but struggles for 15 minutes to get one because the machine’s not taking any more $2 coins and there’s no staff to help.
He’s not confident enough to swipe a bank card.
Mr Corbo says he also wants the council to take a hard look at its business improvement district, saying he’s not convinced the $300,000 it sends its way every year from a special rate imposed on businesses is the best way to go. He says in the long run it might be just better to hand over some cash to businesses to convince them to stay in the city.
The former lecturer says another priority for him will be trying to convince the state government to increase Fremantle’s rate base, saying with its closest neighbours Cockburn and Melville having around 100,000 residents each, the port city just can’t compete for infrastructure.
by STEVE GRANT