THE Fremantle Society and Fremantle Inner City Residents Association face being kicked out of Fremantle council’s precincts system.
The council has drafted a precincts policy which leaves no room for “virtual precincts”, which is how the system was originally established in 1997, meaning the society and FICRA will lose the $850 the council has provided each year for admin support.
Slap in the face
Fremantle Society president John Dowson says the new policy proposal is a “slap in the face”.
He reckons its payback because the society has been vocal in its criticism of council decisions, particularly under current mayor Brad Pettitt.
“We are not trying to pick fights with the council, we are trying to get good results.”
“We believe that we do a valuable job and we would like that to be recognised by the council,” he said, adding his members’ combined expertise was greater than the council’s.
Mr Dowson says that without the council support, the society would have to increase membership fees.
FICRA convenor Maryrose Baker says it’s great the council’s reactivating the precinct system, but like Mr Dowson reckons her organisation has had a “special value” in representing specifically residents’ perspectives since being co-opted into the system in 2006.
“Businesses in the city precinct are already well represented by the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Improvement District,” Ms Baker said.
“It would be undesirable if the representation of the views of the residents was discounted because it was swamped by the businesses.
“Hopefully whoever continues representation of the (City) Precinct will maintain it with objectivity, independence and vitality as FICRA has always done.
Fremantle’s precinct system was established to encourage people who work, study or live in the city to participate in the decisions of the council.
Under the draft policy there would now be 11 groups, including: Arts Centre, City, Hilton, O’Connor, South City, White Gum Valley, Beaconsfield, Gibson Park, North Fremantle, Samson and South Fremantle.
The council’s governance manager Charlie Clarke said the draft policy was up for consideration at this month’s Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee meeting and is seeking authorisation to advertise a draft policy for public comment.
“The draft policy is not intended to prevent any group from continuing to meet, but simply to provide greater clarity in regard to the city only funding groups that are both geographically appropriate and offer free membership and attendance for all,” Mr Clarke said. “No decisions have been made.”
The proposed policy will be subject to a public consultation period of 28 days before being finalised.
by ALICE ANGELONI