A HIGH Street property owner has urged Fremantle council to stick with its Business Improvement District.
The BID is under yet another review by the council before getting its annual funding from a differential rate applied to CBD businesses, and Shane Braddock says he’s been getting vibes that it’s future is far from certain.
Mr Braddock fears that the council’s marketing department wants to get its hand on the BID’s $300,000 to pump up its destination marketing.
“But the BID is the only organisation in Fremantle that really represents small businesses,” Mr Braddock said.
“It’s grassroots, well-managed and has put on some great events.”
He says increasing the destination marketing might bring tourists to Fremantle, but that won’t benefit small retailers aiming at a local market. He says already tenants in his building are finding trading conditions tough, with the exception of a cafe.
Mr Braddock says he noticed while visiting family in Croatia that there’s been a big kickback against tourists across Europe, with locals fed up with poor behaviour and losing their retailers to trinket shops.
Florence’s mayor Dario Nardella went as far as to order council staff to hose down the steps of the city’s famous churches at lunchtime to prevent litterbug tourists from sitting down for the lunch.
Mr Braddock also wants to see Fremantle cracking down on temporary accommodation provided through services such as Airbnb, saying it will limit residents in the CBD, putting more pressure on retailers.
Mayor Brad Pettitt says Mr Braddock’s got valid concerns, and concedes that one of the options being tossed around in council was for the marketing department to get the BID funding.
He says there is a lot of pressure on the council to increase its destination marketing, but no decision has been made about the BID yet.
Dr Pettitt said a survey would be going out within a week or two to gauge the support for the BID from local businesses.
“I have been a big fan of the BID and an advocate, but we have to look at what’s working and whether the current model is what’s best for the city,” Dr Pettitt said.
“We don’t want to be a tourist town, but if we can get people here seven days a week, including more tourists, that would be good for the city.”
BID chairman Karl Bullers says he hasn’t picked up any indication the council was looking to wind the organisation up, but acknowledges it attracted controversy during its first year.
He says part of its problem was the lack of a CEO, but now local businesswoman Nicci Workum had taken up the role in a part-time capacity, the BID was in a good position to move forward.
“One of the things that we haven’t done very well in the past has been to sell ourselves.”
by STEVE GRANT