Lawyers round on Freo council

• Warrens Menswear owner Sam Pangiarella is one of many traders calling for Fremantle Council to rethink its decision to remove loading zones and parking bays on Market Street. File photo

FREMANTLE businesses are set to take legal action against council over the planned removal of free 15-minute parking bays and loading zones on Market Street.

In September the city approved the removal of the bays so they could widen the Cappuccino Strip footpath to make it safer for pedestrians, but Terrace Men owner Nick Capozzi says the council hadn’t done its due diligence before making the decision.

He’s meeting with a lawyer on Friday (January 25) and says about 30 business across Fremantle have agreed to fund a legal war chest to fight the decision.

Legal war chest

“There wasn’t an official safety report done, or a survey on what impact the removal would have on businesses,” Mr Capozzi says.

“All we’re asking for is for the correct procedures to be followed before a decision is made, instead of anecdotal evidence.

“The removal will have a huge impact on traders’ livelihoods and on Fremantle locals.

“We have the support of businesses across Fremantle from hotels, restaurants and retailers to your little tobacconists.”

A 1068-signature petition opposing the removal of the bays and loading zones was acknowledged by Fremantle council at its finance committee meeting on Wednesday night (January 23).

But the chances of reversing the decision look slim, with the committee voting to “monitor any impacts to short term parking in areas adjacent to Market Street after the removal of the parking and loading zone bays.”

Mr Capozzi says the footpath is narrow because some businesses are flouting regulations and putting their merchandise too far out, and council should focus on policing that instead of taking away the bays.

Meanwhile, former Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri is suing the council over the Arc d’Ellipses artwork installed on his building at 7 High Street.

Mr Tagliaferri says he never gave permission for the yellow foil to be put on his building, which is leased by Notre Dame University at the corner of Cliff Street, and only found out about it when he saw a contractor working on it late last year.

He then got assurances from the city on the installation, which he claims have been breached and is suing the council for $50,000.

A Fremantle council spokesperson said “One property owner has initiated legal proceedings against the city, which the city will defend vigorously.”

Owners happy

The Felice Varini artwork was only meant to be on High Street buildings for two months, but because the artwork was so popular council keep it on for several months longer, and now it’s become stuck to paintwork and is tricky to remove.

The city has budgeted $211,000 to removal the yellow foil and restore the heritage-listed buildings in the West End to their previous condition, with contractors using hand-held grinders and scrapers, and sanding equipment. The final step involves repainting and blending in repairs.

“The majority of [building] owners have been entirely happy with the process,” said a council spokesperson.

“Officers also continue to liaise with representatives of the Heritage Council, who are happy with both the progress, the extent and the quality of the preparation and repainting works.

“While the difficulties with removing the artwork–and the additional costs–are unfortunate, they should not overshadow the fact that the artwork attracted thousands of people to the West End and contributed to their favourable impression of Fremantle.”

Repairs are scheduled until mid-March.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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