Targeted threat got beat cops

A THREAT from Target that it might leave Fremantle unless anti-social behaviour was brought under control helped convince police minister Michelle Roberts to order more police patrols in the CBD.

The department store’s ultimatum to landlord Gerard O’Brien came to light in a set of leaked minutes from the board of FreoNow, a small business lobby group.

Mr O’Brien’s briefing to the board about his discussions with Ms O’Brien also revealed a handful of other smaller tenants had been reconsidering their future in the port city because they didn’t feel safe.

Target was apparently concerned about the safety of its staff, who regularly cop abuse from drunks and drug users and have to deal with aggressive shoplifters.

The businessman told the Herald his conversation with the minister was meant to be confidential, and at first warned that printing negative news could hamper the city’s recovery.

But he later emailed that extra policing over the last month had “dramatically improved the environment” and was appreciated by retailers.

“Fremantle is clearly heading in the right direction with this renewed team approach and we are all now looking forward to the completion of Kings Square and the Manning Buildings,” Mr O’Brien said.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said Target hadn’t raised any particular concerns with him, but acknowledged it could be a tough area.

“There’s no doubt that Queen Street in particular can at times be a bit of a hotspot for anti-social behaviour, but the police and the City of Fremantle community safety team have been working together to address this,” Dr Pettitt said.

“I’m pleased that we’ve seen some excellent improvements in the police presence in recent weeks and I’ve had some good feedback on this from both retailers and residents.

“We will now work with the police to make sure we build on the success of recent weeks to keep Fremantle a safe and inviting place.”

Target’s public relations manager Hannah Leech told the Herald “we are not closing this store and have no plans to do so”.

Ms Leech didn’t comment on problems faced by staff.

by STEVE GRANT

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