Letters: 5.10.19

Who’s to blame?
I AM writing regarding the article “What a stinker” in last week’s Herald, which highlights the plight of homeless people in Fremantle who wish to use the toilet after 7pm in the evening and are locked out of these facilities so have to resort to behaviour that people find “pretty disgusting”.
My first question is who’s behaviour is pretty disgusting here?
The person who does not have a home or a toilet to use, or the society that locks that person out of a facility that addresses their basic human need?
My second question is what is going to change here?
Elaine Hatfield-White
Via email

I have no ambitions to…
WHILE I appreciate The Herald’s attempts to enlighten its readers about the upcoming local elections, I take umbrage at the comments made about my upcoming departure.
I have never met nor spoken with the ‘Herald political contributor’ (I didn’t know it had one!) yet it seems they know me better than I do myself.
‘Displayed mayoral ambitions in the past’–really?
That would come as a surprise to mayor Brad Pettitt and my fellow elected members.
I would hope I have conducted myself in the role as a humble and dedicated representative of my community, no more and no less.
In my wildest imaginings, being the mayor of Fremantle was not something I desired or sought, so to have those ambitions ‘thwarted’ actually doesn’t hurt a bit.
Even my role as deputy mayor, which has been a huge honour and privilege, was never sought, but was bestowed on me by my colleagues.
But yes, I am moving on for new adventures and challenges after eight life-changing years as East Ward councillor.
The support from my community in the White Gum Valley and Gibson Park precincts has been incredibly humbling and I’ll never forget it.
I also take this opportunity to thank my elected member colleagues, from whom I have learned so much, and the directors, officers and staff at the City of Fremantle for their patience and support.
I have gained so much over the past eight years, and if I have made any small positive contribution to this wonderful city, then I will leave happy.
The hard work has been done and the foundations laid for an incredibly bright future for Fremantle.
(Finally, as an erstwhile journalist myself, truth and integrity are crucial to good journalism. If I am to be represented in print, please, at least, talk to me first.)
Ingrid Waltham
Deputy mayor,
East Ward councillor
The Ed says:
Thanks councillor, perhaps it should have read “displayed mayoral attributes” and your departure “thwarted your many supporters’ ambitions”.

Not fine, Mr Dowson
JOHN DOWSON, a candidate for Fremantle council’s City Ward, claims in his election leaflet there is “inner city parking chaos” which he would solve by “free two-hour parking and fines reduced to $10”.
In reality, like a free lunch, there is no such thing as free parking.
Land is a finite resource, it costs to reserve it for parking, and it costs yet more to build, maintain and operate car parks.
Will Mr Dowson acknowledge that if car drivers get free parking it is only because others are paying instead?
Those others, most likely, are local residents–business and domestic.
Where is the justice in making them subsidise drivers who choose to leave their cars all over the city?
His reduced fines proposal is, if anything, worse.
A $10 fine will not even cover the cost of its collection.
It is an invitation for cars to be left illegally almost anywhere, regardless of the cost, inconvenience, obstruction, nuisance or danger they create for others. How does that solve “parking chaos”?
Joe Boswell
Norman Street, Fremantle

Chemical warfare
REGARDING the recent Herald letters about magpies; there’s none in Coolbellup either.
We can thank the silent spring on Monsanto, council ovals, golf clubs and lawn keepers everywhere.
Magpies, ravens and galahs that feed on grubs in lawns have been poisoned.
Glyphosate–a poison by any other name is deadly.
Germany has declared a ban on glycophosphate by 2023.
Of course, by then it will be too late.
Thyrza May
Sebastian Crescent, Coolbellup

Dud debate
EVEN though the City Ward candidate’s debate was held at Notre Dame University, the place of learning did little to conjure up intelligent Q&A on local issues.
Instead many attendees used the occasion as an opportunity to voice their own long-winded opinions or worse, for some cheap point-scoring or thinly disguised personal attacks on the candidates.
A debate is an unfortunate, dunk-tank scenario to judge someone’s ability or track record, not unlike the fearsome do-or-die school exam–it’s easy to fluff a question and rue your response later.
Surely continual assessment is a far better guide; judge the person on overall performance, what they do every day of the week, their track record, their passion, their industriousness and most importantly, the opinions of those who they engage with on a regular basis.
Does candidate John Dowson lose marks for saying there is very little that can be done about Hampton Road traffic since it is essentially through-traffic to adjoining suburbs, or is that a Main Roads’ issue?
Does Cr Pemberton record a fail since the Liv Apartments have had poor sales, or is that more to do with the state of the housing market in WA?
Rather than hurling hand grenades, listen in good faith to what the individual candidates can offer Fremantle council.
Lloyd Hammond
Solomon Street, Fremantle

Ledger stoush
City of Fremantle CEO Philip St John responds to last week’s letter by Mark Woodcock (“Cash crisis?”, Herald, September 29) about the city’s investment strategy.
THE City of Fremantle is always reviewing its commercial property portfolio to ensure it is delivering the best return for ratepayers.
It’s common practice for the City to sell underperforming assets and invest the proceeds into strategic assets that would provide a better outcome for the City and its residents and ratepayers.
In the past five years the City has sold six properties and has another two under contract for sale. Five of the properties sold were considered to be part of the commercial property portfolio.
The five properties sold for a total of $41.7 million, of which $36.7 million was placed into the investment reserve and $5 million into the parking reserve.
In accordance with the current budget and Kings Square Business Plan, $29.5 million from the investment reserve will be used for the new Kings Square civic building.
The City still has 17 investment properties on its asset register with a book value of $32.7 million.
The Kings Square civic building is a much-needed project for Fremantle.
The City’s old administration centre was full of asbestos, riddled with concrete cancer and did not meet disability access requirements. Refurbishing it would have cost more than demolishing it and replacing it with a new, fit-for-purpose building which will cost less to run and less to maintain.
In addition, our new building will include retail and commercial office tenancies that will generate additional revenue for the City, and it has also been the catalyst for the renewal of Kings Square and the broader area which will see thousands more people living and working in Fremantle.
Sirona Capital would not have invested in their share of the Kings Square Renewal project if the City did not commit to the civic building and upgrading the surrounding public realm.
The Kings Square project is a fully-funded project, funded through existing reserves, the proceeds of asset sales and a $20 million loan facility from the WA Treasury. The interest rate on the loan will be fixed at the current record low level for the next 20 years. There has never been a better time to borrow funds to invest in strategic assets that will revitalise the city centre and serve the Fremantle community for decades to come.
As the MyCouncil website states, the Financial Health Indicator is one factor to consider in assessing a local government’s overall performance. Other factors include the range of services offered, efficiency of services delivered and community satisfaction.
The City of Fremantle provides a broad range of services not typical of other local governments, such as the award-winning Fremantle Arts Centre, CAT bus, verge mowing, Community Legal Service and an expanded Community Safety Team. The website also states the FHI is best viewed as a trend over time.
The City of Fremantle is going through a period of change and large scale public investment, and during this period our FHI will fluctuate.
The City is in a sound financial position. No audit report has ever highlighted significant financial challenges.
Philip St John
CEO, City of Fremantle

Election bard
WHERE have all the policemen gone,
long time passing.
40 per cent have been moved on,
long time ago.
Where have 1900 hospital jobs gone,
Freo Hospital’s not alone.
Four hundred customs jobs too, long
time ago.
Halved ratepayer assets show nil
return,
The current council we should spurn,
When will they ever learn, When will
we, ever learn.
Suzanne John
High Street, Fremantle

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