Fed up traders tackle vagrants

IN the quiet malls away from Fremantle’s main strip, traders say the removal of Tent City hasn’t stemmed the appalling impact of anti-social behaviour on their businesses.

Earlier this week a group of six traders from The Piazza and Fremantle Malls met and decided to take matters into their own hands; for two weeks they will take a “zero tolerance” approach and forcibly turf out loiterers.

Steve, who runs Kings of the Sun gift shop in The Piazza, said he was so anguished about what he faced every day he was prepared to face court if the traders’ heavy-handed approach went pear-shaped.

It wouldn’t be his first appearance; two years ago during a similar campaign he was charged over an altercation with someone outside his shop, but ended up with a slap on the wrist – an order to stay away from his victim.

Steve says after a couple of days they’re seeing some results from their latest campaign, but he’s expecting there may be reprisals in the form of attacks on his shop.

He says nearly every day traders have to wash faeces from their doorsteps when they arrive, but the bad behaviour isn’t just at night.

Recently he intervened in a drug deal on the piazza’s upper walkway during broad daylight and confiscated a haul of meth and needles. It was reported and the council’s community safety team disposed of the contraband, but he says the dealer was back in the area days later.

Another time he watched as a drug used sucked water from the piazza’s fountain into a syringe just as families were arriving for a mid-morning kids’ party in a neighbouring shop.

He has no doubt it was for mixing drugs, but says he was gobsmacked when police showed no interest.

“Did you know that it’s not illegal in WA to use a syringe,” he said.

Steve says traders need Fremantle council to increase its community safety team and give them more powers to act, while providing toilets after 7pm should be a priority.

Prohibition orders

“They have the power to issue prohibition orders for repeat offenders, but they don’t use them,” he says.

He also wants more police on the beat, saying they’re rarely seen in the late afternoon or evening.

Across in Fremantle Malls, The Piercing Place’s Tom Bushby says he has to bleach the walkways to rid them of the smell of urine, while a couple of weeks ago he had to take a shopping trolley with a stack of syringes up to the council’s depot so they could be disposed of correctly.

While Mr Bushby was taking the Herald on a tour of the mall’s many faeces and urine stains, another trader spotted the business shirt and virtually sprinted across her beauty salon to wrench open the door.

“Are you from the council,” she demanded.

Every one of her shop windows is covered in a mixture of scratched graffiti, vomit, splattered takeaway food and something that smelt like chewing gum. She says most of it was from this weekend.

“I’m leaving it there until I get some proper answers from the council,” she said.

Mr Bushby, who is still dealing with the aftermath of an assault outside his shop in 2014 when a brick was thrown at him, lamented the empty shops around him, saying many owners left because of the anti-social behaviour. 

He said the atmosphere wasn’t helped by a lack of adequate maintenance at the malls, with nearly every shop window covered with some gook and the stains in virtually every doorfront.

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