THE long running saga over a pedestrian access way between Swanbourne Street and Kellow Place in Fremantle has come to an end this month when it reopened with the addition of three solar lights.
In 2014 the owners of 10 and 12 Kellow Place applied to close and amalgamate the path to help reduce crime and antisocial behaviour after being burgled during a home invasion.
Applicant Brian Smith said police had pointed out the path was giving people easy access to their homes because it was dark and partially hidden.
“In their review of PAW’s, [the WAPC] has referred to them as access to crime and activities,” Mr Smith said.
“They are not now part of any subdivision plan because of that.”
The council put gates across the path in 2016 as part of a 12-month trial, and despite officers recommending it then be reopened, councillors went against the advice and voted to permanently close it and split the land between the neighbours.
But the WA Planning Commission ordered the council to reopen the laneway in March 2020, saying adequate lighting and better maintenance would help solve the safety issues.
It took a year for the council to install the lighting and remove the locked gates.
Deputy mayor Andrew Sullivan said the reopening wasn’t a high priority because the council wasn’t sure what it would cost.
“From memory, they didn’t get budgeted the first year because they weren’t considered a priority in what was a very tight budget situation,” Cr Sullivan said.
While the issue bubbled away slowly, Mr Smith’s role as a campaign manager for former mayor Brad Pettitt led to some social media chatter, as did his using the contested area to store his caravan. But Mr Smith said the caravan was only parked for “two or three hours” prior to being moved to a permanent position on his property.
“If you go back and check the records of the council you will find that in every instance when this matter came to either the planning committee or the full council, the mayor declared a conflict and left the room,” he said.
Cr Sullivan said Dr Pettitt never lobbied him about the access way, nor was he aware of any other councillors or staff being approached.
by CLAIRE CRAIG