Freo, take a seat…
THE City of Fremantle has removed more street furniture from the High Street mall, to discourage homeless people from gathering there, but is that really a solution to the problem? Removing the seats also affects older people and those in need of a place to rest when walking through our city.
More people on our streets help create passive surveillance and that makes for a safer city, so removing public seats might well be counter-productive, as the vagrants will just move to the next available seats, or sit on the ground.
This is not a criticism of the Community Safety Rangers, who are doing a very good job within the limited power they have.
Even the police can’t just move on people because they occupy public seats for hours, unless they create a disturbance.
Being homeless is not a crime, but disturbing the peace is.
I fondly remember, many years ago, when a dozen of old Italian men used to sit around a tree in the High Street mall, the way people connect in the city squares of towns in southern Europe.
If we can recreate the mall into a more attractive place to meet, those who are making a nuisance of themselves will move on.
However, I do feel for the traders, who often get abused when they want people to move away from shop entrances when they open in the mornings.
Some have even been threatened with knives, and that is definitely a police responsibility.
I would also like to see much stronger action against the few drug dealers that do business on the streets during the day, without ever getting nabbed by the very few police officers on the beat in Fremantle.
That too needs to improve.
It does not help either that a few vacant shops in the mall look derelict, so time for the property owners to do something about that as well. The Manning building is fully leased, so why do other shops remain empty for so long?
Talking about retail vacancies. It is great to see so many spaces in the process of being re-activated.
I see activity in the former icecream shop next to Elizabeth’s bookshop, the Fremantle Bakehouse, Hungry Jacks, Kahuna Brewery, the Newport Hotel, the icecream shop next to the Capri, the former Roma in High Street, the new Milk Bar there, the former Istanbul in Essex Street becoming the Flaming Galah bar, and the Lone Star burger bar in the same street being transformed into a Filipino restaurant.
The Studio School has started in Adelaide Street, there is a vintage motorbike shop in Queen Victoria Street, a guitar shop in Parry Street, the Westgate mall at the Little Lane residential development is near completion, and there is a new barber shop on the Cappuccino Strip.
And a new cafe/bar will soon open in the FOMO carpark on the corner of Henderson and William streets.
The empty Dome cafe is a worry though, since it is in such a prominent location, and one trader at FOMO, the sake bar, has already closed.
The best action to help prevent businesses closing is to support them, so do as much of your shopping, eating out and entertaining in Freo and support our local traders!
A lot of good things are happening in Fremantle, but vagrants and antisocial behaviour continue to be a negative talking point for locals, visitors and traders, so is there a solution for that?
by ROEL LOOPERS/Freoview