FREMANTLE Residents Against Illegal Camping are a grassroots group who’ve been campaigning against the wall-to-wall campervans that are taking over South Fremantle for a couple of years. They took exception to our recent story about efforts the council it taking to kick the campers out, saying it painted the City in a better light than it deserves.
A COUPLE of weeks ago the Herald ran a story about the action the City of Fremantle was taking (or actually not taking) against illegal campers at South Beach.
The article appears to claim that the FCC were the ‘good guys’ and were actually doing something about the many illegal campers at South Beach.
Fremantle Residents Against Illegal Camping, a local action group, has a different story to tell.
FCC are in fact the ‘baddies’ who have refused to act against the illegal campers for many years.
Residents have made many hundreds of complaints over this time with no real effect.
The problem with the illegal campers peaked over the 2022/3 Christmas and New Year period.
On most days there were over 100 illegal camping vehicles in South Fremantle, with over 50 at South Beach and Wilson Park, 30 to 40 along Mews Road and Marine Terrace, and many others scattered around the area near parks and in side streets.
Over the last three years Fremantle residents have had to put up with illegal campers who camp for many months in the area and refuse to move.
The campers toilet in a public manner anywhere they choose, are disruptive of normal use of South Beach, are aggressive towards residents, are noisy, stop Fremantle residents from parking at the beach and have been seen to deal drugs.
The illegal campers do not contribute socially, economically or culturally to the Fremantle area, yet they are able to take advantage of the South Beach facilities provided at the expense of the ratepayers.
They use the FCC-funded Cat Bus, have their rubbish (including drug paraphernalia) cleaned up on a daily basis by concerned residents and FCC contractors, bins cleared by council, freely use the showers and toilets, allow their dogs to roam freely and generally make the area their own where others are excluded.
In contrast, residents and businesses have to pay for these services.
Residents also have to pay an annual fee to park outside their houses but the illegal campers stay and park for free as long as they like and where they like.
Unfortunately illegal campers do not even contribute to our local businesses.
Businesses such as the South Beach Café and the South Beach Sauna have to pay dearly for the right to operate at South Beach.
FRAIC has talked to the neighbouring local government authorities about illegal camping.
In contrast to FCC, they are proactive in that they all act quickly and decisively on illegal campers, their rangers are on duty for longer hours and they act in areas outside their CBD, they move illegal campers on, involve the police when necessary and issue tow away notices to people who will not move.
As a result they do not have the ever increasing problem as does FCC.
Recently, when there were over 40 vehicles illegally camping at South Beach, there were only two vehicles, in total, illegally camping at the three City of Cockburn car parks.
These are within a kilometre south of South Beach, are close to the beach, and have the same amenity as South Beach.
Clearly there is a difference between the City of Cockburn’s policy and practices on illegal campers and FCC’s policy and practices.
FCC have trotted out excuses for years for not acting on illegal camping that are worthy of ‘Trump’.
Their list includes: They cannot act because they do not control certain properties, they do not have powers under the Caravan Park and Camping Grounds Act 1995, that the Port Authority or Railways or gas pipeline or some other imagined agency are responsible for certain areas.
The misinformation continues with claims that they do not have enough staff, that they do not have a legal right to act, that the police will not support them, their staff are scared, and it is just too hard.
In contrast to FCC, FRAIC has worked hard to raise the issue with FCC over three years using all reasonable channels to try to get action with little effect.
FRAIC has recently gained the support of local MP Simone McGurk in their efforts to get FCC to do something about the illegal camping.
Her staff have been able to sort out the land ownership issues and get the responsible agency to agree to lease the land at South Beach to FCC.
An offer yet to be taken up by Council.
They have got FCC to put up signs at South Beach that threaten to act on illegal camping but FCC has not chosen to enforce the threat as yet.
They have also been able to get the Fremantle district police to assist the FCC rangers with enforcing the illegal camping laws and regulations.
We are wondering why it has taken the involvement of the local member to get some action.
The failure to act by the FCC on illegal camping in South Fremantle is reminiscent of the chaos that occurred at Pioneer Park, in the centre of Fremantle, with a homeless people’s camp during Covid.
The state government again had to step in and sort out the problem.
So as you can see the facts of the matter are very different to the way FCC has chosen to depict its role in addressing or in fact actually not addressing illegal camping at South Beach and South Fremantle generally.