In the dark

In the dark 

I COULDN’T believe it when the City of Melville posted a public notice requesting submissions on their proposed rates to be levied for the 2023-2024 financial year, and they didn’t have the decency to inform ratepayers of the magnitude of the proposed increase. 

Rates in the dollar were shown to six decimal points, but there was no comparison to the current rate given in the notice. 

My submission resulted in advice, from an elected member, that an increase of around 8 per cent was reflected in the notice. 

That is the only number I was interested in. 

Couldn’t they have stated that up front rather than treating ratepayers as mushrooms.

Max FitzGibbon

Markets plan just dismal

FREMANTLE MARKETS director Jamie Murdoch penned a very good letter for last week’s Herald, arguing innocence in the three years it has taken to get to the production by Fremantle Council of a poorly written Business Plan for the Fremantle Markets, and innocence regarding any of the problems besetting the markets.

He wrote that I “fail to support a constructive plan to pay for and conduct the urgent works to a heritage landmark”.

It was my proposal in 2008 to council when deputy mayor that a conservation plan be done for the Fremantle Markets to guide restoration, and my proposal to put $150,000 a year from markets rent into a restoration fund for 10 years.

What on earth has happened to that money and to the heritage of the poor markets since John and Jamie Murdoch were granted the lease that year?

In 2008, in council on the night council granted the lease I spoke about the urgent works needed. I said:

“The experts have told me that $2 million is needed immediately and around $8 million needed for medium term works. This does not include desirable works such as reinstating internal timber shopfronts as existed till the 1920s in the interior southern section of the markets. The $10 million needed is needed within the next few years.

“The high level windows are rotten and patched with plastic. The roof leaks. The brick buttresses are badly eroded. The cement render needs to come off. The shop fronts on South Terrace need restoring. 

The current layout done in the 70s detracts from the character and original feel and understanding of the place and its amazing spaces.” 

But, as former MP David Parker wrote in Fremantle Shipping News: “the history of the Fremantle Markets is one of frequently promised, but rarely if ever undertaken, substantial remedial work.” 

The Fremantle Markets Business Plan put out by council last week for public comment is a dismal, defective document that Mayor Fitzhardinge and councillors (except Crs Camarda and Vujcic) should be ashamed to have let through.

It does not, as Mr Murdoch pretends, have a “constructive plan” for urgent works that are now very long overdue. 

In fact it mentions, for example, fire extinguishers, electrical cables and bollards – stock standard m

aintenance items hardly likely to give us back the markets in their full glory as we were promised. 

And the promised funding from the Murdochs for necessary works? 

A vague “up to $3 million” is mentioned, less than half that proposed by the company GTL that seeks to make an offer, but is not allowed by this current process.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

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