Society, Markets thaw

THE Fremantle Society is holding a public meeting this week to try and drum up support to push Fremantle council into putting the lease for the Fremantle Markets out to public tender.

The Society has been critical of the council’s plans to extend the existing lease of long-time operators the Murdoch family in return for conservation works.

But there’s been a thawing this week after Mr Dowson met markets manager Natasha Atkinson, saying he gained a better understanding of some of the frustrations she’s faced.

As a result, he says they’ve agreed to help the company directly lobby the state government for conservation funds.

He still believes the lease should be put out for public tender, and says while the society would work with whoever was successful, he’d told Ms Atkinson even in a competitive process she was probably still in the box seat.

Speakers at the meeting will include former stallholder and councillor Georgie Adeane, current stallholder Warren Thomas, former Fremantle state MP David Parker and Tim Foster from GTL Enterprise who is pushing for a crack at the lease.

At Fremantle council’s last meeting, Cr Marija Vujcic submitted a legal opinion that suggested the CEO’s decision not to inform councillors about GTL’s proposal could land it in legal hot water (“Murdochs inch closer to lease,” Herald, May 27).

“As Tim Foster’s proposal was neither revealed to council nor, it would seem, properly investigated, council will be running a significant risk that decisions on the matter will be invalid and susceptible to judicial review in the Supreme Court,” the advice read.

Cr Vujcic called for the business case that’s being prepared for the markets lease to be suspended until the admin could prove it was compliant with the Local Government Act.

However her motion was unsuccessful, with a report from CEO Glen Dougal noting councillors were getting confidential advice from the City’s lawyers which “demonstrates that the actions of the City are legal and compliant”.

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