No love for Cockburn

Less than a year after the City of Cockburn successfully protected its boundaries from the threat of state-backed local government reform, there has been a fresh push for North Coogee and Hamilton Hill to become part of Fremantle.

Campaigners behind Greater Freo argue people in these suburbs identify more with Fremantle than Cockburn and are more inclined to visit the port city than shops and facilities in their own council.

Greater Freo convener Adin Lang, of Hamilton Hill, said he realised there was support for the idea during an unsuccessful campaign to win a position on Cockburn council last October.

“Fremantle is a community of interest for me and others in these areas,” he said.

“I use Fremantle’s pools, beaches, I shop there, my doctor is in Fremantle and I go to restaurants there. It’s nothing against Cockburn but essentially they just empty my bins.”

Campaigners need 250 signatures for the Local Government Advisory Board to consider the proposal.

They have collected about 100 so far.

Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said the City was against any change to its boundaries.

He said the recent failed reform cost millions of dollars and placed enormous stress on local government employees working in a climate of uncertainty.

“Many members of the community have already expressed outrage about the proposal saying they are happy to continue as Cockburn residents given the diverse range of services offered… adding that if they wanted to live in Fremantle they would move there,” he said.

He said a growing number of people were avoiding Fremantle due to parking fees and a lack of shopping options, with an increasing number of Fremantle residents using Cockburn facilities, recreation opportunities and entertainment.

Mr Howlett said that included Coogee’s Eco Shark Barrier, plus the City’s free concerts, cycle path network, cafes and restaurants.

“The list goes on and on,” he said.

While the City of Fremantle is not actively seeking boundary changes, Mayor Brad Pettitt said his council’s position throughout the recent failed local government reform process was that Hamilton Hill and part of North Coogee should become part of a new larger City of Fremantle.

“This position hasn’t changed,” he said.

Mr Lang said added rates from a further 18,500 residents could reinvigorate Fremantle.

“I don’t like the argument but people do talk about Fremantle being tired. We think that with a larger rate base it can be a great regional centre,” he said.

“It’s a centre that people from all over Perth and the world come to but it’s surviving off a small ratepayer base.

“The bigger picture is that we want to make Freo greater.”

Dr Pettitt said it was an overstatement to say Fremantle’s rate base is tiny because there are a significant number of commercial and industrial properties within Fremantle.

Coogee Beach Progress Association president Geoffrey Sach said he found Mr Lang’s comments about people identifying more with Fremantle than Cockburn unusual because the opposite was true during the failed local government reform.

“If they are looking at a greater Fremantle, why wouldn’t they look to East Fremantle?” he asked.

Hamilton Hill Community Group president Maureen Fisher-Sim said more information was needed before a decision is made.

“We’ve got a diverse community and there are many factors involved,” she said.

“We’re open to listening and we’ll make a decision based on the opinion of the general public.

“But we need more concrete information about the proposal before we can do that.”