Option is bridge too far for many

Fellow ward councillors Robert Fittock and Doug Thompson with Mayor Brad Pettit chat onsite about local government reform. Picture: Martin Kennealy www.communitypix.com.au d404742
Fellow ward councillors Robert Fittock and Doug Thompson with Mayor Brad Pettit chat onsite about local government reform. Picture: Martin Kennealy www.communitypix.com.au d404742

‘The western suburbs are not ‘just up the road’ from North Fremantle; they’re over the top of Buckland Hill,’ Fremantle Society president Henty Farrar said, ‘whereas, Fremantle’s just over the water where the historic and cultural links to the port city are.’

The society’s Sock It, Colin campaign opposes any merger of Fremantle, East Fremantle and Melville councils when the WA government announces its reply to the Robson report into local government reform, expected by the end of this month.

North Fremantle is in the City of Fremantle and in Mr Barnett’s electorate, but a report option puts land north of Walter Place and homes north of the Northbank development in a new Claremont-based, 90,000-resident council that would be deciding on more Leighton Beach apartments and building next to the port.

Fremantle’s proposal absorbs North Fremantle, East Fremantle and parts of Cockburn and Melville in its area.

Mr Farrar said gentrification and increased real estate prices had not made North Fremantle look to the western suburbs, or Melville, for a ‘sense of place and identity’.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said excising North Fremantle would go against a tenet of reform to create communities with shared interests; port-related transport corridors already went through his council’s wards. ‘Does Colin Barnett want to really deal with a large western suburbs council about development near the port?’ Dr Pettitt said.

Cr Doug Thompson said his North Fremantle ward was safe; the Government would just merge current councils for ‘simpler’ amalgamations.

However, ward colleague Robert Fittock said he found it made ‘perfect sense’ to be governed from the western suburbs because it was likely the port would worry about having to deal with a new council.

– Last week, seven socks and a pair of legless pantyhose landed in Mr Barnett’s office.