THE Local Government Advisory Board will hold a formal inquiry into the push to have two Cockburn suburbs brought into the City of Fremantle.
The proposal, put forward by Greater Fremantle campaigners in January, is for North Coogee and Hamilton Hill to become part of the port city. The group has argued residents in those suburbs identify more with Fremantle than Cockburn and visit the port city’s shops and facilities more often than those in their own council area.
It also believes the City of Cockburn has poured an unbalanced amount of money into newer suburbs while leaving others behind.
After gathering the necessary signatures and submitting its proposal to the board in April, Greater Fremantle campaigners received news the board would hold a formal inquiry into the push. Group convener and Hamilton Hill resident Adin Lang was pleased with the update.
“It’s the real deal now. It’s when things start to get serious,” he said.
The next step is a public hearing for residents of both councils.
But with impending changes to the board’s make-up, a date for that meeting will not be known until August at the earliest.
The City of Cockburn is against the Greater Fremantle campaign, but governance and community services director Don Green said it understood the board had an obligation to assess the proposal.
“The City will now produce a publicity campaign aimed at engaging with the affected communities and providing them with sufficient information to demonstrate why the community should join with the council in condemning the proposal and ensuring they remain within the City of Cockburn,” he said.
In May, the City of Cockburn resolved to allocate up to $50,000 to battle the Greater Fremantle Campaign.
“The funds will be utilised to pay for any direct costs associated with seeking community opinion and feedback, such as the engagement of professional pollsters and an expert consultant, if required, to assist the city in preparing its submission to the board,” Mr Green said.
Mr Lang said he was upset the City would spend ratepayer money to fight the push.
“What that says to me is that they’re taking the proposal seriously and that people want to move,” he said. “The city should have enough internal resources to develop a response without the extra funding.
“Our budget has been zero dollars. We’ve done it with volunteers.”
During the failed state-led push for local government reform, the City of Fremantle pushed to have the two suburbs in question, and their 18,500 residents, become part of a larger City of Fremantle.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt previously said the city’s position was unchanged, though his council would not actively seek the changes. Despite the board agreeing to consider the proposal, Dr Pettitt told the Gazette he was unsure how successful it would be.
“A formal inquiry is the correct process but given Cockburn has indicated it will not support this boundary change, and the Minister for Local Government has said he will not agree to any boundary change not agreed to by both councils, this formal enquiry is likely to be an unproductive use of everyone’s time,” he said.
“The community response to this proposal has been strong and while it looks unlikely to progress, it has been impressive to see it come this far.”