Town considers merger options

Nestled between its two larger and richer neighbours, the Cities of Melville and Fremantle, East Fremantle is slated to be absorbed into a ‘mega-council’ that would also incorporate portions of North Fremantle and the City of Canning by the end of June 2015.

At last Tuesday’s council meeting, councillors agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding on amalgamation with the Cities of Melville and Fremantle that would form the basis for their discussions.

Meanwhile, under the Town’s budget, passed earlier this month, the new mayor’s allowance will increase from $14,000 to $24,000 to preside over what will likely be the last two years of the Town’s existence.

Former Mayor Alan Ferris stepped down at the end of June. Councillor Alex Wilson has been acting in his place.

During much discussion about the Town’s preferred course of action last week, councillors grudgingly agreed to be part of the process in the hope of keeping East Fremantle’s character and community intact.

Always present in debate was what councillors described as the ‘threat’ issued by the State Government that Commissioners may be appointed to replace elected representatives before amalgamations were completed.

However, Cr Cliff Collinson added a request that council investigate the legalities of appointing a Commissioner before the June 30, 2015 deadline. He opposed signing the memorandum saying Melville did not want to join Fremantle or East Fremantle.

‘If we started playing the game the minister will think ‘we have got them anyway’,’ he said. ‘We can lose the ability to come up with an alternative.’

Acting Mayor Wilson said despite the Town’s steadfast opposition to amalgamation, the memorandum would allow a basis for discussion between the councils, particularly if it was supported by a working group.

‘However, the Town has not ruled out aligning with the City of Fremantle in its alternate amalgamation model, which does not include the City of Melville,’ she said. ‘Like us, Fremantle is a unique community with a rare character and an absolute commitment to local heritage, so there’s an obvious and natural ‘fit’.

‘Our Town’s character, streetscapes, culture and heritage are all well aligned with those of the City of Fremantle.’