Fremantle’s Kings Sq, Questions But No Answers, Just SPIN, SPIn, SPin,Spin

spin top

Last week we saw a resident bring months of questions to the Fremantle City Council and their failure to answer even one, brought out into the public arena.

A week later the Herald has dug into not just Kings Sq issue but COF financial forward projections, (See article SAMSON REC TO PAY FOR NEW HQ) raising even more questions on the finances behind these issue’s, it’s important to remember why the city may not be paying for something if they lose revenue streams due to the transfer/sale/loss of the fund raising asset the loss of revenue must be replaced somehow? could that be in rate increases or more cuts to services?

Some of the documents that were used to the make or build the business finances are kept confidential and have not been released to the public, despite many attempts by different individuals and groups?

Several years ago the Fremantle Society asked similar question that Mr Lee raised, so years later the COF still has still not answered these questions. The question has to be why will they not have an open transparent discussion on this issue, do they have something to hide? Why will they not release years old council minutes and attachments for public access? Why the secrecy? What’s, doing on? What don’t they want us to know?

Do they think it’s too boring for us to read, or is that we are too stupid to understand this business plan? Or is there something else behind it?

MR Lee has not questioned the fact Freo needs to develop areas like Kings Sq, he supports it. His question lay more in the realm of the documents that the COF has used to build this plans finances and the secret documents they hide from public view?

Sadly the Fremantle Council has launch an attack on Mr Lee for asking, simple questions. Is this sort of attack designed to discourage others from questioning COF decisions? Is it designed to distract or shift attention from the real questions Mr Lee asked? Is this what we expect from a body elected to represent our interests? I wonder how this looks in the light of the code of conduct the city has, which is supposed to guild its elected members in their conduct or behaviour

Here is a short extract from the city’s Code of Conduct and a Link so anyone interested can read the whole document.

PART 1

General Provisions

Scope

  1. An elected member or committee member must observe the Code of Conduct whenever he or she conducts the business of the Local Government.
  1. Where an elected member or committee member acts as a representative of the Local Government or on any other body, he or she must comply with the Code of Conduct or any relevant law.

General Obligations

  1. An elected member or committee member must –
  • act with honesty and integrity;

  • treat others with respect, fairness and equality;

  • undertake their role with reasonable care and due diligence;

  • be open and accountable to the public for their actions and the manner in which they carry out their responsibilities;

  • take account of the views of others in decision making;

  • not do anything which compromises or which is likely to compromise the impartiality of those who work for or on behalf of the Local Government;

  • uphold the law and, on all occasions, act in accordance with the trust the public is entitled to place in them;

  • conduct themselves in a manner that maintains the reputation of their office and Local Government;

 

FREMANTLE’S Mayor BRAD PETTITT and council CEO GRAEME MACKENZIE co-authors, had a great opportunity to put the whole issue to bed, the Herald to their credit allowed the city a platform to answer Mr Lee’s questions, explain the detail behind the business plan and satisfy peoples concern/interest with an intelligent answer. Instead it seems they choose to use childish bully boy style tactics and denigrating style slurs, something I wouldn’t except from my 8yr old.

What will we see unearthed in the weeks to come? If the Kings Sq project becomes a financial burden to the City how will it be funded? Are rate payers prepared to pay higher rates, so the Mayors dream can happen? How much will his vision cost the average rate payer, what will the average rate payer get from seeing the Mayors dream completed?

Seems there is lots of questions but few answers. Fremantle already has high rates and some of the biggest increases last year, what can we expect to see in rate increase over the next couple of years? Apart from diminishing amenity and services what can we hope to gain from higher rates? What’s in it for us? Is anyone actually looking out for our best interests?

This issue has been taken to the minster for LG already, the response did not deal with the issues raised, so now we see a concern MP raise these issues again in parliament. Where will it go next, perhaps with the lack of answers to legitimate questions it could be time for the auditor general to look into the issue to ensure rate payer’s best interests are being addressed?

King concerns | Fremantle Herald Interactive

King concerns | Fremantle Herald Interactive.

So we wait to see what Minister Simpson has to say?

Freoviews fremantle-city-to-bail-out-heirloom-project

Hopefully it’s because investors have come to buy up the unsold apartments?

Some of the comments on local blogs have suggested its withdrawal was due to the bad PR or image it’s attracting in the community? If you believe what councillor Sullivan claims it was due to the hard bargain the COF staff were driving, wasn’t quite what the Mayor said that night at council? As he seemed to think that that other buyers wanted to get in at list price? I don’t recall in the agenda seeing any indication of a hard bargain being driven? From what I read, I think it would have been hard for an impartial person to vote for the issue?

It’s interesting that comments in the agenda state that the city is getting a better price than current list prices, if the market is down who pays current list prices anyway? If they haven’t sold enough apartments after 3yrs to activate their finances, then that’s the market telling you they are possibly overpriced, isn’t it? I recently heard a real-estate agent state, there isn’t any problem in real estate that the price can’t fix!

Given the Mayors statement in council and Councillors Sullivans, that the city drove to hard a bargain, it would be interesting to see what deal the City was offered by Heirloom and if any, what was the COF counter offer, which I don’t recall seeing in the agenda?

It seems that a few responders on the blog did not take to heart Councillor Sullivan’s comments?

The other issue, by the Herald, that of the Councils Kings Sq Business plan being raised in parliament last week,  perhaps the Heirloom deal was withdrawn due to attention that the COF was getting from parliamentary questions?

It will be interesting this week to see if any other media picks up on this issue and where it goes considering the minister, is yet to respond to the questions?

Questions in Parliament on City of Fremantle

 

On Wednesday questions on notice were given to the Minister for Local Government in parliament, in regards to City of Fremantle’s (COF) Kings Square plan.

I wonder how long to see what response the Ministers office will have?

Interesting timing with last nights withdrawal of the request for the COF to invest in another business venture in the north side of freo, which was well commented on in Roel’s freoview blog post “Fremantle City To Bailout Heirloom Project“?

Here is the link to WA parliaments hansard on the questions.

Question On Notice No. 3834 asked in the Legislative Assembly on 25 March 2015 by Mr P.C. Tinley

Question Directed to the: Minister for Local Government
Question Directed to: Hon A.J. Simpson
Minister responding: Hon A.J. Simpson
Parliament: 39 Session: 1

Question

(1) Is the Minister aware of community concerns over how the City of Fremantle has represented the financial implications of their $45 million investment of ratepayer funds in its Kings Square Business Plan, and if so, what action has the Minister taken to address these concerns?
(2) Has the Minister directed the City of Fremantle to answer legitimate ratepayer questions concerning the Kings Square Business Plan, and if not, why not?
(3) Has the Minister conducted a full and proper investigation into the questions raised with regard to the Kings Square Business Plan:
(a) if so, what were the findings; and
(b) if not, why not?
(4) Is the Minister satisfied that the Kings Square Business Plan:
(a) accurately represents the financial implications that the $45 million project will have on the City of Fremantle’s asset base; and
(b) correctly represents the rate of return and net present value derived from this investment of ratepayer funds?
(5) Is the Minister satisfied that the Kings Square Business Plan contains sufficient detail for ratepayers and Councillors to properly understand whether this project increases or decreases the asset base of the City of Fremantle, and if so, for what reason?

Answered on

 

Fremantle Amalgamation Finalized

round about sign

Here is a direct quote from the MetroReform DLG bringing to a close the issue of amalgamation for Fremantle for now?

“Metropolitan Local Government Reform Update

 

Governor’s Orders

Local government boundary changes that were due to take effect on 1 July will not go ahead.

A notice that the Governor’s Orders have been revoked will be published in the Government Gazette on Friday.

The orders are being revoked at the request of Local Government Minister Tony Simpson following meetings with affected metropolitan local governments. The Minister has advised the councils involved regarding the changes.

City of Perth

Work is continuing on the proposed City of Perth Act which the Government intends to introduce into Parliament in the current session.

The legislation will give clear recognition to Perth as Western Australia’s capital city and acknowledge its central role in the State’s tourism and economic development.

Under the legislation, Kings Park, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, the new Perth Children’s Hospital and The University of Western Australia will be in the City of Perth.

Final Update

This is the final edition of the Metropolitan Local Government Reform Update.

The first Update was distributed in May 2013 to provide information about plans for changes to Perth’s metropolitan local governments. Since then, weekly editions have been emailed to subscribers and other interested readers with a special interest in the future of our local governments.

Thank you to all of those who have contributed ideas and provided feedback on the newsletter.

The Department of Local Government and Communities will continue to feature information about local government and related developments on its website.

You may also be interested in subscribing to the department’s newsletter, ‘connect’, for the latest information on our work in strengthening and supporting local governments and communities across Western Australia.  “

Fremantle Battle for the Burbs pt.3, Minister Leaves Merger Door Open

Tonight I have read that though the LG Minister and Premier have  declared that the amalgamation, and mergers are finished or sidelined for now and that Governors orders are to be rescinded.  I also read and I quote the ABC,

Mr Simpson has confirmed Governor’s Orders forcing council mergers would be rescinded after discussions with any council wishing to amalgamate.

“I think it’s incumbent on me as Minister to meet with those affected local governments just to clarify their position but also to meet with them to give them the opportunity, and some would possibly like to move forward with the reform process,” he said.

“We’d certainly see if we can work with them.”

Mr Simpson said a number of Governor’s Orders were cancelled by the no vote for three proposed amalgamations in Perth’s south, leaving nine orders still in force.

He said there were some councils still interested in reform.

“I had a meeting with nine mayors in the last week since the announcement last Tuesday,” she said.

“At the moment it’s very, very hot and contentious. They need a bit of time to let the dust settle.

“But there’s definitely some good synergies happening.”

Mr Simpson said mayors had told him they had benefited from the process, including improved relationships with their neighbouring councils.

He said he expected some councils to request a realignment of council areas to more natural boundaries.

But Mr Simpson declined to name which councils he had been talking with.

“I think there’s a lot that can go on the table. I don’t want to point out any of them. I want to keep working with them,” he said.

“What we’ll do is sit down with them. The Governor’s Orders are due to kick in on July 1. If they think they can meet that deadline, yes, I’m happy.

“If they see they need another 12 months, I’m happy to give them another 12 months to put that case together.”

cards deal

So if councils are making deals behind closed doors or back room deals, at what point does the the community have a say or is even informed?

If Fremantle City Council is partaking in these meetings? Are they making deals with the minister? At what point would wider electors have input into such a deal, if at all? Its now reported this could go for 12 months, so where would that leave the next election that should be in Oct 2015?

Representation?

Community Consultation?

What could we end up with and when?

Late this afternoon the LG Reform Group let out this public update.

Volume 2: Issue 14 | 17 February 2015

Metropolitan Local Government Reform Update

Future of reform rests with councils

Premier Colin Barnett and Local Government Minister Tony Simpson today provided an update on local government reform.

Read the media statement “Future of LG reform now rests with councils”.

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