King's Square as a Real Square
The top photo was sent in by a member, who commented:
This picture shows how easy it would have been to utilise King’s SQUARE. It can easily be visualised as having a tree shaded piazza, open air markets, fountains, seating, entertainment et al in a European style. It would have been a major, virtually cost free, attraction, for the city and the only one of any note in Australia (Yagan Sq is an architectural disaster).
Even the Myer revamped frontage could have its benefits with cafes and shops which will shortly be concealed in a concrete, windswept, canyon. And we have to remember that the production of concrete adds 8% to greenhouse gases worldwide!
The new admin centre could easily have been contained via a lease in the ‘new' Myer building or the old/new Queensgate or, if really necessary, built on the Spicer site.
We have no evidence yet that the KSP plan will work other than unsubstantiated public relations puff pieces from Sirona and Council. In the meantime ratepayers have had their rates increased by 2.9%, more than the CPI (0.9%) promised in the 2017 financial plan.
(The Fremantle Society points out to members that the breach of promise not to increase rates by more than CPI was said to be necessary to cover the cost of the new three bin system. But, the new bin system does not go into effect until the next financial year. East Fremantle, also in the scheme, has already budgeted for and paid for its three bin costs without a rate increase. What many people, including most councillors, do not understand is that once you increase rates by 2%, that increase keeps being charged for the next 100 years, because, the rates will never be REDUCED by 2% to cease charging the increase. Council has not only broken its promise, but is overcharging ratepayers.)
King's Square Finance Concern Continues
The Fremantle Society has alerted members numerous times to the precariousness of council finances by engaging a practising licensed valuer and a corporate accountant. The news does not get better. Last week The Fremantle Society asked the accountant to review the latest financial figures, and his response is below.
"Just looked at the FY17/18 draft financial statements on the website meeting agendas. The manipulation & deferral of 'bad news' continues for the loss on the expected sale of properties to fund the KSP. The expected loss of $12m for the 10 properties to be sold should be recorded in FY17/18 & not deferred until FY18/19. The council is not following normal accounting practice or its own accounting policies which states, 'An asset's carrying amount is written down immediately to its recoverable amount if the asset's carrying amount is greater than its estimated recoverable amount'. If the council would correctly book the large loss in the latest financial statements the poor financial ratios, bad news and ensuing publicity would be hard to hide from.
Also I thought the council is being sued or has significant costs relating to the repair paint work for the Arcs D'Ellipse artwork. Under normal accounting rules a provision should be made in the FY17/18 financial statements for the expected repair costs. Again these costs and bad news are being deferred."
(The Fremantle Society has discovered that the yellow lines fiasco down High Street will cost around $120,000 to repair on private property, and that does not include the cost of repairs to council's properties, another huge cost to be worn by ratepayers.)
Second Photo - the tragic loss of Majestic Moreton Bay Fig trees
The second photo above shows Hughie Edwards, Australia's most highly decorated soldier of WW2, wondering where on earth the wonderful Moreton Bay Fig tree canopy of King's Square has gone. Hughie was born in Fremantle and went to school in White Gum Valley and Fremantle Boys' School. The mound in front of him was, for over 100 years, the home to a fabulous Moreton Bay fig tree, which, along with other majestic sculptural Moreton Bays in King's Square, were removed by council because they had not looked after them.
Fearing that the remaining Moreton Bay Fig trees in King's Square may not be being currently looked after adequately, the Fremantle Society commissioned an arborist to assess the health of the remaining Moreton Bay trees. That arborist, Jonathan Epps, the only person in Australia to have passed the professional tree inspectors exam in the UK, gave us his report several weeks ago. But when we contacted council, they did not indicate any interest in receiving it, stating that they would 'in several weeks' be doing their own assessment. Why hasn't that assessment already been done, considering the devastating loss of trees already?
The Fremantle Society is heartily sick and tired of preparing professional reports in good faith at no cost to council, to see them ignored.
The report we commissioned states that two of three remaining Moreton Bay trees in King's Square need urgent intervention to save them. The arborist listed the recommended treatment.
We are still waiting after 7 weeks to get a response from council about the four Moreton Bay fig trees we offered them free of charge.
Google Maps shows the dense tree canopy of the wonderful Moreton Bay figs, even after severe pruning by council, before their recent removal. The silly Plane trees and random other pretty inserts like Jacarandas will never replace the 100 year old architectural and cohesive majesty of the Moreton Bay Figs that protected and enveloped the square. Shame on council.