THE new balance of power at Perth city council is leading to change, with the council voting through a previously-stymied plan to cut alfresco fees.
This week councillors reduced the fee charged to restaurateurs for setting up an alfresco from an average of $140 per square metre, to a flat rate of $40 per square metre.
The move will result in a revenue loss of $217,000.
It was the first council meeting with acting lord mayor Jem ma Green in charge, while Lisa Scaffidi has stepped down from her duties awaiting an appeal over her suspension.
It was also the first full meeting for councillors Steve Hasluck and Lexie Barton.
Cr Reece Harley has been pushing for the council to completely scrap the fees for a couple of years now, arguing alfresco dining makes the city more lively and they shouldn’t be discouraging it.
It was also raised as a priority at the recent “Perth City Summit” consultation forum, organised by Perth Labor MP John Carey.
But at last June’s meeting the fee reduction was voted down by Ms Scaffidi and a majority of councillors.
Cr Harley said he’s happy with the result but “I’m going to keep pushing for abolition, it should be set at a rate of zero.”
The renewal period’s also been changed from annual, to every three years.
“At the moment people have to submit it every year and our staff have to review it every year,” Cr Harley says.
“It’s costing everyone time and money, so extending that up to three years is a huge win.”
The amount of space that has to be left for pedestrians between the shop and the alfresco has been cut from three to two metres, and diners will now be able to have a drink outside while standing (provided the liquor licence allows it as well).
City businesses got more love on Tuesday night with councillors voting for free parking in some city carparks after 4pm in the two weeks leading up to Christmas.
Cr Green says “Free parking from 4pm in selected car parks from 15 to 24 December will also encourage people into Perth to shop, enjoy the Christmas Lights Trail or simply rediscover bars, restaurants and entertainment venues.
“We know small business has been doing it tough due to recent global economic conditions, and these measures can be implemented to help stimulate the economy.”
A selected free-parking trial had been something councillors James Limnios and Harley had pushed for in the past, but were defeated by the former council line-up.
by DAVID BELL