CBD ideas shot down

TRYING to get the Perth council’s admin to support local businesses is “deeply frustrating”, says Perth Labor MP John Carey.

“There seems to be, within the administration of the City of Perth, just a complete resistance to ideas that other cities around the world are embracing,” Mr Carey said after reading the briefing agenda for the next council meeting.

He says any of his ideas, or those originating from his Perth City Summit with traders and locals, are shot down in flames.

Parklet

Mr Carey highlighted two recommendations from city staff to commissioners he finds particularly troubling: continuing an effective ban on “parklet” sitting areas in CBD car bays, and sticking with fees for cafe alfresco areas.

The yearly alfresco fee is currently $40 per sqm, with a $98 application charge. It costs some restaurants several thousand dollars.

While Perth’s fee isn’t the priciest, nearby councils Vincent and Bayswater have scrapped theirs to encourage traders to liven up the street with sidewalk dining.

In July the three commissioners who’ve replaced the suspended Perth councillors, asked staff to review the fee to see if it should be reduced. The report’s come back advising “no”.

Some councillors—Reece Harley, James Limnios and Jemma Green—wanted the fees scrapped last year but didn’t have the numbers against lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi’s majority.

The other concern for Mr Carey is parklets: the little outdoor public spaces that have replaced some carbays throughout other suburbs.

Oxford Street in Leederville had the first couple in the state.

In February, just before being suspended, Perth councillors asked staff to draft up a parklet policy so they could put a few in the city.

The report’s come back saying temporary parklets should be limited to outer suburbs because they would hinder “movement and activity” in the CBD, and it will all need a policy.

“That just doesn’t make sense,” says Mr Carey.

“How can you facilitate something when there is actually no simple policy to guide it?

“These are not ‘City of Vincent ideas’ or ‘Fremantle ideas’ or ‘my ideas’ – all the stuff that’s being done in Vic Park, Fremantle and Vincent, they’re ideas that have been taken from great cities around the world.”

Liberal bent

He said in parliament last year Perth council, majority aligned to the lord mayor, had a Liberal bent and would shoot down ideas coming from councillors Harley, Limnios or Green.

Chair commissioner Eric Lumsden says the council has to manage competing demands for space, balancing the need for safety, cleanliness, shade, the impact on infrastructure, bus lanes, clearways and businesses.

He says parklets will form part of the city’s future “Precinct Plans”.

Mr Lumsden says the $40 per sqm alfresco fee is among the cheaper rates in the metro area, and the alfresco policy has been drafted after extensive consultation, “and overall there was support.

He adds the draft guidelines make for a “simplified policy to ensure clarity for businesses and provides a framework that encourages a high quality experience which contributes to vibrancy and practicality befitting of a capital city.

“Every area is completely unique, there are no two areas, precincts, local governments or cities that are the same and the City of Perth has tried to come up with a solution which will work for the areas under its control.”

Mr Lumsden says Perth has looked at other cities and councils to develop its plans for the CBD which will be a “huge improvement”.

He said the council would review the policy after a year to see if it needs refining.

by DAVID BELL

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