SMALLER COUNCILS NEED TO MERGE
COTTESLOE Cr Sandra Boulter had a telling line when her council spent several hours approving just $2 million in the first part of a relatively cheap revamp of the State’s supposedly premier beachfront last week. “If we had Federal money from our Curtin electorate member it would be a different kettle of fish,” Cr Boulter said. While there is cash in Canberra for large councils, Federal bureaucrats have long said they find it hard dealing with WA’s small councils. Just look north or south of Cottesloe and you can see what a larger council can achieve, whether it’s Fremantle revitalising Bathers Beach or the relatively new beach path from Scarborough to Mindarie through all those northern suburbs. Cottesloe had to sell its depot for the contested work at its beach, of which the now approved swimming ramp, seat, signs and sun shelters will consume a third of the relatively small $6.2 million set aside. So far, there has been no mention in Cottesloe of building the broad seaside pavements familiar in Manly in Sydney or Glenelg in Adelaide, or the clean, bright and airy public toilets which can be seen as close as Rockingham beach. The council will instead investigate making its beachfront carpark a grassed park. That’s admirable, but does not deal with the long-term problem of how to maintain and improve what is supposed to be the premier beach in Perth, to which all foreign or interstate visitors, staying with relatives in any suburb, eventually gravitate. The solution, dare it be said, is still council mergers. Just a suburb away, Claremont has healthy financial status after years of planning for mediumdensity apartments and transport-orientated development, and it can plan to spend its own money on local infrastructure. This should be the model for small towns like Cottesloe, Mosman Park, East Fremantle or Bassendean. Or bite the bullet and merge to provide the scale which can keep beach and riverfronts to a standard equal to their hype.