SMALLER COUN­CILS NEED TO MERGE

Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - OPINION - Jon Bas­sett Re­porter

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.

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