When I was first elected to council, I thought I could do X, Y and Z and my first election campaign was comprised of lots of promises I had no idea how to deliver. I soon learned that when you become a Councillor, you don’t receive a magic wand that lets you do what you want (or promised).
A key aspect of my job as councillor is to advocate on behalf of local residents and ratepayers to achieve what they wish to happen. I have supported many initiatives that have come from the community by putting forward their case and effectively advocating on their behalf.
To do this effectively, I learned to navigate a bureaucratic system and work within existing regulatory framework regarding what Council can, and cannot do. I must persuade my fellow councillors to support the initiative; engage with council staff and other levels of government effectively; secure any necessary budget; and engage the community to build support. Over the years, I have gotten better at doing this.
For example, I represented South Beach users when negotiating with the Department of Transport regarding changing the boating rules for South Beach (and little dog beach), successfully getting it declared a Swimming Zone that excludes motorboats.
I have worked collaboratively with the Friends of Hampton and Ord (FoHO) to help them realise their vision for a safer Hampton Road, which has informed a Masterplan for Hampton Road developed by City of Fremantle staff. This year, I secured $100,000 in the budget to improve bike lanes and pedestrian crossings between High St and Knutsford St, at the request of FoHO. See the Ord Street Concept Plan here.
“Rachel has been an excellent representative for our community. She has been responsive and helpful, has advocated strongly on our behalf and delivered results in making Hampton Road and Ord Street safer and more pleasant for all road users and residents; with pedestrian walk signals, wider pedestrian refuges, improved bike lanes and landscaping.”
Julie Murphy, Friends of Hampton and Ord (FoHO).
When community members brought a petition to council requesting that the release of balloon be banned on council reserves, beaches and property, I managed to get a local law passed to do just that.
“Late last year I wrote to the councillors within the City of Fremantle asking if they could assist me in producing a local law to stop the release of Helium balloons due to their devastating environmental impact. With no hesitation at all Councillor Pemberton was more than happy to take on the task. I was overwhelmed with the speed at which she worked; within a few weeks the first meeting was in place. These things take time, and there were several meetings after that one, but councillor Pemberton made sure I was up to date with where things were during the whole process, as well as inviting me to attend the relevant meetings if I wished. I am pleased to say that as of June this year, it is illegal to release any gas filled balloon within the City of Fremantle and if seen doing so you can receive a fine of $125,” Lisa Jane Hills, Boycott Balloons Fremantle.
I collaborated with business and property owners to upgrade the High Street Mall and create the Market St Piazza. Last year, a local resident approached me about the Council supporting Sustainable House Day. I secured funding for the event and collaborated with local businesses to create the Freo Sustainable Home Expo, which showcased local businesses and innovation in sustainable housing.
Following an approach from a local resident, I have been collaborating with community members to initiate the Friends of Monument Hill with the aim of the implementation of the Monument Hill Conservation Plan 2009 and other initiatives to maintain and protect it. A welcome outcome has been that the MHCP has been recently re-endorsed by the current Council and new interpretive signage will be developed in consultation with the Friends of Monument Hill. At the request of community members, I initiated a restrictions on flying drones at the Monument, in respect of its purpose as a place of reflection and passive recreation.
The role of Councillor is a challenging and interesting one that I love. It gives me great joy to be able to work alongside passionate and knowledgable locals who, like me, what to make Fremantle a better place.