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Fees up in Fremantle

A DECISION this week by the City of Fremantle to increase alfresco licence fees has left the door open for restaurateurs and business groups to devise an appropriate fee structure.

While expected, the fee hike is less than half of what was proposed.

Last week, WA Business News reported that the city had proposed doubling alfresco fees, from $135 per table to $270 per table, but met strong opposition from restaurateurs and the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce.

At last Monday’s meeting the city agreed to an increase of only 20 per cent.

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce executive director John Longley said while the decision by the city was a win for small businesses there was still more work to be done.

“The city had reacted to the outcry to doubling the rates,” he said,

“A formula was discussed based on the cost recovery of an officer’s time in monitoring tables and a percentage of gross rental value.

“While the chamber supported the concept, in the end the formula wasn’t right. It would mean some restaurants would have a 10 per cent increase and on the other end some would have 86 per cent increases.”

Mr Longley said that the chamber would continue to discuss the matter with council to deliver a fair and equitable fee structure for the future.

“The chamber thinks a 20 per cent increase is still a big increase; we thought 10 per cent would be sufficient,” he said.

“But we have a year to get a system in place with the city.”

Northbridge restaurateurs are hoping to win a similar reprieve and after a meeting with City of Perth Lord Mayor Peter Natrass are significantly closer to reducing the costs recently imposed.

The City of Perth recently sent out renewal fees, representing an increase of 375 per cent in four years.

About 20 restaurateurs gathered at Mal Bennett’s Mamma Maria’s restaurant seeking to change the City of Perth’s alfresco dining policy.

Dr Peter Nattrass, director of service units Garry Dunne, and several councillors attended the meeting to listen to various concerns, which included the excessive rise in fees, the use of car bays and other details they feel are impeding their businesses.

Dr Nattrass has said he would not impose this year’s fees until the matter was resolved, but warned that submissions should be made by individual restaurateurs at the consultation phase.

“When you have a public consultation for three years and there are 120 operations and only 12 responses you don’t assume it’s a big problem,” Dr Natrass said.

“If we’ve got the fees wrong then we need to do something about it. You ought to get together and put in a submission … if you do that I will get it reviewed and I can almost guarantee that it will get changed.”

The restaurateurs also raised issues over the fees and usage of car bays, and the boundaries of the alfresco areas. They also called for greater flexibility in the alfresco policy.

Restaurant owner and Restaurant and Catering Industry Association of WA president Harry Ferrante said he would put together a document outlining the restaurateurs’ concerns to be put to the council.

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