Respectfully unhappy South Beach seniors air grievances

A well-attended meeting of Fremantle residents and South Beach lovers, including this reporter, at 8 am this morning gave the Mayor of Fremantle, Hannah Fitzhardinge, and City of Freo head honchos, the opportunity to respond to questions from a group of respectfully unhappy South Beach seniors and others driven to distraction by the City’s apparent failure to deliver on time and on budget a new toilet and changerooms block near the kiosk at South Beach.

Well, respectfully, in the main, unhappy South Beach seniors, we should say!

There were also some younger folk at the Mayor’s meeting this morning, obviously wagging work or taking a short break from their digital nomad lifestyles on South Beach.

Everything was seemingly going along swimmingly (forgive the pun) with implementation of plans to build a new toilet and changrooms block at South Beach, adjacent to the popular kiosk, until it wasn’t and the City Council decided in December 2023, to review options for the project. In short, it was going to cost too much.

The Council voted to reject the two tenders submitted to build the new toilet and changerooms block following the call for tenders in October 2023, due to the amount being significantly above cost estimates and approved budget.

Instead, City officers now have the task of reviewing the building design to address affordability, as well as investigating alternative construction methods and materials.

The City will then return to the market to attain a value for money proposal.

City of Fremantle CEO Glen Dougall said that where possible, the City will attempt to keep the project build time to the current delivery forecast.

The South Beach Reference Group gave the City comprehensive feedback throughout the design process of the changerooms with the result that the new facility was designed to provide flexible, accessible spaces that cater for multiple users,” Mr Dougall said.

South Beach will still get a great facility, but we need to re-look at the design and construction methods and seek further independent cost estimates in a building environment where materials cost significantly more than the original estimates.”

Mr Dougall said that Council understood this potential delay will be frustrating for many South Beach users. 

“We have also listened to their concerns about the current temporary facilities,” he said. “As a result of this feedback, the City is investigating the option of improving the showers and providing interim changing facilities.”

The City’s current temporary toilets and changerooms have been sited in close proximity to the kiosk to avoid future conflict with the proposed construction works.

The Mayor, Hannah Fitzhardinge, accepting the considerable frustration expressed by residents, ratepayers and South Beach users at the turn of events, then called a Q&A Session for this morning Friday, 9 February 2024 to canvass the current situation and what lies ahead.

A goodly number turned up.

The meeting was informed that the City is currently investigating amended designs and construction materials for a new facility and will issue a revised tender in due course. In the meantime, the City is responding to community feedback by improving the temporary facilities at South Beach.


Additional temporary toilets were put in place for the recent 26 January long weekend to cope with anticipated increased crowds. This was in addition to the eight temporary toilets including one with disabled access.
The objective was to avoid the challenges that occurred during the busy Christmas period when a pump burnt out due to ‘foreign material’ being flushed down the toilet. Preventative pumping was put in place at that time and the damaged pump was replaced.

A secondary pump is on standby if there is further damage, with signage giving a 24-hour number for the public to report any vandalism or malfunction of the toilets.


The City has now installed two permanent change units similar to the changerooms at Bathers Beach and located near the showers.

A third unit (two individual change booths per unit) will be constructed the week commencing 29 January and will be followed by the changeroom units being painted bright colours.


The showers have been checked to ensure they are all functioning properly and the flow restrictors, which were set at “water-smart” levels, have been temporarily removed to improve effectiveness while South Beach experiences reduced shower facilities.

The City will reinstall the restrictors upon completion of the new facility. Officers will continue to check drainage and will increase maintenance checks during the busy summer period.


Much of the demolition site has been re-turfed in the week leading up to the long weekend and the fenced area will be reduced to improve access and amenity until construction begins on a new permanent facility.

The key frequently asked questions of the Mayor at today’s session

Everyone wanted to know just when South Beach users can now expect the project to be completed, and at what cost.

The official answer to the first question is: ‘Where possible, the City will attempt to keep to the delivery forecast of the first half of 2025.’ So, 18 months away.

The answer to the second question seems to go something like this: ‘Hopefully around $3.5 m, up from around $2.7m’. We will all watch with interest to see just how close to $3.5 m ot finally is.

After the formal Q&A with the Mayor and senior execs, the Mayor and senior execs continued chatting with small groups of people.

It all seemed to end quite amicably, but there is no doubt the currently respectfully unhappy seniors and others who aired grievances this morning will be less respectful and more than unhappy should the City fail to bring the toilets and changerooms project in on time and on budget a second time.

South Beach, by the way, is a great beach. It has the most amazing demographic of beach goers and possibly the greatest number of languages spoken on a beach anywhere!

For more Shipping News stories on South Beach look here.

* Words and photographs by Michael Barker, Editor, Fremantle Shipping News


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