Cigarette butt blamed for bushfire emergency

By Michael Sinclair-Jones

A CIGARETTE butt tossed from a passing vehicle is thought to have sparked a huge bushfire that threatened last month to destroy dozens of homes near an area devastated by Toodyay’s 2009 bushfire.

Local residents were warned to flee or get ready to fight an approaching inferno after the fire – “most likely” started by cigarette butt on Toodyay Road near Strahan Road (above) – started racing across dry farm paddocks and dense bushland towards Toodyay’s Wandoo Circle rural residential subdivision.

State fire authorities issued an emergency warning to all local residents at 5.17 pm on January 8.

“You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive – there is a threat to lives and homes in the Wandoo Circle subdivision,” the warning said.

“If the way is clear, leave now for a safer place – do not wait and see, leaving at the last minute is deadly.”

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It’s coming – our new pool is on the way

ABOVE: Frame of Toodyay’s new swimming pool entry, changerooms and administration centre (foreground), and new multi-purpose function centre behind. BOTTOM: Hole being dug for 25m pool.

WORK is well underway on Toodyay’s new $14 million Sport and Recreation Precinct, including a new 25m public swimming pool due to open by the end of this year.

The project has required heavy earthworks and blasting at the 14ha site behind Toodyay District High School.

The sport precinct consists of an eight-lane pool and aquatic centre, playing areas for hockey, rugby, soccer, netball, basketball and tennis, a multi-purpose function centre, kiosk and changerooms, and a parking area.

The shire has borrowed $4.5 million to fund the project and the rest will be paid by State and Federal grants, shire savings and budget allocations over the next three years.

 

State Solicitor receives shire inquiry report

AN OFFICIAL report on a year-long State Government inquiry into the Shire of Toodyay has been referred to the State Solicitor’s Office for assessment.

The WA Justice Department agency will decide if any part of the inquiry report should be withheld as evidence for prosecution before the findings are made public.

WA Local Government Minister David Templeman ordered the inquiry in late 2018 based on “reasonable suspicion” that the council had breached sections of local government laws and regulations.

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Toodyay gets $1m to reduce bushfire risk

 

THE SHIRE of Toodyay has secured a $1 million State Government grant to help reduce bushfire risk.

The money will be used to reduce fuel loads in shire reserves, improve fire access tracks and remove invasive weeds and grasses.

Project coordinator John Hansen said most of the shire reserves were in Coondle, Julimar, Majestic Heights and Morangup.

Fatal crash after train passes through Toodyay

By Michael Sinclair-Jones

FEDERAL rail safety investigators are examining a fatal train crash that disrupted freight and passenger services on the busy east-west rail link through Toodyay on Christmas Eve.

The line was closed for three days after a freight train ran into the rear of a stationary grain train at Jumperkine, about 25km east of Perth.

The collision occurred at 2am on December 24 after both trains had passed through Toodyay on their way to Perth.

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Council strips CEO of power to hire and fire

By Michael Sinclair-Jones

TOODYAY’S new shire council has moved to strip CEO Stan Scott (right) of his power to hire and fire senior staff without council approval.

It set Mr Scott directly at odds with new Shire President Bill Manning who proposed after last October’s elections that the council should be involved in decisions about appointments to the shire’s highest-paid jobs.

Mr Scott is due to finish in July after failing last year to secure a longer contract following a former council decision last year not to renew his contract at all.

The resignation of former Cr Craig Brook prompted an acrimonious backflip involving three councillors who did not re-contest the October election, thus costing Mr Scott majority support on the new council.

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Audit warning may affect shire budget

SHIRE of Toodyay has been officially warned of a significant adverse trend in its financial position.

The warning by independent auditors Moore Stephens (left) says key performance measurements in shire financial reports have failed to meet State Government audit standards for the past three years.

“In our opinion, there is a significant adverse trend in the financial position of the shire,” Moore Stephens auditor Wen-Shien Chai wrote in a management report addressing legal and regulatory requirements published on the last page of the shire’s latest annual report.

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Turmoil over shock sacking

MP slams ‘gut-wrenching blow’ as local ambo chief axed after raising operational frustrations at forum

By Michael Sinclair-Jones

TOODYAY ambulance volunteers are in turmoil over the shock dismissal last month of local leader Charlie Wroth (left).

Mr Wroth, who was awarded a prestigious St John Ambulance Cross (pictured) for “outstanding service” by WA Governor Kim Beazley at Perth’s Government House in April and is also a Toodyay Fire Control Officer, was sacked after allegations that he made “disparaging” remarks about ambulance service administration at a Northam emergency services forum held in July.

St John’s head office dumped Mr Wroth as Toodyay sub-branch chair, cancelled his 39-year volunteer membership and locked him out of the town’s Stirling Terrace ambulance depot that he helped build 11 years ago.

Local volunteers were not told why their widely respected leader was sacked, and Mr Wroth was “reminded” by St John that he was bound by an “obligation of confidentiality” not to tell anyone what happened.

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Ten years since catastrophic inferno

Toodyay ablaze at the height of the devastating December 2009 bushfire in which 38 homes were destroyed.

Toodyay Historical Society
Robyn Taylor

THOSE of us who lived in Toodyay at the time are painfully aware 29 December 2019 marks 10 years since Toodyay experienced a catastrophic bushfire.

According to a report on the recovery process, prepared as a power-point presentation to Fire Emergency Services Association by the local recovery coordinator in 2010, 38 homes were destroyed, more than 70 were severely damaged and another 100 homes suffered some damage.

Sheds and other structures were also lost or affected by the fire that burnt nearly 3000ha of land.

There was massive media coverage, not just across Australia but also overseas and as a result Toodyay was overwhelmed with goodwill.

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Call to dump five shire CEOs to form new Avon Valley Council

THE TOODYAY Shire Council and its neighbours should be axed to form a single new Avon Valley Council to save ratepayers’ money, a WA Parliamentary Select Committee has heard.

Legislative Council MPs were told that merging up to nine local shire councils into a single new local government authority would probably save the equivalent of all the rates paid in Toodyay, budgeted to total $6.54 million this year after a 2.5 per cent increase.

A 61-page submission by former Toodyay Progress Association chair Larry Graham (above) also called for a major rewrite of local government law, a parliamentary ombudsman to handle complaints and stronger powers for councillors to speak publicly about council matters.

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