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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Council starts hunt for new CEO as shire awaits inquiry result

Michael Sinclair-Jones

TOODYAY’S recently elected shire council has started looking for a new Chief Executive Officer.

It follows a controversial backflip by the former council in July to give current CEO Stan Scott (right) a 2.5 per cent pay rise to stay another year after voting only two months earlier not to renew his contract.

The new council voted 6-3 behind closed doors last month to call tenders for a CEO recruitment consultant based on ‘scope of services, experience, personnel and pricing’.

Mr Scott was authorised to report to the next council meeting at 4pm on Tuesday December 17 with specifications for hiring a consultant to help select his replacement.

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Voters demand change

Toodyay’s new shire council at its first meeting last month: President Bill Manning (top table, second from right) next to Deputy President Rosemary Madacsi. Front table, from left: Crs Susan Pearce, Phil Hart, Beth Ruthven, Brian Rayner, Ben Bell and Therese Chitty (Cr Paula Greenway absent on approved leave). Executive Assistant Maria Rebane and Shire CEO Stan Scott are seated next to President Manning. Seated separately on the right: Shire Community Services Manager Audrey Bell and Planning and Development Manager Kobus Nieuwoudt.

New president elected as shire awaits outcome of
State Government inquiry

 

By Michael Sinclair-Jones
NEW SHIRE President Bill Manning says he is confident all members of a radically altered Toodyay council elected last month can “work together as a united team”.

His statement followed the swearing in of four new councillors after a big turn-out of local voters backed a united call for change.

President Manning and Cr Ben Bell were also sworn in after retaining their seats with a similar reform agenda at the October 19 WA local government elections.

The new-look council signals a major shift in policy direction after years of division and rancour.

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