Resigned Bayswater councillor Brent Fleeton rules out return to politics

Brent Fleeton.
Brent Fleeton.

OUTGOING Bayswater north ward councillor Brent Fleeton bid goodbye to politics at his last council meeting last night and will now step into the next chapter of his life as a small business owner.

Cr Fleeton resigned from his position on June 23 and will wrap up his duties on June 29.

At the meeting, the council unanimously voted for the Western Australian Electoral Commission to conduct the 2018 North Ward Extraordinary Election, which will be a postal election on the proposed date of September 14.

According to an officer’s report, staff have allocated $70,000 in the 2018-19 budget to hold the election.

Since being elected in October 2015, Cr Fleeton has championed the caretaker policy ahead of local government elections, increase in KidSport funding and dog fountains in local parks, while fighting for an increase in pensioner subsides.

He labels his time as the planning and development service committee chair as the best part of his councillor reign.

Cr Fleeton told the Reporter after the meeting that his departure felt a little more real than he thought it would.

“I made a decision, I am sticking to it – it was a decision to break from politics from all forms,” he said.

“I have learnt a lot – I have a lot of respect for my colleagues even though I give them hell.

“It has been eye-opening, it has taught me a lot but it also shows you life’s priorities – you have got to take care of yourself because no one will at the end of the day.”

The former Liberal Party staffer said his business, OverArch, was based on offering services to clients in the advocacy, community engagement and campaign management space.

“There will be occasions in the future where I will have to publicly take a position against local government on behalf of a client, which makes my role here very difficult,” he said.

“I firmly believe that you are either a legislator or you are someone who lobbies – you can’t be both.

“Now, the rules state that you can be both but it never sat well with me.”

Cr Fleeton said while he did take into account having to make ratepayers vote again, his resignation was as tidy as he and the City could make it because of a councillor quarterly payment.

“If I was to wait one more week, I would have had to be paid that meeting, I did not think it was worth it,” he said.

“Also, I did not want to be partaking in a decision as important as the budget if I knew I was not going to be around, even if I was going to vote against it, I could not in good conscious sit there and go, ‘I’m actually resigning after this’.

“That is part of democracy – when you have a situation when you allow people to quit part way through, you have got to allocate time and resources to cope with that.”

Cr Fleeton said he arranged with chief executive Andrew Brien a deal for him to pay for an advanced management program in October, which he previously claimed from the City as part of his allowance.

He was $1320.45 over his $15,000 budget across two years.

He will now enjoy his Tuesday nights at his office or at home.

“I have gotten to a stage of my life where I am ready for the next thing,” he said.

“Never say never but there is no chance of me returning to the Bayswater council, there is no chance of me running for Perth, don’t worry about that.”