CEO in council sights

East Fremantle chief executive Stuart Wearne and Mayor Jim O’Neill.
East Fremantle chief executive Stuart Wearne and Mayor Jim O’Neill.

Behind closed doors at the August meeting, the Town rescinded a May decision that committed Mayor Jim O’Neill and Mr Wearne to discuss the performance review process.

That earlier decision had been made amid a deterioration in the relationship between Mr O’Neill and Mr Wearne with accusations by Mr Wearne that the mayor had not acted in good faith.

Mr Wearne also had six month’s leave approved by the council last month, which he will take shortly after it is expected the Town’s future will be made clear by the Local Government Advisory Panel.

The leave will extend from September 16, 2014 to March 12, 2015, during which Mr Wearne will be replaced by Gary Clark.

Meanwhile, Mr O’Neill has been unable to answer claims that the space available at the Town depot was insufficient and unsecure, forcing vehicles to be stored at the private residences of Town staff.

Mr O’Neill said he had no knowledge of any problems at the depot nor of multiple Town vehicles being parked at private properties.

He said he awaited a response from Mr Wearne, which had not been forthcoming in more than a month.

The relationship between the two men has been rocky for much of the year, with a war of words erupting over a review of Mr Wearne’s contract in May and a stoush at the June council meeting over his accrued leave entitlement, which led to the minutes secretary becoming so upset she left the room.

The Town’s previous resolution was to manage the financial implications of the accrued leave when the Town was amalgamated, essentially putting the cost into the hands of the City of Fremantle.

However, councillors rescinded that decision in June, at Mr Wearne’s insistence, so they could get an answer on the amount of leave he had accrued.

‘There is probably not any good time for a CEO to take leave but also we have obligations to the Town and employees,’ Mr O’Neill said last week.