Freeman a ceremony absentee

At the October 29 special council meeting, City of Subiaco chief executive Stephen Tindale first swore in Mayor Heather Henderson, who then swore in all new and returning councillors, except Cr Lynley Hewett. Cr Hewett said Mr Diggins, a former mayor, swore her in at a Nedlands cafe on October 22.

‘It is one of the freeman’s historic duties and I think he was quite pleased I asked him,’ she said.

‘I wanted him to have the honour of swearing in a councillor.’

Cr Mark Burns said he did not know whether Mr Diggins was not invited or uninvited to swear in councillors, as he had done ‘for many years’.

‘It would be my guess that some councillors were not interested in having Mr Diggins officiate the ceremony because he was, quite openly, politically involved in the election,’ Cr Burns said.

‘His actions during the election process showed him to be partisan.

‘My belief is that you cannot be the statesman of a city and head the swearing-in ceremony when you have tried to influence the outcome of the ceremony itself.’

Mr Diggins said he did not attend the special council meeting because he was unavailable. In the September 13 letter, Mr Diggins said it was ‘imperative’ that Cr Clements was re-elected.

He wrote it was ‘very disappointing to note’ that the Subiaco Business Association and its members (which include Friendlies Chemists Subiaco owner Cr Murray Rowe who ran against Cr Clements for one of two East ward seats) ‘fully support the push for development that threatens to dramatically change the fabric and ambience of our City’.

The City would not answer the Western Suburbs Weekly when asked whether Mr Diggins’ conduct during the election was related to his absence at the meeting.

‘There is no regulation requiring the freeman to perform the duty, which may be carried out by a number of authorised persons,’ a spokeswoman said.

Cr Murray Rowe said he believed Subiaco Council decided to change its protocol for the time being.