ROEL LOOPERS has resigned as Fremantle Society president—again—saying he intends to contest city ward at the October council elections.
The local photographer, who has quit the heritage group’s top job twice now, says the council “lacks leaders” and he wants to “make a difference”.
Mr Loopers is particularly critical of CEO Graeme Mackenzie and wants mayor Brad Pettitt to show more authority.
“In my opinion I don’t think the CEO is a great leader and that waters down to middle management and that needs to change,” he told the Herald.
“The CEO gets reviewed every year and I hope I can be part of the push to either get the CEO to perform better or we change him for a better CEO.
“It’s very well known that people on council are not happy with the performance of some of the administration.
“But I don’t want to generalise and say we have 550 duds at the council because there are some excellent staff.
“That also means we need better leadership from the mayor—he needs to be more assertive and direct the CEO better.”
Mr Mackenzie says “people are entitled to their opinions”.
“At the end of the day the council and city administration will be judged on outcomes, so that’s what our focus is and always will be”.
Mr Mackenzie says he is accountable to “the council, senior staff and external stakeholders” while the council as a whole is accountable to ratepayers.
Mr Loopers is “worried” however that the council has stopped listening to residents.
“I am very concerned about what I perceive is arrogance by the council. We take part in lots of community workshops and at the end we are completely ignored, because the outcome is already pre-determined by council.
“The city of Fremantle lacks good communication skills so it’s about getting the communication going both ways.”
Mr Loopers says the most critical issue facing the CBD is its struggling retail sector.
“We need to approach retail in the city as if it was a shopping centre or what the English call the High Street approach,” he says.
“And I would love to see an Apple Mac store in Fremantle. We have five-and-half-thousand students who all go to bars and do their shopping here. We need to find ways of keeping them here rather than them getting on the bus at night.”
The 65-year-old is confident his outspoken criticisms of the council won’t affect his working relationships with councillors if elected.
“I have great respect for what the councillors are doing and I have tried over the years not be become personal by sticking to the issues,” he says.
“I’m only going to be one of 12 people on council.”
by BRENDAN FOSTER