Conflict claims spark skate park probe

The WA local government department is looking into conflict of interest claims surrounding the Esplanade youth plaza.

Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association member Eloise Dortch says government staffers have assured the group its claims the public wasn’t alerted to potential conflicts involving the skating industry would be investigated.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt confirms he was contacted by the department Thursday morning, but says the call didn’t set any alarm bells ringing.

“My sense of it is there is no problem,” he told the Herald. “They wanted to make sure skatepark builder Convic were the sole provider, but ultimately they can’t see a conflict.”

The FRRA’s claims centre on the role Skateboarding Australia’s WA manager Ben Bowring played in advising the council about the project. SA is a subsidiary of Skate Australia, whose independent board of directors includes Convic CEO Simon Oxenham. Convic had been awarded a tender of up to $1.6m to build the skate park.

Mr Bowring also runs a local skateboarding gear and clothing business.

FRRA says neither Mr Bowring nor Oxenham, who have refused to speak to the Herald, had done anything wrong but the council should have informed the public about their roles.

FRRA submitted a freedom of information claim with the council to find out whether Mr Bowring had any influence over a decision to double the size and cost of the plaza—and therefore increase profit to the builder.

It was told the council didn’t keep minutes of working group meetings, which Ms Dortch says is unacceptable and lacks transparency. Dr Pettitt told a forum this week the claims were “immaterial” as they did not influence his decision.


Leave a Reply