THE North Fremantle Bowling Club has called in Clubs WA to help diffuse an internal row that has engulfed two former Fremantle councillors.
Tim Grey-Smith is the club’s current chair and, along with previous chair Rob Fittock, is facing a determined group of unhappy members and supporters who’ve tried to call a special meeting to have the former councillors kicked out.
The group has seized on a number of unexplained cash withdrawals from the club’s account to claim something fishy’s going on.
Mr Grey-Smith insists there are innocent explanations for the withdrawals, and has offered to open the books to the Herald to prove it. He says cash was taken out on several occasions when big functions were booked in order to top up the till float, and it was replaced soon after.
Mr Grey-Smith acknowledges bookkeeping hasn’t been pretty over the years, but says when he took over the place it was deep in debt, virtually defunct and no-one wanted to be treasurer.
It’s now almost debt-free.
He says the controversy has been so acrimonious that supportive committee members have been in tears, and last week they voted to ban committee member Keith Gregory from the club for 12 months.
Mr Gregory counters the meeting breached the club’s constitution and he’s had his lawyer write in, demanding answers. The lawyer says her client has been denied natural justice because he wasn’t formally charged with misconduct and hasn’t been told exactly what he’d done wrong to warrant suspension.
Mr Gregory had been elected to the committee at the club’s AGM earlier this year and lined up an acquaintance to act as treasurer. But he says as the accountant delved further into the books, he became increasingly concerned about financial irregularities and started demanding answers.
Mr Grey-Smith says this ultimately led to the accountant sending Mr Gregory information that wasn’t passed to other committee members, which was inappropriate and so he was asked to return the books.
Mr Gregory says the episode involved an ugly and unnecessary confrontation with Mr Fittock.
He says the committee is now blocking his attempts to call a special meeting to have Messrs Grey-Smith and Fittock kicked out, but Mr Grey-Smith says non-members had signed the notice, making it invalid.
Mr Grey-Smith says he’s happy that Clubs WA is coming in, as it will conduct a full compliance audit, which he’s hoping will diffuse the situation.
Mayor Brad Pettitt visibly winced when asked about the conflict, and says he’s asked CEO Graeme Mackenzie to keep an eye on it.
by STEVE GRANT