Campaign rakes over financial pain

A FORMER Fremantle councillor says it’s “gross” that his personal financial woes have been dragged into the city’s elections.

Tim Grey-Smith, who represented city ward from 2009 to 2013, had a $17,125 debt he owed to the council forgiven in August, after its lawyers advised the money would be unrecoverable because he went bankrupt in 2016.

But with Mr Grey-Smith having been a former ally of mayor Brad Pettitt and city ward candidate Rachel Pemberton, her opponents John Dowson and Julie Morgan pounced on the write-off as inappropriate.

Mr Dowson posted to the Fremantle Society’s website and Facebook page, criticising the move as “deals for mates”, while Ms Morgan queried why the council hadn’t worked out a payment plan for Mr Grey-Smith and whether committees that Cr Pemberton sat on had done their due diligence before signing leases.

• Former councillor Tim Grey-Smith with mayor Brad Pettitt and councillor Rachel Pemberton. File photo

Mr Grey-Smith said the attacks were “really gross and personal”, and it was unfair “for my personal life to be used as collateral in someone else’s campaign.

“It’s stressing me out … it’s stressing my wife out, too.”

The former councillor said the debt was accrued when he leased a third-floor office in the Queensgate building from the council between July 2015 and June 2016 to run as a shared office space. At the same time he also operated a soup kitchen downstairs on a peppercorn lease.

Mr Grey-Smith said issues with the leaking building plus the uncertainty of pop-up leases made it difficult to sub-let the space.

A council spokesperson told the Herald it hadn’t been able to offer longer leases because it was about to settle the sale of the building with its redevelopment partner Sirona Capital.

Mr Grey-Smith, whose bankruptcy was discharged in April this year, said despite the online gossip only the Herald had contacted him to get his side of the story.

by JUSTIN STAHL

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