Workers refuse to pay debt

FREMANTLE council is considering legal action against the Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club.

The dispute is over an unpaid debt of $185,000 for the construction of the Fremantle Park Sport & Community Centre.

Opened on Ellen Street in 2020, the centre was jointly funded by the city and the workers club with each agreeing to pay $1.85million towards the build by McCorkell Constructions. But on completion, the workers club refused to pay its final $185,000.

“The Fremantle Workers Club raised concerns that they felt that the city had not delivered all the agreed/contracted works as part of the project,” city officers reported.

“Further to this the FWC suggested the city had spent some of the project funds on other works through the contract with McCorkells.” 

After lengthy negotiations failed, the city appointed an independent auditor to review the works, and last week city officers reported the auditor was “satisfied that the works, costs and payments do relate to the agreed Fremantle Park Project.”

The auditor’s report will come before council this month and is due to be forwarded onto the workers club.

Workers club president Don Whittington says he was completely blindsided by the news of an independent audit.

“I last spoke to the council about this payment last March and it all went quiet – I was unaware they were doing an independent audit,” he says.

“We’ve been refused a copy of the building report and certain paperwork. It’s a very complex issue and we need more financial detail before we make a decision on payment.”

At the time of going to print, the Workers Club were meeting to discuss the issue.

The audit report was a confidential item at Tuesday’s audit and risk management committee meeting and will come before full council on Wednesday (April 27).

“The city is endeavouring to work with the Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club to resolve this matter, and we will not be commenting at this stage,” Fremantle council media advisor Tim Whyte said.

The Fremantle Park Sport and Community Centre is home to the Fremantle Workers Club, Fremantle Lawn Tennis Club and Fremantle Bowling Club.

The $4.68 million project involved the demolition of the 1950s bowling clubroom and 1960s tennis clubhouse, the construction of the new Sport and Community Centre and the installation of two new hardcourt tennis courts and a new synthetic bowling green.

The project also got $400,000 from a state government’s sport fund, $284,987 from Lotterywest, $68,121 from Tennis Australia, and a further $235,546 from the founding clubs.

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