Club strips centre bare

FREMANTLE council has been asked to investigate why the North Fremantle Bowling Club “stripped” its Thompson Road clubhouse bare after losing its lease.

Branded “unwelcoming” and “exclusive”, the bowling club was ousted after a petition was lodged in September 2021 urging the council to move it on so a more community-friendly club could take over. As a result, the council opened up the lease to a competitive process which was whittled down to two proponents.

In an email to members, North Fremantle Community Association convenor Gerard MacGill described the bowling club’s departure as being “like a defeated army leaving ‘scorched earth’ behind them, stripping the premises of every moveable asset”.

Mr MacGill has made an urgent submission to the council “diplomatically demanding” it look into this situation, fearing not all of the $50,000 worth of assets he believes have been sold off actually belonged to the club.

The items sold off via an online auction included bowls, lighting and sound equipment, bar supplies and even the portrait of the Queen.

Under the Associations Act, any items sold must be passed on or gifted to a similar incorporated body. 

The Herald attempted to contact the former club’s executive Henry Wauchop but after querying how we got his contact details he hung up.

The council was expected to announce the successful bidder for the new lease at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, but there was further drama when the staff recommendation was ignored and the decision handballed to a committee so councillors could get more information about the two proponents; North Freo Bowlo and the North Fremantle Social Club.

Blindsided

That clearly blindsided North Freo Bowlo members, who’d been the staff recommendation; earlier in the day they’d also been spotted taking victory photos at the clubhouse in their bespoke t-shirts.

The council has urged the two clubs to try and work on a joint proposal, though a NFSC member later told the Herald some of the Bowlos seemed a bit touchy on that subject: “I just don’t think they expected us to fight back,” he said.

NFSC later issued an official statement: “The North Fremantle Social Club are very excited to establish an inclusive community space at the former North Freo bowls club.

“We are very open to collaborating with any other applicants as well as the broader community. We wish to create an inclusive space for everyone to work together positively.”

The council barely touched on the fire sale of club assets, with only councillor Bryn Jones confirming a public online auction of the property had taken place, while Mr Mr MacGill says whoever is successful “faces a big task when they open the doors to find the empty cupboard before them”.

by ISABELLA HOLLAND

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