Coun­cil axe falls on chief

Pilbara News - - Pilbara News - Ali­cia Per­era

Shire of Ex­mouth chief ex­ec­u­tive Bill Price has been sum­mar­ily dis­missed from his po­si­tion after a closed spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing last Tues­day af­ter­noon.

Coun­cil­lors unan­i­mously voted to ter­mi­nate Mr Price’s con­tract “ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately”, based on advice from Shire so­lic­i­tors.

Keith Wood­ward, the Shire’s en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices ex­ec­u­tive man­ager, was ap­pointed act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive on Novem­ber 18 while Mr Price took in­def­i­nite leave, and will re­main in the role for the time be­ing.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive’s dis­missal fol­lows last month’s Cor­rup­tion and Crime Com­mis­sion hear­ings into claims of se­ri­ous mis­con­duct at the Shire, which cen­tred on the han­dling of a $1 mil­lion aquar­ium con­tract for the un­der-con­struc­tion Nin­ga­loo Cen­tre.

Mr Price, who was one of four se­nior of­fi­cers ques­tioned, ad­mit­ted to hav­ing awarded a Perth­based com­pany the aquar­ium con­tract with­out putting it out to ten­der and then “mis­led” coun­cil­lors by rec­om­mend­ing that they en­gage the com­pany when the con­tract had al­ready been awarded.

He also ad­mit­ted to sev­eral in­stances of mis­us­ing his Shire credit card.

Mr Price has been in­formed of the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion. Shire of Ex­mouth coun­cil­lors re­main sub­ject to a show cause no­tice is­sued by Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Paul Miles on Fri­day, De­cem­ber 9, which re­quires them to re­spond within 21 days ex­plain­ing why they should not be sus­pended for up to six months and have to un­dergo train­ing.

They sub­mit­ted their writ­ten re­sponse to the min­is­ter last Wed­nes­day.

Shire of Ex­mouth pres­i­dent Turk Shales said coun­cil­lors recog­nised they should have con­sid­ered ter­mi­nat­ing Mr Price’s con­tract ear­lier but had been tak­ing steps to address is­sues raised by the CCC in­ves­ti­ga­tion, in­clud­ing re­view­ing Shire poli­cies and pro­ce­dures and pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional staff train­ing.

“Ex­mouth Shire Coun­cil is tak­ing the out­comes of the CCC in­ves­ti­ga­tion very se­ri­ously and are work­ing hard to re­store the com­mu­nity’s con­fi­dence in the Shire,” he said.

“The coun­cil, act­ing CEO and the ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment team are fo­cused on the de­liv­ery of de­pend­able, ef­fi­cient gov­er­nance and lead­er­ship.”

North West Cen­tral MLA Vince Cata­nia said the sit­u­a­tion called for Ex­mouth res­i­dents to look at ways of mov­ing for­ward and im­prov­ing their town.

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