Mayor’s debt burnout
THE freshly minted mayor of one of Perth’s biggest councils owes thousands of dollars to scores of ratepayers now footing his six-figure salary bill.
Stirling Mayor Mark Irwin and wife, Elise, operated Selby Health and Fitness Gym for 21 years before they were shut out of the Osborne Park premises for missed rental payments in February.
Former members are irate Mr Irwin actively advertised and accepted up-front payments for discounted 12-month contracts in the days and weeks leading up to its closure.
City of Stirling resident Linda Jarvis said she paid $450 for a year-long membership in January and that all her attempts to recoup her money had gone unanswered.
Ms Jarvis said she was shocked to discover Mr Irwin had been elected mayor by his fellow councillors after last month’s local government elections.
“As a business owner he has shown he can’t ensure everything runs smoothly,” she said. “Now he is in an even bigger position as mayor, how are we supposed to be confident he won’t run the City into the ground?”
Despite having six months left on her contract, long-time member Jacqueline Crossley decided to extend when she saw the gym advertising 12month deals at half the price.
“At the time the gym went under I had 18 months of my membership left over but at this point I’ve resigned myself to the fact I’m not getting any of that money back,” she said. “It’s unbelievable that the council saw fit to elect Mark as mayor given his track record and I’m spewing that my rates are going to his salary.”
Fellow former member Stefan Quaid said he was disappointed Mr Irwin had not fronted him to explain the situation.
“Rather than going around apologising to people and telling them the gym was going to have to shut its doors they were selling memberships right up to the day they were kicked out,” he said.
Consumer Protection spokesman Alan Hynd said the watchdog had received 77 complaints about Selby Gym seeking more than $13,000 in refunds.
“The complaints remain unresolved and Consumer Protection is continuing its conciliation efforts as well as conducting an investigation,” he said.
In an email to members five days after the doors to the gym were shut — the last correspondence many of them have received — Mr Irwin wrote he did not know “when or if Selby’s will reopen’’.
Mr Irwin did not respond to requests for comment.
Outrage: Mark Irwin