Gingin seeks new CEO amidst period of uncertainty

Applications for a new chief executive officer at the Shire of Gingin close on May 20. File picture: Yanchep News Online

THE Shire of Gingin is advertising for a new chief executive officer following the resignation of Aaron Cook in March and during a period of uncertainty about whether the shire is being investigated.

On April 16 Shire of Gingin President Wayne Fewster said the shire had recently established a CEO recruitment panel and a recruitment consultant had also been appointed to take the panel through the CEO recruitment process.

Cr Fewster said the shire was also advertising for an independent member, as per the requirements of the Act – the Local Government (Administration) Amendment Regulations 2021

The council has not selected an independent member for the panel yet as prior to an April 30 special council meeting the item was withdrawn from the agenda.

In March after questions from Yanchep News Online the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC), Local Government Minister Hannah Beazley’s office and the shire all said they were unable to comment due to WA Local Government Act confidentiality obligations.

But DLGSC said anyone who wished to submit an allegation of a minor or serious breach of legislation enforced by them should follow the process outlined on the DLGSC website

Yanchep News Online contacted DLGSC, Ms Beazley and the shire after residents and ratepayers said they had been raising issues and complaints about the shire for some time while some of the losing candidates in last October’s local government election said they had met with a DLGSC senior investigations officer.

In DLGSC says it can’t say whether the Shire of Gingin is being investigated, March 16 it was reported questions were also asked about whether the department had received complaints about chief executive officer Aaron Cook whose resignation was announced on March 6 and the shire’s purchase of Lot 7 Dewar Rd, Gingin for future sporting land.

This was amidst concern Cr Fewster had taken part in meetings and negotiations related to the purchase when he should have disclosed any conflicts of interest.

Council minutes show the potential purchase of Lot 7 Dewar Rd was an item at the September 19, 2023 council meeting where the councillors agreed to keep the resolution confidential until negotiations were complete.

On March 24 in Landgate document shows Lot 7 Dewar Rd transfer details, Yanchep News Online reported the document showed the transfer of the Granville lot from Glenn F Rule – a relative of a former councillor, who did not stand for re-election in October 2023 – was lodged on January 29 after the contract was signed on December 12.

When the shire announced Mr Cook’s resignation, which is due to come into effect in late July, Cr Fewster congratulated Mr Cook for his positive contribution and dedicated service to the region.

“Aaron has steered the shire through a particularly challenging period in the shire’s growth and we are extremely grateful for his leadership, commitment and expertise,” he said.

“Not only did he provide essential leadership and support during numerous bushfire and flood crises, he also spent a significant portion of his tenure leading the shire through ongoing coastal erosion issues and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Aaron’s many key achievements include the Gingin Incident Control Centre, Orange Springs Rd, Cunliffe St Redevelopment, the Gingin outdoor activity space, Lancelin skate park and plaza upgrades, development of the shire’s CHRMAP, the Gingin 150th anniversary celebration, implementation of the new Altus financial system and commencement of the Gingin Lifestyle Village on Mooliabeenee Rd.

“In addition, he has prepared the region for a number of exciting developments such as Lancelin South, Country Heights, Brookview Heights and the Gingin town centre expansion.’’

The ad for the new chief executive officer said the council was seeking an energetic leader who was prepared to immerse themselves in the community of Gingin and work closely with elected members to drive their strategic vision.