Former President Warns of Financial Crisis
Several members of the Fremantle Society, including the treasurer, were surprised to hear The Society had sold a house which had been bequeathed to it. Had it not been sold The Society would have an asset valued well in excess of $1,000,000.
The current treasurer admitted that he had no idea of the sale which occurred several years ago.
The information was revealed at last weeks annual general meeting of The Society by former president, architect Ralph Hoare, who said the society could not continue to bleed financially. Hoare demanded a membership drive and an immediate increase in membership fees to save the organisation. In the meantime The Society is losing financial ground and can only survive a few more years at best.
Roel Loopers, while president, had promised he would initiate a membership drive but later admitted he had failed as president and resigned from the position (twice). He still remains on the committee. Membership numbers dropped dramatically when Loopers was at the helm. He regularly indicates how close he is to the Mayor and councillors creating concern as to whether Loopers is sincere in his position on committee. For the AGM he organised a public relations stunt by a council staffer to present a PowerPoint show and lecture describing the city’s achievements and plans. It revealed a handful of appalling developments. This is the style of development the society should be condemning, not endorsing. Loopers has recently come out in support of a nine story development in the harbour.
Loopers must have been aware of the financial crisis facing The Society. However instead of looking for fund raising opportunities he initiated an undignified campaigns to send socks to Premier Barnet. John Dowson, a candidate for the presidency, speaking at the AGM pointed out: “Were the committee not aware the Premier is a member of the Fremantle Society” He said Colin Barnett would have been happy to examine the issue in question without being insulted by The Society which has in the past maintained a degree of decorum in it’s protests and negotiations.
QR Code Costs Blow Out?
Loopers illustrates his hubris, taking pride in establishing the QR codes system in Fremantle. These codes are expensive, outdated, technology with niche appeal and the project is running well behind time. The plan was for 500 buildings to have QR codes attached. So far 70 have been installed according to Loopers and he is now asking for more money to complete the project. It has been reported that BID put in $10,000 and that a further grant of $5000 was raised. It has not been possible to substantiate these figures but it does mean if only 70 have been completed the project could cost as much as $35,000 to complete. That far exceeds the assets of the Fremantle Society. Fremantle Council and BID must question the worth of proceeding with additional funding of outdated technology with, at best, a niche market.
At the current rate of progress the least the project is likely to cost is a total of $12,000. The actual financial planning of this project should be made clear to ratepayers by the council, BID and to the remaining members of the Fremantle Society.
Proud of Routing Hard Core Members, Committee Remain Under Legal Threat
Loopers is proud of the fact that he rid The Society of what he refers to as ‘The Old Guard’ (he has just turned 65 and was treated to a birthday lunch by the mayor). They were the hard core of The Society who won many battles. Under Loopers The Society went backwards. He has not yet explained why he failed to attract new and younger members. Nor has he apologised to many people he has defamed. As a result the entire committee remain under the threat of legal action from a number of people because The Society automatically repeated his blogs on their sites. Individual committee members may be liable for considerable damages if any one of a number of people choose to press the ’sue’ button. There is a growing number of people considering joint action.
Many Members Want Loopers to Resign
John Dowson has strong support from half of the new committee and though he failed to gain the presidency many members feel the presidency is not important. They see a combination of Henty Farrar and Dowson working together, and promoting their support for medium rise, high quality development as a strong leadership function which will save the city from a repeat of the 1960s architectural disaster.
Loopers has promised to resign if Dowson is co-opted to committee and comments from members indicate they would welcome his departure.