Sneaky Christchurch City Council comes clean after threat of legal action

The Taxpayers’ Union has stared down the sneaky and furtive Christchurch City Council.

It needed the union to get all geared up to sue the council for breaking the law: Quote:

Christchurch City Council has been branded “the most secretive council in the country” after refusing?to?reveal the cost of a library?touchscreen until the country’s top law officer threatened?legal action.

After a five-month battle with campaigners, the council has finally released the price of a seven-metre interactive touchscreen?wall at the city’s?upcoming new central library ? $1.245 million.

The council repeatedly defied calls to tell ratepayers the cost, despite being ordered to by the ombudsman more than a month ago. It claimed?the information would jeopardise the?commercial position of the supplier,?Gibson Group.

Council finally caved in a day after Attorney-General David Parker promised to look “urgently” at the council’s long-running refusal.

The Taxpayers’ Union, whose request for the cost triggered the impasse, called the revelation a “huge win for transparency”.

Executive director Jordan Williams said: “This council is clearly the most secretive in the country.

We’ve never seen a council try to ignore an ombudsman recommendation, and it took us threatening to go to court ? [we were] only minutes away from filing [legal documents] ? for the public to receive this information.

“The mayor, who only six months ago was talking about transparency of spending, needs to take a look at her conscience about this.” End quote.

The mayor has, of course, blamed others. Clearly the buck doesn’t stop at the top in Christchurch. Quote:

Mayor Lianne Dalziel pointed the blame at council?chief executive?Karleen Edwards, whom she said had accepted responsibility.

“In my role as mayor I have to rely on the chief executive to deliver on the statutory obligations . . . and in the area of official information, it’s extremely important.”

Edwards said council staff “had no intention” of deliberately breaching legal obligations. She said she regretted, and took the blame for, council staff? “inadvertently” misunderstanding the ombudsmen’s requirements.

“It was the council’s intention to release the cost of the touch wall, but we had been engaging with the ombudsman around the timing of this. This was in order to respect commercial sensitivities of the vendor…,” said Edwards.

“We had made the ombudsman aware of the commercial vendor’s proposal for the timing of the release of the cost.?From the ombudsman’s subsequent response, we were of the understanding that the release date was a matter for the council to decide . . .”

With the cost now public the matter is resolved legally, and a spokesman for Parker said there was nothing to enforce. End of quote.

Oh, come on. If you believe the weaselly excuses of the CE then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

This shows the necessity of organisations like the Taxpayers’ Union and other other ratepayer-advocacy groups.