Opinion: Dalziel on the controversial $1.24m touch wall

Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the public had a right to know the cost of the touch wall being installed in Turanga.

Opinion: When I ran for mayor, I stood on a platform of transparency.

It is not only something I believe in, it is also something residents are entitled to.

So how could council buy this touch wall and then fail to release the cost within the time frame?

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First, the decision to buy the touch wall wasn’t made by councillors, although they were briefed about it.

Second, councillors are never told about official information requests so we didn’t know the Taxpayer’s Union had asked for the cost, let alone the fact that staff had been negotiating an agreed release date with the ombudsman.

The supplier had requested that the release of the information be delayed.

The problem with this approach, which is to assure no political interference, is that we were surprised when the ombudsman’s final recommendation came from out of the blue – this was the first time we knew there had been a request.

When a final recommendation is received from an ombudsman, the only way this can be resolved is releasing the information or passing a council resolution to the contrary, neither of which happened before the deadline. I know elected members would have voted to release the information.

We are disappointed at what happened, and I am now working with the chief executive to ensure we have in place processes to make sure this never happens again.

And what has got lost in all of this, is just what an attraction the touch screen wall will be – the first of this kind to be introduced in New Zealand – accessible to residents and visitors alike.

Our city’s history will be literally at our fingertips. Yes it comes with a price tag, and yes you had a right to know.