Council finally reveals cost

04:47, Sep 24 2009
The Ellerslie International Flower Show cost $3 million to buy.

The Ellerslie International Flower Show cost the Christchurch City Council $3 million to buy.

The Christchurch City Council revealed the show's purchase price at a press conference this afternoon following a lengthy meeting behind closed doors earlier today.

The revelation follows a battle by media groups including The Press to obtain the cost of the show and a recommendation by Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem for it to be disclosed. Wakem said ratepayers had a right to know how public money was spent.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has previously argued that revealing the Ellerslie purchase price would make it difficult to compete for future events.

The council yesterday released a study which calculated that the inaugural show's 80,000 visitors boosted the city's economy by more than $17m.

A refusal to abide by the Ombudsman's recommendation would have risked High Court action from The Press.

In the only case of a local authority being taken to the High Court over an Ombudsman's recommendation, the judge ruled strongly in favour of the watchdog.

In 1991, the High Court ruled the Queenstown Lakes District Council had to follow a Chief Ombudsman's recommendation to reveal information relating to a deal with a private company.

Judge Jeffries ruled the Ombudsman was the arbiter of information disputes and that it was fundamental to the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act that the public be given ''worthwhile information about how the public's money and affairs are being used and conducted''.