West End councillor Fraser Macpherson has demanded answers from the council’s chief executive in a growing row over delays to the installation of free public wifi at the city’s Waterfront.
Plans to install the service by the end of July, as outlined by executive director of city development Mike Galloway, have yet to materialise and will now not be completed in time for the opening of the V&A on September 15.
It had been envisaged that the scheme would be rolled out to the city centre soon after but a final decision on who will carry out the first phase of the work is still being considered, some 19 weeks since the closure date for tender bids.
Mr Macpherson, who leads the council’s Liberal Democrat group, revealed he has written to chief executive David Martin calling for “inordinate” delays in awarding the contract to be brought to an end.
The councillor urged Mr Martin to explain the delay and provide “assurances that this will now be determined in the proper and democratic manner as a matter of urgency”.
He said: “The suggestion that this is because of ‘considering the financial impact’, as the council leader has claimed, is simply no longer credible.
“It is fast becoming beyond parody and the outcome of these delays is that timescales for delivery are now missed.
“I think the SNP administration needs to be reminded about how due diligence is undertaken and how the financial impact of any procurement process is properly considered.
“It is not by sitting on a decision for 19 weeks and failing to bring the matter before councillors. Nor is it determined by SNP councillors sitting in a cabal of their own.”
Mr Macpherson said the process should have been brought to committee before the council’s summer recess so that a decision could be made in an “open and transparent manner”.
He added: “I have asked the chief executive to now ensure that all elected members are updated as to exactly what is going on with this procurement. It is not exactly the council’s finest moment.”
Council leader John Alexander has previously defended the delay, saying it is a responsible use of the public purse and decisions are “not made on the hoof”.
He said: “At present, Mr Macpherson hasn’t even seen the financial impact of the installation of wifi.
“I also highly doubt that not having wifi in place for the opening of the V&A will have any impact on visitor numbers and the suggestion is, quite frankly, nonsense.
“People won’t hop on a train or travel to Dundee for free wifi.
“Councillors should never make a decision without first considering the financial impact to the city and the benefits to local people.
“The administration will never rubber stamp cash being spent on something without carrying out due diligence and making sure it delivers for Dundonians. This is no different.”
A spokesman for Dundee City Council said Mr Martin would respond to Mr Macpherson directly.