Prison `Velcro wall’ dig rejected
THE Corrections Department has rejected claims that a wall at a new Otago prison was built four times before it was put in the right place. National MP Simon Power has highlighted the $490 million increase in the cost of four new prisons since Labour commissioned them shortly after coming to power, blaming the rises largely on the way the projects have been managed. Yesterday, he claimed that mismanagement at the new Milburn prison, north of Milton, had run into particular problems. “Contractors at the so-called Milton-Hilton were asked to build a wall then take it down and build it somewhere else, then take that one down and build it somewhere else and were finally asked to take that one down and rebuild it in the original spot. “Doesn’t the legend of the Velcro wall simply epitomise the massive wastage that his department has incurred at the expense of the New Zealand taxpayer?” he asked Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor. Mr O’Connor said he was not aware of the claim. His department said later there was no truth to it. Mr Power also claimed the $490 million extra cost of the prisons was because 500 more beds had been added – – meaning they cost almost $1 million each. Mr O’Connor rejected the claim and said the increased costs were the result mainly of higher prices for cement and steel and of tight labour markets. The State Services Commission is investigating the cost over- runs.