Critics say rooms a bad look and mayor needs working places not ‘play spaces’.

Thousands of dollars have been spent building a private bathroom and dressing room hidden behind a bookcase in under-fire Auckland Mayor Len Brown's new office.

And eyebrows have been raised about the secret rooms, given Brown's past indiscretions.

During a two-year affair with Bevan Chuang, the pair had sex in the mayoral office and other council rooms.

Last night the hidden rooms were labelled "inappropriate" and "a really bad look".


Councillor Sharon Stewart said she had not seen the new office, but "I don't think it's a good look ... I don't think he should have secret rooms in light of what's gone on."

Councillor Linda Cooper said the mayor had a perception problem. "When you've been caught before ... you've got to be wise about your actions and how they'll be perceived by the public, given your history."

Affordable Auckland leader Stephen Berry said hiding rooms behind a bookcase was "highly inappropriate and a really bad look".

"Didn't he learn from the Bevan Chuang incident?"

Councillor Dick Quax said the rooms sounded too elaborate for a city mayor: "A mayor requires working places, he doesn't need play spaces."

The mayor has a new office because he, councillors and more than 2000 council staff have moved to the 31-storey former ASB Tower on Albert St.

The council bought the building for $104 million and spent $53m moving in and refurbishing it.

A Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act response sent to councillor Cameron Brewer showed $30,000 had been spent doing up Brown's office.


Watch: Brown's 'Mayor in the chair'

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has been quizzed on his affair with Bevan Chuang during his first Mayor in the Chair outing for the year. About 20 locals and a large contingent of media gathered at Pukekohe Library today to raise issues with Mr Brown at the regular chats he holds in communities across Auckland.

The bathroom cost $10,000 and the large dressing room, which includes an $800 wardrobe, an ironing board and - according to plans - a two-seater couch, is accessible by a hinged section of bookcase that swings open like a door.

Brewer said most would see the bathroom as "more James Bond and probably better suited for the general manager of Hotel Versace".

"Given these are times of austerity according to the mayor, I don't think communities facing local project and service cutbacks will appreciate this kind of showing off."

Brown would not speak to the Herald on Sunday about the rooms, saying only through his spokesman, Glyn Jones, that the move to Albert St was "great value for ratepayers" because it would save $100m.

Council bosses have said the move would save $100m over 20 years.

Jones said the bookcase was in front of a standard door and was designed to "enhance the overall look of the office".

Jones said the refit was designed by council staff to meet the needs of mayors in performing their civic and ceremonial duties.

Brown's previous office at the Town Hall included an en suite.

"All decisions relating to what facilities were included as part of the move were made by Auckland Council, not the mayoral office, and all costs were part of that Auckland Council budget."

The Herald on Sunday asked council chief executive Stephen Town why the rooms were hidden and how appropriate they were.

Town did not respond, but council spokesman Mark Hanson said the mayor's office had no input into the design.

It was done by an architect and the project design team.

Brown has been under sustained attacks for his infidelity and for breaking his promise to keep rates low.

It also emerged yesterday that his favoured transport project - the $2.4 billion underground City Rail link - had been delayed for at least a further two years.