Hamilton City Council will review how it promotes a business run by two of its councillors after giving it a free plug on one of its social media pages.
The council's events website HLive promoted The Hamilton App, recently started by councillors Mark Bunting and Geoff Taylor, on its Facebook page in early August, saying it was "stoked" to be linking with the app.
Hamilton City Council general manager of venues, tourism and major events Sean Murray said no money changed hands and there was no formal agreement in place with council's events arm H3 when it told its 9000 followers to download the app.
But Murray said staff would now review how the council approached any future interaction with the app from a marketing perspective to ensure transparency and provide clarity for all involved.
During an informal conversation, Murray said Bunting offered to share information about council's events on The Hamilton App and having events listed on the app for free benefited H3 and residents.
H3 linked to or referenced other media, entertainment, sports or commercial organisations via its Facebook page as part of its promotion of events in the city and it was not intended as formal endorsement by the council of any external organisation, he said.
Bunting told the Herald H3 asked to pay to advertise on the app, but he refused.
"I actually said no, we can't take money off you because Geoff and I are councillors, but if you wanted to help us out and direct people to where your information is at then we would be grateful for that. But we are certainly not going to take money off H3 because exactly that - it would be conflict of interest."
Bunting believed the council would promote any publication that was running a service where they promoted its events.
However councillor Rob Pascoe said he expected a higher level of scrutiny and caution from council staff in supporting an elected member's business over an outsider providing the same information.
"Because those guys (Taylor and Bunting) are already part of the network so it can be perceived that they are being preferred and that's where the conflict of interest arises."
Councillor Angela O'Leary agreed and said there was an expectation that council operated at a far greater standard of transparency than the private sector was expected.
The review follows complaints from fellow city councillor Siggi Henry to management about Bunting promoting his and Taylor's app during council meetings. Henry said councillors should be at council to represent citizens and not for their own financial benefit.
What the HLive facebook post said:
"We're stoked to have our website linking through to a new The Hamilton App which launched this week!
"If you want up-to-the-minute Hamilton event details, local news, handy info like local traffic reports and local business listings and soo much more at your finger tips then you are going to want to give this app a download," the HLive Facebook post said.