Swindon AdvertiserCross-party panel to review failed wi-fi project (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Cross-party panel to review failed wi-fi project

Swindon Advertiser: Council leader Rod Bluh, right, and Rikki Hunt of Digital City UK at the company’s launch in 2009 Council leader Rod Bluh, right, and Rikki Hunt of Digital City UK at the company’s launch in 2009

SWINDON Council has established a cross-party review into the troubled firm Digital City UK, which failed to roll out wi-fi internet access across Swindon.

The council invested about £400,000 in the firm, which was headed by businessman Rikki Hunt, but the loan turned out to be repayable.

Now the scrutiny committee has established a team of two Conservative and two Labour members to look into why the much-hyped project failed after installing an estimated £200,000 worth of infrastructure in Highworth.

It is hoped the move will put to bed the issue as the firm’s accounts are submitted to Companies House and a new borough-wide 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network, backed by the council, goes live under a commercial scheme led by UK Broadband.

The membership of the group has not yet been decided, but they will all be members of the scrutiny committee. The new group is expected to decide its terms of reference at its first meeting later this year.

Coun Peter Heaton-Jones (Con, St Andrews), the vice chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: “The whole scrutiny committee quite rightly supported the idea of a non-partisan working group to look into the Digital City issue.

“Now that the company’s accounts have been filed, it’s the right time to examine them and to ask whatever questions they might pose.

“The fact that the working group will have two Labour and two Conservative members, with no casting vote for the chair, means we can be sure it will be fair. The group will report back to the full scrutiny committee, so it’ll be an open and transparent process too.

“The scrutiny chairman has asked the working group for its report by the end of January, so hopefully then we can put this matter behind us and move on.”

Campaigner Des Morgan, who has followed the wi-fi issue from the beginning, said the review group needed full access to any evidence relating to Digital City UK, including reports by the then deputy chief executive, Celia Carrington, and professional services firm Pricewater-houseCoopers.

He said: “This committee needs to review what decisions were made and why they were made. It needs to look and say who made these decisions and why did they make these decisions.

“And it needs to look and say was there any issue in terms of were the officers just being led by the politicians or were the politicians completely overawed by officers.

“It doesn’t have to be a blame thing but it’s something that needs to be understood as to why people had concerns in the early part of the first quarter of 2010 and yet felt able to give Digital City £250,000 after already having given them £150,000 which they were concerned about.”

Comments (11)

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10:08pm Wed 7 Nov 12

house on the hill says...

Oh my god, another committee, theres a surprise and a cover up i am sure. how about getting independant investigators to uncover the real truth and if found guilty, the heads should roll. Of course neither will happen, just another wate of our money. Just flippin move on, jesus!
Oh my god, another committee, theres a surprise and a cover up i am sure. how about getting independant investigators to uncover the real truth and if found guilty, the heads should roll. Of course neither will happen, just another wate of our money. Just flippin move on, jesus! house on the hill
  • Score: 0

10:54pm Wed 7 Nov 12

leapylee says...

I wonder how much of the £400k Councillor Buh's buddy - the bankrupt but all round nice chap with the rich wife, managed to take off of us poor council tax payers from this deal????
I wonder how much of the £400k Councillor Buh's buddy - the bankrupt but all round nice chap with the rich wife, managed to take off of us poor council tax payers from this deal???? leapylee
  • Score: 0

11:20pm Wed 7 Nov 12

twasadawf says...

Them and us council tax payers nothing ever changes except the wasteage
Them and us council tax payers nothing ever changes except the wasteage twasadawf
  • Score: 0

11:47pm Wed 7 Nov 12

Empty Car Park says...

Oliver thinks it's not a waste of money and it's nothing to concern us
Oliver thinks it's not a waste of money and it's nothing to concern us Empty Car Park
  • Score: 0

9:00am Thu 8 Nov 12

Always Grumpy says...

Empty Car Park wrote:
Oliver thinks it's not a waste of money and it's nothing to concern us
Who's Oliver?
[quote][p][bold]Empty Car Park[/bold] wrote: Oliver thinks it's not a waste of money and it's nothing to concern us[/p][/quote]Who's Oliver? Always Grumpy
  • Score: 0

9:19am Thu 8 Nov 12

RichardR1 says...

At enquiry involving councillors cannot be independent, even less so from the scrutiny committee who have stated there was nothing untoward 3 times I think.
At enquiry involving councillors cannot be independent, even less so from the scrutiny committee who have stated there was nothing untoward 3 times I think. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

9:50am Thu 8 Nov 12

DrGonzo-09 says...

"The council invested about £400,000 in the firm, which was headed by businessman Rikki Hunt, but the loan turned out to be repayable"

Adver Journalists (I use this in the loosest term) you'll find that all loans are repayable otherwise they are gifts or donations!!!!
"The council invested about £400,000 in the firm, which was headed by businessman Rikki Hunt, but the loan turned out to be repayable" Adver Journalists (I use this in the loosest term) you'll find that all loans are repayable otherwise they are gifts or donations!!!! DrGonzo-09
  • Score: 0

10:32am Thu 8 Nov 12

The Real Librarian says...

RichardR1 wrote:
At enquiry involving councillors cannot be independent, even less so from the scrutiny committee who have stated there was nothing untoward 3 times I think.
Also, where are the Lib Dems?
[quote][p][bold]RichardR1[/bold] wrote: At enquiry involving councillors cannot be independent, even less so from the scrutiny committee who have stated there was nothing untoward 3 times I think.[/p][/quote]Also, where are the Lib Dems? The Real Librarian
  • Score: 0

3:14pm Fri 9 Nov 12

candid friend says...

There seems to be no contrition from the leading councillors ,who were so thoroughly bamboozled.
It is time for the revolver and the bottle of whiskey in a quiet room.
Instead of that we get smiling pictures from earlier times, and no resignations,or offers of repayment.l
If and when Labour get control they need to get all the nasty facts into the open.
They could then pursue the ex"leading councillors" for repayment of plundered ratepayer's funds.
There seems to be no contrition from the leading councillors ,who were so thoroughly bamboozled. It is time for the revolver and the bottle of whiskey in a quiet room. Instead of that we get smiling pictures from earlier times, and no resignations,or offers of repayment.l If and when Labour get control they need to get all the nasty facts into the open. They could then pursue the ex"leading councillors" for repayment of plundered ratepayer's funds. candid friend
  • Score: 0

9:51pm Sun 11 Nov 12

Empty Car Park says...

Absolutely.

Leave no stone uncovered
Absolutely. Leave no stone uncovered Empty Car Park
  • Score: 0

9:53pm Sun 11 Nov 12

Empty Car Park says...

Darned predictive text :-)

Leave no stone unturned
Darned predictive text :-) Leave no stone unturned Empty Car Park
  • Score: 0

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