Businessman refutes the findings of critical Swindon Wi-Fi project report

Rikki Hunt

Rikki Hunt

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @Michael_Benke

RIKKI Hunt, the businessman at the centre of Swindon’s Wi-fi controversy, has hit out at a report criticising him and senior members of the council at the time.

A report, published last week by a specially appointed task-group, criticised the process by which Wi-fi was to be rolled out across Swindon and Highworth leading to a £400,000 loan being given out, which has yet to be repaid.

It says that while it was legal, the process meant key information was not given the proper level of scrutiny as it was withheld on commercial grounds. The task-group concluded this was not in the best interests of the council.

However, Mr Hunt said he believes the report was largely hearsay and conjecture with a limited factual basis.

The report criticises former Council Leader Rod Bluh (Con, Old Town) as well as the former chairman of Swindon Town’s involvement.

Mr Hunt said: “Decisions were taken at the outset of this project over which I had no control and which had a key negative effect on the project, and as the task group makes much of my role in these decisions then I should respond. To suggest that I influenced who should know about the project is wrong.

“At no point did I ask for the project to be restricted. I merely asked that those who were involved be made aware that confidentiality up until launch was important.

“I would have preferred a full council decision for something as ground breaking.

“All of those involved, including four senior executives, had sight of all information for over 12 months before a decision was made, so had ample time for due diligence.”

Mr Hunt was the managing director of Digital City. the company responsible for introducing what would have been the landmark scheme. However, it was only ever introduced in Highworth as part of a pilot scheme, which was also slammed by the task-group.

Once again, Mr Hunt does not believe this is fair and accuses the council of being afraid to move forward with the project.

“The report, subject to approval, fails to point out that the business plan the task group talk of was based on a project covering the whole town. It was put on hold once the decision was made, by the council, to go for a pilot in Highworth instead,” he said.

“This was a ground-breaking project for the UK. The evidence that it could work came from a model being used in the USA.

“Of course there were operational issues affecting the pilot and if we had all worked together they would have been overcome.

“Unfortunately the desire to prove that the approval process of the project was wrong led to a culture of fear of failure’ within the Council. This in turn prevented solutions to operational issues being more widely discussed and resolved.”

The report is due to go before the council’s scrutiny committee on Wednesday.

Comments (28)

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7:06am Tue 21 Jan 14

house on the hill says...

Just how arrogant is this stupid hunt? ripped us all off but did nothing wrong? there go the flying pigs again. Should be locked up with that sort of attitude, give him a sense of reality he clearly lacks.
Just how arrogant is this stupid hunt? ripped us all off but did nothing wrong? there go the flying pigs again. Should be locked up with that sort of attitude, give him a sense of reality he clearly lacks. house on the hill
  • Score: 22

8:31am Tue 21 Jan 14

komadori says...

I wonder if the Adver has considered digging out some of the things Mr Hunt said to them at the time of the wifi project, and comparing them with the version of events he is telling now.
I wonder if the Adver has considered digging out some of the things Mr Hunt said to them at the time of the wifi project, and comparing them with the version of events he is telling now. komadori
  • Score: 20

9:23am Tue 21 Jan 14

A.Baron-Cohen says...

No shame
No shame A.Baron-Cohen
  • Score: 16

9:41am Tue 21 Jan 14

Empty Car Park says...

Good to see Mr Hunt putting the record straight. I'm sure this will now bring an end to the matter as he appears to have not done anything wrong.
Good to see Mr Hunt putting the record straight. I'm sure this will now bring an end to the matter as he appears to have not done anything wrong. Empty Car Park
  • Score: 0

10:45am Tue 21 Jan 14

The Real Librarian says...

No-one over the age of five should go around calling themselves "Rikki!"

Grow up
No-one over the age of five should go around calling themselves "Rikki!" Grow up The Real Librarian
  • Score: 9

11:26am Tue 21 Jan 14

The Real Librarian says...

komadori wrote:
I wonder if the Adver has considered digging out some of the things Mr Hunt said to them at the time of the wifi project, and comparing them with the version of events he is telling now.
Such as

17 NOVEMBER 2009
Mr Hunt said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for the whole of Swindon
while others talk, Swindon is delivering a Digital City which will benefit both the public and business communities."
[quote][p][bold]komadori[/bold] wrote: I wonder if the Adver has considered digging out some of the things Mr Hunt said to them at the time of the wifi project, and comparing them with the version of events he is telling now.[/p][/quote]Such as 17 NOVEMBER 2009 Mr Hunt said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for the whole of Swindon while others talk, Swindon is delivering a Digital City which will benefit both the public and business communities." The Real Librarian
  • Score: 13

11:26am Tue 21 Jan 14

The Real Librarian says...

komadori wrote:
I wonder if the Adver has considered digging out some of the things Mr Hunt said to them at the time of the wifi project, and comparing them with the version of events he is telling now.
or


Wednesday 18th November 2009
Rikki Hunt – who came up with the concept, predicts the £1m council-sponsored scheme will start to make money in February (2010) when some people upgrade after a three month trial.
[quote][p][bold]komadori[/bold] wrote: I wonder if the Adver has considered digging out some of the things Mr Hunt said to them at the time of the wifi project, and comparing them with the version of events he is telling now.[/p][/quote]or Wednesday 18th November 2009 Rikki Hunt – who came up with the concept, predicts the £1m council-sponsored scheme will start to make money in February (2010) when some people upgrade after a three month trial. The Real Librarian
  • Score: 10

11:27am Tue 21 Jan 14

The Real Librarian says...

komadori wrote:
I wonder if the Adver has considered digging out some of the things Mr Hunt said to them at the time of the wifi project, and comparing them with the version of events he is telling now.
Someone who should be quoted is Des Morgan

Des Morgan
12:09pm Friday 18th December 2009
What SBC has chosen to do is enter into a partnership with a company which has absolutely no track record of success or even involvement in Wi Fi service provision. The Chief Executive admits this 'idea' came to him when he was looking at workmen laying cables. The other partner is a newly established team, again with no visible evidence of working with or having any great knowledge of the commercial imperatives associated with a project of this sort.
[quote][p][bold]komadori[/bold] wrote: I wonder if the Adver has considered digging out some of the things Mr Hunt said to them at the time of the wifi project, and comparing them with the version of events he is telling now.[/p][/quote]Someone who should be quoted is Des Morgan Des Morgan 12:09pm Friday 18th December 2009 What SBC has chosen to do is enter into a partnership with a company which has absolutely no track record of success or even involvement in Wi Fi service provision. The Chief Executive admits this 'idea' came to him when he was looking at workmen laying cables. The other partner is a newly established team, again with no visible evidence of working with or having any great knowledge of the commercial imperatives associated with a project of this sort. The Real Librarian
  • Score: 12

11:28am Tue 21 Jan 14

The Real Librarian says...

komadori wrote:
I wonder if the Adver has considered digging out some of the things Mr Hunt said to them at the time of the wifi project, and comparing them with the version of events he is telling now.
Few more people who should be quoted, but probably wouldn't want to be

Businesses back wi-fi’s Rikki Hunt
8:00am Thursday 25th March 2010
Nicky Alberry, Chair of GWE Business West Ltd, said: “I have known Rikki for many years. He is an important local businessman at the forefront of driving Swindon’s strategy for economic growth through the work of the Swindon Strategic Economic Partnership (SSEP).
“He commits a great deal of his own time to bringing together the private and public sectors.”
James Lockhart, of commercial property advisors Whitmarsh Lockhart, said: “He is very straightforward to deal with and is a great business man.
[quote][p][bold]komadori[/bold] wrote: I wonder if the Adver has considered digging out some of the things Mr Hunt said to them at the time of the wifi project, and comparing them with the version of events he is telling now.[/p][/quote]Few more people who should be quoted, but probably wouldn't want to be Businesses back wi-fi’s Rikki Hunt 8:00am Thursday 25th March 2010 Nicky Alberry, Chair of GWE Business West Ltd, said: “I have known Rikki for many years. He is an important local businessman at the forefront of driving Swindon’s strategy for economic growth through the work of the Swindon Strategic Economic Partnership (SSEP). “He commits a great deal of his own time to bringing together the private and public sectors.” James Lockhart, of commercial property advisors Whitmarsh Lockhart, said: “He is very straightforward to deal with and is a great business man. The Real Librarian
  • Score: 11

12:04pm Tue 21 Jan 14

themoonraker says...

C'mon Adver at least get the headline right.....surely it should read FAILED BUSINESSMAN.
Aside of this does anybody really care what this idiot thinks or says?
The man is an opportunist who always appesrs to be looking to make a fast buck, goodness knows how many failed 'businesses this man has on his CV, his business plans/ideas seem to always involve other peoples money and an ethic of trial and error.
Why, Oh why do the adver keep giving this man a platform for self publicity, why don't they just ignore him and then hopefully he will just go away, maybe to that wonderful island that the BBC should have permanently marooned him on many years ago.
C'mon Adver at least get the headline right.....surely it should read FAILED BUSINESSMAN. Aside of this does anybody really care what this idiot thinks or says? The man is an opportunist who always appesrs to be looking to make a fast buck, goodness knows how many failed 'businesses this man has on his CV, his business plans/ideas seem to always involve other peoples money and an ethic of trial and error. Why, Oh why do the adver keep giving this man a platform for self publicity, why don't they just ignore him and then hopefully he will just go away, maybe to that wonderful island that the BBC should have permanently marooned him on many years ago. themoonraker
  • Score: 12

12:32pm Tue 21 Jan 14

mrwoo says...

Hunt Hunt you silly old C*nt!
Hunt Hunt you silly old C*nt! mrwoo
  • Score: 8

12:33pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Davey Gravey says...

We want our money back!!!
We want our money back!!! Davey Gravey
  • Score: 4

12:48pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Wellfire says...

If the proposition was so wonderful I'd have thought that one of the market's major players would have purchased Digital City's intellectual property by now. Have they? Thought not.
If the proposition was so wonderful I'd have thought that one of the market's major players would have purchased Digital City's intellectual property by now. Have they? Thought not. Wellfire
  • Score: 6

1:04pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Ffordian says...

The Real Librarian wrote:
No-one over the age of five should go around calling themselves "Rikki!"

Grow up
Is that seriously the most constructive thing you have to say?
[quote][p][bold]The Real Librarian[/bold] wrote: No-one over the age of five should go around calling themselves "Rikki!" Grow up[/p][/quote]Is that seriously the most constructive thing you have to say? Ffordian
  • Score: 2

1:20pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Ph1lxx says...

“The report, subject to approval, fails to point out that the business plan the task group talk of was based on a project covering the whole town. It was put on hold once the decision was made, by the council, to go for a pilot in Highworth instead,” he said.

That Rikki is a bare faces lie. The whole point of the second advance to Digital City was to roll out the project to the Town. Shame that nearly half the second advance went to you Rikki.
“The report, subject to approval, fails to point out that the business plan the task group talk of was based on a project covering the whole town. It was put on hold once the decision was made, by the council, to go for a pilot in Highworth instead,” he said. That Rikki is a bare faces lie. The whole point of the second advance to Digital City was to roll out the project to the Town. Shame that nearly half the second advance went to you Rikki. Ph1lxx
  • Score: 6

1:29pm Tue 21 Jan 14

house on the hill says...

Makes you wonder whether the councillors involved were complicit in the obvious fraud or just completely useless. Probably both.
Makes you wonder whether the councillors involved were complicit in the obvious fraud or just completely useless. Probably both. house on the hill
  • Score: 6

1:35pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Davey Gravey says...

Is there a way the people of the town could recoup this wasted money?
Surely those responsible can be held accountable for this?
Is there a way the people of the town could recoup this wasted money? Surely those responsible can be held accountable for this? Davey Gravey
  • Score: 6

2:01pm Tue 21 Jan 14

beach1e says...

so the council gave this man decent hardworking taxpayers money as a loan...so why haven't they recovered it?council staff surely work in debt recovery, or maybe its too much to ask them to do the job they are paid for, they are council workers after all. why isn't he in jail along with the scammers that gave him the money? this council is a disgrace and the way it seems to be is that they are intent on giving money away to those that cant be bothered to work and those that want to con people.
so the council gave this man decent hardworking taxpayers money as a loan...so why haven't they recovered it?council staff surely work in debt recovery, or maybe its too much to ask them to do the job they are paid for, they are council workers after all. why isn't he in jail along with the scammers that gave him the money? this council is a disgrace and the way it seems to be is that they are intent on giving money away to those that cant be bothered to work and those that want to con people. beach1e
  • Score: 8

2:11pm Tue 21 Jan 14

nobody says...

The Real Librarian wrote:
No-one over the age of five should go around calling themselves "Rikki!"

Grow up
It's better than being called "Dick".
[quote][p][bold]The Real Librarian[/bold] wrote: No-one over the age of five should go around calling themselves "Rikki!" Grow up[/p][/quote]It's better than being called "Dick". nobody
  • Score: -2

2:18pm Tue 21 Jan 14

The Real Librarian says...

Ffordian wrote:
The Real Librarian wrote: No-one over the age of five should go around calling themselves "Rikki!" Grow up
Is that seriously the most constructive thing you have to say?
You didn't like the other posts then.
[quote][p][bold]Ffordian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]The Real Librarian[/bold] wrote: No-one over the age of five should go around calling themselves "Rikki!" Grow up[/p][/quote]Is that seriously the most constructive thing you have to say?[/p][/quote]You didn't like the other posts then. The Real Librarian
  • Score: 0

3:23pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Bimbosforjustice says...

I've seen a council motion which proposes renaming the DMJ building to Ricki Hunt Tower. This is due to take affect from May 2015.

Personally I think it's a well deserved accolade for a man which has bought so much* to this town



*misery
I've seen a council motion which proposes renaming the DMJ building to Ricki Hunt Tower. This is due to take affect from May 2015. Personally I think it's a well deserved accolade for a man which has bought so much* to this town *misery Bimbosforjustice
  • Score: 5

4:54pm Tue 21 Jan 14

trustnopolitician says...

I wonder if one way to recoup some of the £400000 would be to resrict councillors to geuine "out of pocket expenses " for a year this would save the
council taxpayers most of that wasted £400K.
I wonder if one way to recoup some of the £400000 would be to resrict councillors to geuine "out of pocket expenses " for a year this would save the council taxpayers most of that wasted £400K. trustnopolitician
  • Score: 3

5:18pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Al Smith says...

In other news today Southern Electric are planning to harness the energy generated by the founder of the Swindon Advertiser turning in his grave at such "journalism". Why is the Adver not digging deeper and standing up for the people that buy their newspaper instead of running an article like this?

I dread to think what today's editor/journalists would make of the famous Coate Water incident where, whilst the poor starved, the gentry were using lumps of meat as footballs. I imagine it'd would be something along "Local gentry have jolly nice time".
In other news today Southern Electric are planning to harness the energy generated by the founder of the Swindon Advertiser turning in his grave at such "journalism". Why is the Adver not digging deeper and standing up for the people that buy their newspaper instead of running an article like this? I dread to think what today's editor/journalists would make of the famous Coate Water incident where, whilst the poor starved, the gentry were using lumps of meat as footballs. I imagine it'd would be something along "Local gentry have jolly nice time". Al Smith
  • Score: 0

5:28pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Empty Car Park says...

The Adver has already run at least one article about the report, this article is Hunt giving his response to it.

You may dislike the man, but he is entitled to comment on what's been written about him.

Try to forget your blatant bias for a moment, but how do you KNOW, for certain, that the claim below isn't true?


Mr Hunt said he believes the report was largely hearsay and conjecture with a limited factual basis.


It will be interesting to see what the scrutiny committee come up with tomorrow, but as the report itself has already made clear, the process 'was legal'.

All this naive talk of 'getting our money back' and people going to prison over the wi-fi fiasco is quite laughable.
The Adver has already run at least one article about the report, this article is Hunt giving his response to it. You may dislike the man, but he is entitled to comment on what's been written about him. Try to forget your blatant bias for a moment, but how do you KNOW, for certain, that the claim below isn't true? [quote] Mr Hunt said he believes the report was largely hearsay and conjecture with a limited factual basis. [/quote] It will be interesting to see what the scrutiny committee come up with tomorrow, but as the report itself has already made clear, the process 'was legal'. All this naive talk of 'getting our money back' and people going to prison over the wi-fi fiasco is quite laughable. Empty Car Park
  • Score: -8

6:01pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Grimwald says...

Is this the same Mr Hunt who took a salary of £15,500 per month out of this borrowed money and NEVER invoiced a single user?
Is this the same Mr Hunt who took a salary of £15,500 per month out of this borrowed money and NEVER invoiced a single user? Grimwald
  • Score: 8

6:04pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Grimwald says...

Grimwald wrote:
Is this the same Mr Hunt who took a salary of £15,500 per month out of this borrowed money and NEVER invoiced a single user?
Sorry that was a typing error the Salary figure should read £12,500 not £15,500. I don't think even Mr Hunt thinks he is worth £15,500 per month.
[quote][p][bold]Grimwald[/bold] wrote: Is this the same Mr Hunt who took a salary of £15,500 per month out of this borrowed money and NEVER invoiced a single user?[/p][/quote]Sorry that was a typing error the Salary figure should read £12,500 not £15,500. I don't think even Mr Hunt thinks he is worth £15,500 per month. Grimwald
  • Score: 5

9:57pm Tue 21 Jan 14

eminencegris says...

At least Cllr Bluh had the decency to resign over this. Mr Hunt, on the other hand, bleats that he's been misrepresented after completely failing to deliver on the project, but having trousered £400,000 of public money.

I recognise that Rikki Hunt says this is hearsay, and perhaps I'm missing something, but it's really difficult to see this from here as anything less than scandalous. Rikki Hunt just comes across as completely delusional.
At least Cllr Bluh had the decency to resign over this. Mr Hunt, on the other hand, bleats that he's been misrepresented after completely failing to deliver on the project, but having trousered £400,000 of public money. I recognise that Rikki Hunt says this is hearsay, and perhaps I'm missing something, but it's really difficult to see this from here as anything less than scandalous. Rikki Hunt just comes across as completely delusional. eminencegris
  • Score: 0

1:10am Wed 22 Jan 14

IanRM says...

house on the hill wrote:
Just how arrogant is this stupid hunt? ripped us all off but did nothing wrong? there go the flying pigs again. Should be locked up with that sort of attitude, give him a sense of reality he clearly lacks.
And . . . How much did his company nake out of this?
[quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: Just how arrogant is this stupid hunt? ripped us all off but did nothing wrong? there go the flying pigs again. Should be locked up with that sort of attitude, give him a sense of reality he clearly lacks.[/p][/quote]And . . . How much did his company nake out of this? IanRM
  • Score: 2

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