COUNCIL leader Rod Bluh was presented with a wi-fi router as a memento of his time in office as he officially stepped down after a record seven years in charge.

During his tenure Swindon Council invested about £400,000 in the firm Digital City, which installed an estimated £200,000 worth of infrastructure in Highworth, but failed to roll out wi-fi internet access across Swindon or repay the loan.

And, as part of a good-natured session of tribute and teasing at last night’s full council meeting at the Civic Offices, Coun Bluh (Con, Old Town) was presented with the router from the Labour group by Coun Derique Montaut (Lab, Liden, Eldene and Park South), the group’s former leader.

He said: “With the death of the so-called Iron Lady, I have found Rod to be at times an Iron Leader, often being highly robust with me in my time as Labour group leader.

“Some highlights of Rod’s robust style of leadership with me was the numerous times I was threatened to be taken to standards.

“However, I want you to know Rod that I don’t take these things personally.

“For many, Rod will also go down as a ‘visionary’ leader. There was of course the town centre water fountain that led to Swindon being compared to Venice.

“Speaking of water, another of Rod’s great visions was to bring a canal through central Swindon.

“Mars may have no canals but, thanks to Rod, Swindon town centre may have one soon “And of course Rod’s greatest vision was to bring free universal wi-fi wherever you were in Swindon.

“So to mark Rod’s time of office as Swindon’s visionary leader I have clubbed together with others to give you some celebratory presents.

Firstly, a book on canals signed by the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust because we know you’re a big fan of canals.

“And secondly, a wi-fi router, so that wherever you go you will never be without your wi-fi.”

Coun Bluh, 57, who is now working for a public affairs consultancy, announced his intention to step down in February.

He said that the decision was tough, but that he needed more time for his own affairs and he needed to earn more money for his eventual retirement.

Last year, the first borough-wide 4G LTE – Long Term Evolution – network in the UK went live in Swindon under a commercial scheme led by UK Broadband.

It was followed later by a new microwave network for the public sector, which is expected to save Swindon Council £480,000 over three years.