THE councillor leading the cross-party review into Swindon Council’s failed wi-fi project says the findings are likely to be published in June – but do not expect blame to be laid at the door of individuals.

Swindon Council agreed in October 2009 to invest up to £450,000 in the firm Digital City (UK) Ltd, to provide broadband access and other wi-fi related services across the Swindon borough.

But the infrastructure was only installed in Highworth and the firm never generated enough income to pay the loan back.

The council set up the firm under a joint venture partnership with technical partners aQovia UK Ltd and Avidity Consulting Ltd, a firm owned by businessman Rikki Hunt, who became the managing director of the new firm, based at the David Murray John Tower, in the town centre.

To investigate the fiasco, in November 2012, the council’s scrutiny committee established a task group of Labour councillors, Des Moffatt and Bob Wright, and Conservative councillors Peter Heaton-Jones and Brian Ford.

Coun Moffatt said publication of the group’s findings would have to wait until after the council’s AGM, on May 17, because there were no more scrutiny meetings beforehand, and the draft first had to be approved by the task group before being sent for comment to those involved in the wi-fi project.

He said: “Although we were desperate to get this dealt with on this side of the AGM, we failed, largely because of work and holiday commitments it would be unreasonable to expect some of our colleagues to cancel.”

Coun Moffatt said Coun Garry Perkins, Swindon Council’s director on Digital City, tried to rescue the situation and was not responsible for it happening in the first place.

But he said the report would not point the finger at which individuals were actually responsible.

He said there were legal reasons as the group could not blame people for incompetence without strong evidence.

But he said the group intended to make all its findings available. He said the review’s aim was to focus on lessons learnt and make recommendations to reduce the risk of it happening again.

He said: “Generally, it’s what the corporate council failed to do rather than any particular individual within the corporate council. “I made mistakes in early 2010 with wi-fi. They aren’t significant mistakes in the great scheme of things but I made mistakes in my role on scrutiny committee and my role as a long-service member of the Labour Party.”

“There was an element of ‘group think’ that wi-fi would solve all their problems, and as a consequence, no one individual was to blame. Dissidents were outside the loop.”

Coun Moffatt said he hoped the report would answer all outstanding significant” questions, but refused to be drawn on whether the report would reveal who agreed for Digital City to pay Mr Hunt’s Avidity Consulting £105,067 in consultancy costs between August 14, 2009 and December 31, 2010.

Mr Hunt told the Adver last week that the renumeration was something agreed initially between the shareholders. He said Swindon Council was represented in the discussions by officers, whom he would not name because it was not fair on them.