YET more questions have been raised over the deal the council entered into to set up a wi-fi network in the town.

Retired company director Des Morgan has raised questions over the criteria wi-fi company Digital City had to meet to be eligible for a £450,000 loan from Swindon Council.

The council decided to give the loan to Digital City in three stages, depending on whether certain criteria had been met.

The second payment of £250,000 was to be made once a pilot project in Highworth covered 90 per cent of the town, with the remaining 10 per cent to be covered once two planning applications Digital City had submitted to install wireless routers had been decided.

Swindon Council made the payment on May 7 but Mr Morgan, 59, of Carraway Drive, has since discovered that no such planning applications were ever submitted.

He said: “You would have thought that before the £250,000 was paid out they would have confirmed what was happening with those two planning applications.”

The council’s solicitor has told him the company had not submitted planning applications because it felt there would be another solution to the problem of where to put the last wireless routers in the future.

Mr Morgan said it brought the council’s ability to manage risk into question.

But deputy council leader Garry Perkins refuted this and said a small minority of people in Swindon were preventing Digital City from being able to operate properly.

He said: “No business can run under those conditions.

“This is a council investment in the same way as the pension fund invests in companies like BP – I’m sure Des Morgan isn’t contacting their CEO every five minutes to ask what they had for lunch.

“Digital City has met all the criteria for paying its interest and the loan is due at the end of next year and I have no reason to doubt it will be.

“No business in its first year is completely trouble free and most of Highworth is still operating and the technical problems are mostly sorted out.”

But he did concede that to say the whole town would have wi-fi within 12 months was over-optimistic and the pilot scheme should have been fully operational before any commitment was made to extend the network.

Coun Perkins said: “I wish people would come and talk to us if they have a problem, but it has to be in a positive way.

“Going through reports to find things that are not 100 per cent right is not helpful – business doesn’t operate like that.”