HEAVILY criticised wi-fi provider Digital City cannot yet name a date when overdue interest payments will be made to Swindon Council.

Yesterday, the Adver reported that Digital City had missed the November, December and January interest payments on the £400,000 it has borrowed from the council.

And at a Scrutiny Committee meeting last night, Coun Garry Perkins, who is the deputy leader of the council and one of the directors of Digital City, could not name an exact time frame in which payments would be ready.

“I would like to hope it will be within the next couple of weeks,” he said.

“It’s going to be weeks not months. Negotiations have been going on for two months.”

He told the meeting that negotiations are going on with investors and once they have been finalised then the money would be paid.

“These agreements involve a very large sum of money,” he said.

“We will need to actually go through to make sure everything is in place.

“Each time I have had meetings they have been very positive and it could happen within days, it could be a few weeks.

“Unfortunately, I cannot clarify any time scale.”

When asked why he had told people in December that all payments were up to date when that was not the case he said he had no reason to doubt council officers at that time.

The head of Digital City, Rikki Hunt, said the interest has not been paid because they are looking for new sources of investment.

“We are looking for re-financing and wanted to wrap it up in to one big deal, and I still do. It’s just business,” he said.

“Clearly the project has stalled. I would argue there are lots of reasons for that.

“Business often goes through this phase.

“I am very confident that we have a business model which can work and I still have a very clear model of seeing free wi-fi delivered to the people of Swindon.”

Meanwhile, council leader Rod Bluh defended the project but admitted that it had stalled.

“It has not gone as well as I might have liked,” he said.

“That’s not to say that it was the wrong decision to make, all the evidence is that it is still on track.

“It has not been easy being in the limelight on this one for the last 15 months.

“If I had to make the same decision again I might sit back and think about it a bit longer in view of what happened.”

But Coun Bluh said he would still go ahead with the plan if he was going to make the decision again.

“The one thing that has been lost here in this debate is the good it could do for Swindon,” he said.