DESPITE calls to resign over the controversial wi-fi project, council leader Rod Bluh has said he will not be stepping down and remains adamant the council will be getting its invested cash back.

Labour leader Jim Grant yesterday called for Coun Bluh and deputy leader Garry Perkins to resign after giving the go-ahead to a £400,000 investment in the scheme which was supposed to see free wi-fi rolled out across the area.

The company carrying out the work, Digital City, has only set up wi-fi in Highworth since it started three years ago and is now on the verge of being dissolved.

But Coun Bluh still believes the project will work after a new mystery investor was found to step in and take over the work.

“If we are being accused of an error of judgment that is easy to prove with hindsight.

“When you make a decision you make it on the basis of the facts you have at the time,” he said.

“We acknowledge things haven’t gone as well as we would like but we are confident as a result of this new investor it will be even bigger and better than we envisaged.”

Until earlier this year, Digital City was headed by now-bankrupt businessman Rikki Hunt.

Last month, it was announced by the register of UK firms that Digital City would be struck off and the company dissolved in three months unless ‘cause is shown to the contrary’.

“We all regret that the project didn’t get off to the start we had hoped for.

“Clearly the project with Digital City has stalled. We do, however, have a new investor coming on board, details of which will be announced in the next couple of weeks,” said Coun Bluh. “The new investor will be picking up this project and taking it forward in the way we envisaged.

“We are confident as a result of that new relationship the council investment will be returned.

“This is an important economic project for Swindon that everybody wants to belittle and talk down when we should be talking up economic opportunities,” he said.

A cabinet meeting about the new investor is expected to take place in two weeks.

Coun Grant said: “I am calling on Swindon Council’s leader and deputy leader to resign due to their involvement in the failed wi-fi scheme and Digital City.

“Both Coun Bluh and Coun Perkins, who is a council-appointed director of Digital City, have failed to retrieve the £400,000 loan from Digital City.

“When the wi-fi scheme was presented the council was due to get all of the £400,000 loan back from Digital City by October this year. We are a month away from this date and Swindon Council-taxpayers haven’t received one penny from that company.

“Secondly, I have called for this because both Councillors Bluh and Perkins have failed to explain to Swindon taxpayers where their £400,000 has gone. This destroys all credibility the council has to say to taxpayers their council is being open and transparent in using their money.

“And thirdly, I have called for this because the council’s reputation is being harmed at a national level, with the wi-fi failure being covered in the national press.

“Though I have nothing against the leader and deputy leader of the council personally, they have let Swindon council taxpayers down in a huge way over wi-fi and therefore need to go.”