Author Topic: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd  (Read 37846 times)

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Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #40 on: February 14, 2010, 06:35:24 PM »
Geoff

The answers to CW can be given at Scrutiny on 15th as its not unreasonable to do that. The 18th I have no idea what it will be but  will it be a presentation, then Q&A on that?  Also some members will be reluctant to ask questions as they may or may not be awaiting the outcome of the internal audit and other matters that are in train at the moment. The fact that members may attend and do not ask questions will be far more telling than an open and frank exchange.

I can only summise on this as all I have seen is it posted in the members bulletin nothing else no briefing paper or email. http://ww2.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/Published/StdDataDocs/2/8/2/5/SD00005282/$Bulletin49611February2010.doc.pdf

If you look at the meetings scheduled along side it clashes with Procurement Advisory Group. Now I would have thought that they would have the odd question or two  to ask?
« Last Edit: February 14, 2010, 06:42:20 PM by Dougal »
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #41 on: February 14, 2010, 06:47:06 PM »


Members bulletin item 6:  "Cabinet Member Delegated Decision Making"

I spent a couple of hours the other day trawling the SBC site precisely for a record of these.  I found some but was utterly unable to find the one(s) related to the wifi deal. 

It's not a big deal, but I notice other wifi related documents which should be available online, are not.   Chris Watts has also noticed this oddity.  :popcorn:


Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #42 on: February 14, 2010, 06:54:14 PM »
Geoff

I was at scrutiny when CW asked his questions last time and the leader did give an undertaking to write to him with the answers as he had done with his first set of questions. There is still the possibility of CW getting them before scrutiny tomorrow night.  If he does not have them then, he can ask the chair why? It is that simple.
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Offline Trollee

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #43 on: February 14, 2010, 07:00:07 PM »
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Rod Bluh has still not provided the written answers he'd previously promised to Chris Watts' scrutiny questions,
This is sounding worse and worse to me.

when is the next scruting meeting, if Chris watts is there we can ask him the latest info

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #44 on: February 14, 2010, 10:19:51 PM »
Geoff

I was at scrutiny when CW asked his questions last time and the leader did give an undertaking to write to him with the answers as he had done with his first set of questions. There is still the possibility of CW getting them before scrutiny tomorrow night.  If he does not have them then, he can ask the chair why? It is that simple.

Bluh not providing the ansers to Chris Watts' questions is another issue.  There are other issues regarding documents that should have been published two months ago, yet despite Chris chasing them up, they remain unpublished on the SBC website.

Offline Chris Watts

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #45 on: February 15, 2010, 12:02:01 AM »
It is my intension to attend the scrutiny meeting tomorrow, work permitting. I will keep talkswindon informed every step of the way and will publish any answers received.
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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #46 on: February 15, 2010, 09:43:44 AM »
Watch it you may get oralled like the SCS thread ;D that was also a tease by the sounds of it? :o Or is Talk Swindon feeding some form of closing ranks state of mind at SBC?  :-\

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #47 on: February 15, 2010, 04:57:50 PM »
These are the questions I have trying to submit to tonights scrutiny. It seems there has been a problem with the SBC email system so I asked Cllr Wakefield to give it a go on my behalf. I think he encountered similar problems.

Anyway, I don't have much faith that the scrutiny process is working properly, so I'm also posting them here as a matter of public record.

From: Geoff Reid         Subject: Scrutiny questions regarding SBC investment in Digital City (UK) Ltd
15th February 2010

Dear Councillor Wakefield I have tried to send this email directly to the chair of the scrutiny committee but it has bounced back as 'undeliverable'.  Normally I would ask my own ward councillors to forward this to to the chair of scrutiny but, as a recent communication to them was passed directly to the political assistant of the Conservative group, I have little confidence that the following question won't be handled the same way.  I am hoping, as I cannot attend tonights scrutiny, that you will be able to table the following questions on my behalf?

Scrutiny Committee Questions: 15th February 2010

From:Geoff Reid

Regarding SBC's joint 'WiFi' venture with Digital City (UK) Ltd

1) Swindon Borough Councils Director for Business Transformation, Mr Hitesh Patel, became a director of Digital City in September 2009. Was that directorship taken as a representative of Swindon Borough Council or in a personal capacity?

2) If Mr Patel accepted his directorship at Digital City (UK) Ltd in September 2009 as a representative of Swindon Borough Council, is that consistent with the decision to invest £450,000 in that company being made one month later, in October 2009 - as noted in the papers presented to the scrutiny committee in December 2009?

3) If Mr Patel accepted his directorship at Digital City (UK) Ltd in September 2009 in a personal capacity, were the other officers that authored the Cabinet Member Briefing note dated 12th of October 2009, Stuart McKellar - SBC Director of Finance and Stephen Taylor - SBC Director of Law and Democratic Services, and the cabinet members to whom the note was presented, (Councillors Rodderick Bluh and Mark Edwards), aware of this potential conflict of interest before agreeing to the recommendation to provision the loan of £450,000 to Digital City (UK) Ltd ?

4) In the response to Mr Watts questions to the December Scrutiny Committee regardin the decision to invest in Digital City (UK) Ltd, it was stated that: "The decision to invest was made primarily on the track record of the key individuals concerned and on the basis that risks and rewards would be fairly apportioned."I note that one of the directors of both aQovia and Digital City (UK) Ltd, a Mr Mustafa Arif, was a student until 2007 and most of the 'ten years experience of the telecoms and IT industries.' claimed for him on the aQovia website appears to have been gained in summer placements, or jobs which could be fairly described as temporary or part-time, whilst he was a student.It is my understanding that this is not 'normal practice' in the IT industry so, in light of this apparent lack of experience, is the scrutiny committee confident that the SBC officers Hitesh Patel, Stephen Taylor and Stuart McKellar, and Councillors Rodderick Bluh and Mark Edwards performed due diligence with the necessary thoroughness before they decided to invest public money in Digital City (UK) Ltd ?

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #48 on: February 16, 2010, 11:16:43 AM »
Although I was present at the previous two meetings was unable to make it last night.  How did it go and was any additional information available on this 'exciting project'?
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Offline colleenc90

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #49 on: January 07, 2011, 09:59:58 PM »
It's been a almost a year now.. It made me wonder what was made of the business plan and the loan...
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Offline Des Morgan

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #50 on: January 07, 2011, 10:37:09 PM »
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It's been a almost a year now.. It made me wonder what was made of the business plan and the loan...

The Business Plan - as the actual document has only been seen by a select few it is impossible to comment on it other than in respect of some of the parts which have been made public. As far as those parts are concerned it would be fair to say that some conditions have been met but a number have not. Mr Hunt himself set himself a target of sales in Highworth alone of between 20/250 private users and around 20/25 business users (these were his figures as at February 2010) I highlight sales as that suggest he meant users who had paid for the service, users of the free network cannot be considered sales. As according to officers and agreed by Coun Bluh and Edwards, sales were the key to medium and long term commercial viability, it follows that poor sales equals zero commercial viability.

I dread to think what the business plan said about marketing support - suffice to say that Digital City is/was strong on words but less expressive in terms of action. For example, no marketing team, no shop front in Highworth, no intensive marketing drive - all promised and all recognised as 'essential' to the success of the scheme - don't take my word for it, it's what the officers of SBC stated in various documents in the public domain.

As for the loan - Coun Perkins will tell you that it isn't due to be repaid until the end of the year. He won't tell you whether the interest payments on the loan have been paid quarterly and on time. In Mr Hunt's own words "The biggest single objective is making sure the loan is secure and i would like to pay it back quicker" as for whether it would be repaid, the best he could offer was "I would hope so" - that was in October 2009 - it simply doesn't fill you full of confidence does it?

Offline Spectre

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #51 on: January 07, 2011, 10:52:55 PM »
I've been holding my breath so long now I've turned bluh  :santa_grin:

Offline Ringer

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #52 on: January 08, 2011, 07:00:08 AM »
don't take my word for it, it's what the officers of SBC stated in various documents in the public domain.

Des

You make it sound like something from watch with mother. Was it the officers or was it the councillors? How does it go? Oh yes I remember  Was it Bill or was it Ben..... weed! No it was both of them; quick hurry here is the gardener back from Tea.
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Offline Des Morgan

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #53 on: January 08, 2011, 08:29:04 AM »
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You make it sound like something from watch with mother. Was it the officers or was it the councillors?


The officers prepared the documents albeit under the joint authorship of councillors - so I suppose you could say the leading architects of this project were Coun Bluh and Edwards supported by senior officersStuart McKellar and Stephen Taylor (see Loan Advance to Digital City UK Limited dated 10 March 2010) but don't forget Hitesh Patel the Group Director, Business Transformation who together with the the aforementioned wrote the original Cabinet member Briefing Note dated 12 October 2009 -  which was kept from Cabinet colleagues.

According to Coun Perkins, going through official reports and finding out they haven't been adhered to isn't helpful. To whom one might ask?

Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #54 on: January 08, 2011, 09:02:16 AM »
According to Coun Perkins, going through official reports and finding out they haven't been adhered to isn't helpful. To whom one might ask?

Des

At times you are curmudgeonly  wkd with the odd remark :santa_wink: However are you saying that a Swindon Borough councillor and cabinet member does not find scrutiny helpful? Or Cllr Perkins in his role as a member of the wifi board does not find scrutiny helpful? I believe SBC as a council is open to scrutiny. You will now find that the new committee room 6 is enabled to record the meetings held in there. SBC is making forward progress and I am sure you would welcome that.
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Offline Muggins

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #55 on: January 08, 2011, 09:11:56 AM »
It's a good thing for us to hear them..... but will there be a big notice on the wall to remind us that we are being recorded when we are invited to meetings? 

Although I am not at all sure that this facility has not been available to them for some time now.
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Offline Des Morgan

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #56 on: January 08, 2011, 09:14:25 AM »
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SBC is making forward progress and I am sure you would welcome that.


I am on record as having said that SBC are a leading council when it comes to scrutiny process. I am glad that the newly refurbished Committee room 6 has recording facilities - will they be used?

However, being a progressive Council doesn't neccessarily mean that its political elite is accepting of all the good things

With regard to Coun Perkins quote, I garnered it from a report in the SA in which he took me to task for asking too many awkward questions.

Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #57 on: January 08, 2011, 09:17:23 AM »
asking too many awkward questions.

Epitaph?
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Offline Des Morgan

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #58 on: January 08, 2011, 07:11:58 PM »
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Epitaph?

Blimey - and me so young!

Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #59 on: January 08, 2011, 08:00:13 PM »
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Epitaph?

Blimey - and me so young!

I was thinking more along the lines of political ! ;)
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