Author Topic: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd  (Read 46857 times)

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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 #60 on: January 08, 2011, 08:19:49 PM »
Thank the Lord - I thought you knew something I didn't.  I wondered if the Conservative mafia had a contract out on me.  I know the officers consider me more of an irritant but they do at least accept the democratic principle of voter scrutiny, even if it annoys them to be asked questions.  The political element simply mouths platitudes and ignores questions

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #61 on: January 09, 2011, 05:18:40 PM »
The political element simply mouths platitudes and ignores questions

I wonder how much longer they can and will get away with that fact Des?

The elections commeth and our Garry is up for election here in Shaw and Nine Elms.

I hope he remembers that he is the council's representative Director on the Board of Digital City and is there to safeguard our financial interests.  No clever Dicks please telling me his first loyalty as a Director is to DC because that doesn't wash!!
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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 #62 on: January 13, 2011, 03:29:53 AM »

SBC 'Leading' in scrutiny?, I'm afraid I disagree with that, unless you mean they are the first unitary to demonstrate perfectly why councillors should not scrutinise themselves.

'Scrutiny', in SBC, is often little more than a politically choreographed pantomime with pre-determined 'results' being sought, (and realised), to suit the personal agendas and political ambitions of the elite and their accomplices.

Often the 'result' is reached at the expense of truth, democracy and the reputation of the council.

This, I think, will be Bluh's lasting 'legacy' - unless the leadership consistantly, truthfully and willingly engage with the electorate when it matters to the electorate, the default position of the electorate will be to assume that the leadership is obfuscating, evading, lying or incompetant....

...All of which we have experienced & witnessed during the WiFi'asco.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #63 on: January 13, 2011, 03:31:36 AM »
 ** by the way, there are a couple of straight and honest councillors on the scrutiny committee.

To spare their blushes I won't name them, but they know who they are.

Offline MikeHeal

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #64 on: February 10, 2011, 11:41:42 PM »
As someone who was at the start of Wi-Fi for the whole of Reading, I am completely confused by the ongoing fiasco that is Swindon Wi-Fi?
For a start what or who is Digital City UK?
How is that all of it directors appear to be conservative councillors?
What experiences have they in setting up a city wide Wi-Fi network?
When we decided to do this in Reading, firstly we sought European Social Funding Match funded by the local businesses.
Secondly, we chose to make the first wave as simple as possible, our community centres where given internet access and if needed computer.
Next we widened the capability to include the surrounding areas.
Finally we brought it into Town centre, renewing and replacing as we went,
At each stage we went back to draw down the funds, held securely by the Council until we could prove each stage completed.

When I first heard that the Council was involved in providing Wi-Fi to the whole of Swindon I was quite impressed that they should take on such a project. I am sure like a great many Swindon residents, I believed that the Council had procured the talents of a company that had great expertise in this area or did as we did in Reading and the start of the New Millennium.
Since then whenever the Swindon wide Wi-Fi is mentioned it is connection with Digital City UK, £450,000 of public monies and no progress. This in its self is bad enough but then to find out that Digital City UK’s directors are Conservative Councillors and it is the same Councillors that are on both the committees that give out the money and scrutinise their spending leaves me a little cold and not a little concerned.
As our council no register of interests? 
If so, how is it possible then that the deputy leader of the Council can also be a director of a company that is drawing down funding for an ongoing project?
And that a Conservative Councillor  and director of Digital City UK signed over his 30% share in Digital city to his wife in  December before all this s--- hit the f--
I think Councillor Perkins and Mr Richard (Rikki) Hunt Ch airman of the SSEP (Swindon Strategic Enterprise partnership) need to stop t e blame game, stop the playing around with words and hiding behind failing Council protocol tells the truth regarding the whereabouts of our £450,000 and what they intend to do about either setting up WI-Fi for Swindon or giving the money back so the Council can hire a company that can do the job properly.
I would at time like to remind those councillors involved in this the fate of those MP’s involved in false accounting??

Offline MikeHeal

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #65 on: February 10, 2011, 11:42:20 PM »
As someone who was at the start of Wi-Fi for the whole of Reading, I am completely confused by the ongoing fiasco that is Swindon Wi-Fi?
For a start what or who is Digital City UK?
How is that all of it directors appear to be conservative councillors?
What experiences have they in setting up a city wide Wi-Fi network?
When we decided to do this in Reading, firstly we sought European Social Funding Match funded by the local businesses.
Secondly, we chose to make the first wave as simple as possible, our community centres where given internet access and if needed computer.
Next we widened the capability to include the surrounding areas.
Finally we brought it into Town centre, renewing and replacing as we went,
At each stage we went back to draw down the funds, held securely by the Council until we could prove each stage completed.

When I first heard that the Council was involved in providing Wi-Fi to the whole of Swindon I was quite impressed that they should take on such a project. I am sure like a great many Swindon residents, I believed that the Council had procured the talents of a company that had great expertise in this area or did as we did in Reading and the start of the New Millennium.
Since then whenever the Swindon wide Wi-Fi is mentioned it is connection with Digital City UK, £450,000 of public monies and no progress. This in its self is bad enough but then to find out that Digital City UK’s directors are Conservative Councillors and it is the same Councillors that are on both the committees that give out the money and scrutinise their spending leaves me a little cold and not a little concerned.
As our council no register of interests? 
If so, how is it possible then that the deputy leader of the Council can also be a director of a company that is drawing down funding for an ongoing project?
And that a Conservative Councillor  and director of Digital City UK signed over his 30% share in Digital city to his wife in  December before all this s--- hit the f--
I think Councillor Perkins and Mr Richard (Rikki) Hunt Ch airman of the SSEP (Swindon Strategic Enterprise partnership) need to stop t e blame game, stop the playing around with words and hiding behind failing Council protocol tells the truth regarding the whereabouts of our £450,000 and what they intend to do about either setting up WI-Fi for Swindon or giving the money back so the Council can hire a company that can do the job properly.
I would at time like to remind those councillors involved in this the fate of those MP’s involved in false accounting??

Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #66 on: February 11, 2011, 08:09:32 AM »
Welcome Mike

There is a lot that councillors need reminding about with the Wi-fi rollout, as Mr John Richard Hunt, Cllr Garry Perkins  and Cllr Rod Bluh reminded me on Monday night SEVERAL TIMES the project has stalled and has been frozen. Perhaps Cllr Bluh & Co Ltd are now entering the buisness of Cryogenics? The one part of this carry on this stalling I sought to clarify, is as CEO of Digital City Mr John Richard Hunt sent an Email 13th (June) to all councillors. This was shortly after the company had received the residual payment (less 50K) money from SBC. In this memo it clearly changed the roll out plan, which had previously been to rollout acrosss Swindon after the Highworth pilot. *The council officers had only days before completed their risk asssessment and signed it off, to allow the release of the 250K to prevent the project stalling. The roll out work programme officers risked assessed surley had to have been  based on what was said at special cabinet etc?

However within days it had all been changed and the rollout was now being limited to the immediate town centre. Had Mr John Hunt CEO now changed this from the risk assessed rollout?  The memo also contained details of projects at Middi Haines Court, which were frozen by Mr John Hunt as he had to deal with other matters first ( Bathgate)? I am unsure how the officers who risked assessed this rollout programme and Cllr Perkins reacted to this memo. In my opinion the questioning of Cllr Perkins Bluh and Mr John Hunt at Scrutiny provided me with  little detailed formation. Again in my opinion their answers were generally vague. 

For Example why didn't Mr John Hunt, Cllr Bluh and Perkins volunteer the details/reasons behind the change to Avidity and its shares?

(* I feel sure that Des Morgan will have a detailed note?  :smiley6600:)
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ph1lc

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #67 on: February 11, 2011, 08:40:58 AM »
Interesting Cllr Wakefield.

What you are saying is that DC presented a plan to enable the Council to release the rest of the loan, then a soon as it was signed off scrapped it.

Who at SBC was responsible for monitoring the Council's investment. My experience of investors of this type ( mainly Venture Capitalists and Major Banks) is that they want constant detailed management accounts, together with progress updates.

As the person ultimately responsible for the finances at SBC, the Director of Finance either 1) Knows exactly where the Council's money has been spent or 2) Is totally incompetant.

As my ward Counciller Steve, can you please ask him which?

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #68 on: February 11, 2011, 09:01:16 AM »
Quote
Who at SBC was responsible for monitoring the Council's investment.

This is an interesting question. Was the £400k simply a loan or was it an investment. You will see that the Council have tried to link it to the £70millions investment portfolio when attempting to show how little £400,000 is compared with £70,000,000 (lots more noughts in the latter). However, Councillors are not permitted to make decisions on the investment portfolio, that is for real experts to manage.

I actually believe SBC (possibly in the person of the Director of Finance) have had sight of monthly management accounts and he probably does know where the money has been spent. The issue is whether he is under any duty or obligation to tell anyone outside of the administration. In the basence of evidence the best we can do is speculate.

Offline Muggins

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #69 on: February 11, 2011, 09:09:36 AM »
Mikeheals posting is clear and as succinct as possible, picks out the most important points in terms even a newcomer to this issue can understand. 

Someone send this to the adver so more people can see it! 

And perhaps to all those involved.   

The issue of SBC protocol is, to me, especially important as we are asked to develop and keep to their protocols. It is the protocols that we all look to and hope they keep to when dealing with our money.

If protocols had been met, we would not be continually asking questions and not getting direct answers.
 
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ph1lc

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #70 on: February 11, 2011, 09:12:28 AM »
I agree Des - he certainly is not going to tell me, but he has a duty to answer Coulciller Wakefield. If he refuses then we will have to ask the District Auditor to investigate.

The council's £400K is most certainly an investment. To structure this as a loan is the most common way of doing business these days - it makes it easier to get the money back out of the Company, if the company can afford it.

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #71 on: February 11, 2011, 10:04:40 AM »
Welcome Mike Heal and thank you for your interesting perspective.

Mike, you make mention of European Social Funding and it makes me wonder what the army of Economic Development Specialists on the Council have got to say as to why this avenue was not approached?  The relevance being the so called 'social inclusion', something now conveniently forgotten and not even referred to reasoning.  Was it because this 'investment' met none of the rules?  In these hard times can this Council afford Economic Development specialists when they make £5m worth of cuts to Adult Services?  They are being dispensed with elsewhere I am told.

Mike's post makes me aware, if I didn't know it already, what an amateur approach has to been made to this very complex subject.  It begs the question can we trust these people, ever again, with our money?
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ph1lc

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #72 on: February 11, 2011, 10:17:47 AM »
Posted by: Richard Symonds
« on: Today at 10:04:40 AM » Mike's post makes me aware, if I didn't know it already, what an amateur approach has to been made to this very complex subject.  It begs the question can we trust these people, ever again, with our money?


NO!!!!

Offline Ringer

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #73 on: February 11, 2011, 11:13:33 AM »
Interesting Cllr Wakefield.

What you are saying is that DC presented a plan to enable the Council to release the rest of the loan, then a soon as it was signed off scrapped it.

Who at SBC was responsible for monitoring the Council's investment. My experience of investors of this type ( mainly Venture Capitalists and Major Banks) is that they want constant detailed management accounts, together with progress updates.

As the person ultimately responsible for the finances at SBC, the Director of Finance either 1) Knows exactly where the Council's money has been spent or 2) Is totally incompetant.

As my ward Counciller Steve, can you please ask him which?

I think that is a good point 1 & 2 you have raised there maybe all the questions asked by everyone at scrutiny and the answers from the 3 at Scrutiny could be put up on TS?

Quote
Who at SBC was responsible for monitoring the Council's investment.

This is an interesting question. Was the £400k simply a loan or was it an investment. You will see that the Council have tried to link it to the £70millions investment portfolio when attempting to show how little £400,000 is compared with £70,000,000 (lots more noughts in the latter). However, Councillors are not permitted to make decisions on the investment portfolio, that is for real experts to manage.

I actually believe SBC (possibly in the person of the Director of Finance) have had sight of monthly management accounts and he probably does know where the money has been spent. The issue is whether he is under any duty or obligation to tell anyone outside of the administration. In the basence of evidence the best we can do is speculate.

Speculation, procrastination, over egging, gilding the lily is the best that appears to have been done by anyone connected with this project. BTW I liked the article in the adver.
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Offline Bobby Bingo

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #74 on: February 11, 2011, 11:33:13 AM »
Great article by Des in today's Advertiser.
Bobby

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #75 on: February 11, 2011, 11:41:08 AM »
Thank you to all the folk who have emailed me or called me to comment on the Adver article. i think Dave King acted in the very best interest of Swindon and deserves great credit as i am sure he would have been under some pressure to not run the article. The adver has taken a very positive view on Wi-Fi despite Coun Bluh pointing the finger of criticism towards them - I recall how Dave ran an article which concluded 'Now is that clear enough support?' In any discussions I have had with the editor he has made it plain to me that he is only interested in 'the issues' - not the boring political nonsense which he describes as posturing, pontificating and point scoring

It is disappointing to see Coun Perkins attempts to dismiss the logical examination of events as demonstrating the 'highly personal and subjective nature of my contrinution to the debate'. The reason it is so disappointing is that I believe my examination of the subject matter has demonstrated an objectivity which was clearly lacking from some councillors and officers.  It is clear they rushed into this project with eyes half shut and minds made up - and the proof is there for all to see.

What Coun Perkins fails to mention when he suggests that 'comprehensive answers' have been given is the fact that some were incomplete, some absolutely incorrect, others consisted of a single word response and some have still not been answered.

Oh and by the way - this matter has never been before Scrutiny on 6 occasions - that is yet another little fib perpetuated by the administration team and fed to the Scrutiny Committee - if anyone from SBC is reading this just look again at the claim that Wi-Fi was 'scrutinised' on 15 November 2010 (Minute 32) - you will see it is a nonsense claim, the subject matter was CCTV in Broad Green, simply because Digital City was referred to isn't quite the same thing 

Offline PAV

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #76 on: February 11, 2011, 02:38:37 PM »
Now that SBC are the majority shareholder of Digital City Ltd, are they under any obligation to publish the salaries paid within the company - as I cannot see any way they could have burned through £400,000 in such a short space of time without some extremely generous remuneration.

ph1lc

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #77 on: February 11, 2011, 03:47:34 PM »
PAV

No - they will have to publish only a balance sheet.

I would guess that the major "salary" will be paid by invoices raised by avidity to DC.

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #78 on: February 11, 2011, 04:02:10 PM »
Quote
Now that SBC are the majority shareholder of Digital City Ltd

SBC is not yet the majority shareholder.  All they have at the moment is a 'promise' from Mr Hunt that he will gift 'his' shares (that is the shares owned by Avidity, a company of which he is the sole shareholder but not a director) subject to the agreement of aQovia.  Clearly there is a side deal in force, not unusual, but it leaves wriggle room.

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: 1: The Business Plan and the £450,000 Loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd
« Reply #79 on: February 11, 2011, 04:06:34 PM »
Quote
the salaries paid within the company


Digital City never employed anyone, ever, unless Mr Hunt was telling fibs at scrutiny.

The only person i ever thought would have been an employee of DC would have been Mr Hunt's PA a charming lady who left his employment in October 2010.

So Ph1lc is right - interesting would be sight of where £250k went in 5 months - this was amount given to DC in the first week of May and was gone by the second week of November.