Author Topic: False Memory Swindrome  (Read 11747 times)

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Drone

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False Memory Swindrome
« on: April 26, 2011, 07:49:10 PM »
We make Private Eye, again!

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Collective amnesia strikes in Swindon, where senior councillors and officers are dashed if they can remember much about Digital City (DC).

Eye readers will easily remember it as the company that defaulted on a £450,000 loan from the Tory Council to set up borough-wide wifi internet access (Eyes 1265 and 1283).

An FOI request asked two simple questions:

- When did council leader Roderick Bluh, the deputy leader Garry Perkins and the other eight memnbers of the cabinet find out that DC would not be repaying the £450,000?

- When did chief executive Gavin Jones and other top officers find out that 'Rikki' Hunt, who recently quit as the chief executive of DC, had also quit as director of Avidity Consulting Ltd, which owns 30% of the shares of DC - to be replaced by his wife, Laura?

FOI officer Sharon Druett replied that none of the key players could remember the answers to these questions because they were informed 'verbally and therefore the information was not recorded under the FOI act'.

One of the worst afflicted is Perkins, who is also a director of DC. He had several meetings with Rikki after the transfer of Avidity shares to Mrs Hunt, yet apparently neither though that worth discussion.

Another puzzle is why Swindon gave DC a loan 900 times greater than the £500 limit suggested by a credit assessment agency the council had engaged to run checks on DC prior to offering it a loan.

Cllr Perkins claims new buyers for DC have been found but can't be identified because they are insisting on a 'confidentiality and non-discolsure agreement'. And what you don't know, you can't forget!



Offline the gorgon

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2011, 08:25:39 PM »
Yay we're number 1 :banana:

Oh... wait...

Sad thing is if Private Eye started digging into the goings on at SBC they run Swindon Rotten Borough stories every issue for the foreseeable future  ::)

Offline boothill

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Re: False Memory Swindrome /WCC ?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2011, 08:59:46 PM »
"Wiltshire Council invests £16m for faster broadband


Plans to expand access to superfast broadband in Wiltshire have been given a £16m boost by the local council.

A target has been set for 85% of all premises in the county to have availability by 2015.

The authority is also bidding for a government grant and additional funding from the telecoms industry to generate more than £30m towards the project.

The council said getting ahead in the digital revolution would help to boost Wiltshire's economy.

Many (most ?) communities  across the rural county are said to have a poor or slow broadband service at the moment"


I do hope that WCC obtain a far superior service to SBC's non existent, and forgotten WiFiasco !


Watch this space !
Old people believe everything...middle aged people suspect everything...young people know everything    3 2 1 back in the room !

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2011, 10:16:51 PM »

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/loan_default_by_digital_city_ltd#incoming-158265

Obviously I'm pleased & flattered that journalists take the time to read FOI's like mine above, check out what else we say in blogs and on forums, verify that we're telling he truth and can back up what we say with the public record....

....and then go on to tell thousands of other people about it   :)


As Roderick Bluh once said of both the WiFi'asco and Radio Rod's Big Spend Weekend :

Quote from: Rod Bluh
"You just can't buy this sort of publicity"


And he's right.

Offline Tobes

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2011, 12:26:52 AM »
Well done Geoffers  :wink:
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Ringer

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Re: False Memory Swindrome /WCC ?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2011, 06:24:43 AM »
"Wiltshire Council invests £16m for faster broadband


Plans to expand access to superfast broadband in Wiltshire have been given a £16m boost by the local council.

A target has been set for 85% of all premises in the county to have availability by 2015.

The authority is also bidding for a government grant and additional funding from the telecoms industry to generate more than £30m towards the project.

This is really for the benefit of the council's own use as we all know Wiltshire Tory Council is to dispose of Every building it owns all leisure centres etc to the community or to private companies doing things the Tory way in rural Wiltshire.  :2funny: It's all a big con...
The council said getting ahead in the digital revolution would help to boost Wiltshire's economy.

Many (most ?) communities  across the rural county are said to have a poor or slow broadband service at the moment"


I do hope that WCC obtain a far superior service to SBC's non existent, and forgotten WiFiasco !


Watch this space !


Wiltshire Council will not own any public buildings? I thought they had plans to divest themselves of this irksome responsiblity by 2012 leisure etc?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2011, 07:05:31 AM by Ringer »

Drone

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2011, 06:25:57 AM »
Quote
Another puzzle is why Swindon gave DC a loan 900 times greater than the £500 limit suggested by a credit assessment agency the council had engaged to run checks on DC prior to offering it a loan.


Anyone know anything about this? It's a new one on me...

Ringer

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2011, 06:41:42 AM »
Quote
Another puzzle is why Swindon gave DC a loan 900 times greater than the £500 limit suggested by a credit assessment agency the council had engaged to run checks on DC prior to offering it a loan.


Anyone know anything about this? It's a new one on me...

It may be new to you but its very old hat and came out very early on.

Drone

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2011, 06:47:09 AM »
Whoops.

Still, nice to see that the Perkinator and Rikki Hunt still get on. I wouldn't have like the failure of DC and the collapse of the Wi-Fi project to break up their friendship.

Offline MsD Meanor

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2011, 07:26:53 AM »
The FOI reply made me squirm with embarrassment just reading it. I can't  imagine how the author felt- it  clearly points out such huge deficiencies.

Brilliant questions but a shame it had to be done as those who should be representing Swindon peoples' interests so obviously aren't.

Us mere mortals couldn't know how to phrase a question or what to ask in order to get to the bottom of it and reveal some truth.

Well done Geoff.

Drone

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2011, 07:52:01 AM »
Posts on our earlier appearance: http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=6042.0

Our leaders *should* be bloody humiliated on our third appearance as a Rotten Borough.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2011, 08:07:21 AM »
Tobes, MsD: thanks for your kind words but I really can't accept any credit for the Borough's 3rd appearance as a Rotten Borough in Ian Hislop's Private Eye.

The Bluhligans still like to promote the myth that only a few local people read Talkswindon, but the truth,(as usual), is very different to what they say it is :)

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2011, 08:47:58 AM »
Yes well done Geoff...and everyone else who contributed.

Private Eye's kindly comments come in a timely manner, as next Thursday, 5th May we have the elections and just as night follows day, the 60 day moratorium on speaking about Wi-Fi is up on Sunday the 8th of May.

That is according to a calendar used by a simple earthling like me; which we know is different to one used by the Bluhigans. So on Monday the 9th of May we will either get an announcement of the new Wi-Fi company or another calendar correction. Or perhaps the expertise and resources of Digital City will be generously handed over to Wiltshire Council and used to push the whole county to the forefront in communication technology.

P.S. I hear that Rikki is still having comms problems on his mountain. Still he'll be home soon to a hero's welcome....and hopefully a few questions from Plod.

What's it all about?

Offline Muggins

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2011, 09:07:15 AM »
the Gorgon: "Sad thing is if Private Eye started digging into the goings on at SBC they run Swindon Rotten Borough stories every issue for the foreseeable future"

Then they could serialise it on the tele under the name of 'Diministry'
'the no foresight Saga'. Bet you lot can come up with othe names.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Tobes

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2011, 10:26:19 AM »
Quote
The FOI reply made me squirm with embarrassment just reading it. I can't  imagine how the author felt- it  clearly points out such huge deficiencies.

Brilliant questions but a shame it had to be done as those who should be representing Swindon peoples' interests so obviously aren't.

... and that is why, if they won't apologise or better still resign, those responsible MUST be deposed. They are not there to wildly speculate with tax payers money at a time of financial stricture, or allow back room deals to bypass proper, sensible business practice.

I think their strategy has been to hold out as far as possible to keep the ultimate and obvious final conclusion until AFTER the elections in order to limit the fall-out as far as possible. It may then well be time for the people of Swindon to take some direct action.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2011, 11:30:47 AM »
Selective amnesia doesn't just extend to FOI's - I think these answers reflect an amazing ability to confuse and confound.

I asked the following with the answers being shown in blue and red:

1. According to the Internal Audit Report IA inv/09-10/11 dated 9 April 2010 and clause 3.1.9 it is stated “It is also understood that at least two to other companies have shown interest in investing in the scheme. Therefore, in the event of any default in the loan repayment there are potential investors to whom the Council could explore alternative options with in exploring how best to maximise the opportunity of Wi-Fi whilst still looking to minimise the risk”

I have been advised by the Deputy Leader of the Council that this is not the case. He advises me “The Council was not aware of any other interest when the loan was agreed”

 The original audit report is correct in stating that 'at least two other companies have shown interest in the scheme' This statement was made once the project had started and after the loan had been agreed and at the time of writing this was correct.

The Deputy Leader is also correct in that at the time the loan was agreed the council was not aware of any other interest in investing in the scheme

Forgive me but didn't Rod Bluh say that one of the reasons he had to move fast in closing the deal was because other investors were interested?


2. According to the Internal Audit Report IA inv/09-10/11 dated 9 April 2010 and clause 3.1.9 it is stated “It is understood that the value of the fixed assets will exceed the value of the loan”

I have been advised by the Deputy Leader of the Council that “This is not the case”.

The audit statement is correct, it is expected that the value of the assets will exceed the value of the loan over time.

3. According to the Internal Audit Report IA inv/09-10/11 dated 9 April 2010 and clause 1.5.2 it is stated “The loan agreement also gives the assets of the company as security”

I have previously been advised by the Deputy Leader of the Council that the loan made to Digital City was covered by a ‘charge’  - a statement which has now been withdrawn and changed to ‘there was no charge’ and therefore no security attached to the debt by way of a charge against the assets of Digital City.

The audit statement is correct and quotes correctly from the Loan agreement. Neither the Lender nor the Borrower considered that this constituted a 'charge'

The deputy Leader responded with the information as he understood it at the time bearing in mind that he was not a Director of the company at the time

On that basis I have to once again suggest that the Council was misled by officers and senior Councillors alike as simply making a statement that the loan was secured against the assets doesn't actually make it legally binding on the parties to the deal. That is exactly why a 'charge' is required.


Drone

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2011, 02:41:58 PM »
The Wi-Fi fiasco does reveal the staggering contempt with which SBC holds the FOI law. Ordinary council workers have it drummed into them and take extra care to save letters, emails, etc... little did I know that we should have discussed everything verbally and then denied all knowledge later.

Back to Eric Pickles' suggestion of an 'army of armchair auditors' - perhaps we should write and ask him how we hold such a dishonest and secretive council to account?

Offline Karsten

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2011, 02:00:49 AM »
It is the councillors that are always named?

Have people forgotten that councillors don't do the leg work.. The chief executive and other permanent council employees advise and 'recommend'..

the councillors can't be held responible legally, but I'm sure some of the council's management should and could be.
This is clear case of "Yes, Councillor!"

Don't take this wrong the Councillors are to blame in my opinion, but they will get away.
Anne Snellegrove started to take this up in the house of commons... why out MP not followed up?
He's a lawyer to boot!

Surely he should be involved.

Has anyone contacted him?  Like I have said before I am a believer in 'feedback'.
Perhaps we should start trying to get him to take some sort of Action in
Swindon's Wi-Fiasco?

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2011, 02:42:56 AM »
Anne Snellegrove started to take this up in the house of commons... why out MP not followed up?
He's a lawyer to boot!

Surely he should be involved.

Has anyone contacted him?  Like I have said before I am a believer in 'feedback'.
Perhaps we should start trying to get him to take some sort of Action in
Swindon's Wi-Fiasco?

Yes. Just before the 2010 general election I had quite a discussion with Robert regarding the WiFi'asco

He made me a promise.  I am patiently waiting to see if he will, without being pushed, honour that promise.

Drone

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Re: False Memory Swindrome
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2011, 06:44:25 AM »
It is the councillors that are always named?

Have people forgotten that councillors don't do the leg work.. The chief executive and other permanent council employees advise and 'recommend'..


If only!

If a councillor wants to do something, no matter how ill-judged/poorly thought out/expensive/wasteful, as a council officer every one of your managers will ensure you do nothing but devote your life into putting their plan in to action.

You don't question the councillor.

You don't question your senior managers.

You don't rock the boat.

You mention 'value for money' at your peril.

I'm not sure if it's like this in other councils, but the level of political power is frightening, the level of officer cowardice is depressing.