Author Topic: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco  (Read 4090 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« on: February 15, 2012, 02:26:49 PM »

A timely letter considering cabinet is meeting tonight.....

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/yoursay/swindonletters/9530484.Answers_needed_still_on_wi_fi_project_fiasco/

Quote from: Des Morgan
As this week’s Cabinet meets to discuss the ongoing wi-fi saga, surely the time is now right to ask Coun Perkins what happened to the £250,000 of taxpayers money.

I refer of course to the money given to Digital City, the company of which he is a director, and was in that post when the funding was made available.

Let there be no doubt as to what that funding was for; it was to progress the building of a wi-fi network across the whole of the borough.

In fact it was considered essential to pay this money to Digital City otherwise the project was likely to fail; as we now know, the project and Digital City failed to achieve any of its primary objectives.

Coun Perkins’ role as a director was to ensure the success of the company and the ‘protection’ of the council’s interest.

I think it fair to say he has singularly failed to achieve either.

It is also the case that Coun Perkins promised the £400,000 loan would be repaid, with interest; indeed, he proudly boasted ‘a new investor is only weeks away from signing a deal’ – sadly that assurance was so much flim flam.

Councillors are now being asked to underwrite the cost for the preparation and filing of a private company’s annual accounts, ostensibly as a quid pro quo with aQovia who have been running the Highworth network for Digital City.

Your readers may well ask why anyone would offer to pay any bills for a company which owes them over £400,000, especially when the liability for the presentation of the accounts rests with the directors of the company.

One really does wonder how any councillor can be taken in by any further assurances given by an officer corps who so badly failed to correctly assess the commercial situation of the company and who blithely gave away £250,000, despite having severe doubts as to the ability of the company to perform its side of the deal.

Des Morgan Caraway Drive Swindon





Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2012, 02:46:48 PM »
Good letter and it remains to be seen if Cabinet sanctions the COST of the preparation of the accounts for this Pirvate Limited Company which enjoyed the facility of the Deputy Leader of the Council Councillor Garry Perkins as a Director since March 2010. 

Councillor Perkins promised to both the Advertiser and in full Council last September 2011 that accounts would be prepared in the next few weeks.  Councillor Perkins has flouted Company Law in failing to produce these Accounts and a Company Return on time and had I not persuaded Companies House to retain Digital City (UK) Ltd on the Register of Companies it would have been removed last November 30th 2011.

Councillor Perkins should fund the preparation of these Accounts out of his pocket as he has manifestly failed to protect the interests of Swindon Council Tax Payers by prioviding details of what happened to the £400,000 loaned to a company of which he was Director at the same time as he was Deputy Leader of the Council.

Anyone who behaved in this way in the true business world would be shown the door!!  Why do we have to tolerate this kind of behaviour in Swindon or does anything go here?

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Offline Terry Reynolds

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2012, 10:27:00 PM »
In an legal answer tonight from the 'council lawyer', he told the people present, that as Mr Perkins is a member of the council, then it s right that the council pay for the records to be made available.

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2012, 11:49:15 PM »
In an legal answer tonight from the 'council lawyer', he told the people present, that as Mr Perkins is a member of the council, then it s right that the council pay for the records to be made available.

So how much is that going to cost us then?
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Offline Mart

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2012, 08:34:51 AM »
An interesting coincidence is the collection of the following utterings, they were made in regard to the rockery in waiting, also known as the Mechanic's Institute.

I gleaned them from the Adver, so they must be true.

Apparently Forefront Estates must pay back £331,242 plus £13,249 interest (!) and legal costs of £60,128. That's £404,619 according to my fag packet, that sum seems to have a certain resonance to me.

Somebody called Perkins says:

'.... Come out and talk, come out and explain what you are going to do and come out and talk to us'.

Very commendable attitude.

Somebody called Perkins also said the Council would pursue the debt. as well as an additional £850 spent on seperate works,

I can but rejoice on the zeal and vigour with which Mr Perkins is pursuing our hard earned cash.

If only all elected representatives would apply this kind of tireless defence of the public purse we'd probably have our bins emptied every week and a warden in every park.

This is the kind of consistent and dedicated representation you hope for when you vote. The fact Mr Perkins is only Deputy Leader is an injustice which will surely be addressed in May. Hopefully.

Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2012, 08:57:12 AM »
If only my ward Councillor and Deputy Leader of the Council would show the same zeal in matters that directly relate to him!!

Of course, I am referring to the accounts for Digital City (Uk) Ltd a company of which he has been a Director since March 2010 and who owe the Council (that's us folks) £400,000 plus interest and who has manifestly failed to comply with company law by filing accounts on time and to complete a Company Return.  The latter is not the most difficult of tasks and for someone who is allegedly a Director of nine companies should not take more than a few minutes to get it into the post.

Councillors Perkins in full view of the Council undertook to complete these accounts 'in the next few weeks' last September and his lack of enthusiasm for this task means that we (that's us again folks) now have to pay for them to be completed!! 

Is there any precedent for this type of behaviour with public money elsewhere?

Councillor Perkins' opponents in the election of councillors in Shaw will no doubt be using these facts to ensure that we do not have to suffer this type of behaviour not one day longer than is absolutely necessary!!
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Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2012, 09:16:56 PM »
I have today received the following from Coun Bluh the Leader of the Council. As he has sent this as an 'open' letter to the Adver I feel sure he will not mind me reproducing it in full - with a response of course

Quote
Dear Des,

Open Letter to the Swindon Advertiser

Thank you for your latest emails. Given that you also conduct your campaign through the media, I shall respond to your points as follows through this open letter:

1.   The minutes of the Cabinet meeting do record that UK Broadband stated that they would not have entered into the relationship with Capita but for the Highworth project (Minute 36 of September 2011 Cabinet refers). 

2.   Cllr Perkins’s response to questions asked at previous Cabinet question times was based on his knowledge and belief at the time.

3.   I again reiterate that Cllr Perkins is representing the Council on the Digital City board. He is not there in a private capacity for personal gain. Arrangements are being made by the company to file the accounts and as a shareholder in the company it is perfectly proper for the Council to provide money to the company to facilitate this.

4.   The Council believes that Cllr Perkins has acted perfectly, properly and lawfully with regards to his role as a Director of Digital City.

5.   The Council does not accept the allegation of a 'tawdry deal'.  The fact remains that the Highworth project opened the way for the UK Broadband involvement with Capita, which will see major benefits to the Swindon economy and under which the Council will make considerable savings and earn future income that will be set against the loan to Digital City.

6.   The Council has nothing further to add to the various responses already given to numerous questions already asked by you on this matter.

Yours sincerely
 
Councillor Roderick Bluh
Leader of the Council

My response is as follows.

Dear Rod 

I am grateful for this open response to my various emails on the subject of the Council’s alleged deal with UK Broadband and Coun Perkins failure as a director of Digital City to ensure that the Company provided value for money to the Council and indeed the failure of the company to provide the service for which it was paid £400k. I am also delighted that you now make a very clear admission that there is no deal between the Council and UK Broadband but that the deal is one made between Capita and UK Broadband which may or may not result in an income stream in the future but may see some savings sometime in the future. It is also edifying to note that Digital City UK Limited plays no part in any commercial deal.
 
I applaud your defence of Coun Perkins and your view that he has acted lawfully and properly with regard to his directorship of Digital City, this of course ignores the incredible late filing of the accounts for which he is responsible. I also note you claim the Council supports your statement, I assume that is the Council as it is coloured blue and not the Council collectively.

I think it is for the people of Swindon to decide whether the deal made between the Council and Digital City was ‘tawdry’ – I suspect that many will find your defence somewhat feeble.

It most certainly does not surprise me that you close by stating that you will not engage in any further correspondence.  This is of course a style you have adopted as a model for democratic leadership engagement.  When the questions asked, find your administration wanting, you resort to the time honoured position of feigning outrage, followed by faux hurt concluding with the sulken behaviour of the misanthrope you most surely are.

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2012, 09:22:37 PM »
In an legal answer tonight from the 'council lawyer', he told the people present, that as Mr Perkins is a member of the council, then it s right that the council pay for the records to be made available.

Coun Perkins may well be the Council's representative on the Board but that doesn't mean it has to pay for what is a commercial transaction.  The Council may well have taken a kindly view if Coun Perkins had been fined for his failure to file the accounts but I am not sure it is right to pay Digital City's accountant to prepare what really must be a very simple and straightforward set of accounts covering a period of less than one years actual trading.

I asked the Council's CEO for the appropriate legal basis on which the decision to pay was made - as you can imagine this is one of the questions Coun Bluh now refuses to answer.

Offline DavidPayne

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2012, 02:34:54 PM »
Keep at it Des, you are stalwart!

The insuperable outrage is that it is enshrined in law that no representative of government is every liable to any greater extent than his future salary in that role and this all but guarantees that with the exception of the very few who are not propelled into Office by personal ambition, the enticement to a cavalier partying with the easy cash of the public purse is an irresistible and base seduction.

Not until they have something to lose will things change.

Accountability MY ASS.

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2012, 11:34:46 AM »
While the Leader of the Council has made it clear that 

“The Council has nothing further to add to the various responses already given to numerous questions already asked by you on this matter”. 
Which in itself is a great pity as it really is the case that many questions I have asked have simply been ignored or answered in such a manner as to make the response quite unintelligible and requiring further questions to solicit a proper answer.  In this regard Coun Bluh states

“Arrangements are being made by the company to file the accounts and as a shareholder in the company it is perfectly proper for the Council to provide money to the company to facilitate this”. I am sure Mr Taylor can provide confirmation on the exact point of Law or the appropriate phrase in SBC’s Standing Orders which legitimises the Council making a payment to facilitate a private company preparing and filing their annual accounts.

Coun Bluh also refers to the a cabinet meeting of September 2011 and states

“The minutes of the Cabinet meeting do record that UK Broadband stated that they would not have entered into the relationship with Capita but for the Highworth project (Minute 36 of September 2011 Cabinet refers)”
Actually, this is not quite the case. The minutes of the Council, which regrettably are not a verbatim account of the meeting, a point made so eloquently made by the council on previous occasions, simply offered a view as expressed by the Leader of the Council but not supported by any recorded comment by either of the two UK Broadband directors present.  A reading of the minutes will clearly show that there is no reference to anything said by the Director of UK Broadband in respect of Digital City UK limited. For reference the part of the Cabinet minute I refer to is also 36 para 7.  I am sure the Leader would not wish to use the minutes of a meeting as proof someone said something, when such a fact is unproven.     

'The Chair welcomed the proposal now before the Council, which the new investor stated would not have come about without the Council’s loan to Digital City
and the Council’s commitment to seeking the establishment of a high speed wireless network for Swindon'


 


Offline ph1lc

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2012, 11:40:45 AM »
Spot on with the last point Des - exactly what I was going to say.

Rod is wriggling and twisting the truth as usual.

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2012, 11:49:13 AM »
I think the only reason why Rod Bluh has decided to waste yet more Council Tax Payers money on this joke of a so called 'investment' in Digital City (UK) Ltd., is that he now knows that we are not prepared for Digital City to be struck from the Register of Companies until such time as Accounts have been filed.

Perhaps as Council Tax Payers in Swindon and thereby shareholders in Digital City (UK) Ltd we need to see the accounts and be told exactly what happened to the £400,000 of our money that has been so generously invested in this company on our behalf?

I know if I would were standing in the elections this subject would feature very prominently as a question to existing Councillors, our so called nominated Director in particular, as to why they manifestly failed to protect our investment and to make public what happened to this loan?

Meanwhile, please keep up the pressure Des and keep it in the public physhie, it will certainly have an inpact during the elections if people are made fully aware of this disgraceful behaviour!
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Offline ph1lc

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2012, 11:55:41 AM »
Hang on - the chair said that UK Broadband are only interested because of our loan to DC.

Isn't Rod the chair of cabinet.

So Rod says something so it must be true.

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2012, 12:21:14 PM »
For what it's worth - I actually do believe that UK Broadband's interest in SBC did come about in part because of the Wi-Fi deal. Where Coun Bluh and i differ is that I believe UK Broadband saw the 'pigs ear' that Digital City made and stepped in as a result of the companys failure and not its success.

UK Broadband needed a willing partner and suddenly into its lap falls SBC an authority being beaten over the head due to its inability to have got its Wi-Fi project beyond phase 1.

I can't help but feel that a one time director of DC may have been influential in persuading his major client to engage with UK Broadband and pull Rod's 'nuts' out of the fire.

Equally, I am sure that UK Broadband would have considered it a price worth paying to have attributed to them any statement SBC wanted to make, so long as it wasn't a lie - in this they have the services of a past master to whom 'interpretation' can be open to interpretation.

The deal with UK Broadband is with Capita and not SBC - Digital City simply does not feature in the deal and in truth never did. Coun Bluh has demonstrated his preference to use 'smoke and mirrors' rather than to actually come clean. His defence of Coun Perkins while laudable is mis-placed, whilst his contempt of democratic process and the people of swindon is all too apparent.

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2012, 12:48:12 PM »
Hang on - the chair said that UK Broadband are only interested because of our loan to DC.

I hope you are not suggesting that they might be putting their hands out in our direction sometime soon ph?
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Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2012, 01:44:37 PM »
I am indebted to Coun Bluh for a response to an email I sent him in response to his 'Open Letter' to the Adver (see above)  Sadly, in my view, the Leader simply resorts to making allegations totally unsupported by any evidence whatsoever.

Quote
Thank you for your email of 17th February.  I utterly reject your completely falacious statement that I am refusing to engage and that I am hiding with regard to WiFi.  Were it not adding to the already enormous cost you have placed on the tax payer I would happily publish every meeting you have had with officers – including the Chief Executive, the Group Director Business Transformation and the Director of Law – every question you have asked at Cabinet, Council or Scrutiny and every email you have sent me on this subject.  You have cost the tax payer thousands of pounds because for whatever reason you cannot let this matter go.

The facts of the matter are clear.  The excessive public scrutiny, with some party political meddling, helped undermine business confidence in the original Digital City.  If we had listened to people such as yourself the tax payer would indeed have lost £400,000.  We ignored the siren voices and instead Councillor Garry Perkins has devoted a huge amount of effort to salvaging the project.

Now, the deal between UK Broadband and Capita will enable every penny of the original loan, and outstanding interest to be repaid to the Borough.  The deal will also provide the Council with annual savings of around £100,000 a year on ICT costs while improving the quality of the service.  There will also be new revenue for the Borough as we will be part of a profit share arrangement as One Swindon and business partners take up the 4G offer in Swindon through UK Broadband.  As UK Broadband’s representatives said in public – they are only making this investment because the Council took the innovative step of making the loan

We do have a choice.  We can agree to go over this same old ground ad infinitum and simply waste time, effort and money.  Alternatively, I invite you to draw a line in the sand and work with the Council to deliver real benefits for the people of Swindon.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2012, 01:54:50 PM »
It's shame that one can't be shown on the big screen! 

Do you want to print it out, I'll help you hand them out in the town centre on Saturday!

Much the same as Robert Buckland on the politics show yesterday saying unemployment figures in Swindon as doen to the youth not engaging with employment.
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2012, 03:01:22 PM »



Quote from: Councillor Roderick Bluh, Conservative Leader of Swindon Borough Council


"Thank you for your email of 17th February.  I utterly reject your completely falacious statement that I am refusing to engage and that I am hiding with regard to WiFi.  Were it not adding to the already enormous cost you have placed on the tax payer I would happily publish every meeting you have had with officers – including the Chief Executive, the Group Director Business Transformation and the Director of Law – every question you have asked at Cabinet, Council or Scrutiny and every email you have sent me on this subject.  You have cost the tax payer thousands of pounds because for whatever reason you cannot let this matter go.

The facts of the matter are clear.  The excessive public scrutiny, with some party political meddling, helped undermine business confidence in the original Digital City.  If we had listened to people such as yourself the tax payer would indeed have lost £400,000.  We ignored the siren voices and instead Councillor Garry Perkins has devoted a huge amount of effort to salvaging the project.

Now, the deal between UK Broadband and Capita will enable every penny of the original loan, and outstanding interest to be repaid to the Borough.  The deal will also provide the Council with annual savings of around £100,000 a year on ICT costs while improving the quality of the service.  There will also be new revenue for the Borough as we will be part of a profit share arrangement as One Swindon and business partners take up the 4G offer in Swindon through UK Broadband.  As UK Broadband’s representatives said in public – they are only making this investment because the Council took the innovative step of making the loan

We do have a choice.  We can agree to go over this same old ground ad infinitum and simply waste time, effort and money.  Alternatively, I invite you to draw a line in the sand and work with the Council to deliver real benefits for the people of Swindon".


Oh Roderick, you really are a petulant pillock.  Talkswindon has several years worth of evidence which chronicles in painstaking detail your ingrained habit of obfuscating, evading, re-interpretating facts, bullshitting and frequent bouts of pouting, handbag waving and faux outrage when you're caught, as usual, pulling another fast one in the harsh spotlight of public scrutiny.

The facts of the matter are clear, and most of them have been available for the general public to read on Talkswindon from day one of your WiFi'asco.  The 'official' record produced by Swindon Borough Council is largely a work of fiction, a 're-interpretation' of the truth if you like, which appears wholly in keeping with the general tone' of the WiFi'asco. 

Business ventures born out of exagerations, lies and deceit are unlikely to thrive and this one died in it's infancy, having been thoroughly poisoned by it's own amniotic fluid.  Other businesses not only had no confidence in Digital City (UK) Ltd, there were scornful of its inept conception and quite sensibly avoided becoming involved with either the company itself, or the people 'running' it (into the ground).

Interest in the WiFi'asco will not die until an honest and transparent post mortem has been carried out, but Cllr's Bluh and Perkins are still wriggling and writhing furiously to prevent that from ever happening.  When the whole awful, stinking truth truth comes out, as it will at some point, Rod won't be very welcome in the Civic or the town.

There is no such thing as 'excessive public scrutiny' unless your name is Roderick Bluh, in which case any uninvited public scrutiny is excessive.

By the way, a little bird in another publicly funded organisation twittered gently in my ear the other day, and the message came as no particular surprise because the Lamplighters network has been buzzing with echoes of the same for some weeks.....

...... Swindon Borough Council has allegedley admitted quietly that it has been regularly giving very large sums of money to a recently bankrupted invidual who also recently absented himself from a company which still owes SBC £400,000+ in unpaid loan and interest payments.

Oh dear, deary me, Rod.  What else has been going on right under your nose which you also don't want us to discover and discuss?.....  :popcorn:

 

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2012, 07:36:18 PM »
 Rod Bluh said: "The facts of the matter are clear.  The excessive public scrutiny, with some party political meddling, helped undermine business confidence in the original Digital City.  If we had listened to people such as yourself the tax payer would indeed have lost £400,000.  We ignored the siren voices and instead Councillor Garry Perkins has devoted a huge amount of effort to salvaging the project."

If the man believes the above to be true then he is seriously deluded. If he knows it to be untrue, then he is a porky pie distributer. Either way it should preclude from holding any public office.
What's it all about?

Offline ph1lc

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2012, 08:46:35 PM »
The answer for Rodders is simple.

Stand up in public and say  -I'm sorry, we F***ed up. Des was right all along.

Offline moley

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2012, 08:50:49 PM »
The answer for Rodders is simple.

Stand up in public and say  -I'm sorry, we F***ed up. Des was right all along.

or if everything is above board and no money has vanished to places it shouldn't have, publish the accounts.

The continual failure to do so suggests that there is something to hide.

Moley

Offline jennyb

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2012, 11:19:08 PM »
Saw it in action tonight again in Scrutiny....

Cllr Bluh is always right , on every subject, every time... he knows it and his team know it and the solicitor knows it ...even if that means that he will argue covenants both ways during the same meeting....to prove that Cllr Bluh is always right...on every subject,every time...

So..what's a little money spent on Wifi... a mere bagatelle to those who believe that they have absolute power?

Who will tell the Emperor that he has no clothes...

Who will he listen to ?

Not the public..... or maybe not until May...
It takes wisdom to know what you know and wisdom to know what you don't know and when to call in those who do. Often the people who do know will advise that evidence and research are very helpful when making decisions. Who knows it might even save a bit of money.

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2012, 10:31:03 AM »
Not the public..... or maybe not until May...

......when he stands in the Old Town Old Walcot Ward

and then he may just find out who are his real friends.

Interesting how Mr Bawden sauntered into Scrutiny last night surveyed the scene, sat down away from the public then got up and moved to the Chairman's end of the table and spoke to Fionuola, put on his coat and left.

Beware oh Rod, is Mr B friend or foe?

Going back to Wi-fi - as if we could ever not do so!  Rod Bluh needs to be aware that one day we will find out what happened to the money and the nature of the council's relationship with Mr Hunt and then there will be judgement day so why procrastinate further? 

Publish the Accounts and show us what happened to the £400,000 loan made in our name?

Unless you have something to hide, of course!

You know it makes sense!
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Offline jennyb

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Re: Adver letter: Answers needed still on wi-fi project fiasco
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2012, 03:23:29 PM »
Cllr Bluh... or does he become Mr Bluh in election purdah? ...is standing in Old Town.
It takes wisdom to know what you know and wisdom to know what you don't know and when to call in those who do. Often the people who do know will advise that evidence and research are very helpful when making decisions. Who knows it might even save a bit of money.