Author Topic: W-fi report won’t blame individuals  (Read 7194 times)

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Offline Tobes

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W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« on: May 06, 2013, 11:03:40 AM »
Apparently.... Though if not blame, what about at least name...?

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/10401193.W_fi_report_won___t_blame_individuals/

Quote
THE councillor leading the cross-party review into Swindon Council’s failed wi-fi project says the findings are likely to be published in June – but do not expect blame to be laid at the door of individuals.

Swindon Council agreed in October 2009 to invest up to £450,000 in the firm Digital City (UK) Ltd, to provide broadband access and other wi-fi related services across the Swindon borough.

But the infrastructure was only installed in Highworth and the firm never generated enough income to pay the loan back.

The council set up the firm under a joint venture partnership with technical partners aQovia UK Ltd and Avidity Consulting Ltd, a firm owned by businessman Rikki Hunt, who became the managing director of the new firm, based at the David Murray John Tower, in the town centre.

To investigate the fiasco, in November 2012, the council’s scrutiny committee established a task group of Labour councillors, Des Moffatt and Bob Wright, and Conservative councillors Peter Heaton-Jones and Brian Ford.

Coun Moffatt said publication of the group’s findings would have to wait until after the council’s AGM, on May 17, because there were no more scrutiny meetings beforehand, and the draft first had to be approved by the task group before being sent for comment to those involved in the wi-fi project.

He said: “Although we were desperate to get this dealt with on this side of the AGM, we failed, largely because of work and holiday commitments it would be unreasonable to expect some of our colleagues to cancel.”

Coun Moffatt said Coun Garry Perkins, Swindon Council’s director on Digital City, tried to rescue the situation and was not responsible for it happening in the first place.

But he said the report would not point the finger at which individuals were actually responsible.

He said there were legal reasons as the group could not blame people for incompetence without strong evidence.

But he said the group intended to make all its findings available. He said the review’s aim was to focus on lessons learnt and make recommendations to reduce the risk of it happening again.

He said: “Generally, it’s what the corporate council failed to do rather than any particular individual within the corporate council. “I made mistakes in early 2010 with wi-fi. They aren’t significant mistakes in the great scheme of things but I made mistakes in my role on scrutiny committee and my role as a long-service member of the Labour Party.”

“There was an element of ‘group think’ that wi-fi would solve all their problems, and as a consequence, no one individual was to blame. Dissidents were outside the loop.”

Coun Moffatt said he hoped the report would answer all outstanding significant” questions, but refused to be drawn on whether the report would reveal who agreed for Digital City to pay Mr Hunt’s Avidity Consulting £105,067 in consultancy costs between August 14, 2009 and December 31, 2010.

Mr Hunt told the Adver last week that the renumeration was something agreed initially between the shareholders. He said Swindon Council was represented in the discussions by officers, whom he would not name because it was not fair on them.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 12:23:31 PM by Tobes »


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'

Mr Grumble

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2013, 11:41:55 AM »
Finally an internal report has been produced.  Just like the Croft one the system has reviewed itself and found that no-one is to blame.  What a shame.

I wonder if Cllrs Wright, Ford and Heaton-Jones concur with Cllr Moffatt?  Also it's odd that even Rikki Hunt agrees with them because he thinks it's not fair to name anyone too.   What this town needs is some real independent external reviews, don't you think?

Perhaps they'll take up sewing next? :crazy2:

Offline Tobes

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2013, 12:00:19 PM »
I guess it all depends upon what people understand is the purpose of first scrutiny and then review.

Half a million pounds of tax-payers money has been spent with precious little to show for it - except that a significant proportion of it went into the trouser pocket of an individual.

Why will nobody be named?

Because the scrutiny process failed.
Because senior officers failed
Because too many councilors failed to understand the (obvious) implications of what was happening, or chose not to speak out for politically motivated reasons

Nobody will be named because to do so would harm all the parties.

Instead, damage limitation is the order of the day: By effectively suggesting that 'the whole council is to blame', the review body is in danger of effectively making sure that no key individual will end up taking any.

One individual has already stood down from the position they held when the decision was made, one is bankrupt - but several councilors who should (given the level of trust invested in them) be exposed to the criticism of the electorate and judged accordingly at the next election.

I don't think thats a fair way to conclude this whole sad affair. If lessons are going to be learned, there have to be some consequences for those at fault, surely?
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'

Smiler

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2013, 12:07:07 PM »
Quote
I made mistakes in early 2010 with wi-fi.

How brave and reassuring that a councillor admits to his mistakes.

But what an opportunity this is for the Tories in West Swindon to rush out a leaflet with the headline - Cllr Perkins rescues wi-fi as Cllr Moffatt admits his 2010 wi-fi mistakes.

No doubt the Lib Dems will be rushing their leaflet out blaming it all on Labour.

Thank you brave Cllr Moffatt for being so honest :clap:

Offline Tobes

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2013, 12:14:18 PM »
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Coun Moffatt said he hoped the report would answer all outstanding significant” questions, but refused to be drawn on whether the report would reveal who agreed for Digital City to pay Mr Hunt’s Avidity Consulting £105,067 in consultancy costs between August 14, 2009 and December 31, 2010.

Lets just hope that councilor Moffat's laudable honesty given his earlier mistake isn't offset by a further disservice to Swindon's voters, eh?

Other poor judgments ought to be held to public account...
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'

Mr Grumble

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2013, 12:31:10 PM »
Tobes, I think you've struck hammer 'squarely' on the chisel and I don't think the words brave and honest are what some would have used.  Perhaps silly and frank?

It will be interesting to see how frank Cllrs Wright, Ford and Heaton-Jones are.

What next?  Des Morgan running out of the Civic Offices hands held aloft saying no, no it was nothing to do with them, it was me all along  :2funny:

Offline Muggins

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2013, 01:11:58 PM »
"Cllr Perkins rescues Wi-Fi"

But he didn't, did he?   

He maybe tried but he did not succeed.
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: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2013, 02:47:20 PM »
The story really does beg more questions than it answers in my opinion:
Quote
He said there were legal reasons as the group could not blame people for incompetence without strong evidence.

Is half a million quid pissed away with nothing to show and £100k of that in the pocket of an 'expert businessman' who is now a registered bankrupt, not strong evidence of something pretty obvious?

 :WTF:

Quote
But he said the group intended to make all its findings available. He said the review’s aim was to focus on lessons learnt and make recommendations to reduce the risk of it happening again.

I wonder if one will be to listen to the members of the public who clearly pointed out the obvious risks and what was almost certainly going to be failure?

Quote
He said: “Generally, it’s what the corporate council failed to do rather than any particular individual within the corporate council. “I made mistakes in early 2010 with wi-fi. They aren’t significant mistakes in the great scheme of things but I made mistakes in my role on scrutiny committee and my role as a long-service member of the Labour Party. There was an element of ‘group think’ that wi-fi would solve all their problems, and as a consequence, no one individual was to blame. Dissidents were outside the loop.”

'Outside the loop' reads like cant for outside of SBC. Its long been held by many, of whom I count myself, that far too many decisions and political trades appear to be made behind closed doors, subject to deals and exchanges of favour.  It also seems utterly bizarre to me that 'the loop' simply means anyone not a council officer or elected councilor - in other words, the entire people of Swindon are also being treated as outside the loop. NOBODY I spoke to, nobody here on TS, down the pub or in local business, NO-ONE outside of SBC appeared to think that this idea was viable. How could councilors appear to be so out of touch not just with their electorate, but with what appeared to be basic, clear common bloody sense?!

I have a feeling that May 17 is not going to see the recognition of institutional failure and most importantly, recognition of personal responsibility, that is required for anything really meaningful or lasting lessons to come. Instead, it appears hatches are being battoned down and ranks are closing. I hope I am wrong.

 :-\
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 Mart

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2013, 04:54:24 PM »
He said there were legal reasons as the group could not blame people for incompetence without strong evidence.

So, half a million quid gone walkabout without the 'purchased' goods and services being received in return is not 'strong evidence'.

That implies it is perfectly possible to do SBC for half a million quid with minimal risk.

If only the enquiry had been pursued with the drive, determination, visionary thinking, unconventional processes and vibratory 'feckyou' approach that it's subject matter was it might have been considered to have achieved it's purpose.

Hands up anyone who is surprised.
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: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2013, 05:12:18 PM »
If the report does not SAY WHY WHERE and WHEN and apportion accountability for what happened this will RUN and RUN and RUN.

Of course, Rod Bluh could have prevented all of this by just using an ounce of common sense, but sadly he didn't because he never makes or is prepared to own up to any mistakes.
All my posts are my own opinion and do not represent any political organization or group

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2013, 05:13:25 PM »
Quote
"Cllr Perkins rescues Wi-Fi

Muggins you are right he didn't save it at all.

It is true to say that Coun Perkins was not 'in at the start' of the saga.

It is also true that Coun Perkins thought he was up to the task of 'controlling' Mr Hunt. The problem is that by the time Coun perkins met with Mr Hunt (after the May election and after Mr Hunt had been given the second tranche monies - all £250k) it was too late - the money had gone.

Coun Perkins, in my view, had no intention of 'saving' Digital City or the propsoed free Wi-Fi service. he had but one aim and that was to protect the Conservative administration.

He did that in a number of ways including by attempting to traduce people like me. He cam very close to being called out as a lxxr on a number of occasions especially with regard to the Bathgate saga


Offline jennyb

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2013, 05:19:11 PM »
From today's adver....

Quote
“There was an element of ‘group think’ that wi-fi would solve all their problems, and as a consequence, no one individual was to blame. Dissidents were outside the loop.”

Coun Moffatt said he hoped the report would answer all outstanding significant” questions, but refused to be drawn on whether the report would reveal who agreed for Digital City to pay Mr Hunt’s Avidity Consulting £105,067 in consultancy costs between August 14, 2009 and December 31, 2010.

Mr Hunt told the Adver last week that the renumeration was something agreed initially between the shareholders. He said Swindon Council was represented in the discussions by officers, whom he would not name because it was not fair on them.

I find these comments very disturbing. 

SBC is a local authority , not a venture capitalist or entreprenuer. It is not about blame, it is about accountability.

If you are being paid to do a job then you are accountable for the decisions you have made. This accountablity may cause much professional gain or much professional pain.

In the real world, where companies have to work hard to attract and retain customers who could vote with their feet and go elsewhere , accountablity is a critical element of any endeavour.

If this report does not name the organisations and individuals involved then it has failed in it's duty to the public. If the truth is not told and there are no sanctions then the same thing can happen again and again. 

Whoops.. it already has! The hapless Class Solutions and all it's tendrils have cost the people of Swindon millions in cash lost forever to education. Cllr Perkins was involved in this too.

Don't members of the WiFi review group have a duty to present the truth to the public?

No openness , no sanctions, no customers who can move elsewhere , no risk ... then why would behaviours change?
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 Des Morgan

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2013, 05:19:48 PM »
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Generally, it’s what the corporate council failed to do rather than any particular individual within the corporate council.

Coun Moffatt is entitled to a view - the above does not accord with anything I have discovered which suggests that at least four senior officers failed to do their jobs in a way which could be described as satisfactory.

One of whom had very specific responsibilities for monitoring the finances of DC.

One mid ranking officer, holding a position of trust (as opposed to power) certainly prepared and offered up a report which had more holes in it than a string vest.

Of course it is possible that one of the conclusions in the report could be that the decisions made were political and not officer driven.

We will have to wait and see!!


Offline Des Morgan

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2013, 05:28:44 PM »
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Mr Hunt told the Adver last week that the renumeration was something agreed initially between the shareholders. He said Swindon Council was represented in the discussions by officers, whom he would not name because it was not fair on them

This is the same Mr Hunt who claimed that the council approached him about the Wi-Fi scheme, whereas the Council are admanat Mr Hunt made the first approach.

This is the same Mr Hunt who claimed he helped set up SCS for free whereas we now know he received £82k

This is the same Mr Hunt who claimed he was a director of Forward swindon but wasn't

This is the same Mr Hunt who claimed to have tendered for CCTV in Broadgreen but hadn't

This is the same Mr Hunt who promised so much and delivered nothing

This is the same Mr Hunt who paid himself over £100k for 8 months 'work' and did it because to paraphrase the words of an advert "I'm worth it"

However. as Mr Hunt is so adamant that he was authorised to pay himself circa £12k per month, let the Council call his bluff and ask him to prove it.  They have run scared of Mr Hunt for so long over this saga, let them stop the rot and demand he tells them the names of the officers who authorised the payment

And for the avoidance of doubt, we all know the Council agreed the appointment would be a remunerated one, what we are asking is for SBC or Mr Hunt to confirm who authorised the specific amount.

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2013, 05:34:38 PM »
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SBC is a local authority , not a venture capitalist or entreprenuer. It is not about blame, it is about accountability

Absolutely.  And someone has to accept responsibility for the failure of the scheme and for the 'brainless' decision to give Mr Hunt the second tranche of £250k.

Every officer who added a single word to the report in which it was stated the second payment was 'essential' and every councillor who accepted the report so unquestionningly despite my own plea that they should consider it very carefully and adopt a more resolute approach to the risk assessment, is equally culpable for the loss.

You are accountable and you are responsible and yes you are to blame every bit as much as much as Mr Hunt

Offline jennyb

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2013, 07:29:35 PM »
Quote
SBC is a local authority , not a venture capitalist or entreprenuer. It is not about blame, it is about accountability

Absolutely.  And someone has to accept responsibility for the failure of the scheme and for the 'brainless' decision to give Mr Hunt the second tranche of £250k.

Every officer who added a single word to the report in which it was stated the second payment was 'essential' and every councillor who accepted the report so unquestionningly despite my own plea that they should consider it very carefully and adopt a more resolute approach to the risk assessment, is equally culpable for the loss.

You are accountable and you are responsible and yes you are to blame every bit as much as much as Mr Hunt

In my opinion, officers and councillors who allowed this to happen have more to be concerned about than Mr Hunt. This gentleman is a salesman is he not. In this local authority he found the perfect patsy who appear not to be aware that if is sounds to good to be true then it probably is!

Do those who allowed this to happen deserve to remain in post?

In my experience they would have been out of the door quicker than Nero could have found his fiddle..

But then that was in the real world where money and customers mattered.
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 bobwright

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2013, 07:38:56 PM »
Very unusual using the Adver as the font of knowledge. As stated previously the alternative of no one is responsible is impossible.
The report is being produced and I think Des is wise to keep to the facts revealing responsibility.

Offline Weebleman

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2013, 07:43:10 PM »
Quote
Generally, it’s what the corporate council failed to do rather than any particular individual within the corporate council.

Coun Moffatt is entitled to a view - the above does not accord with anything I have discovered which suggests that at least four senior officers failed to do their jobs in a way which could be described as satisfactory.

One wonders if these "faceless beings" would be equally reluctant to raise their heads above the parapet to bask in their individual praise if the scheme had been a success........ I think NOT!

Offline Spunkymonkey

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2013, 07:49:25 PM »
When I worked at the borough, I had a line manager who was very keen to try innovative new materials and/or ground breaking techniques. I remember him being very disappointed when his manager continually slapped him down and explained that SBC was a small unitary authority and could not afford to make mistakes. He argued that SBC should be using tried and tested materials and techniques (industry best practice) and leave the risky innovation to the larger authorities who could afford to get it wrong.

If Birmingham spend £100k on a trial project and it works, SBC might use it next time. If the trial is unsuccessful, £100k represents a small percentage of Birmingham's budget and they can afford to take the hit.

Have any of Swindon's risky innovative projects been successful?

Offline jennyb

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Re: W-fi report won’t blame individuals
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2013, 07:52:01 PM »
Very unusual using the Adver as the font of knowledge. As stated previously the alternative of no one is responsible is impossible.
The report is being produced and I think Des is wise to keep to the facts revealing responsibility.

Bob,

Glad to hear it.

Forgive me, but having seen the Croft review report my expectations are not high.

I did however hear Cllr Moffat state at the Croft Review [ which had a scope so narrow it was ridiculous]that the head of law and democratic services would not be involved in the completion of the WiFi review report.

I await the Wifi review report with interest. As I understand the protocol from the office of law and democratic services this report should be in the public domain some 8 days pre Scrutiny.

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.