Talkswindon

Big Local Issues & Enquiries => Talkswindon WiFi Inquiry => Topic started by: Steve Wakefield on March 23, 2012, 07:36:25 AM

Title: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Steve Wakefield on March 23, 2012, 07:36:25 AM
Swindon advertiser page 7 today states the money was paid between 2007 and 2010 for coaching.  :coffee:
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Muggins on March 23, 2012, 08:20:50 AM
Coaching What?  thats afunny term to use!
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Ian Pugh on March 23, 2012, 08:50:41 AM
I'm not sure we need to know what he was coaching, but who? There were very few employees who were not family. So who else has been involved in this project ?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Steve Wakefield on March 23, 2012, 09:01:17 AM
Muggins

It was for training council officers, in preperation for their move to an arms length company.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Moffatt on March 23, 2012, 09:06:04 AM
Given Ricki success in business in recent years we can only hope they took a whole lot of no heed to his advice then Steve.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Steve Wakefield on March 23, 2012, 09:16:07 AM
Given Ricki success in business in recent years we can only hope they took a whole lot of no heed to his advice then Steve.

That is a good point well made  :wink: 
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Provocateur on March 23, 2012, 09:17:13 AM
So, training by a man who's now bankrupt. Lets hope it wasn't a course in financial acumen?

Training by a man who launched a WiFi project with very little IT expertise and who arguably just about failed to deliver on any aspect of it ?

What was his qualification to deliver this particular training?

He really is a legend in his own looooooong lunchtime, isn't he?

Why have SBC ended up giving this guy so much money?

 :WTF:
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Outoftowner on March 23, 2012, 09:18:30 AM
So Ricki "earned" £82k from SBC over a period of 3 years.

If:
Quote
He is understood to owe a total of £1.31m, including £85,000 to Barclays Bank, £423,000 to HMRC, £627,000 to The Mortgage Business Plc, £168,000 to Lloyds Banking Group – and £63 to Sky.

Then what other income did he have that resulted in him owing the Inland Revenue so much money?

There is still the question of why the Insolvency Service have not released John Richard Hunt from his bankruptcy after his year was up. Indeed they have extended it for another 4 years. Why?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Morgan on March 23, 2012, 09:34:53 AM
One can only be amazed at the comment made by Coun Bluh that the use of Mr Rikki Hunt as a paid consultant to the Council was a decision of no importance; indeed he claims the appointment was “entirely rational” - a somewhat jaundiced view with which many people will vehemently disagree.

The fact that Coun Bluh seeks to defend the man who ‘took the Council for a ride’ is lamentable, not least as it was Coun Bluh who offered his total support to a project which was simply doomed to fail on the basis of its absurdly wild and impossible to achieve fiscal targets. As Coun Bluh is a qualified accountant, one would have imagined that he would have spotted such a flaw. 

Of equal importance is the fact that Mr Hunt has been at pains to stress that he undertook the work on preparing SCS for privatisation – for free.  Clearly receiving £82k in fees would appear to contradict this claim, unless of course Mr Hunt’s consultancy fees had nothing whatsoever to do with SCS. I feel sure Coun Bluh will be happy to offer a rebuttal if there is no relationship between the £82k and SCS.

The Council Leader closes his comments by making reference to their being no contract between Swindon Borough Council and Digital City for a Borough wide Wi-Fi scheme. Such a claim will come as a surprise to many, who believed Coun Bluh and his Deputy when they waxed lyrical about the arrangement they entered into with Digital City to provide Wi-Fi. Like me, I am sure the electorate will be aghast that £400k plus interest and fees has been squandered by this administration on a project which had no contractual or legal safeguards, despite frequently being assured security existed.

Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 23, 2012, 09:49:42 AM
I am pleased that the Advertiser has finally got around to publishing these facts which have been available for some time.

Having been given details of Mr Hunt's bankruptcy information can they be relied upon to investigate that as well?  Come on Adver you know this will sell newspapers but is it more than that now?

As for our leader who unashamedly supported and defended the Wi-fi deal with Digital City, can we hope that he just might show some form of contrition that he did in actual fact get this very wrong?

The answer to my question is of course NO but all this information and his suicidal behaviour over Coate Croft and Pickhards Field has to ask the question is he any longer fit for public office?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Steve Wakefield on March 23, 2012, 09:52:07 AM
I note the adver said that he
Quote
won the wifi contract in November 2009
I know all this is open to interpretation. Defnition of won is "be the winner in a contest or competition". Does anyone recall if there was a contest or competition for the wifi project? 
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 23, 2012, 10:19:08 AM
Rikki Hunt did not win anything in terms of a contract over Wi-fi, he was awarded or given a contract to provide Wi-fi and it depends on who you believe as to who approached whom to instigate it!!

One thing is for certain there was no invitation for other IT companies to bid for the contract and from day one it was kept from the majority of the cabinet and the rest of the members of the council on the pretext that it 'was unique and commercially sensitive'.  What a joke the only commercial sensitivety that was applicable was that it could be shown to be financially and commerically flawed had more information been available.  Like everything else associated with this administration there was no scrutiny and any challenge on the availability of information was construed as putting the project in jeopardy. 

Now where are we hearing that now? 

Almost everything that the present administration does and doesn't want anyone to challenge.

Perhaps Roderick can publish the accounts of Digital City (UK) Ltd., as we Council Tax Payers have funded them, a further cost from a company that owes us £400,000 plus interest just because people like me will not allow it to be struck from the Register of Companies until our nominated Director, who was supposed to protect our interests, The Deputy Leader of the Council, has filed a Company Return and a set of Accounts.  Had action not been taken to prevent 'strike off' the company would have quietly disappeared and become irrelevant.

Does anyone know if Rikki's other company Avidity Consulting have been cleared for 'strike off' or are they being investigated by ' a government authority'?

Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Geoff Reid on March 23, 2012, 11:52:02 AM
What a busy man John 'Rikki' Hunt was back in the day, eh?

It's appalling isn't it? despite the best attempts of the council leadership to hide, disguise, bury, alter and destroy the truth, fragments keep bobbing to the surface of the council cesspit which, when collected and added to the growing mosai, gives all of us a fuller picture of the stinking miasma surrounding the leadership and the innapropriate 'business' relationships, arrangements and decisions it has fostered, (and continues to foster - Pickards Field (http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php/topic,8353.msg75930.html#msg75930)), using the public purse.

If Mr Hunt was paid £82,000 from the public purse to 'mentor' SCS employees and/or council officers in preparation for SCS becoming an 'arms length' company/management organisation, why did Mr Hunt choose to deny this on January 14th 2010 ?


(http://www.talkswindon.org/politics/wifi/images/RH_SCS_Tweet.jpg)


Maybe he was 'helping' SCS for free, in which case what else was he doing for the Council which 'earned' him a hefty £82,000 fee for some part time consultancy work?

Or perhaps he was simply lying, and if so, why ? 

Surely he wasn't trying to avoid paying his VAT and Income Tax?  :popcorn:

Perhaps Councillor Roderick Bluh would like to explain on exactly what basis his friend and colleague was being given such large sums from the public purse prior to being given even larger sums during the WiFi'asco?

To my reckoning, Mr Hunt has received almost half a million pounds of public money since Rod Bluh has been 'leading' our council. 

Old Town residents may want to ask the 3 Conservative Candidates about this, (Roderick, Peter and the other one), if they ever choose to knock on their doors.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Geoff Reid on March 23, 2012, 12:04:21 PM

Adver story is online now: http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9608561.Taxpayers_paid___82k_to_wi_fi_firm_chief/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9608561.Taxpayers_paid___82k_to_wi_fi_firm_chief/)

I am gratified to note that the Swindon Advertiser is now almost-correctly referring to the Wifi'asco as the Wifi Fasco. Well done chaps and chappesses  :clap:

Comments are enabled at present - this may change after Roderick has been on the phone and complained about (what he calls) his 'integrity' being impugned.

Comments are pithy and quite accurate, especially Bob Feal-Martinez:

Quote
Why on earth would anyone have chosen Rikki Hunt to be consultant even pre-wifiasco. Anyone connected with STFC will know what a shambles he made of running that business.
.
In fact I seem to remember that STFC paid Hunt's consultancy company £25k for "managerial training" when Hunt was also the STFC Chief Exec.
.
No stranger to cronyism and conflicts of interest.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 23, 2012, 01:01:46 PM
The interesting thing about the comments section is not one person is doing anything but criticise Rod Bluh and some have even demanded his resignation.

So how about it Rod, will you go before you are humiliated at the polls?

Your credibility is going down faster than the Titanic!
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: ph1lc on March 23, 2012, 01:23:51 PM
I like Bluh's last comment in the adver -"the decision (to loan DC £400K ) was made solely on it's merits"

Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: James on March 23, 2012, 02:04:39 PM
Decision makers pick some good ones and some bad ones.
That is not a reason to resign.

Not being able to tell whether they've picked a good one or a bad one after the facts are laid out.
That IS a reason to resign.

J
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Geoff Reid on March 23, 2012, 02:39:13 PM
I like Bluh's last comment in the adver -"the decision (to loan DC £400K ) was made solely on it's merits"


Yes. That speaks volumes for Cllr Bluh's ability to judge what is, and is not, an acceptable risk. 

Cllr Bluh has once again seen fit to lecture the Advertiser about facts. The inconvenient fact remains that the credit reference & consultancy service employed by SBC to assess Digital City (UK) Ltd saw fit to instruct SBC to impose a £500 credit limit on its dealing with the company.

Cllr Bluh saw fit to ignore that credit limit of £500 and personally bent over backwards to arrange a loan facility of 900 times more than the £500 credit limit proposed by the credit consultants. (900 x £500 = £450,000).

He gambled with our money and we lost.

That the amount of public money lost by Cllr Bluhs Casino Councillor'ing equalled only 850 times, (not the available 900 times), the £500 credit limit....is of little comfort, although Cllr Wakefield can rightly claim the credit for preventing the last £50,000 disappearing into Mr Hunts trousers Avidity Consulting Ltd.


* I've previously had quite a bit to say about Cllr Bluh's Casino Councilloring, also see:

Clickable thumbnail

(http://www.geoffreid.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/taking_risks_may_2010x280.jpg) (http://www.geoffreid.com/2010/07/14/borough-of-swindon-sucked-over-event-horizon-of-bluhs-black-hole-budget-1/)
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 23, 2012, 03:18:52 PM
Interesting post by Robert Fael Martinez on the Advertiser comments section in reply to the article:

Robfm says...
1:15pm Fri 23 Mar 12
John Smith II the answer to your loan question is a simple one. According to credit checks Digital City at the time of the loan had a credit rating of just 500, that is pounds not 500 thousand pounds.

SBC loaned a huge some without guarantee, not even the equipment to be purchased, to a man whose house was held on charges for other business issues.

SBC have stalled the FOIA request I made with regard to the latest DC twists.

Dear Mr Feal-Martinez



FOI101000326846 Freedom of Information Request



Thank you for your email dated 21 February 2012 in which you requested the following:-



Q1. How much will the accounts cost to prepare, given they are for a short period, the £4000 quoted seems to be excessive.

Q2. Please supply a detailed breakdown of the accounts. (As a shareholder de facto under company law I am entitled to such accounts)

Q3. Why did the loan agreement with Digital City, not include an equipment ownership clause.

Q4. Is Rikki Hunt or anyone else previously associated with any company engaged on the WiFi Mesh project, actively or passively engaged in any way with any council activity currently being undertaken or planned.



The Council has a duty to respond ‘promptly’ or no later than 20 working days, which in this case is 20 March 2012.



We believe in this instance, that some of the information you have requested may be exempt under Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act – Commercial interests. If a qualified exemption applies to the information and the public interest test is engaged. The Act allows the time for the response to be longer than 20 days and the information must be supplied within what is considered a ‘reasonable’ time scale; considering the circumstances of the case.



We expect to reach a conclusion by the 5 April 2012. If it appears it may take longer, you will be kept fully informed.



Yours sincerely



Anna Marzec

For Sharon Druett (sdruett@swindon.gov
.uk)

Freedom of Information Officer

Law and Democratic Services

Swindon Borough Council

Tel: 01793 463377

I think they must be getting their ducks in a row.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Muggins on March 23, 2012, 03:32:32 PM
They said coaching - not training, not mentoring.............coaching

I think he was coaching - coaching them how to score and home goal.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Morgan on March 23, 2012, 11:02:06 PM
I am still seriously baffled by Coun Bluh's assertion that there was no contract between SBC and DC to provide a Wi-Fi system. I wonder how Coun Bluh interprets the term 'joint venture agreement' in respect of setting up a Wi-Fi network across the Borough.

Is he asking the residents of Swindon to accept that this Council lent £400k to Mr Hunt's company with the purpose of DC providing a Wi-Fi network across the Borough - and that the combined legal expertise of the council thought this could be achieved without a legally water tight contract.

What sort of organisation enters into an agreement without proper legal underpinning.

On 14 December 2009 SBC claimed due process had been followed by the Council in reaching the decision to enter into a partnership agreement with Digital City UK Limited for the purposes of establishing a Wi-Fi network across the Borough of Swindon

If this isn't a contract i'm not sure what is?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: ph1lc on March 23, 2012, 11:26:51 PM
I've seen nor heard of any contract between the Council and DC. The nature of the transaction is not one of contract.

DC was a business venture - it's stated aim was to make a profit. SBC owned 40% of DC, had a board level representation.

Therein lies the problem. Most Councils in their procurement process (I know most of the local ones, but not SBC)  have checks in place to ensure any potential supplier can fulfil the contract it is awarded.

Clearly FROM THE OUTSET, DC would have failed this test.

Don't lets get side tracked splitting hairs - the scandal is how the Council could lend DC £400k - which had absolutely no chance of being repaid without sustantial further funding being obtained by DC.

Given the latest revelations about the £82k consultancy the scandal surrounding the relationship between Bluh and Hunt becomes even smellier.



Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Morgan on March 24, 2012, 05:54:55 PM
Quote
DC was a business venture - it's stated aim was to make a profit

Whilst not wishing to argue the point, as i very much respect your views, particularly on business related issues; would you not agree that it seems odd that SBC didn't have a more robust agreement in place?

I am perturbed that Coun Bluh and Coun Perkins were adamant that the role of DC was to provide a Wi-Fi network throughout the Borough and yet sought no contractual ties which caused it to direct its energies to achieve that aim.

Of course it may be the case that Mr Hunt was so busy earning his £80k consultancy fees in the period in which he should have been directing his attention to Wi-Fi, that he was 'stretched' too far. 

What does become clearer by the day is the patronage Mr Hunt enjoyed from the benevolent hand of Coun Bluh
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: ph1lc on March 24, 2012, 07:32:02 PM
I certainly wasn't trying to argue Des.

Your last post is exactly where we should be going.

YES - why were SBC not far more robust in protecting their investment.

Most importantly the last line

Quote
DC was a business venture - it's stated aim was to make a profit


What does become clearer by the day is the patronage Mr Hunt enjoyed from the benevolent hand of Coun Bluh

I've nothing but total admiration for the way you are pursuing this Des,  just trying to help steer you to the most significant questions.

It most certainly is the patronage that Hunt enjoyed from Bluh that needs shouting about.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 24, 2012, 10:29:16 PM
I wonder if any other authorities are investigating either or both these so called 'arrangements' as they were so badly conducted they were certainly not contractural. 

I wonder what the District Auditor would have had to say had this information been available to him at the time? 

I wonder if the paid Chairman of our own Council's Audit Committee has to say on this very subject and whether he is being asked about it on the doorsteps of Lydiard Freshbrook?

How many people are now responsible for this loss of public money?

As an Accountant I just fail to understand why Roderick Bluh would want to put himself in this position of vulnerability and calpability?

It is of particular interest just how many members of the public are now starting to discuss this very subject and then mentioning The Croft, Pickhards Field and Coate as well.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Outoftowner on March 24, 2012, 11:09:00 PM
 I think that Richard is correct. These seemingly unlinked events, may well be linked!
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: jennyb on March 25, 2012, 07:36:18 AM
I think that Richard is correct. These seemingly unlinked events, may well be linked!

Mr Perkins was Lead Member for Schools when the Temp School was set up in 2009 and the money was allocated to the Croft on the back of a fag packet study instructed and accepted by Mr Bickerton ( recently promoted).

The Temp School was a trojan horse to create a planning precedent on the Croft.

Mr Jones has called 'Class Solutions'... "Garry's school in a box"

Class Solutions is a business venture to hawk prefab schools to other Local Authorities.

The Croft will be the 1st Class Solutions establishment.

Class Solutions is Mr Newland and Mr Cleighton-Hills and a contractor Mr Currivan...paid by SBC.

Class Solutions has not been presented to or approved by Cabinet, Scrutiny or full Council.

Class Solutions has an advertising budget and was presented to Gov bods 1 month before the Croft was approved by Planning.

Class Solutions has a 1 or 2 storey version.

Pile Driving on the Croft is causing much concern and the belief is that SCS are laying foundations for a multi storey prefab.

Officers say that Wichelstowe does not need a secondary school.

The market is awash with professional companies selling prefabs.

Mr Perkins and Mr Newlands met with Mr Tomlinson in March 2011 to discuss Pre-fab schools.

Mr T has shown interest in the prefab concept in order to save education money.

Cabinet doesn't like questions on Class Solutions..

Is the White Horse Federation SBC in disguise?

Is SBC a council or a wannabe business venture..... this time next year Rodders.... we'll all be millionaires?

Is there a pattern emerging?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Outoftowner on March 25, 2012, 09:43:56 AM
The thick end of half a million pounds of taxpayer's money has gone to Rikki Hunt in recent years. How much has been "invested" in Class Solutions, WHF etc and who approved the budget spend?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: jennyb on March 25, 2012, 12:36:38 PM
The thick end of half a million pounds of taxpayer's money has gone to Rikki Hunt in recent years. How much has been "invested" in Class Solutions, WHF etc and who approved the budget spend?

Mr Jones admits to approx £10k on Class Solutions advertising. A junior officer bod appears to have approved this. We know his name but not sure that it's fair to make this public.

Mr Currivan is a contractor working on and given credit on Youtube for Class Solutions.
We have no information on how much he has been paid.

Mr Newland ( who said to me on Nov 3rd 2010.. if I could build a school without vehicular access I would...) and Mr Cleighton-Hills are both SBC architects and are both on the Class Solutions YouTUbe as the go-to-guys  ....don't know how much of their time has been spent or what it is worth.

Cllr Perkins time on Class Solutions is unknown. Not sure how much his time is worth.

Mr Bickerton chose the Croft Site... with Marlborough Lane as the main access for £389.

Capita were paid £3500 in total for a fag packet survey of 9 sites from which the Croft was 'plucked'.

Halcrow were paid approx £26k for a nonsense Traffic Assessment and now have work on the Croft Site ( naughty?). . Mr Cleighton-Hills told Halcrow what to do.Mr Jones sang Halcrow's Praises

Approx £1,000,000 was spent on the Temp School to get a dodgy planning precedent. Cabinet approved this. Not sure that they grasped what they did.

WHF are keeping mum and all questions are referred to the SBC Press Office... how very odd... the Gov don't want LAs running schools and here we have the LA and WHF, so we have been told , in bed with one another....

It appears that WHF's Web site is funded by SBC . Don't know who approved this.

WHF are advertising Class Solutions on their Web Site. Don't know who approved this.

This whole morass is like an iceberg.... there is probably much expenditure under the surface and not in the public domain.

Overall I would guess that Class Solutions and building on the Croft and setting up a Federation is going to cost a bomb.

All of this is exclusive of blight.

Mr Jones and Cllr Bluh are currently accountable for everything that has happened and been approved or let pass. They cannot pass the buck.

Not sure what the picture will be on May 4th.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Weebleman on March 25, 2012, 12:38:50 PM
The thick end of half a million pounds of taxpayer's money has gone to Rikki Hunt in recent years. How much has been "invested" in Class Solutions, WHF etc and who approved the budget spend?
And the bu**er still went bankrupt :bash:
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 25, 2012, 12:48:29 PM
The thick end of half a million pounds of taxpayer's money has gone to Rikki Hunt in recent years. How much has been "invested" in Class Solutions, WHF etc and who approved the budget spend?

I wonder if Mr Hunt is involved in this latest 'commercial enterprise' albeit behind the scenes?

Just a thought, after all he is allowed to earn provided it is declared through proper channels.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 25, 2012, 12:50:20 PM
The thick end of half a million pounds of taxpayer's money has gone to Rikki Hunt in recent years. How much has been "invested" in Class Solutions, WHF etc and who approved the budget spend?
And the bu**er still went bankrupt :bash:

The true sign of a competant businessman and a true man of Innovation and Vibrancy   :D
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Mart on March 25, 2012, 04:40:38 PM

I wonder if Mr Hunt is involved in this latest 'commercial enterprise' albeit behind the scenes?

Bugger, beat me to it.

I'll have to settle for a weaker 'If not him then perhaps someone he has coached'.

This local Tory administration has many traits of the last Labour national administration. If the local adminstration were indeed Labour I believe messrs Buckland and Tomlinson would be kicking seven shades of campaigning shoite out of them, just got to love party politics haven't you?

Nother thought, how many goes at being a publically funded oligarch does Gazza P get and will there be accounts (as it published financial statements rather than disingenuous tall tales)?

Is there in fact a bunker being installed under the pop up school as this may account for the extensive pile driving?

How many days until polling day?

Should I get off my arse and put the yorkies in the oven (a savoury dinner accompaniment, not small yapping dogs)?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Morgan on March 26, 2012, 01:08:31 PM
Quote
Should I get off my arse and put the yorkies in the oven (a savoury dinner accompaniment, not small yapping dogs)?

A Yorky in the oven - surely it would melt?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Rochelle on March 26, 2012, 02:16:39 PM
Stop with the food jokes already, some of us are trying to slim down for a summer which has arrived with indecent haste!
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Morgan on March 26, 2012, 06:59:22 PM
Quote
some of us are trying to slim down


But you are just perfect as you are - cuddly :angel:
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Mart on March 26, 2012, 09:22:43 PM
A Yorky in the oven - surely it would melt?

Indeed it would. but my sort rose a treat, Delia recipe, bombproof but even better with an extra egg.

some of us are trying to slim down for a summer

Celery, that's what you want, well, not want, maybe need, that's a bit strong as well. Have a go anyway, it's nice with loads of salt and salad cream, maybe a bit of cheese as well. And a crispy bread roll, with butter, pork pie, mustard. Bag of crisps. Mmmm, num nums.

Nice in lamb stew, with taters and dumplings.

Do you know, I can't remember having celery in an Indian, Chinese or hiding in the salad with a kebab.

Maybe cucumber then.

With tuna and mayo and thick crusty bread.

Wonder if you can deep fry it, in batter.......
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Terry Reynolds on April 03, 2012, 12:42:01 PM
Just had an email from the council leader, who tells me that he has never said that the original wifi scheme  was a success, and if I or anybody else makes reference to him and the lady from Westminster, he will treat it as an act of defamation........ :wink:
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: jennyb on April 03, 2012, 01:49:22 PM
Just had an email from the council leader, who tells me that he has never said that the original wifi scheme  was a success, and if I or anybody else makes reference to him and the lady from Westminster, he will treat it as an act of defamation........ :wink:

Kohima,

I have just read your post and went back and had a look at the email I received... I've copied the section below...

I am a bit confused.

What do you think?



From: RBluh@swindon.gov.uk
To: croft.area.residents@hotmail.co.uk
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2012 11:46:08 +0100
Subject: Re: Croft and Cllr Bluh's response for full Council

Dear Kareen

In reply to your email:


Para 9 - Wi-fi has been the subject of extraordinary scrutiny, most of it politically motivated, and I have answered every question put to me. My actions and involvement therein have been shown to be entirely proper throughout and despite all that has happened it is looking like it is heading to a major success for Swindon. No money has been lost and the Council will in fact profit because of it. An inconvenient truth for some but truth nevertheless.


Regards

Rod
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: jennyb on April 03, 2012, 01:51:14 PM
Forgot to add....

Wasn't the "lady from Westminster's" speech on Wifi heard in Parliament and as such would be a matter of public record?

Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Geoff Reid on April 03, 2012, 05:12:38 PM

So, he's put down his elastic dictionary and picked up 'defamation for dummies' :)

IMHO Bluh defames himself every time he opens his mouth or puts finger to keyboard.

I hope he keeps it up until the May elections.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Richard Symonds on April 04, 2012, 03:47:14 PM
I am still at a loss to understand how an achievement of twelve paying domestic customers against an outstanding loan to Digital City (Uk) Ltd., of £400.000 plus outstanding interesting and then having to prepare accounts for said company using Swindon Council Tax Payers money constitutes a success?

Have I missed something here?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Alex on April 05, 2012, 07:52:43 AM
I see this topic has made it into  this week's Private Eye's " Rotten Boroughs "- again ..... how many times is that now?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: swindoncentric on April 06, 2012, 03:18:05 PM
A scan of the latest Swindon section of Private Eye magazine's 'Rotten Boroughs' column.

I think this is the third or fourth time our town has made it.

Seems that all sorts of people that make up the 10 million visit Talk Swindon.


(http://www.talkswindon.org/politics/wifi/newspaper_articles/2012_04_06_Privateeye.jpg)

Administrator Comment Attachment added to WiFi file on server.

Dougal
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Steve Wakefield on April 06, 2012, 05:12:25 PM
Perhaps readers may want to revisit this thread?http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php/topic,6361.0.html
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Provocateur on April 06, 2012, 06:24:21 PM
 ;D

Little Boy Bluh,
Come blow up your horn,
Ricky is bankrupt,
and you're treated with scorn.

Where is the leader
Who looks after his sheep?
His head's in the sand,
Buried in deep.

Should we disturb him?
Oh no, not me or you
For if we upset him,
He'll threaten to sue!

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/6b/Denslow-little-boy-blue2.jpg/200px-Denslow-little-boy-blue2.jpg)
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Morgan on April 07, 2012, 10:33:37 PM
Coun Bluh lives in his own world when it comes to the Wi-Fi project. He has said on a number of occasions that the project was successful, moreover he has castigated nayone who dared to suggest otherwise. His unwavering confidence in the project is also a matter of public record despite it coming apart even as he spoke.

i have recently received answers to two questions i asked coun Bluh back in January

1.   Is there any link between UK Broadband and Swindon Borough Council which will provide a Borough wide Wi-Fi network as envisaged in the original Digital city project?

Answer: UK Broadband will be installing a 4G LTE network across the Borough.  Once a 4G network is operational, it will be easier and cheaper to enable Wi-Fi access in a local area and the business case for doing this will be reviewed once the 4G LTE network is in place.

2.   Has any contract been signed by Swindon Borough Council and UK Broadband acting in concert with Capita for a service provision which will result in actual auditable savings of £90,000 per annum (and if not £90k pa any savings pa) ?

Answer: A signed contractual arrangement was already in place between SBC and Capita for the provision of wide area network services.  A new services agreement has been signed between Capita and UK Broadband.  UK Broadband has also signed an agreement with the Council for use of our premises to mount their infrastructure.  These arrangements will lead to minimum savings for the Council of at least £480,000 over five years.   

I think from the answers one can assume that the supposed 'investment coming into Digital City' was non existent, as was any hope that UK Broadband was ever going to take on the mantle of Digital City.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Richard Symonds on April 08, 2012, 06:20:51 PM
I have just found my letter to the Advertiser which I understand was printed in hard copy.

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/yoursay/swindonletters/9632241.Living_church_has_to_move_with_times/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/yoursay/swindonletters/9632241.Living_church_has_to_move_with_times/)

Third Letter down!!

Are you hiding?

I have just returned from the last full council meeting before the elections and asked the following two questions:

1.  What precedent exists in the public sector for a council to pay for the preparation of accounts for a Private Limited Company to whom it made a business loan?

2.  By what means does the council intend to make these accounts available to the people of Swindon?

The deputy leader and Director of Digital City (UK) Ltd., councillor Garry Perkins answered in his abbreviated style that he would give a ‘written answer’.

As a supplementary question I asked if he would be including the written answers to the questions I asked at full council last April 2011? He replied that he would answer the questions asked tonight. Madame Mayor refused me the opportunity to ask any further questions, which is unfortunate and contrary to the spirit of public engagement.

Is this the right way for a council to conduct its business and does it indicate they have something to hide? It will be very interesting to see if the Deputy Leader writes this time when he has failed previously.

Richard Symonds The Bramptons Swindon

Don't you agree we now need to see the accounts which have be prepared with our money?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Geoff Reid on November 29, 2012, 03:34:45 PM

Bump  :wink:

(http://www.talkswindon.org/politics/wifi/images/RH_SCS_Tweet.jpg)
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Outoftowner on November 29, 2012, 04:05:28 PM
If someone truly believes that £82k in the back pocket equals free and that he "created Wi-Fi" he is indeed very very sad.

If we "ignore" the money just for one moment, how on earth can a man that did not understand the faintest thing about radio-wave propagation claim to have, "created Wi-Fi"?

Wi-Fi has been around for quite a while and will be around for quite a bit longer I would imagine. Get Signal's (i.e Digital City UK Ltd and all it's directors) contribution to Wi-Fi technology is zero. I repeat ZERO!

Now lets get back to the money. Digital City UK Ltd did not add anything to Wi-Fi technology but they sure took something away. Just short of half a million quid that came from Swindon taxpayers. You! Yes you on the bus!
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Mart on November 29, 2012, 08:09:13 PM
You! Yes you on the bus

Not me then?

What's a bus?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Morgan on November 30, 2012, 03:20:22 PM
Quote
If someone truly believes that £82k in the back pocket equals free and that he "created Wi-Fi" he is indeed very very sad

Let's see -

1. would you pay £82k for 'coaching' from someone who was 'unqualified'?
2. would you pay that money out monthly over 3 years?
3. was the Leader of the Council aware of the payments?
4. should the Cabinet have been aware that he was being paid by the Council before they were asked to make a decision to loan him £450k?
5. do you think it odd that in no papers issued to Cabinet or Scrutiny was any declaration made to the effect that RH was being paid money by the Council and he continued to be paid from January 2009 (when he first invited the Council to consider his proposal) until January 2010.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Geoff Reid on November 30, 2012, 03:44:20 PM
1. would you pay £82k for 'coaching' from someone who was 'unqualified'?

No.

2. would you pay that money out monthly over 3 years?

No.

3. was the Leader of the Council aware of the payments?

Weighing the balance of probabilities I believe that he was or should have been, unless this is yet another example where the leader has, (paraphrasing his own words): "Risen above the details".  That said, it should be noted that Mr Hunt actually claimed (on Twitter and re-published on TS) to have 'helped SCS prepare for arms length 'for free', so perhaps a few minutes of the upcoming WiFi inquiry time might be devoted to understanding why Mr Hunt appeared to be willfully concealing the fact he was already being paid by SBC when the WiFi'aso began, and continued to be paid for 'mentoring' when he was supposedly spending all his time delivering the promised WiFi network to the Borough.

4. should the Cabinet have been aware that he was being paid by the Council before they were asked to make a decision to loan him £450k?

Yes. Questions needs to be asked, and answered, about who instructed Mr Hunt to be engaged in a paid mentoring role.  In the absence of a credible official explanation one could be forgiven for assuming that Mr Hunt was being regularly and financially 'helped' from the public purse from a person, or persons within the Borough Council. 

Lets remind ourselves how much and how often SBC paid money from the public purse to Mr Hunt: (These are only the direct payments that we know about - At this point we don't know whether SCS may have made similar payments)

£2,000 09/10/2008
£2,000 29/10/2008
£2,000 12/11/2008
£2,000 13/11/2008
£2,000 10/12/2008
£2,000 11/12/2008
£2,000 14/01/2009
£1,000 30/01/2009
£1,000 04/02/2009
£2,000 05/03/2009
£1,000 09/03/2009
£1,000 12/03/2009
£2,000 09/04/2009
£2,000 01/05/2009
£2,000 20/05/2009
£2,000 20/05/2009
£2,000 17/06/2009
£2,000 14/07/2009
£2,000 14/07/2009
£2,000 22/07/2009
£2,000 20/08/2009
£2,000 21/08/2009
£2,000 09/09/2009
£2,000 18/09/2009
£2,000 21/10/2009
£150,000 23/10/2009 - To Digital City (UK) Ltd
£2,000 18/11/2009
£2,000 14/12/2009
£2,000 14/12/2009
£2,000 29/12/2009
£2,000 25/01/2010
£200,000 04/05/10 - To Digital City (UK) Ltd
£50,000 21/05/10 - To Digital City (UK) Ltd

Would someone like to total that up and compare it to an 'average' Swindon Wage?


5. do you think it odd that in no papers issued to Cabinet or Scrutiny was any declaration made to the effect that RH was being paid money by the Council and he continued to be paid from January 2009 (when he first invited the Council to consider his proposal) until January 2010.


My impression is that information which Cabinet members ought to have had was deliberately suppressed. We know that Cllrs Bluh & Edwards concealed details and knowledge of their WiFi scheme from other cabinet members, other Councillors and the general public for a long time.  My own opinion is that Mr Hunts employment by the Borough, and payments to him by the Borough, were a pertinent fact which should have been disclosed and openly discussed to prevent any accusation that Mr Hunt was being given unfair commercial advantage or inappropriate or illegal access to funding from the public purse. 

Questions should also be asked as to whether any future directorships of Digital City (UK) Ltd were to be offered to any Officer or Councillor.

Anyhow, I'm off to earn an honest crust....
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Morgan on November 30, 2012, 03:46:32 PM
So Mr Hunt's claim that he 'helped prepare SCS for arms length for free for 3 years' appears to be a little porky pie.

Should we be surprised? After all this is the man who also claimed

1. to be 'tendering' for the CCTV in Broadgreen (SA report)
2. to be a director of Forward Swindon
3. to have been approached by SBC to undertake the Wi-Fi project (SA report)
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Geoff Reid on November 30, 2012, 04:12:14 PM
So Mr Hunt's claim that he 'helped prepare SCS for arms length for free for 3 years' appears to be a little porky pie.

Should we be surprised? After all this is the man who also claimed

1. to be 'tendering' for the CCTV in Broadgreen (SA report)
2. to be a director of Forward Swindon
3. to have been approached by SBC to undertake the Wi-Fi project (SA report)


I think Mr Hunt genuinely thought he was going to put the CCTV in Broad Green.  I think he had already been told that the 'job was his' but had to promote the pretence of being in a tendering process. Once the word was out though, it really did have to go out to tender  ;D

I am sure that he did briefly appear on the Forward Swindon website as a director.  I can't find a screenshot for it (yet) but I am sure that he was going to be a director of FS.  I  also remember him being very angry when his proposed directorship of SCS was shitcanned.  His proposed SCS directorship was widely publicised on the SBC Intranet until the pages were hastily removed.   

His directorship of SCS was the subject of an interesting exchange between myself and the Borough Solicitor in which I accused him of being disengenuous in his answers.  (I'll find the relevant TS topic tomorrow).  I am convinced we caught them 'in the act' and forced them into a hasty retreat from pursuing at least two more objectives in which Mr Hunt was to benefit from officer/councillor patronage.

I happen to believe number 3.  I believe that he was approached by a Borough councillor who suggested that he 'knock up' a proposal for WiFi.  The rest I'll leave until the inquiry gets underway  :wink:
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Morgan on November 30, 2012, 07:53:26 PM
Quote
Lets remind ourselves how much and how often SBC paid money from the public purse to Mr Hunt: (These are only the direct payments that we know about - At this point we don't know whether SCS may have made similar payments)


Indeed there was more - the 'small' amounts in your post add up to £56,000 for 15 months work (a loose term) but in fact between November 2007 and January 2010 Mr Hunt received £82,100 all for 'coaching officers in preparation for their move to an arms length company'

2007/08           £7,500

2008/09           £42,600

2009/10           £32,000

Oh and let's not forget the £105,000 he took from Digital City UK Limited

Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Mart on November 30, 2012, 08:45:43 PM
That's a lot of reindeer.

Borough wide free reindeer, there's a project I could get behind. I'd elect one if I could, certainly worth retaining one as a Christmas consultant.

If WiFi doesn't come out grubby someone's probably telling ickle fibs. Probably ought to get reindeer in to investigate. They certainly seem to have ample support.

I think they go 'moo' don't they?
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Muggins on December 01, 2012, 09:17:39 AM
Do they eat grass?  Cheaper than paying someone to mow? And good trafficc calming.

Now there's a sale pitch - the only town in England with permanent reindeer in it's parks.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Brandysnap on December 01, 2012, 09:23:54 AM
That's a lot of reindeer.

Borough wide free reindeer, there's a project I could get behind. I'd elect one if I could, certainly worth retaining one as a Christmas consultant.

If WiFi doesn't come out grubby someone's probably telling ickle fibs. Probably ought to get reindeer in to investigate. They certainly seem to have ample support.

I think they go 'moo' don't they?

Apart from pulling Santa around and embarrasing councillors who should know better. A team of poor old reindeer on a mere £850 a day consultation fee cannot be expected to spend time asking all politicians what they knew and when did they know it - surely.

Before you know it there will be calls for an investigation into a Reindeergate scandal seeking to uncover why mentoring Wranglers to feed them Lichen cost £82,100 and why they charged in a director's fee of a further £105,000  ;D
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Outoftowner on December 01, 2012, 10:07:42 AM
When you see the twice monthly payments of £2,000 that SBC gave Rikki Hunt listed all in one place it is certainly shocking. Let’s see what it means in terms of “real” people.

The Council Tax for a Band H, or the most expensive houses in Swindon (un-parished) is £2,756.36 per annum. Rikki was being handed the equivalent of the tax from one Band H household and the best part of a Band A household every month. For what?

According to the payscale web-site, a full time Business Development Manager, working in Swindon, is paid £45,000 per annum. So why was Rikki Hunt being paid so much for his part time mentoring role, when a qualified manager could have been contracted to carry out this role on a full-time basis say for a year  for far less money?

Looking at it from another perspective, the average wage for an Officer Administrator in Swindon, which I suppose a considerable number of Council Taxpayers are, is £16,619, It is these people who were financing Mr Rikki Hunt.

It begs the question, “How many other people were, or are, being paid in this manner?”

(More shocking, is the fact that Rikki was being paid 4.7058823 Reindeer per month!)
Title: How Councils Waste Our Money
Post by: I Could Do That on June 17, 2013, 07:53:29 PM
Channel 4 tonight at 8:00 has a documentary about how councils waste our money.

I wonder if Swindon WiFi will feature
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Muggins on June 17, 2013, 09:07:50 PM
Didn,t see it all. They seemed
 to be focusing on peanuts.

I suppose half a million would be too hot to handle.

Did they do something about dsney.
Title: Re: Taxpayers paid 82k to wi-fi firm chief
Post by: Des Morgan on June 20, 2013, 10:35:26 PM
I am sure everyone will remember that Rikki (for free) Hunt  spent 3 years of his life "helping SCS prepare for arms length" operation, allegedly free and gratis, that was until the Chief executive had to disclose payments over £80,000 had been made to Mr Hunt for mentoring the management of SCS (by which i presume it is meant the now 'early retired' MD Bill Fisher.