Author Topic: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?  (Read 8780 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Hearing that Bathgate, (a small town in Scotland), was to be the first Scottish town to deliver a BID, (Business Improvement District), and that a reasonable chunk of cash was to be sprinkled upon the town, Rikki Hunt hot-footed it up North and did a feasibility study - i.e, he went up there to check that the lamposts were metal and round, and that there were no hills in the landscape. 

Anyhow, is this the Rikster Schmoozing it in Bathgate?




www.BathgateBID.net had someting to say about this in it;s June 2010 newsletter:


Coming soon.....Bathgate Wi-Fi


Quote
As part of the TCRF works Enterprising Bathgate Ltd have commissioned GetSignal Ltd to complete a feasibility study into the introduction of a town centre Wi-Fi Zone. The Zone would cover the Town Centre and provide a limited amount of free Wi-Fi for businesses, shoppers and visitors. A focus event will be held in early August, further details will be provided at a later date.



And the Bathgate Regeneration Page says::


The Bathgate Bid Regeneration Page states:

Quote
Enterprising Bathgate bid secures £600,000
from Town Centre Regeneration Fund

Enterprising Bathgate has now secured £600,000 from this fund. A joint bid between Enterprising Bathgate and West Lothian Council was successful in bringing this extra funding for the town. The same partnership has also pledged an additional £260,000 to supplement the fund. The money will be used to support the regeneration and growth of Bathgate’s traditional town centre.

Ian Davison Porter, Project Director, Business Improvement Districts Scotland commented:

    “Enterprising Bathgate was the first Business Improvement District in Scotland and is a great example of a really strong partnership of the private and public sectors, which was, I believe, one of the considerations when the funding application was assessed”.

David Stein, Chair, Enterprising Bathgate added

    “We were all delighted when we received the news about the funding award and everybody in Bathgate is very excited about what this means for the town. We are now hard at work with West Lothian Council to ensure that the budget is spent wisely and benefits the whole town centre.”

The main projects include:

    * New George Street streetscape
    * Creation of new “St. David’s Square” civic space
    * Revamp for Steelyard
    * Further Support for Premises Improvement Scheme
    * New Wi-Fi supported town centre
    * New access / mobility improvements for streets and vennels
    * New signage to help create “sense of place”
    * Creation of safe and accessible pedestrian connections
    * Improved cycle access to town centre.
    * CCTV Upgrade



A contact of mine in West Lothian tells me that she thinks the WiFication of Bathgate is going ahead.  They are aware of Digital City/Getsignals appalling record of non-delivery in Swindon, but it seems they're not as tooled up to perform any serious scrutiny of the Bathgate Wifi 'deal' as we are down here, so the locals are pretty much helpless passengers in the process.


I don't generally have much interest in what goes on North of Carlisle, but I do wonder whether, (while we're still waiting to see some sign that Rikki Hunt, Chief executive officer of Digital City (UK) Ltd, will 'fix it for Swindon'), he'll 'fix it for Bathgate' first, despite having already been paid to supply Borough wide coverage in Swindon. 






Offline Ringer

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2010, 07:41:56 AM »
I had to look twice at the photo, is it a Rik'll Fix it?
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Offline Tea Boy

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2010, 07:44:31 AM »
Or more to the point are we paying for it?

Is Rikki desperate to have a working system, that he's managed to con strike a deal with another authority.

How do we know that our £450,000 for a non-existant service won't be spent in Bathgate rather than in Swindon?

Just who is holding Rikki and his companies to account?
Gardening tips: Always remember its brown side down, green side up.  If its knocking now it'll only go bang later

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2010, 08:02:58 AM »
This confirms what many of us have felt - that Rikki Hunt is super at selling a project concept but awful at delivering a result.

Bathgate councillors must have been blinded by the aura that seems to surround Rikki's pronouncements.

I hold out little hope that Swindon Concillors will hold him to account

Offline Ringer

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2010, 08:41:31 AM »
This confirms what many of us have felt - that Rikki Hunt is super at selling a project concept but awful at delivering a result.

Bathgate councillors must have been blinded by the aura that seems to surround Rikki's pronouncements.

I hold out little hope that Swindon Concillors will hold him to account

It is a private company that has borrowed £450,000 from Swindon Council Taxpayers as authorised by Cllrs Bluh and Edwards, that is to be paid back after 2 years (Not sure when that starts and finishes?) I would suggest as that is the terms and as far as my understanding goes in these matters, that councillors do not need to hold anyone to account except possibly those that signed the loan off? 
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Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 08:51:06 AM »
The £400k is indeed a loan and it is to be paid back in two years from the date of the first drawdown which was October 2009. Therefore the loan is not due for repayment until October 2011.

However, the loan was made subject to conditions, the primary one being that a Borough wide Wi-Fi network was installed.  The issue of 'holding to account' is not simply directed to the security of the loan but also at the works promised and contracted for.

Swindon Councillors do have an obligation to the people to ensure that a contracted for service is provided. It is quite amazing that since the second drawdown of £250,000 made in the first week of May - some 6 months ago there has been no progress made in Wi-Fi provision in the town cnetre never mind the wider Borough. If that is not a cause for concern, I'm not sure what is!!

Officers of SBC expressed the need to release the second tranche of funds on the basis that to delay would possibly lead to the Wi-Project 'stalling' - I submit the project has stalled despite the £250,000 being paid out.

Offline Ringer

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 08:57:41 AM »
The £400k is indeed a loan and it is to be paid back in two years from the date of the first drawdown which was October 2009. Therefore the loan is not due for repayment until October 2011.

Des
Good point and logical, but nothing appears logical or normal about the deal i would suggest that it is reasonable to expect the loan to have started its clock ticking from first draw dow. What if it is not due until the day after the last draw down? Or from the May 2010 date?

Councillors don't know it has been claimed on here so it could be that the clock on two years has not even started ticking as some 50,000 is still due to be drawn down according to something I read on here written by you. ;)
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Offline Bobby Bingo

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2010, 11:45:52 AM »
Can I suggest that we ask each councillor what this "project" is all about.
I asked this question of a Conservative coucillor of many, many years standing and she did not have a clue.
So tackle your local councillor and let them explain the project to you.
I am sure you will be dumbfounded with the results.
Bobby

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2010, 12:52:45 PM »
Can I suggest that we ask each councillor what this "project" is all about.
I asked this question of a Conservative coucillor of many, many years standing and she did not have a clue.
So tackle your local councillor and let them explain the project to you.
I am sure you will be dumbfounded with the results.

When WiFi originally appeared in the public arena I asked the only Councillor for Freshbrook and Grange Park who was, and still is, a cabinet Member. Peter Greenhalgh.

As Bluhligan #2, you'd be forgiven for expecting that Cllr Peter would know as much as anyone about the terms of the wifi deal, however, this is an impression he worked quite hard to avoid giving to people.  I thought he worked just a little too hard at distancing himself from it to be brutally honest and very early on I formed the opinion that he was sunk in it up to his nuts.  Readers should form their own opinions.

Cllr Peter, or 'Pogo' as Lamplighters are now referring to him, originally told me that:

Quote from: Peter Greenhalgh
"This is just a commercial loan"

I think it's fairly obvious that I didn't take Peters word for it and it wasn't very long after conversation that Chris Watts was steered toward Talkswindon and he, I and Komadori, (where is Komadori?), began looking a wifi intently from several different angles, and discovered very rapidly that there was nothing commercially 'normal' about the wifi deal whatsoever. The rest is history.

In the early days, and don't take this the wrong way Des - it isn't a criticism, other interested folk like Des Morgan were, almost to a man, making mostly positive noises about wifi and I remember being quite bemused by a speech Des made at an open cabinet meeting.  I was heartened when Des finally saw through the Bluhligan bullshit and added what he knew to the TS pool of knowledge.

Btw, in the Civic Offices at that point in time, Chris Watts was being referred to as 'f*cking Chris Watts' and me as 'Geoff f*cking Reid'.  Dunno what we're called these days, I suspect it is has not becopme more pleasant with the passage of time, but I don't really care.

It appears that Bluhligans and Directors couldn't quite bring themselves to attack the pseudonym of 'Komadori'.  Perhaps they were more afraid of him than Chris and I.

Offline Spectre

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 01:47:54 PM »
Does this sound familiar?

Bodgit, the dodgy builder, starts your buiding work but only after you have given him a sub up front.
When he has built some of the work he comes back to ask for the remaining money agreed to complete the project which he says "will be finished by X date. You stupidly believe him and pay up.

Bodgit then promptly disappears for several months saying he has to start another job. On making belated enquiries ( due diligence) you find out this is how Bodgit normally conducts his business.

You wish you had taken notice of all those consumer programmes on TV. Only pay for work done. :'(

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2010, 02:27:27 PM »
Quote
Good point and logical, but nothing appears logical or normal about the deal i would suggest that it is reasonable to expect the loan to have started its clock ticking from first draw dow. What if it is not due until the day after the last draw down? Or from the May 2010 date?

The recorded minute is quite clear the clock starts ticking from the first drawdown

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2010, 02:55:01 PM »
Hi Geoff - I would never take anything you say 'the wrong way' - I certainly was in support of the Wi-Fi project as a project which could benefit the town - my problem was and always has been with the association with Digital City. When i first read about the scheme (November 2009) I was so amazed that within 24 hours i penned my first letter to the Adver - dated 17 November, which read as follows

Sir – I was quite surprised to read that Swindon Council has taken a 35% stake in the enterprise to provide Wi Fi connectivity to Swindon homes.  While on the face of it this appears to be an innovative and exciting project one really does have to question the timing.  Only 24 hours previously the Council was presenting a picture of doom and gloom with financial deficits running into several millions of pounds.  The burghers at the Civic Offices were talking about ‘hard choices’ having to be made with ‘priorities’ being established.  In the twinkling of an eye we now have a joint venture – for which the Council is alleged to have ‘invested’ £400,000 of taxpayer money in the vague hope that revenue might be earned sometime in the future.

The press release issued by Swindon Council suggests that interested residents should log onto www.getsignal.co.uk It is indicative of the ‘cart before the horse’ principle that there is no website, only a message saying it’s on its way.

I hope the project is a success for the consortium involved but I do not believe the Council should be part of the consortium as it is not the Council’s role to undertake commercial risk – our taxpayer pounds are not gambling chips for the use of Rod Bluh and his colleagues.  The role of the local authority is to facilitate and assist enterprise, not to loan money.  As for Rod Bluh’s silly comment about ‘creating total social inclusion through our free service’ – he really does need to grow up – it is not a statutory or moral duty for the Council to ensure all residents have free access to the Internet in just the same way as it is not the duty of the Council to ensure we all have free access to Sky Sports, which incidentally would be more welcome.

As my interest in the subject was whetted, I became a little more interrogative of SBC and Coun Bluh at this point I spoke to Steve Wakefield and began to make contributions to TS.  I would be very interested to know what comments i made to bemuse you. However- rest assured that simply because I was not contributing to TS before March 2010 (I never knew it existed before then) doesn't mean i wasn't active in opposing the way in whcih the scheme was being put together.


Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2011, 12:00:21 AM »

Bump.

You'll understand why as this week unfolds....  :)

Offline Geoff Reid

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Buuuuump....

Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2011, 02:28:50 PM »
You may recall that Officers were 'requested' by the Scrutiny Committee in March 2011 to ascertain “ the exact date Coun Perkins was made aware of the decision of Bathgate Bid to not choose Digital City as its partner to provide a Wi-Fi scheme.”

It will come as no surprise that the second attempt at an answer is as vague as the first which suggests the words 'exact date' might as well be written in a foreign language. But here is the latest answer. 

Quote
Regarding the date of Bathgate withdrawal from the Digital City proposed Wi-Fi scheme, Rikki Hunt , former CEO of the company, has confirmed that the company did receive a letter which he believes was dated the 6th December 2010, however,  he was first personally aware of this on the 15th December 2010, having been out of the office earlier in December .  Cllr Perkins would only have been made aware of this  after the 15th December 2010

Let us be quite clear Bathgate did not withdraw from the DC proposed scheme they simply rejected the proposal. It is also the case that the Council is fully aware that the letter from Bathgate was dated 6 December 2010. Mr Hunt is being reasonable when he suggests he became aware as at 15th December and i accept that Coun Perkins knew sometime 'soon after the 15 December'.

What I do find disturbing is that Mr Hunt and Coun Perkins have both claimed in a public meeting (Scrutiny 7 February 2011) that 'an element of interference' and negative and detrimental comments about the DC Wi-Fi scheme in swindon had been reasons why Bathgate had not chosen DC to do their Wi-Fi scheme. Such claims were baseless as was the somewhat inglorious boast of Mr hunt that 'while the project had stalled he remained confident it would move forward' - for Coun perkins he indulged himself in emphasisng the supposed social inclusion aspects of the scheme (aspects incidentaly which have never been developed) and claimed somewhat piously that "there was large scale interest from businesses looking to invest in the business" - what utter tripe he was spouting and to think he asked us all to believe him.

What compounds the nonsense expounded by Coun Bluh and Perkins was the comment that 'all seven strands (objectives) as identified in the original cabinet note remained part of DC going forward' - the sheer hubris of these two Councillors demonastrates their limited grasp of the basic principles of straighforward and honest comment. DC was not going forwad and they both knew it. DC was financially in the 'fatal stages of insolvency' and there was no white knight charging forward to 'bail it out'

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2011, 11:21:10 PM »
Another great post Des.

What they needed to grasp in late 2010 was that the project was going nowhere without further funding. That being the case the Council had three choices.

1)  Invest the required monies. They would have had to offer the other shareholders the chance to do so. Rikki clearly couldn't, and I very much doubt if Aqovia could either. That would have left them owning virtually all the company.

2) Underwritten a bank loan on behalf of DC

3) Accepted that the shares they held in DC were worthless, and let another player have the company for a nominal £1, on condition that directors guarantees were put in place to cover the £400k.

Option 2 would not have been politically acceptable, but 1 or 3 would have got them out of the mess.

Their denials and inaction, trying to blame Des and other TS detractors only made the final outcome more certain. Perkins was out of his depth and the electorate can judge him next May. Bluh on the other hand is an accountant - I presume qualified, although his conduct here leads me to question this, and as such should have been able to see where this was ending. He should quite frankly along with Edwards and the Director of finance resign immediately.

Des you've played a blinder, in the face of personal insults and the like, I'm glad you still wont drop the bone. I hope you make the maximum noise next May, preferably on the wider media.


Offline Muggins

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2011, 09:05:31 AM »
Unfortunately the people that vote for them do not know half of this and will listen to the propoganda. 
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)

ph1lc

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2011, 09:13:21 AM »
That's the danger Muggins, it's up to us to make sure that WiFi is an issue at the elections.

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2011, 09:16:18 AM »
Quote
Unfortunately the people that vote for them do not know half of this and will listen to the propaganda. 

Quote
That's the danger Muggins, it's up to us to make sure that WiFi is an issue at the elections.

How do we make sure that the story of what happened in the Wi-Fiasco and those that took part in it is made public?
What's it all about?

Offline Muggins

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Re: Will 'Rikki Fix It' For Bathgate WiFi Before Work In Swindon Even Starts?
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2011, 09:27:41 AM »
Also my question?   Without the media being prepared to do that it seems there is only one way  - leaflets, and if that info comes on opposing  political party leaflets, it will probably not be disregarded.

It needs an independent leaflet.  Not an independent person standing, but just independent. 
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)