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‘BathGate-Gate’ – Swindon’s Conservative Cllr’s Call This ‘Industrial Espionage’

They used to say a week was a long time in politics but that statement was rendered obsolete the moment the internet went live.  These days, an hour in politics can seem like an eternity to politicians who, having spun a line, then have to wait nervously until they find out if they’ve got away with it. Often they don’t.

In mid January 2011 I advanced the opinion that Digital City (UK) Ltd had already defaulted on its loan repayments to Swindon Borough Council and by the end of January I was discussing the loan default as if it were confirmed.  My opinions didn’t find sympathetic ears with Swindons Conservatives though, and Cllr Garry Perkins, (Deputy leader of the council & director of Digital City (uk) Ltd),  lost no time in trying to convince anyone who would listen to him that his company had not defaulted on repaying the loan his council had made to it.

But the truth was far different from the version Cllr Perkins was spinning publicly.  The truth was…that Cllr Perkins’ company had not made any loan repayments to Swindon Borough Council since the 4th of November 2010, a fact which Councillor Perkins would have been doubly aware of because not only is he a Director of Digital City (UK) Ltd, he is also the Deputy Leader of the Council and, (as if that wasn’t already enough),  in his role as Deputy Leader of the council he had recently, with Hitesh Patel, co-authored a ‘wifi update’ report which contained the following paragraph:

3.2       Loan repayment update

Three Interest payments on the loan have not been made and they were due on the 4th November 2010, 16th December 2010 and 20th January 2011.

Busted, and Hoist upon his own petard Perkins eventually admitted his deceit when he apologised to Des Morgan, (a member of the Talkswindon Forum),  for misleading him.

Cllr Perkins knew in December 2010 that his company, (Digital City (UK) Ltd, was not making its loan repayments to the council of which he is the deputy leader, yet he was telling people and reporters that it was making loan payments on time.  Naughty and not clever.

But, as if Cllr Perkins obvious deceit wasn’t bad enough, his fellow cabinet member Cllr Keith Williams and North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson decided that want to get some action – both apparently wanting to use appearances on BBC Radio Wiltshire to put the boot into local businessman Chris Watts.     Chris had the temerity to not only criticise Rod Bluh’s WiFi’asco but, after many months of aggression, obfuscation, arrogant dismissiveness and sneering contempt from Rod Bluh and his Bluhnderbirds,  eventually joined the labour party.

Judging Chris Watts to have blasphemed in the worst possible way, Justin Tomlinson MP lost no time in claiming Chris’ criticism of the WiFi’aso was politically motivated.   Cllr Williams was next to ascend to the pulpit of local radio, from where he delivered a sermon of slander mightily upon Chris Watts, smiting his blasphemy and exposing the industrial espionage wreaked upon the Bathgate/Digital City Union by none other than the WiFi Devil, incarnate as Wattsy himself, horns ‘an all,  so help him God and may he be turned to a pillar of shite….

…and thus, after a bit of wandering around the political desert 8 or nine paragraphs we eventually reach the point of this blog post:

Swindons Conservatives have been briefing anyone who will listen that Chris Watts is responsible for preventing Digital City (UK) Ltd from getting it’s money-sucking straw anywhere near a sizeable pot of regeneration money in West Lothian.

Swindons Conservatives are saying that the Swindon WiFi’asco has stalled because they have been prevented from  getting their hands on Bathgates regeneration money.

While it is true that some who have been following the WiFiasco  in the papers and via the Talkswindon forum have corresponded with West Lothian Council.  I do not believe that Chris Watts is one of them.  I would like to see any evidence Councillors Williams & Perkins have to the contrary and I would like to know why Justin Tomlinson felt able to put the boot in.  Personally I think they are worried that Chris might stand as a Labour candidate in Swindons Eastcott ward in May this year, and their attacks on him genuinely are politically motivated.

As if they haven’t already, (as usual), compounded their earlier errors and made things worse for themselves, Swindons Tory’s are determined to put themselves back on the National media stage as they try to ‘hunt down like a dog’ the person that ‘Buggered Bathgate’ for them. They claim to have submitted an Freedom of Information request to West Lothian Council to find out what was said, and who said it.   Well, I can answer 50% of their questions, i.e, what was said by one person but they’ll get shit-all from me regarding peoples identities.

What follows is a partial extract of a covering email and the correspondents letter to West Lothian Council.   I have called our correspondent Roderick.

Roderick told me:

“I sent my e-mail when I realised that a “WiFi Feasibility Study” contract had been awarded to Digital City as I thought that the first stage of the con trick was in place and wanted to stop it.

You may like to know and perhaps share with TalkSwindon that I am not political, certainly not Labour and I have never met or spoken to anyone in the Swindon Labour group.

I do not live in Swindon and have more connections to Bathgate than Swindon, so obviously my loyalties lie with the citizens of Bathgate who will now not have to pay for anyone’s foreign holiday homes or expensive lifestyles. At the same time I want the citizens of Swindon to get their money back but from the estates of those that took it, not from another town.”

Dear XXXXXX at Enterprising Bathgate

I note that Bathgate commissioned Get Signal Ltd to carry out a Wi-Fi feasibility study for the town centre regeneration project. I also note that a “Focus Event” was due to be held during early August.

As an interested party, from some distance away, I am very keen to know what the outcomes for this feasibility study and Focus Event were. Perhaps you can direct me to a web-site where I can read about them or if not, give me some information on the project?

The reason that I ask, is that Mr Rikki Hunt of Get Signal Ltd / Digital City / aQuovia who have been commissioned by Swindon Borough Council to install a pilot Wi-Fi project for the Swindon Borough town of Highworth by April 2010 and then the remainder of Swindon by September 2010 has failed to meet his targets.

The pilot project at Highworth, by Mr Hunt’s own admission, is still not complete and his latest estimate, given on BBC Radio Wiltshire yesterday, was that it will take another year before the Swindon project is complete. A full one year later than his original one year estimate.

It seems strange that Get Signal felt competent to carry out a Wi-fi feasibility study in Bathgate when, also by Mr. Hunt’s public admission, the Highworth pilot project revealed to them the basic physics of Wi-Fi transmission and several practical aspects of street furniture i.e electromagnetic waves will not go around or up and down hills, nor will they penetrate metal films or beams used in buildings. Also that they struggle to penetrate thick stone walls. Get Signal Ltd also admitted to not understanding that some street lights do not have an electrical power supply 24 hours per day. Yesterday Mr. Hunt also said, on BBC radio that they did not know that they could not put screws into concrete lamp posts and that installing an electrical cable up a concrete lamp post was difficult.

As Get Signal, Digital City and aQuovia are start up companies with no history of Wi-Fi installation I am not surprised at these late revelations.

Perhaps you would like to review what the citizens of Swindon think of this project by following the links below and then review Bathgate’s relationship with Mr. Hunt, Get Signal,  Digital City Ltd and aQuovia.

http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?board=207.0

http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=6361.0


Best Regards,

XXXXXXX

I understand ‘Roderick’ is not the only concerned member of the public to correspond with West Lothian Council.  Should others wish to share their correspondence with the wider world, (anonymously),  please email leaks@talkswindon.org

In the meantime, readers may be interested to learn that, because I think it would be interesting to know how the Swindon Conservatives ‘Dog Hunting’ is going, I though it might be fun to see who and how they’re going about it:

FOI requests received by West Lothian Council Regarding Digital City (UK) Ltd & the Bathgate WiFi Project

‘Bathgate-Gate’ – As Swindon’s Conservatives indulge in a replacement for Fox hunting, are they also bringing a new twist to the phrase ‘Hunt Saboteur’?

A forum discussion topic is now open here all are welcome.

Posted on
Friday, February 11th, 2011
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Swindon WiFi.
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One Comment to “‘BathGate-Gate’ – Swindon’s Conservative Cllr’s Call This ‘Industrial Espionage’”

[...] who knew what and when did they know it political scenario? Here is a blog post by Geoff Reid http://www.geoffreid.com/?p=922 There is some more information including the West Lothian Council’s Bathgate Bid FOIs [...]

February 22nd, 2011