More scrutiny to come

Recently, Mr Buckland offered some sound advice to his colleagues on Swindon Borough Council.

The failure by a Council official to declare that he was in fact a Director of the operating company is an example either of incompetence or of something worse.
I blogged recently that I was sure that the lack of openness was not the result of deliberate subterfuge. I still hope that I am right. My advice to those involved is to come clean about everything now. As well as a demonstration of transparency, it may well be the best thing to do in order to secure the future of the project, which I hope will be a success.

It’s advice that Mr Bluh seems very reluctant to accept. In his view, there’s nothing more he needs to tell us about how the council is spending almost £½M of our money on a venture described in parliament as having ‘a detrimental effect on small and medium-sized IT companies in Swindon’.

This deal has been subjected to the most enormous scrutiny in the past months and has passed all those tests.

Err… has Mr Bluh forgotten that his latest attempt to throw our money at the wi-fi project didn’t pass through the last meeting of the council’s Scrutiny Committee? Just what aspect of ‘failed’ is it that Mr Bluh interprets as meaning ‘passed’?

It also seems not to have occurred to Mr Bluh that it has ‘passed’ some of those scrutiny tests only because very limited information was made available. It is for that reason that it has been referred back to the council’s cabinet, where additional information will be presented next Wednesday. It is unfortunately that the claims of Mr Patel that he did not know he was a director of Digital City (UK) Ltd seem inconsistent with the letter sent by the council’s chief executive, Mr Jones, to Ms Snelgrove on 28 January stating

we have a Director on the Board.

It’s difficult to know who, if anyone, involved in this at the council can be believed.

However, from later this week there will be a new Swindon Borough Council representative on the board of Digital City (UK) Ltd. It is proposed that Mr Perkins become a director of the company. Quite what the relevance of his cabinet responsibility for “children’s services” has towards the alleged social inclusion objectives of the wifi project is less clear. Perhaps the more relevant Mr Mattock is out of favour… or has less favours owed to him.

In a recent pep-talk to his party members the blue nest’s Mr Pickles said

We have seen what can be done as a council, and now it is time for our extremely good candidates to get into place and bring some honesty, decency and straightforwardness into government.

We have indeed seen what can be done as a council, and recently it’s not been pretty. If they’re to stand any chance of getting into national government they’ll first need to bring some honesty, decency and straightforwardness to local government.

If Mr Bluh wishes the scrutiny to stop, he first needs to ensure that the very serious concerns about the way he spends our money are answered, and answered honestly.