Language is important

That was Mr Bluh’s oft repeated refrain to Mr Montaut during the debate at last night’s special meeting of Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet. But rather than using the phrase ‘language is important’ to attack Mr Montaut, Mr Bluh should reflect on how the meaning of language has been distorted in the record of the council’s actions relating to the wifi deal. There were many new meanings that we learnt for simple phrases at the council meeting last night.

  • When in a report presented to the meeting it said “The delay in having a fully operational ‘back-office’ customer care and billing operation has hindered opportunities to sell.” it actually meant the back-office software was ready, but the company never intended to start selling before it did.
  • Where Mr Patel wrote on his LinkedIn profileBoard Director Digital City (UK) Ltd” he actually meant “SBC observer on Board of Digital City”.
  • When Mr Jones, the council’s chief executive, wrote in a letter to Ms Snelgrove on 26 January “we have a director on the board” what he actually meant was “we have a director position on the board but have not filled it yet”.
  • By analogy, where in the appendix to the minutes of the 14 December 2009 meeting of the Scrutiny Committee it states “The Council has one Director representing its interests on the Digital City Board.” it also meant “we don’t yet have a director on the board”.
  • When Mr Bluh said to the Special Committee at its 25 March meetingThis is a loan repayable with interest at above commercial rate” what he should have said was “This is a loan repayable at a commercial rate”.

With a record like that of saying one thing but meaning another, it’s little wonder that the scrutiny of this deal continues.