Chief Executive's report on 'Accidental Director', As Given To Chairman Of Scrutiny Committee

Geoff Reid made this Freedom of Information request to Swindon Borough Council

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The request was successful.

Dear Swindon Borough Council,

Title summary: A copy of the Chief Executive's report into Director of Business Transformation, (Hitesh Patel), 'accidental' directorship of Digital City (UK) Ltd was given to the Chairman of Swindon Borough Council Scrutiny Committee: Cllr Derique Montaut

My freedom of information request is directed to the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Derique Montaut.

The Scrutiny committee of Swindon Borough Council has spent a considerable amount of committee time scrutinising the Public/Private partnership between Swindon Borough Council and Digital City (UK) Limited and hearing and answering representations from members of the public who have expressed serious concerns over many aspects of the partnership, often submitting public record documents to demonstrate that their concerns are supported by facts.

There remains considerable public interest in the Chief Executive's report into Hitesh Patel's, (Swindon Borough Council Director of Business Transformation), supposedly 'accidental' directorship of Digital City (UK)Ltd, which began before the Council lent Digital City (UK) Ltd £450,000 of public funds, but remained undisclosed to the Council for more than 5 months until his Directorship of the company was exposed by members of the public.

I understand that in March 2010 a copy of the Chief executive's report (mentioned above) was given to the Chairman of Swindon Borough Council Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Derique Montaut and it is therefore to him that my questions are directed:

1. On what date did the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), receive the report into Hitesh Patel's 'accidental' directorship of Digital City (UK) Ltd?

2. Did the chairman of the Scrutiny Committee agree to any pre-conditions of confidentiality before he read the report?

2a. If so, what were the terms of confidentiality?

2b. Did Councillor Montaut agree with them?

2c. Did Councillor Montaut comply with them?

2d. Who requested or imposed those terms of confidentiality?

3. Did the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), show or discuss the contents of the report with any other members of the Scrutiny committee?

3a. Did the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), show or discuss the contents of the report with any other elected members or employees of Swindon Borough Council?

3b. Did the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), show or discuss the contents of the report with any members of the general public?

4. Did the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), show or discuss the contents of the report with the political assistant to the Labour Group of Swindon Borough Council?

5. Has the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), been approached by any other elected members, employees of Swindon Borough Council, or members of the general public who wished to discuss the contents of the report with him?

Does the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Derique Montaut), know:

6. How many copies of the report exist?

6a. Who has each copy?

6b. Whether other holders of the report have discussed its contents with other elected members, or employees, of Swindon Borough Council?

7. Does the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Derique Montaut), accept the findings of the report and believe the statements made within are factually correct and honestly presented?

8. Does the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Derique Montaut), believe that, in light of the high level of public interest in, and scrutiny of, the public/private partnership, that the report should be fully examined and discussed by the scrutiny committee in an open and accurately minuted meeting of the committee?

9. Does Councillor Montaut believe the statements made within the report are factually correct and credible?

10. If the chairman of the Scrutiny committee still has a copy of the report would he please supply a copy to me.

11. If the chairman of the Scrutiny committee no longer has a copy of the report will he be requesting another copy?

12. If the Chairman of the scrutiny committee were to acquire another copy of the report, is he confident that he remains sufficiently familiar with the original copy that he would spot any changes made to the newer copy?

Yours Faithfully

Geoff Reid

Geoff Reid left an annotation ()

A Talkswindon forum discussion topic concerning this request is open here: http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?top...

Customer Services, Swindon Borough Council

Thank you for your email which has been forwarded to the FOI office for response.

Kind regards

Customer Services
Swindon Borough Council
Wat Tyler House
Swindon SN1 2JG
Phone: 01793 445500

E-mail: [Swindon Borough Council request email]
Website: www.swindon.gov.uk

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Sharon Druett, Swindon Borough Council

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Dear Mr Reid,

Please find the attached response to your request.

Yours sincerely

Sharon Druett

Sharon Druett ([email address])
Freedom of Information Officer
Law and Democratic Services
Swindon Borough Council
Tel: 01793 463377
Fax: 01793 463405
Web: [1]www.swindon.gov.uk

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Dear Sharon Druett,

Many thanks to yourself and Councillor Derique Montaut for the prompt answers tom y questions.

Much appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

Geoff Reid

Geoff Reid left an annotation ()

The answer to my FOI was supplied, curiously, as a jpeg image placed within a word document.

To aid easy referencing, (via copying and pasting), I have transcribed Councillor Montauts answers here:

Q1. On what date did the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), receive the report into Hitesh Patel's 'accidental' directorship of Digital City (UK) Ltd?

A: “I was given a copy of the said report as Leader of the Labour Group, not Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, on the 26th of March 2010.”

2. Did the chairman of the Scrutiny Committee agree to any pre-conditions of confidentiality before he read the report?

A: “I was asked by the Chief Executive not to publicly disclose any information that was in the drafted report, if I decided to read it.”

2a. If so, what were the terms of confidentiality?

A: “I believe the above answer also addresses this question.”

2b. Did Councillor Montaut aqree'wlth them?

A: “I did not agree that, if I read this report, I should keep the contents of it secret. Therefore I decided not to read the report.”

2c. Did Councillor Montaut comply with them?

A: “I believe the above answer also addresses this question.”

2d. Who requested or imposed those terms of confidentiality?

A: “I believe the above answers also address this question.”

3. Did the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), show or discuss the contents of the report with any other members of the Scrutiny committee?

A: “I did not discuss the contents of this report with anybody because I personally
did not read the report.”

3a. Did the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), show or discuss the contents of the report with any other elected members or employees of Swindon Borough Council?

A: “I believe the above answer also addresses this question.”

3b. Did the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), show or discuss the contents of the report with any members of the general public?

A: “I believe the above answer also addresses this question.”

4, Did the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), show or discuss the contents of the report with the political assistant to the Labour Group of Swindon Borough Council?

A: “I believe the answer to question 3 also addresses this question,”

5, Has the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Councillor Derique Montaut), been approached by any other elected members, employees of Swindon Borough Council, or members of the general public who
wished to discuss the contents of the report with him?

A: “Nobody has approached me to discuss the contents of this report.”

6. Does the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Derique Montaut), Know How many copies of the report exist?

A: “I am unsure of how many copies of the report exist”

6a. Who has each copy?

A: “It was my understanding that the all three Group Leaders in Swindon Borough Council were able to read the contents of the report, as well as the Chief Executive. I am unaware of anybody else who had copies of this report.”

6b, Whether other holders of the report have discussed its contents with other elected members, or employees, of Swindon Borough Council?

A: “I do not know the answer to this question.”

7, Does the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Derique Montaut), accept the findings of the report and believe the statements made within are factually correct and honestly presented?

A: “I am unable to answer this question because I did not read the said report,”

8. Does the Chairman of the scrutiny committee, (Derique Montaut), believe that, in light of the high level of public interest in, and scrutiny of, the pubtic/private partnership, that the report should be fully examined and discussed by the scrutiny committee in an open and accurately minuted meeting of the committee?

A: “It is a matter for the Scrutiny Committee as a whole to decide what it scrutinises and I was disappointed that a majority of scrutiny committee members did not decide to refer this matter to Full Council, owever ( respect the committee's decision.”

9. Does Councillor Montaut believe the statements made within the report are factually correct and credible?

A: “I am unable to answer this question because I did not read the said report.”

10. If the chairman of the scrutiny committee still has a copy of the report would he please supply a copy to me?

A: “I no longer have a copy of the said report.”

11. If the chairman of the scrutiny committee no longer has a copy of the report will he be requesting another copy?

A: “I will not be requesting another copy of the report because I believe the pre-conditions would be laid down, which would be unacceptable to me.”

Q12: If the chairman of the scrutiny committee were to acquire another copy of the report, is he confident that he remains sufficiently familiar with the original copy that he would spot any changes made to the newer copy?

A: “Because I have never read the report I would be unable to tell whether any changes have been made to it since it was made available to me.”