Page last updated at 14:25 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Swindon council accused of secrecy over wi-fi project

Wireless internet

An MP has accused Swindon Borough Council of "excessive secrecy" in how it went about providing wireless internet across the area.

The £1m wi-fi project is being run by Digital City UK Ltd, in which the council has a 35% share.

Labour's Anne Snelgrove told the Commons there was a "lack of external scrutiny" over how money was spent.

The Conservative leader of the council said the comments were being made on party political grounds.

In her speech to the Commons, Swindon South MP Ms Snelgrove said: "I believe that Swindon Borough Council should have been open and transparent and prepared to engage with all on these issues.

"Sadly it has done exactly the opposite."

'Enormous scrutiny'

Local government minister Barbara Follett, replied that the government had "limited intervention" over the issue.

But she added: "The fact that Swindon is working with the private sector to make the town the first in the UK to provide free wi-fi internet access to all its residents has been widely reported in the press.

"The aim is a good one."

In a statement, council leader Rod Bluh said: ''This deal has been subjected to the most enormous scrutiny in the past months and has passed all those tests.

"This project has huge potential for Swindon, not just for residents but for businesses and public services and it would have been wrong for us to ignore this opportunity."

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