Torfaen refutes Newport claims in laptop row

A ROW between two local authorities over 2,400 laptops stuck in storage deepened further yesterday when a council claimed Newport had carried on taking part in a schools IT scheme after they were bought.

Newport council has said that it was surprised when Torfaen bought 8,642 laptops back in March 2011 and has said it never formally committed to the project.

But e-mails, shown to the Argus by Torfaen council, appear to show a Newport council IT officer telling an opposite number at Torfaen that the authority was looking forward to receiving the units.

The iLearnWales scheme was originally intended for three local authorities to participate, with councils providing their contributions on top of a Welsh Government grant of £9 million.

While 6,218 laptops were deployed in Torfaen and Monmouthshire schools, another 2,424 laptops were earmarked for a third local authority.

The officer, whom the Argus has agreed not to name, wrote in May 2011: “Follow a meet this morning... we are keen to receive laptops and connect wireless asap (sic).”

Another e-mail, sent in May 2011 from another Newport council IT officer about match funding for the scheme, said “we are fully aware of our obligations”.

Minutes also show that former cabinet member and Newport councillor David Atwell attending a programme board meeting for iLearnWales on June 29, 2011.

They show that a Welsh Government representative asked if there were any difficulties for the three councils over the match funding required.

“No difficulties were reported,” the minutes read.

Torfaen council has claimed that the programme to deliver iLearnWales started in March 2010 with agreement from leaders, chief executives and directors of Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Newport councils.

A spokesman said that between March 2010 and June 2011 the programme was developed with Newport council, and that the council was aware the laptops were purchased in March of that year. It said that in June 2011 a corporate director from Newport had said Newport was fully committed to the scheme and would find the money.

A Newport council spokeswoman yesterday reiterated that the authority had no involvement in the procurement of the iLearnWales laptops by Torfaen council.

The authority said when information on the required financial commitment from Newport was revealed the council decided the business case was not sustainable and it withdrewfrom discussions in June 2011.

Comments (7)

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2:55pm Wed 14 Nov 12

Iknowyouknow says...

Settling this is easy,Torfaen produce the written evidence of confirmation that Newport agreed to the purchase of the laptops AND agreed to be a part of the scheme, not just a part of the bid process. Then the Assembly can deal with them for misleading and breaching contracts to gain match funding.

This is just another example of the incompetence of council staff wasting money.

Torfaen more than any other Welsh local authority should be appearing as transparent and upfront as possible with the on going investigation into their head of ICT who is still currently suspended on full pay, a year on from other problems and who has already been implicated in this "missing laptops" story by other Councillors and press reports.

It's high time the Welsh Assembly woke up and sorted out local authorities in Wales - bleeding public purses dry.
Settling this is easy,Torfaen produce the written evidence of confirmation that Newport agreed to the purchase of the laptops AND agreed to be a part of the scheme, not just a part of the bid process. Then the Assembly can deal with them for misleading and breaching contracts to gain match funding. This is just another example of the incompetence of council staff wasting money. Torfaen more than any other Welsh local authority should be appearing as transparent and upfront as possible with the on going investigation into their head of ICT who is still currently suspended on full pay, a year on from other problems and who has already been implicated in this "missing laptops" story by other Councillors and press reports. It's high time the Welsh Assembly woke up and sorted out local authorities in Wales - bleeding public purses dry. Iknowyouknow

4:31pm Wed 14 Nov 12

youngashie says...

Iknowyouknow wrote:
Settling this is easy,Torfaen produce the written evidence of confirmation that Newport agreed to the purchase of the laptops AND agreed to be a part of the scheme, not just a part of the bid process. Then the Assembly can deal with them for misleading and breaching contracts to gain match funding. This is just another example of the incompetence of council staff wasting money. Torfaen more than any other Welsh local authority should be appearing as transparent and upfront as possible with the on going investigation into their head of ICT who is still currently suspended on full pay, a year on from other problems and who has already been implicated in this "missing laptops" story by other Councillors and press reports. It's high time the Welsh Assembly woke up and sorted out local authorities in Wales - bleeding public purses dry.
Well said i could not have put it better myself
[quote][p][bold]Iknowyouknow[/bold] wrote: Settling this is easy,Torfaen produce the written evidence of confirmation that Newport agreed to the purchase of the laptops AND agreed to be a part of the scheme, not just a part of the bid process. Then the Assembly can deal with them for misleading and breaching contracts to gain match funding. This is just another example of the incompetence of council staff wasting money. Torfaen more than any other Welsh local authority should be appearing as transparent and upfront as possible with the on going investigation into their head of ICT who is still currently suspended on full pay, a year on from other problems and who has already been implicated in this "missing laptops" story by other Councillors and press reports. It's high time the Welsh Assembly woke up and sorted out local authorities in Wales - bleeding public purses dry.[/p][/quote]Well said i could not have put it better myself youngashie

5:22pm Wed 14 Nov 12

Bobevans says...

Lots of nice vague words from Torfaen council but a complete lack of any evidence that Newport Council had approved the purchase so why did To
rfaen buy them.

Torfaen should be able to produce the approvelby Newport Council to buy this Laptops so all Torfaen council need to do is to produce the signed approval.

Standbye though for some more waffle from them along the lines of we believe that they had verbally agreed to this.


Who places substantiall orders without approval. That level of spend would normaly in a private company need at least 3 levels of approval
Lots of nice vague words from Torfaen council but a complete lack of any evidence that Newport Council had approved the purchase so why did To rfaen buy them. Torfaen should be able to produce the approvelby Newport Council to buy this Laptops so all Torfaen council need to do is to produce the signed approval. Standbye though for some more waffle from them along the lines of we believe that they had verbally agreed to this. Who places substantiall orders without approval. That level of spend would normaly in a private company need at least 3 levels of approval Bobevans

5:28pm Wed 14 Nov 12

Woodgnome says...

Surely the point is the sheer waste of money that is needed for more deserving issues. Smacks of a political change of mind as I doubt that Directors agree anything without political back up..
Surely the point is the sheer waste of money that is needed for more deserving issues. Smacks of a political change of mind as I doubt that Directors agree anything without political back up.. Woodgnome

6:50pm Wed 14 Nov 12

CwmbranMark says...

What a crazy situation.

I work for an IT company that supplies software solutions to local government and I know from first hand experience how incompetent they can be.

I never do anything without written approval in advance, a signed contract and a purchase order number. Basic project management!!!

Reading this article, it smacks of "he said this, she said that". It seems to be that there are major failings on both sides in this affair.

What a sorry way to run things!!
What a crazy situation. I work for an IT company that supplies software solutions to local government and I know from first hand experience how incompetent they can be. I never do anything without written approval in advance, a signed contract and a purchase order number. Basic project management!!! Reading this article, it smacks of "he said this, she said that". It seems to be that there are major failings on both sides in this affair. What a sorry way to run things!! CwmbranMark

9:43pm Wed 14 Nov 12

Bart45 says...

I think TCBC should also disclose the connections of all decision makers associated with this suspicious procurement process and the company XMA that won the tender.

I would also be interested to know why there was such a hurry to buy these laptops when according to an FOI request in May this year 75% of them were still on the shelf.

And while you're about it I think the audit office should be all over TCBC like a cheap suit and looking at all of the other procurement exercises and 'projects' that aforementioned individuals have been involved in. I very much doubt that this is the only instance where large amounts of your money and mine has been wasted to no effect. I'm sure there is enough in TCBC to keep the audit office busy without interfering with any ongoing criminal trial. That can come later.
I think TCBC should also disclose the connections of all decision makers associated with this suspicious procurement process and the company XMA that won the tender. I would also be interested to know why there was such a hurry to buy these laptops when according to an FOI request in May this year 75% of them were still on the shelf. And while you're about it I think the audit office should be all over TCBC like a cheap suit and looking at all of the other procurement exercises and 'projects' that aforementioned individuals have been involved in. I very much doubt that this is the only instance where large amounts of your money and mine has been wasted to no effect. I'm sure there is enough in TCBC to keep the audit office busy without interfering with any ongoing criminal trial. That can come later. Bart45

1:53pm Thu 15 Nov 12

nehpets snave says...

Sounds like this agreement has been done on the back of a fag packet....There seems to be to many geriatric pensioners running our councils who should be doing gardening,because that's all they're about good for....
Sounds like this agreement has been done on the back of a fag packet....There seems to be to many geriatric pensioners running our councils who should be doing gardening,because that's all they're about good for.... nehpets snave

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