Questions are still not answered after the council was fined £5,000 when they were found guilty of a witchhunt to find a whistleblower who reported the Â£400,000 that was misspent by council employees.
The gross mismanagement of public cash has to have an external investigation carried out with extreme haste because it seems as though the guilty parties are still selling their services to the council according to their website.
Mike Rosendale, the high ranking Children & Families offical and company secretary who oversaw the total waste of OUR money has been promoted and is now in charge of the City Council Grants to Voluntary Organisations folio – surely some mistake there? As company secretary who oversaw £400,000 of the £900,000 budget going down the drain, shouldn’t he be fired?
News into EdinburghSucks is that Al Frater and David Hilson are still in the employ of the City Council. Further, Mr Hillson we believe was working for the Council and therfore awarding a company he was a director of, contracts without using the council tender procedures. We also believe that Mr Hillson was raising invoices at ELLP and then signing them off at Waterloo Place as Community Education Manager – strictly conflict of interest and probably illegal.
The saga continues because basic checks on Mr Frater show that he is sole Director of the Company WABSTERIP LTD. Companies House have them listed but WABSTER have never provided statements of accounts. Therefore we belieive that means they are trading illeagally. According to the WABSTERIP website they have Service Level Agreements with the City Council. How can this be? Very recently Mr Hillson and Mr Pete McDougall were also Directors.
Mr. Rosendale in this article in the Evening News:
“We set about sorting out the slackness in the project and the board are satisfied that what happened was a result of poor record keeping rather than anything untoward.”
How was it that he was sorting out the slackness and carrying out the investigation. He was the most senior council officer in the company. How can he investigate himself? Is this new council policy?
Lord Provost (and “Sows ear” according to certain councillors) Lesley Hynds and Head of Children & Families Ewan Aitken were both on the Board of ELLP whilst the money was being wasted. The Auditors, on two occasions wrote to the board informing them of the problems but they just continued.
It is believed that City Connect and the people behind it are still supplying IT services to community organisatons throughout the city with the Council’s knowledge.
Here are how the thiefs described themselves from the WabsterIP website before it was taken down:
Pete McDougall: “Pete led Edinburgh’s Cityconnect team to exceeding all its targets well before the project ended. With a wealth of local knowledge of the community learning and development sector, he was also seconded to the post of Digital Champion for Edinburgh, Lothian and Fife with the Scottish Executive. A Community Education graduate of Moray House, Pete has been involved in community work for over ten years, having worked as an adult education tutor, youth worker, community development worker and as an environmental educationalist.
Pete is a keen computing hobbyist, with no formal training in computing, and has always been fascinated by the potential of new technologies as an enabling approach for community development.”
So this means that the Council put a ‘keen computing hobbyist’ in charge of a £900,000 project.
Alistar Frater – Until recently responsible for overseeing the development and day-to-day running of myEdinburgh, Alistar has a wealth of experience in working in the community to establish online solutions at a realistic cost. As a Community Education Tutor, he inspired many from different backgrounds and varying abilities to become enthusiastic users of the internet for purposes that were relevant to each of them.
Following a career in the Royal Navy (communications, of course!), Alistar became interested in computing, desktop publishing and databases. By 1996, he was working part-time with CCIS (Craigmillar’s award-winning bent and corrupt community information service).
In 1998, Alistar became a travelling troubleshooter for Lottery-funded project, Carers Connect Scotland (www.carers.net), installing internet connections and setting up email for Princess Royal Trust carer centres across Scotland.
Community groups across South Edinburgh and beyond had their first web presence and email facilities through Alistar’s involvement as a director of SECN (South Edinburgh Community Newspaper), and the South Edinburgh Echo was the first community newspaper in Edinburgh to have a comprehensive website (and still the only one!). To make this possible, Alistar persuaded the board of SECN that they could become an ISP, providing low-cost internet access and services to local people and organisations. And so VISPScotland began; the UK’s first not-for-profit ISP aimed primarily at the voluntary sector.
To allow easy online access to information for residents of South Edinburgh, Alistar developed a community website, South Edinburgh Net, with maps, email, news, discussion forums, calendar, directory, and many pages of content about groups and activities in the area.Â This site became widely acclaimed as an example of good practice for community websites, featuring on the UK’s NGfL website.
Meanwhile, back in Craigmillar, Alistar masterminded the reconstruction of the famous CraigNet bulletin board as a full internet-based information resource for the area.
Teaming up with David Hillson and Pete McDougall in 2000 led to the formation of Wabster as a community networks resource team serving Community Education and the voluntary sector across the city.Â Alistar was heavily involved with research and piloting innovative ways to use ICT for the benefit of the community.Â The Wabster team drew up a plan for promoting community learning in the city that was to become Edinburgh Learning’s, New Opportunities funded, CityConnect project, with its unique person-centred approach to working with new learners, and a “can do” attitude to the use of technology in the community.
The Wabster team also drew up the specification for Edinburgh’s “Community Grid for Learning”, a unique piece of database/web software to provide learning and community information to citizens, together with a wide selection of useful online tools for information sharing and collaboration – myEdinburgh. Alistar is now responsible for ongoing development and day-to-running of the system, including over twenty associated websites.
No professional IT experience here?
David Hillson – Currently a Community Education Manager with The City of Edinburgh Council, David’s innovation and leadership skills are widely recognised. This led to a BECTA ICT in Practice award, presented in January 2004.
David writes …
In the mid-eighties, while working as a community worker in Balerno Community High School in Edinburgh, I was fortunate to be introduced to my first Apple Mac. A revelation! I could immediately see possibilities which had not been apparent to me in my constant struggle with BBCs and Amstrads. It is strange to me that simply opening the Pandora’s box of what a personal computer could do (as well as having the confidence to ask questions, take a few risks and make the consequential mistakes) has, over the intervening years, led others to believe that I am an ‘IT person’.
Several years of running classes and workshops introducing people of all ages to the wonders of the new communications technology gave me a deep understanding of the barriers to learning but also showed me the excitement of learners when they realise they can do something they have never thought possible.Â For my own part, it is possible that I would have remained happy running IT taster sessions for the local community if I had not spent hours during my last few years in Balerno talking to (actually, often just listening to â€“ and sometimes even understanding) Peter Lennon, who is Principal Teacher of Computing Studies in Balerno. As well as debates about the appropriate use of ICT in learning and teaching, Peter introduced me to a new world filled with Ethernet cables, file servers, broadband connections and online resources.
When, in 1999, the City of Edinburgh Council put broadband into all its schools and community centres, I was able to persuade others of the potential of ICT for community access to information and learning opportunities. Once again, it was fortunate that the ICT strategy we developed at that time was instrumental in securing significant resources and the CityConnect project was born in early 2002. CityConnect has a strong team of innovative staff (called ‘connectors’) and aims to support the use of ICT in community learning organisations in Edinburgh, to give all organisations the ability to put their programmes and activities online and to give citizens access to information and resources relevant to their individual circumstances.
Over the first two years of the project we have introduced over 8,000 new learners to IT and other learning opportunities, supported over 200 community organisations in their use of ICT and set up databases of community learning opportunities which later this year will cover the whole city. My two friends and colleagues, Pete McDougall and Al Frater, and I have spend many hours imagining and working to create the kind of online environment which would best suit organisations and learners. In December 2003, the first stage of our vision was realised when the award winning community grid for learning, myEdinburgh, was set up with the not inconsiderable technical prowess of our partners, MercuryTide.
But we have a journey still to take; we are currently rolling out a massive training programme to community organisations, setting up training for learning providers in the use of the 16 learning databases, profiling web content so that it is relevant to learners in different areas and with different aspirations, focusing taster sessions on key groups for our community learning partnerships, and playing an increasing role in Edinburgh’s Smart City vision.
The project is huge, its potential enormous, the journey often hairy, and I usually find myself scared and enthralled in equal measure. But, as with most ‘IT people’, it is the enormous potential that excites and motivates me to keep pushing on.
Again a sad lack of IT experience. Rosendale reigned over this farce for a number of years and he has questions to answer to to the people of Edinburgh. It is time Ewan Aitken and Lesley Hynds makes him answer the questions.