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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Welsh Government exposed twice in one week for wasting money

Yesterday the Welsh Assembly's Public Accounts Committee published its report on the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales and it was damning.

According to the BBC, Guernsey-based company South Wales Land Developments (SWLD) bought 15 pieces of land from the Welsh Government for £21 million and made £19m profit by selling just some of them:

The committee said the fact SWLD had sold on a number of the sites at a profit showed they had been undervalued.

These included £10.5m for a site in Rhoose, Vale of Glamorgan, which the company bought for £3m, and the sale of another site in Abergele, Conwy county, for £1.9m which it bought for £100,000.

The committee said it was incomprehensible the "jewel in the crown" site at Lisvane, Cardiff, was sold for £1.8m when its potential open market value for housing was at least £39m, although around a third of the market value will be paid back to the taxpayer in what is called a clawback arrangement.

The report said the sales "did not represent good value for money" and that "such a cavalier approach to the disposal of public assets is disturbing".

As if that was not bad enough, today the Wales Audit Office published its report into the purchase of Cardiff Airport by Welsh Labour Ministers.

The BBC say that the accountants, KPMG have estimated in 2013, when the purchase took place, the airport was worth between £20 million and £30 million. However, the Welsh Labour Government paid £52 million, roughly double what it was worth.

Whichever way we look at it, these two episodes demonstrate a remarkably cavalier attitude to public money by the Welsh Labour Government and calls their competence into question.
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