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28/01/2016

Welsh First Minister apologises after damning land-sale report

Words: Roger Milne
Carwyn Jones

The Welsh First Minister has apologised to Assembly Members after a report from the National Assembly for Wales Public Accounts Committee said taxpayers had lost tens of millions of pounds over the sale of publicly owned land.

Carwyn Jones said delivery of the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales (RIFW) “fell well below the standards we would expect... and for that we are sorry”.

The committee said there were fundamental flaws in the way the fund was managed, overseen and advised, which cost Welsh taxpayers tens of millions of pounds.

RIFW was set up as an arm’s-length body by the Welsh Government to sell land around Wales in North Wales, Monmouthshire and Cardiff and use the money - in conjunction with European funding - to reinvest in areas in need of regeneration.

Fifteen plots of land, originally supposed to be sold separately, were instead sold as a single portfolio at a price that did not take into account potential use of the land in future. This decision resulted in Welsh taxpayers missing out.

Following publication of the report (pdf), ministers agreed that funding would be transferred from RIFW to the Welsh Government and used to invest in future regeneration projects in line with the Welsh Infrastructure Investment Plan priorities.

The formal approval of Cardiff’s Local Development Plan this week will trigger contractually agreed payments on a former RIFW site in Cardiff, which based on current valuation will result in a separate future funding boost of more than £11 million. This is in addition to £5 million expected to be generated from another former RIFW site in Monmouth.

Image credit | The National Assembly for Wales

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