Senedd showed ‘significant shortcomings’ over motor track investment

3 May 17

The Welsh Government showed “significant shortcomings” over its £9.3m investment in a £425m motor racing circuit, a watchdog has found.

Senedd appraisal of the information presented when deciding on funding the Circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale was “flawed”, the Wales Audit Office stated in a report out last week.

This comes as the Welsh Government scrutinises the details of the project and whether to give an extra £200m to it. A decision on whether to give the additional funds is expected soon.

Huw Vaughan Thomas, Welsh auditor general, said: “Public financing needs to be managed robustly, with proper standards of scrutiny, vigilance and oversight.

“It’s unfortunate that, in the case of the Circuit of Wales, we have identified significant shortcomings and so the Welsh Government needs to learn from my report, particularly if it decides to provide any further support for the project to progress.”

Vaughan Thomas found there were gaps in the information on submission papers asking for ministerial support for funding decision.

The report also concluded that, once decisions were made to provide initial financial support to the CoW project, the Welsh Government did not do enough to manage public funds properly.

"Funding arrangements did not provide strong enough security for public money; conditions applied to different funding streams were inconsistent and, where they were in place, weren’t always enforced,” the report said.

The Welsh Government had a limited understanding of the companies involved in the CoW project, which allowed nearly £1m to go to one company without knowledge it would provide value for money for the project, the watchdog found.

A spokesman for the CoW project said the scheme had a “clean bill of health” and had been exonerated by any “false” claims made over the misuse of public funds.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The Circuit of Wales is a complex project, but we are satisfied that we have assessed risk against value for money for the taxpayer and have sought to secure the maximum security available from the developer.”

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