1. ITV Report

'Deep concerns' over Welsh Government's approach to Circuit of Wales

Credit: Circuit of Wales

'Deep concerns' have been raised by a National Assembly committee over the Welsh Government's approach to the Circuit of Wales.

In accepting government ministers were right to consider supporting the building of a new race track near Ebbw Vale, the Public Accounts Committee concluded officials made inexplicable decisions in providing funding for the project, and failed to keep the then Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science up to date with latest developments.

Its report says, in total, more than £9 million of public money was spent on the Circuit of Wales by the Welsh Government before it ended its involvement, after refusing to act as guarantor for £210 million in loans - almost half the total cost of the project.

The Committee found that there were a number of errors in the communication from Welsh Government officials to the public over the purchase of a motorcycle company in Buckinghamshire by the Heads of the Valleys Development Company (HoVDC), the company responsible for delivering the project.

The proposed Circuit of Wales was a unique and significant project, which appeared to offer the possibility of regenerating an economically deprived area.

The Welsh Government was right to explore possibilities of making this project work and, quite properly, it is not this Committee's function to comment on the merits of the Cabinet's eventual decision not to provide the requested public finance support.

We are deeply concerned, however, at how this project was approached by the Welsh Government. We want Wales to be a first choice for investment and to achieve this, the decision-making processes followed by those charged with the expenditure of taxpayers' money, need to be both coherent and properly documented.

The Welsh Government made some inexplicable decisions during its initial funding of this project, such as authorising payment for the purchase of a motorcycle company in Buckinghamshire as part of the property development grant intended to buy land in Ebbw Vale.

It is essential that the Welsh Government demonstrates effective management of Welsh public money and maximises the opportunities for investment in Wales.

– Nick Ramsey AM, Chair, Public Accounts Committee

The Welsh Government said there were lessons to be learnt.

We welcome this Public Accounts Committee report on the Circuit of Wales and will now fully consider the detail before formally responding.

We have already recognised that there are lessons to be learnt from elements of the Welsh Government's handling of this project and have put in place new processes to address some of those issues.

– Welsh Government spokesperson