Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Communities First public inquiry demand by Plaid AM

Serious failings in a multi-million-pound Communities First regeneration project demand that a full public inquiry is held into the entire scheme.

That's the view of Plaid Cymru AM Janet Ryder, who first raised concerns about the Plas Madoc Communities First project near Wrexham. Two senior officers at the project, including chief executive Miriam Beard, have since been suspended while a Wales Audit Office investigation takes place into allegations of misuse of public funds.

Janet Ryder, the regional AM for North Wales, made her request for a public inquiry during First Minister Carwyn Jones's first day of questions in the Assembly today.

 She said: "In light of the ongoing investigation into Plas Madoc Communities First, which has involved the suspension of two senior officers and has raised serious questions about accountability to the local community, I would like the Minister to look at the implications this has for the Communities First programme as a whole.

"Specifically, there appears to be a lack of appropriate checks and balances, partly due to a deficiency in the complaints procedure, and this has implications for other projects throughout Wales. The Auditor General has conducted two investigations into Communities First and found problems.

"I think it's about time we looked further than matters of financial probity. Will the Minister therefore agree to a throughgoing review by WAG into the governance and accountability of Communities First throughout Wales by holding a public inquiry?"

The First Minister confirmed that Communities First projects throughout Wales will receive a further £25m over the next three years.

He also said that the Wales Audit Office have now completed their investigation into Plas Madoc based on "the problems you have uncovered there" and confirmed the report would be released next month. 

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