This week, Welsh Government has refused a cash plea from the Circuit of Wales developers, failing to sign off on the £210m request. Feeling the deal to be too financially risky, ministers have questioned the rationale behind the plans, believing that the level of investment would not be a wise way to spend taxi-payers money.
The idea was first introduced in 2011, having been wrapped in controversy ever since. Backed by the Heads of the Valleys Development Company (HoVDC), the initial request was for Welsh Government to underwrite 80% of the cost, revised down to 50% when put to ministers.
Agreeing to support £100m automotive business park instead, Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, feels this will allow Welsh Government to distribute their money where they see fit, with building new homes and schools seeming to be the focus of late.
Initially, the project promised 6,000 jobs across many areas. However, after liaising with the Treasury and Office of National Statistics, Welsh Government felt this was more likely to sit around the 100 mark. Influencing their decision not to sign off on the £210m request, this encouraged mixed responses.
Blaenau Gwent council leader Nigel Daniels said he was disappointed with the decision.
He did however welcome the £100m investment in a new automotive technology park. Mr Daniels said he would be;
“seeking urgent meetings with Welsh Government and other parties to explore other options that can be brought forward to mitigate the impact of this decision given the level of expectation which has grown in the community over the last few years”.
UKIP assembly group leader Neil Hamilton said it was a “bean-counters convention”.
“What we need to do here is change the accounting convention rather than to destroy the hopes of those who relying on regenerating the whole of south east Wales,” he said.
Plaid Cymru finance spokesman Adam Price said it was a “shocking indictment” of ministers that they had “taken seven years and over £9m of public money” to turn down “the single biggest private investment proposal in the history of Wales”.
“Is Wales open for business or open to ridicule?” Mr Price added.