City deal scheme on hold

MOVE FOL­LOWS UNI SUS­PEN­SIONS:

South Wales Evening Post - - FRONT PAGE - SION BARRY [email protected]­line.co.uk

A MA­JOR £200 mil­lion devel­op­ment in Car­marthen­shire has been put on hold amid the sus­pen­sion of se­nior aca­demics at Swansea Univer­sity.

Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil is­sued a state­ment yes­ter­day say­ing it “needed fur­ther re­as­sur­ance” and “needed to show that the due le­gal process has been fol­lowed and pub­lic funds have been fully pro­tected”.

Coun­cil leader Em­lyn Dole said the as­sur­ances were needed “given the on­go­ing in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion at Swansea Univer­sity”.

One of the aca­demics sus­pended by Swansea Univer­sity was the dean of its school of man­age­ment, Pro­fes­sor Marc Cle­ment.

Prof Cle­ment is cred­ited as be­ing the ar­chi­tect of the am­bi­tious Well­ness Vil­lage scheme, which is look­ing to se­cure £40 mil­lion in back­ing from the £1.3 bil­lion City Deal for the Swansea Bay City Re­gion.

It is a joint project be­tween Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil, Swansea Univer­sity and two health boards.

It had been hoped work could start on the project at Delta Lakes by the end of the year.

The first phase of the project, pre­vi­ously set to open in early 2021, is planned to in­clude a com­mu­nity health hub, ex­ten­sive land­scap­ing and a top qual­ity leisure cen­tre.

It is also planned to in­clude an in­sti­tute of life science cen­tre, as­sisted liv­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion and a ho­tel.

Along­side Prof Cle­ment, three other aca­demics have been sus­pended. One is the vice-chan­cel­lor, Pro­fes­sor Richard B Davies. The other two have not been named.

Prof Cle­ment has ve­he­mently de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

Mr Davies ear­lier this year an­nounced he was re­tir­ing at the end of the cur­rent aca­demic year.

Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil said of­fi­cers “have also been asked to ex­plore a po­ten­tial al­ter­na­tive de­liv­ery model for the vil­lage”.

Prof Cle­ment is a former di­rec­tor of Kent Neu­ro­sciences but re­signed in Au­gust 2015 be­fore the com­pany en­tered into a 10-month ex­clu­siv­ity deal with Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil to be the well­be­ing vil­lage’s devel­op­ment part­ner back 2016. Kent Neu­ro­sciences was dis­solved early this year.

In an EU pro­cure­ment ten­der ex­er­cise, for which there was only one bid­der, the con­tract was awarded to a newly-cre­ated com­pany, Ster­ling Health.

Di­rec­tors of Ster­ling Health in­clude Franz Dick­mann, who is a former di­rec­tor of now dis­solved Kent Neu­ro­sciences.

The project has yet to con­firm the iden­tity of its pri­vate sec­tor back­ers.

It is un­der­stood that it has been in talks with a num­ber of banks and other fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

Even if Car­marthen­shire signs off the busi­ness case for the project fol­low­ing the in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment, the Welsh and UK Gov­ern­ments will have to carry out their own eval­u­a­tions be­fore re­leas­ing any City Deal back­ing.

How­ever, with­out the re­quired com­mit­ted fund­ing from pri­vate sec­tor back­ers, they will not agree to any fund­ing con­tri­bu­tion.

The project is be­ing driven by Car­marthen­shire County Coun­cil, un­der its chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark James, in part­ner­ship with Hy­wel Dda and Abertawe Bro Mor­gan­nwg univer­sity health boards and Swansea Univer­sity.

They say the pro­posed water­front site at Delta Lakes would cre­ate 2,000 jobs.

Em­lyn Dole, said: “Ex­ec­u­tive board mem­bers are sat­is­fied that the project busi­ness case for the vil­lage is ro­bust, but we need some fur­ther re­as­sur­ance be­fore fi­nally sign­ing it off.

“Given the on­go­ing in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion at Swansea Univer­sity, this is the right and pru­dent thing to do be­cause we need to show that due le­gal process has been fol­lowed and pub­lic funds have been fully pro­tected.”

The pro­posed Well­ness and Life Science Vil­lage at Delta Lakes, Llanelli.

The sus­pended Pro­fes­sor Marc Cle­ment.

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