FIRM PULLED FROM £200M VILLAGE BID
After the announcement that an indpendent review will look at all 11 City Deal projects, SION BARRY reports on a major change for one of the flagship schemes
ACOMPANY chosen through a EU tender process as the development partner for the proposed £200 million Life Sciences and Wellbeing Village in Llanelli has been removed from the project.
Carmarthenshire Council said that Sterling Health Securities Holding is no longer part of the project which is seeking £40 million in funding from the £1.3 billion City Deal for the Swansea Bay City Region.
The council, which is driving the project, said it has concluded that the scheme can be delivered in a better way under a new model without Sterling Health.
It comes after the council’s executive board earlier this week confirmed that a detailed business plan for the project, while agreed in principle, will now be subject to an external independent legal review to provide members of the public and stakeholders with reassurance that all due legal process has been properly followed.
It said it is currently taking legal advice as to who would carry out the review.
Council leader Emlyn Dole also said earlier this week that the assurances were needed “given the ongoing internal investigation at Swansea University,” which has seen four academics suspended including its vice-chancellor Richard B Davies and dean of its management school Professor Marc Clement.
Professor Clement is credited as being the architect of the project, that was previously known as the Life Sciences and Wellness Village.
The project, which promises to create 2,000 jobs, is a joint collaboration between the council, Swansea University, University of Wales Trinity St David and Hywel Dda and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg university health boards.
On Thursday the UK and Welsh Government issued a joint statement confirming they had commissioned an independent review of the entire City Deal for the region.
The City Deal has identified
The collaboration agreement [with Sterling Health] was simply an agreement to work together to develop the various aspects of the Delta Lakes project and draw up a development agreement for its delivery
- Council leader Emlyn Dole
11 projects. However, they will all individually need UK and Welsh government approval before any money is released.
They will also have to demonstrate they have secured private sector match funding.
On the decision to remove Sterling Health from the project, Mr Dole said: “The collaboration agreement [with Sterling Health] was simply an agreement to work together to develop the various aspects of the Delta Lakes project and draw up a development agreement for its delivery.
“That development agreement has not been agreed and the county council has concluded that the project can be better delivered in another way.
“No public funding has been
There is no liability on the county council whatsoever at this point - Councillor Emlyn Dole
committed to the partners, no companies have been established, no shares allocated and no directors appointed.
“There is no liability on the county council whatsoever at this point.”
The council wouldn’t say how much it has spent on the wellbeing village to date.
Its chief executive Mark James, added: “The council and its partners remain fully committed to develop the Life Science and Wellbeing Village.
“The council will now finalise the business plan to develop the village with key partners including the Hywel Dda Health Board and the two universities [Swansea and Trinity St David.”
Professor 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 in 2016.
Kent Neurosciences was dissolved early this year.
In a EU procurement tender exercise, for which there was only one bidder, the contract was awarded to a newly-created company in Sterling Health.
Directors of Sterling Health include Franz Dickmann who is a former director of now dissolved Kent Neurosciences.
Former Carmarthenshire councillor Meryl Gravell was appointed a director of the company in July this year, before resigning last month.
The wellbeing village project includes plans for an Institute of Life Science, a Community Health Hub, a Wellness Education Centre, a Clinical Delivery Centre and new leisure centre.
It would also see assisted living accommodation, a nursing home, business space and a wellness hotel.
Preparatory site work is under way and continuing, and a planning application for the scheme has been submitted.
Artist’s impressions of the Wellness Hub as part of the £200 million Life Science and Wellbeing Village at Delta Lakes, Llanelli.