Aca­demic sus­pen­sions trig­ger in­quiry into Swansea City Deal

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An IN­DE­PEN­DENT re­view of the £1.3bn City Deal for the Swansea Bay City Re­gion has been con­firmed by both the Welsh and UK gov­ern­ments.

The joint an­nounce­ment comes af­ter it was con­firmed ear­lier this week that sign-off on the de­tailed busi­ness plan for the pro­posed £200m Life Sci­ences and Well­be­ing City Deal pro­ject in Llanelli was be­ing put on hold while an in­de­pen­dent re­view is un­der­taken.

Car­marthen­shire County Coun­cil said it had launched its re­view fol­low­ing the sus­pen­sion of a num­ber of se­nior aca­demics at Swansea Univer­sity.

The City Deal has yet to see any of its 11 projects for­mally signed off in terms of the UK and Welsh gov­ern­ments re­leas­ing fund­ing. They will firstly need to see that projects have se­cured com­mit­ted match-fund­ing from the pri­vate sec­tor, be­fore mak­ing an eval­u­a­tion on whether to re­lease City Deal monies.

Both gov­ern­ments, along with the re­gion’s four lo­cal au­thor­i­ties through their bor­row­ing pow­ers, have in prin­ci­ple com­mit­ted to fund the City Deal, which was con­firmed 18 months ago.

In their joint state­ment, the Welsh and UK gov­ern­ments said a “rapid in­de­pen­dent re­view” would be car­ried out into the City Deal.

The re­view will in­clude a stock­take on progress to date, and the state­ment said it would pro­vide

MAR­KET RE­PORT

as­sur­ance that all el­e­ments of the deal will de­liver the pro­gramme’s full eco­nomic ben­e­fits.

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

Prof Cle­ment is cred­ited as be­ing the ar­chi­tect of the am­bi­tious Life Sci­ences and Well­be­ing Vil­lage scheme, which is look­ing to se­cure £40m from the City Deal.

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 TOP-FLIGHT stocks in Lon­don were boosted by ris­ing oil prices in trad­ing yesterday, but ob­servers said a re­cov­ery could not make up for the “dread­ful” week on the mar­kets.

The FTSE 100 was up 74 points, or 1.1%, at 6,778.11, re­gain­ing only some of what it lost on Thurs­day when £56bn was wiped amid fears the ar­rest of a se­nior Huawei of­fi­cial in Canada could reignite ten­sion be­tween the US and China.

The FTSE 100 was also given a boost by oil prices af­ter an Opec meet­ing in Vienna con­cluded with a plan to cut pro­duc­tion by 1.2 mil­lion bar­rels a day. A bar­rel of Brent crude oil was trad­ing 4.5% higher at 62.90 US dol­lars.

Mean­while, Brexit fears con­tin­ued to weigh on the pound, which was down 0.44% at 1.272 US dol­lars.

In cor­po­rate news, shares in rock­eted as the in­vest­ment firm de­buted on the stock ex­change. The group had ini­tially set a price of 160p per share, but the stock opened at 162p and gained 58p to close at 220p. shares rose 35p to 3,356p af­ter the group up­graded its profit fore­cast af­ter re­peat­edly warn­ing of a prof­its fall next year.

Pri­mark owner

(ABF) warned that trad­ing at the bud­get re­tail chain in the run-up to Christ­mas has been “chal­leng­ing”. Shares closed 108p down at 2,242p. But brought pos­i­tive re­tail news as it said sales were likely to come in 13% higher in the first half. Shares were 130p higher at 3,125p. The big­gest ris­ers on the FTSE 100 were up 26.6p to 628p, up 17.8p to 481.6p, up 54.5p to 1,475p and up 51.4p to 1,607.8p.

The big­gest fall­ers were down 108p to 2,242p, down 13p to 669p, down 115p to 6,455p, down 11p to 651.8p. and health boards and Swansea Univer­sity.

The Wales Of­fice and Welsh Gov­ern­ment said: “Eigh­teen months on from the sign­ing of the Swansea Bay City Deal, good progress has been made on de­vel­op­ing a range of projects within the over­all pro­gramme.

“The UK and Welsh gov­ern­ments, along­side the Deal Part­ner­ship, have now de­cided to un­der­take a rapid in­de­pen­dent re­view which will un­der­pin the next stage of de­liv­ery.

“The re­view will in­clude a stock­take on progress to date and pro­vide partners with the as­sur­ance that all el­e­ments of the deal will de­liver the [email protected]­line.co.uk full eco­nomic ben­e­fits of this am­bi­tious pro­gramme.

“The re­view’s rec­om­men­da­tions will in­form fu­ture de­ci­sions on the re­lease of gov­ern­ment fund­ing, as well as pro­vide the great­est con­fi­dence to po­ten­tial pri­vate in­vestors across the Deal as a whole.

“The re­view will cover due dili­gence and gov­er­nance in re­la­tion to all el­e­ments of the Deal and its im­ple­men­ta­tion. It will en­sure that over­sight and com­pli­ance at both pro­gramme and pro­ject level are ro­bust, and make rec­om­men­da­tions, as ap­pro­pri­ate, where this could be strength­ened in the fu­ture.

“All partners re­main com­mit­ted the suc­cess of the deal and it has been agreed that work on in­di­vid­ual projects will con­tinue in par­al­lel with the re­view.”

A Swansea Bay City Re­gion spokesper­son said: “As out­lined by the UK Gov­ern­ment and Welsh Gov­ern­ment, con­sid­er­able progress has been made since the sign­ing of the Swansea Bay City Deal.

“We will now work as closely as pos­si­ble along­side both gov­ern­ments on the in­de­pen­dent re­view, with all partners re­main­ing fiercely com­mit­ted to de­liv­er­ing this un­prece­dented pro­gramme of in­vest­ment.

“Work will con­tinue on all in­di­vid­ual projects while the re­view is on­go­ing so that res­i­dents and busi­nesses can ben­e­fit as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil is­sued a state­ment on Wed­nes­day say­ing that it “needed fur­ther re­as­sur­ance” in re­la­tion to the Well­be­ing Vil­lage pro­ject, which prom­ises to cre­ate 2,000 jobs, and that there is a “need 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”.

As well as 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.

The £1.3bn City Deal amount in­cludes fi­nance from the pri­vate sec­tor lever­aged by projects.

> Artist’s im­pres­sion of the Well­ness Hub, part of the Life Sci­ences and Well­be­ing Vil­lage scheme in Llanelli

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