Labour’s First Minister today failed to provide details of any lessons learnt by the Welsh Government following the news of the closing of the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales.
The Welsh Government-sponsored body selectively sold off 18 valuable parcels of land, sited across Wales, all owned by the taxpayer, in secret deals at rock-bottom prices.
120 acres of farmland in Lisvane were sold for development for £1.8million, but it has since emerged that the true value is closer to £120million.
The affair was referred to the Wales Audit Office by Welsh Conservative AM Byron Davies in 2012 and is also being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.
Today in First Minister’s Questions, the Labour leader failed to provide reassurances that lessons had been learnt and that taxpayers would not lose out by hundreds of millions of pounds in future.
Andrew RT Davies AM, Leader of the Opposition, said, “I am disappointed that Labour’s First Minister is unable to provide any reassurances that the lessons of this scandal, which occurred on his watch, have been learnt.
“As details of these land sales emerge, it increasingly seems that the taxpayer has lost hundreds of millions of pounds by flogging land in secret vastly below its market rate.
“This fund was supposed to help with the regeneration of our communities, including our high streets, which have an average vacancy rate of 15.9% and are in desperate need of investment.
“Thanks to the tenacity of Byron Davies, we now know that public money has been wasted because the fund was actually flogging land to preferred buyers at knock-down prices.
“The First Minister promised his government would be transparent and would deliver for the people of Wales, yet time and again we are seeing hard-pressed taxpayers’ money being thrown down the drain.
“On-going investigations will hopefully provide some clarity as to how much the taxpayer has lost, why this was allowed to happen on Carwyn Jones’ watch and how such scandalous waste can be avoided in the future.
“All this as Labour Ministers refuse to be held accountable for raising a proportion of the money they spend, which could make Labour think twice about wasting other people’s money.”