Calls for more openness over enterprise zone jobs

Wylfa, Airbus and a Milford Haven refinery Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Energy and engineering are some of the Welsh enterprise zones priorities

Ministers have been accused of "shutting up shop" by not revealing how each of Wales' seven enterprise zones is performing.

More than 5,100 jobs have been created or safeguarded over two years but Plaid Cymru has complained that the public has a "right to know more".

The Information Commissioner is dealing with a complaint that ministers have refused to release statistics.

A Welsh government spokesman has said it was "aware" of the investigation.

The complaint was made by Plaid who want details of how many jobs have been created in each of Wales' seven enterprise zones.

Ministers launched the first enterprise zones in 2011 in an effort to make the Welsh economy more competitive.

The zones bring together particular types of industry and offer businesses moving into them certain incentives and opportunities.

Image copyright Welsh government

The seven zones are:

  • Central Cardiff - new business district near the central station and alongside the River Taff
  • Anglesey - whole of the island, particularly energy and environment business
  • Deeside - advanced manufacturing/engineering over 2,000 hectares in Flintshire
  • St Athan-Cardiff Airport - aerospace and defence industry in Vale of Glamorgan
  • Ebbw Vale- manufacturing, including automotive over four locations and 40 hectares of development land
  • Snowdonia - low carbon technology at Trawsfynydd and unmanned air systems technology at Llanbedr
  • The Haven Waterway, Pembrokeshire - energy sector
  • Source: Welsh government

Government figures show the enterprise zones created and safeguarded a total of 5,142 jobs between April 2012 and March 2014.

These included 2,159 new jobs across 188 businesses.

'Preventing scrutiny'

Last October, First Minister Carwyn Jones said a further 6,500 jobs are in the pipeline.

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Media captionRhun ap Iorwerth of Plaid Cymru says they have been given a range of reasons why figures could not be released

But there is no breakdown for individual zones despite Plaid submitting a Freedom of Information request for those details earlier this year.

Plaid's shadow minister for the economy and enterprise Rhun ap Iorwerth said: "It appears the Welsh government displays openness when it suits them but when they are questioned about something which may be difficult they shut up shop and refuse to disclose information, preventing scrutiny.

"Plaid Cymru supports the development of enterprise zones and wants them to a success in creating jobs across Wales.

"But after more than two years people have a right to know more about the success of a scheme which involves spending public money."

Anglesey AM Mr ap Iorwerth said there may be issues around the pace of development in the different enterprise zones but all the Welsh government needed to do was ensure the information included a "clear caveat" detailing the differences between each of them.

A spokesperson from the Information Commissioner's Office said: "We have received a freedom of information complaint relating to this matter.

"We are currently looking into the details before deciding what further action, if any, is required."

The spokesperson for Welsh government said it was aware of the investigation and will "respond to the Information Commissioner's inquiries".

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