Calls for probe into £200m Llanelli Wellness Village

By Brian Meechan
BBC Wales business correspondent

image copyrightCarmarthenshire council
image captionAn artist impression of the village at Delta Lakes

The Wales Audit Office should investigate the £200m Wellness Village proposed for Llanelli, according to a council opposition group leader.

It comes as Carmarthenshire council provisionally approved the business case for the development but raised concerns over the legal process.

The village is expected to include leisure, education and health services.

The authority said it would only give the final approval once it had assurances over those concerns.

The council is looking at alternative ways to deliver the Wellness Village.

The project is expected to receive £40m from the UK and Welsh governments through the Swansea Bay City Deal, subject to the business case.

It will get a further £32m from the council and is expected to raise another £128m from the private sector.

The leader of the Labour group on the council, councillor Rob James, welcomed the decision to seek further assurances about the project "in light of the suspensions at Swansea University".

"Considering the strong working relationship between officers at Carmarthenshire council and those in Swansea University, I will be writing to the Wales Audit Office to ask for their participation in investigating the paper trail for the last few years," he added.

"It is absolutely essential that the public receive reassurances that the project continues to be a sound investment and that there have been no potential conflicts of interest in the Authority."

image copyrightCarmarthenshire council
image captionThe village is said to be a "once in a lifetime" development

But the leader of the council, Plaid Cymru councillor Emlyn Dole, said the business case was "robust".

"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," said Mr Dole.

"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."

But there have been concerns following the suspension of members of staff at Swansea University last week.

That includes the dean of the business school, Prof Marc Clement, who was involved in writing the submission for the City Deal funding, which includes the Wellness Village.

The Wellness Village is expected to create up to 2,000 jobs and bring £467m in to the local economy.

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