Swansea Bay City Deal partners in row over £1.3bn deal

Llanelli wellness centre artist's impression Image copyright Hywel Dda/Arch
Image caption The wellness village plans were unveiled two years ago

Letters revealing a row between two of the partners involved in the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal have been seen by BBC Wales.

Their disagreement surrounds the controversy over the £225m flagship "wellness village" in Llanelli.

Five staff have been suspended by Swansea University as it investigates its links to the project.

And an independent review of the City Deal has already warned the issue could "cause a loss of confidence".

The latest row has been seen in an exchange of letters between the chairman of Swansea Bay University Health Board Andrew Davies and Carmarthenshire council leader Emlyn Dole.

Mr Davies said he had concerns about the "veracity of responses" given by the council's chief executive Mark James about the wellness village - which aims to bring together health facilities and life sciences research.

He also said "trust and confidence had been eroded as a result of recent developments".

However, Mr Doyle said the comments were an "extraordinary attack" on the chief executive and has accused him of trying to "cause as much disruption as possible" rather than trying to progress plans.

Carmarthenshire Council has previously said it is considering legal action over the content of Mr Davies's letter, which was sent to City Deal's joint committee chairman Rob Stewart.

Mr Davies announced in March he was stepping down from his post, but said he chose to resign long before sending the letter.

The row has also sparked a political debate with AM Helen Mary Jones, who sits on the assembly's Health, Social Care and Sport committee, saying she fears Mr Davies' attack "could be interpreted" as being politically motivated.

What is the City Deal?

  • It was signed two years ago by Theresa May and is aimed at stimulating economic growth in a region stretching from Pembrokeshire to Port Talbot.
  • It brings together four councils, two health boards, two universities and business, supported by a mix of public and private money.
  • The package of investments is estimated to be worth £1.8bn and it is looking to create 9,000 jobs over the coming years.
  • The Swansea Bay programme has identified 11 different projects involving life sciences, energy and technology.

She queried why Mr Davies, a former Labour minister, did not raise concerns directly with the council before writing to Mr Stewart, who is also a Labour councillor.

Mr Davies denies his letter was politically motivated, saying he only wanted to raise concerns about openness and transparency and "making sure things were done properly".

He added recent internal and external reviews had "validated his concerns".

The Welsh Government has refused to comment about the row.

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