Wales politics

Circuit of Wales: Ministers accused of 'misleading' detail

Circuit of Wales artist impression Image copyright Circuit of Wales
Image caption The Welsh Government has already given £9m towards the project

Ministers have been accused of giving misleading answers about negotiations to build a race track in Blaenau Gwent.

The Welsh Government will decide soon whether to guarantee half the cost of the Circuit of Wales, after rejecting a plan to underwrite 80% of it.

At first it said the 80% figure was proposed by the project's developers, but now admits it had been under discussion for some time prior to that.

Plaid Cymru has called for an investigation and an apology.

The overall cost of the Ebbw Vale circuit is about £425m and the developers are asking the Welsh Government to guarantee around £210m.

The earlier proposal to help underwrite 80% of the total cost with public money was rejected last year.

In a written answer to Plaid AM Adam Price, the Welsh Government said this idea was first set out by the Heads of the Valleys Development Company - the firm behind the circuit - on 15 April 2016.

Image copyright Circuit of Wales
Image caption The Circuit of Wales needs guarantees from the Welsh Government in order to get the green light

But an email obtained by Plaid Cymru showed a senior civil servant wrote to the company on 7 April, saying the first minister's office had approved discussions about a "Plan B", based on this guarantee.

Mr Price called for an "an immediate investigation into the misleading answers with the first minister taking direct responsibility for this project and apologise for the many mistakes that have been made".

The Welsh Government said: "Various face-to-face, phone and email discussions on the risks and legalities of the project took place over a number of months prior to this date [15 April] between officials, other key organisations including the Heads of the Valleys Development Company and their advisors.

"The level of guarantee would have been part of those discussions."

Mr Price has already called for an investigation into how the Welsh Government responded to a damning report by the Wales Audit Office about funding.

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