Much as I hate to say it I find myself in agreement with the Welsh Conservatives when they say "the pledge to create a £100 million automotive business park in Ebbw Vale is a promise “waiting to be broken”
According to Wales Online
The Tories have accused the Welsh Government of pushing ahead with the proposals without a finalised business plan.They say the scheme was announced as part of a “cynical ploy to reduce the impact of the Welsh Government’s decision not to back the Circuit of Wales”.
Last month Economy Secretary Ken Skates refused to grant £210m in guarantees for the proposed Circuit of Wales, a project which promised to bring the MotoGP to Ebbw Vale, claiming jobs claims were “overstated”.However, plans were unveiled to spend £100m over 10 years on an automotive business park.Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies claims this is “yet another Labour promise waiting to be broken”.
“The Welsh Government’s decision to pull the plug on the Circuit of Wales after seven years of empty promises was a huge blow, but the new plans for an automotive park are yet another Labour promise waiting to be broken. We don’t even have a finalised business case yet.
“How can the Cabinet Secretary claim that the biggest lesson of this whole debacle was the importance of proper due diligence, while he is simultaneously committing £100m to a scheme that no one had even heard of until last month. We need to know that proper due diligence is still going to be followed in this case – and the people of Ebbw Vale will want to know what will happen to these promises if the numbers don’t stack up.
“Is this going to end up going the same way as the Circuit of Wales?”
“We will publish a full business case in relation to the automotive technology park later in the year, which will of course be informed by relevant expertise and assessments, as well as the views emerging from the current stakeholder engagement. We do not intend to publish the specific details of individual areas of advice received in advance of this.
“In terms of the pipeline of projects, it would be inappropriate to disclose the names of individual companies whilst we are discussing the development of potential projects.”
You don't have to be a Tory to find yourself thinking that Mr Davies has a point and this was little more than a desperate plan to appease even those like myself who has doubts about the Circuit of Wales that at least something was being done to bring jobs to Ebbw Vale.
But just like Ken Skates enthusiasm for the Iron Ring seemed to show that he hadn't done his homework . I does look like he seems to have desperately come up with a Plan B and only later come up with what it actually means.
“As the Conservatives already know, extensive external and internal due diligence around the Circuit of Wales project made clear that the main benefits to the local economy would come from businesses clustering in Blaenau Gwent, rather than directly from the race track.But who will sign up indeed to what extent will the companies above , will look to the Circuit of Wales saga and not particularly be impressed with the Welsh Labour Government role in this and query their commitment and certainly demand guarantees that Ken Skates or his successor will not once again pull the plug on this.
“The Economy Secretary has been clear that he is committed to investing £100m over 10 years to develop its plans for an Automotive Technology Park in Ebbw Vale, and while the Welsh Conservatives have been busy talking these plans down, he has been meeting with industry figures including TVR, Ford, General Dynamics and IQE, as well as representatives of Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone, Blaenau Gwent Council and Cardiff University, to make these plans a success.
“There is strong and collective ambition between Welsh Government and its partners to shape and deliver a project that can genuinely regenerate the local economy and create the high quality jobs the area needs. We will publish a business case later in the year that draws upon specialist advice and reflects the views emerging from our partners.”
There is clearly nothing on paper and it seems no one from industry as yet has even shown an interest.
In ten years time as we look at the empty plots of land, Labour will probably hope the £100 million investment will probably be forgotten and make another promise and come up with what could be Plan Z by then.
The Tories and the other opposition parties have a duty to scrutinise this all the way and make sure we are reminded if as I suspect it turns out nothing like the investment we have been promised.