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THE first chunk of central government money to fund city deal projects in the Swansea Bay City Region should be handed over shortly, according to a council leader.

Finance chiefs from Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, and Pembrokeshire councils are studying terms and conditions which have finally been forwarded from the Welsh Government.

If all goes to plan, £18m of UK and Welsh Government money will be released to kick-start the first of the 11 city deal projects, with a further £18m on the cards before the end of the 2019-20 financial year.

Addressing a meeting of the Swansea Bay City Region joint committee, chairman Rob Stewart said: “All these being equal, we hope to see the first release of that money in the very near future.”

He added: “It should not have taken 16 weeks to get the terms and conditions, and I think it’s something the Welsh Government needs to look at.”

In recent weeks the four councils have agreed with changes to a joint working agreement outlining how the 15-year, £1.3bn city deal operates. These changes followed governance reviews.

Members of the joint committee also heard they would receive more of the £240m city deal contribution from the central government in the first 10 years, then less in the remaining five years, rather than equal installments throughout.

This suits the councils and four universities and health boards involved because they would need to borrow slightly less to fund their share of the projects.

Some want even more funding in the early years.

Alluding to this, Mr Stewart, who is also the leader of Swansea Council, said: “I still think there are further discussions we can have – hopefully they will be seen positively by the Welsh and UK Government.”

The 11 projects cover smart manufacturing, life science, and energy, among others, but are at different stages of development.

Wendy Walters, chief executive of Carmarthenshire Council, told the committee she anticipated “bringing something back” on the £200m life science and well-being village for Llanelli before Christmas.

There was also progress on projects being taken forward by Neath Port Talbot and Swansea councils – and the joint committee approved the business case for the Pembroke Dock Marine project.

This £76m energy and engineering project in Pembrokeshire is the third of the 11 projects to go forward for approval by the central Government.

It is hoped the city deal will create nearly 10,000 jobs and boost productivity in the region.

It was signed off in March 2017 by Theresa May and Carwyn Jones and will rely on the private sector for a massive £637m of investment.

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