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Opposition groups want more say over £110 million Mid-Wales Growth Deal

COUNCILLORS outside of the Powys County Council (PCC) Cabinet and ruling coalition want more of a say on the £110 million Mid Wales Growth Deal.

On Friday, (Dec 4) a meeting of the Growing Mid Wales (GMW) Board was held to agree the next phase of the Mid-Wales Growth Deal.

But the meeting was held in confidential session.

The four opposition group leaders in Powys, Cllrs James Gibson-Watt – Liberal Democrats and Green party, Mathew Dorrance – Labour, Elwyn Vaughan – Plaid Cymru, and Jeremy Pugh – Action for Powys, have issued a joint statement on the deal.

They say: “We remain very dissatisfied and concerned that the development of the strategic documents and now the Heads of Terms, which will govern the way the Growth Deal will be implemented, have not been subject to proper scrutiny by members of PCC.

“The council’s relevant scrutiny committee has not had been enabled by the cabinet to influence the development of the deal or scrutinise the documents that underpin it, despite repeated requests for councillors to be given that opportunity.

“Apart from a presentation to the council membership on the broad outlines of the proposals, after they were developed, the whole process has been shrouded in secrecy and has lacked transparency.”

They will now be writing a joint letter to the leader of the Independent and Conservative coalition which runs PCC, Cllr Rosemarie Harris (Independent) asking for a discussion.

They want to see more open scrutiny and the possibility of input from council members on the deal which is supposed to frame economic development in Mid Wales for the next 15 years.

At the meeting on December 4, board members which include council leaders and councillors on the cabinet for both Ceredigion and Powys County Council, as well as business representatives, were to discuss a draft version of the Heads of Terms legal framework for the £110 million deal.

If the document was agreed, then council leaders, Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn for Ceredgion and Cllr Rosemarie Harris for Powys will be able to go ahead and sign the document with ministers from the Welsh and UK Government.

This will pave the way for a full deal agreement in the New Year.

The Welsh and UK Government believe the Growth Deal has an “important part” to play in the recovery phase of the economy, after Covid-19.

The Mid-Wales Growth Deal was mooted by Chancellor Philip Hammond in 2017, and was hoped to be worth as much as £200million.

In October 2019 the UK Government announced a £55 million injection of funding, spread over 15 years for the Mid Wales Growth Deal.

The Welsh Government will match the £55million, and it was hoped before the Covid-19 pandemic struck that another £55million would come from businesses in the region.

Both Powys Council and Ceredigion Council have been contacted for a response.

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