We are shocked to hear that the investigation of the BCBC’s payment to the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal by a scrutiny committee had to be postponed earlier this month because the Deputy Chair of the City Deal did not attend and BCBC’s own Chief Executive would not give the committee more than 30 minutes of his time. That there is such disrespect for a scrutiny committee tells us much about the regard that the administration have for you and your representatives. They believe they can act with impunity.
For those of you who may not be aware, BCBC’s £11.8m contribution to the Cardiff City Deal was pushed through by the last administration before the last election with very little discussion or debate.
Bridgend County Independents are not opposed in principle to the concept of local authorities working together to leverage efficiencies or on other matters such as regeneration where the is a measurable and tangible benefit but we are opposed to a “deal” that involves our council handing over £11.8m of YOUR money with no assurance that there will be any return on our “investment”.
In a report to the scrutiny committee the BCBC Chief Executive admits that “many benefits are expected to be diffuse throughout the region and it may be difficult to specify a geographic area to which those benefits falls” In other words it may never be possible to establish whether we get a tangible return on our £11.8m contribution.
However, so far a £38m grant has been issued to a facility in Newport and in principle approval has been given to enhancements to Cardiff Central Station so its certainly possible to establish the benefits they will be deriving. He couldn’t even provide a schedule of projects that BCBC would like to fund from the City Deal, there is no plan beyond handing over YOUR cash.
There are no safeguards to prevent the lion’s share of the investment to be focussed on Cardiff and its near neighbours.
A successful and credible regional deal should have clearly stated aims with projects outlined BEFORE the deal was signed and the money contributed by the various authorities. That is the way that most people and businesses make their investment decisions, that is the prudent way.
Would you invest in something without knowing what you were buying?
Our towns are starved of essential funds, Maesteg market traders have been evicted for a project that has no funding, public toilets have to be closed, Bridgend Town de-pedestrianisation cannot proceed because of a lack of funding yet BCBC consider it good value to subsidise the Cardiff City Deal to the tune of £11.8m.
Both national parties in Bridgend are of the same mind. The Bridgend Conservatives are also enthusiastic supporters of the Cardiff City Deal; Conservative councillors called it a “fantastic collaboration” and that Bridgend would benefit “greatly” from Cardiff doing well. Your Conservative councillors will on one hand complain that money isn’t being spent in their town yet at the same time think its “fantastic” that we should be subsidising our more prosperous neighbour to the tune of £11.8m while we are fed their scraps!
So close are the two national parties on this matter that the Labour and Conservative BCBC councillors who also sit on Bridgend Town Council collaborated to close down a debate on the matter.
We believe that in its present form the Cardiff City Deal is a bad deal for Bridgend and it’s a bad deal for you.
We call for a comprehensive review into the deal and a thorough understanding of the TANGIBLE benefits that our County Borough will derive. We also call upon BCBC to form a politically balanced steering group to oversee our contribution to the deal and establish a schedule of projects that should be funded from it. There should be complete alignment between the priorities of our communities and what the deal delivers.
Unless it can be demonstrated that it represents a good return on our investment then further contributions should be suspended and withdrawal should not be ruled out.