MONMOUTH Assembly Member Nick Ramsay has accused the Welsh Government of selling off land, including the Wonastow Road Fields, at well below the price they could have received for it and certainly below normal market value.
A report into the largest sale of publicly owned land in Wales in recent years found it should have generated at least £15million more to the taxpayer. Sites were sold as one portfolio by the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales (RIFW) for £21million three years ago, but the District Valuer, in a report by the public spending watchdog the Wales Audit Office, valued them at £36 million if they had been sold separately. Auditors also said there were flaws in the sale process and weaknesses in the advice to the RIFW board, in particular from the property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton.
Asking an urgent question in the Assembly on Wednesday Mr Ramsay said:
“The public are getting the impression that this Welsh Government doesn’t do finance.
“At the end of the day this wasn’t the Welsh Government’s land to undersell – it was public land and the public trusted the politicians to look after their interests, something which clearly did not happen.
I’m particularly concerned to see the former Welsh Development Agency land at Wonastow in Monmouth on this list.That land was converted from industrial to housing use in order to satisfy the Welsh Government’s unreasonable demands on Monmouthshire Council to build ever more houses.
“It now transpires the Welsh Government sold off land at a fraction of its value and then made it available for development to satisfy its own housing demands. It’s all too cosy and suggests something rotten at the heart of the way the Welsh Government works.
“The public has the right to ask what on earth is going on and what the Welsh Government is doing to ensure this sort of debacle doesn’t happen in the future.”