The UK and Welsh Government have stepped in to ensure due diligence and governance surrounding the ongoing plan to develop a health and wellbeing village in Llanelli as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal. They have commissioned an independent rapid review.

One of the companies behind the £200m health and wellbeing village in Llanelli has been removed from the project.

Suspended: Staff at Swansea University

It follows the suspension of two Swansea university chiefs following allegations that an unidentified member of university staff accepted shares in a private company involved in plans to build a the wellbeing village at Delta Lakes in Llanelli.

Swansea University put its vice-chancellor Richard Davies and management school dean Marc Clement on leave while they face investigation.

It has been reported that there were concerns of an ‘inappropriate conflict of interest’ whereby the employee could profit from public money invested in the project, despite making key decisions about it and that the staff member changed their mind ‘a few days later’ and said any profits from the shares would go to a trust fund for ‘the people of Llanelli’.

It has been claimed that Swansea University’s registrar later obtained emails in which the shares were discussed and began an investigation.

The University is one of the major players in the Swansea Bay City Deal, which is said to be worth £1.3billion and involves regeneration projects across Wales including the Delta Lakes Well Being Village.

Professor Clement has ‘vehemently denied’ any wrongdoing, and vowed he ‘will do all it takes to clear his good name’.

Both Professor Davies and Professor Clement have played a significant role in brokering the Swansea Bay City Deal through their roles at the university and both men are involved with ARCH, which will hand out the next series of private contracts for the plan.

Prof Clement was a former direct of of Kent Neurosciences Limited. He resigned in 2015. Kent Neurosciences was dissolved early this year.

Director, now resigned: Meryl Gravell

Prof Clement was also a director with the company, Kent Neurosciences Property Limited, alongside a number of the directors still listed with companies house as directors with Kent Neurosciences Limited. The company lists a Franz Hermann Dickmann as a director. Mr Dickmann is also a director of Sterling Health Security Property Limited and according to Companies House, 24 other companies including Sterling Security Holdings Limited of which former council leader Meryl Gravell was a director. Mrs Gravell resigned as director on November 6th this year.

Companies house has Mrs Gravell listed as director with Sterling House Security Operating Ltd along with Mr Dickmann. That company lists its activities as ‘Hospital Activities’. As of July 2018 that company had GB Capital of £100.

Asking questions: Cllr Rob James

Carmarthenshire’s Labour leader, councillor Rob James tabled questions to the leader of the county council, Emlyn Dole recently, asking about the process which led to Sterling Health being chosen, how each partner will contribute to the £200 million cost, who Sterling Health’s directors are, what experience they bring and how much the new operations director of Delta Wellbeing Ltd will receive.

Llanelli Online also submitted questions to the council regarding due diligence and the directorship of the company Sterling Health Securities Limited.

We asked:

Have you carried out any due diligence checks on the company, Sterling Health?
Why didn’t you renew an agreement with Kent Neurosciences Limited and then decide to go with another company who share the same directors?
Are Swansea University and Hywel Dda contributing financially?
If the project fails, will the taxpayer be footing the bill?

We received the following response:

“We are unable to respond to political enquires.”

The UK and Welsh Government issued a joint statement confirming they had commissioned an independent review into the entire City Deal for the region.

Statement: Ken Skates AM

Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport Ken Skates issued the following statement:

“Eighteen months on from the signing of the Swansea Bay City Deal, good progress has been made on developing a range of projects within the overall programme.

“The UK and Welsh Governments, alongside the Deal partnership, have now decided to undertake a rapid independent review which will underpin the next stage of delivery. The review’s recommendations will inform future decisions on the release of government funding, as well as provide the greatest confidence to potential private investors across the Deal as a whole.

“All partners remain committed to the success of the Deal, and it has been agreed that work on individual projects will continue in parallel with the review.

“The review will cover due diligence and governance in relation to all elements of the Deal and its implementation. It will ensure that oversight and compliance at both programme and project level are robust, and make recommendations, as appropriate, where this could be strengthened in the future.”

Collaboration was simply an agreement: Council Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole

In a statement on their website Carmarthenshire County Council said:

“The Council has confirmed that it will continue working closely with Hywel Dda Health Board, University Wales Trinity Saint David and Swansea University to deliver the scheme.

“The Life Science and Wellbeing Village at Delta Lakes will include an Institute of Life Science, a Community Health Hub, a Wellness Education Centre, a Clinical Delivery Centre and state of the art new leisure centre, as well as assisted living accommodation, a nursing home, business space and a wellness hotel.

“Preparatory site work is underway and continuing, and a planning application for the scheme has been submitted.

“Earlier this week the Council’s Executive Board approved the business plans for the Village in principle, subject to an external independent legal review commissioned to provide members of the public and stakeholders with reassurance that all due legal process has been properly followed.”

Leader of the Council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “The Collaboration Agreement was simply an agreement to work together to develop the various aspects of the Delta Lakes project and draw up a “Development Agreement for its delivery. That Development Agreement has not been agreed and the County Council has concluded that the project can be better delivered in another way.”

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