COUNCIL officers working on the £200 million Llanelli Wellness and Life Science Village are are “very conscious” about confidence in the project, a director has said.
Chris Moore said he did not want negativity around the project – one of 11 being taken forward by the City Deal for the Swansea Bay City Region – as “that’s going to put doubt” in the mind of potential partners.
Director of resources, Mr Moore, told a Carmarthenshire Council audit committee meeting that it was business as usual for the wellness village, which the council is determined to deliver as planned after terminating a collaboration agreement with a private sector partner and Swansea University.
Councillor Gareth John said he felt the big issue emerging from recent reviews of the City Deal, which involves four councils, the private sector, Welsh and UK Governments and four universities and health boards, “ultimately comes back to a risk of confidence”.
Cllr John said he also had a major concern about the council’s ability to provide enough staff to administer the City Deal.
Mr Moore said: “There has been no significant influx of staff. Until you get the money (from Government), you have not got any money to pay extra staff.”
He said officers had been doing “over and above their normal work”, although a new finance officer was due to start in May.
Cllr John said it was his belief that an ongoing Swansea University suspension issue which related to the wellness village “will drag on for a very considerable amount of time”.
He asked: “Are you dealing with confidence, bearing in mind the public and others will spin it for their own agendas?”
Mr Moore said: “It’s something that officers are very conscious of. It’s critical.
“When you go out to the market, you want a positive response coming back.”
The wellness village at Delta Lakes is expected to create around 1,900 high-quality jobs over the next 15 years.
Elements include a wellness hub featuring a new leisure centre and swimming pool, a community health hub featuring healthcare facilities and business development space, a life science centre for research and business expansion, a range of assisted living accommodation, sports facilities, and an upgraded lakeside landscape.
Two reviews of the project relating to procurement and governance gave the council a clean bill of health.
One of the reviews was by the Wales Audit Office, which had staff at the audit committee meeting.
Referring to the council’s decision to exit from the collaboration agreement, one of the audit office staff said: “The legal advice that the council took (throughout) was insuring itself and protecting the public pound.
“The council bore no risk in that process.”
Councillor Elwyn Williams said: “Ten out of ten for whoever came up with the exit clauses.”