Detectives called in to investigate 'mismanaged' community fund

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DETECTIVES have been called in following an official probe into the Plas Madoc Communities First project.

The matters raised in the Auditor General’s damning report published yesterday, which revealed a “fundamental lack of financial control and governance” have now been referred to North Wales Police.

A Welsh Assembly spokesman said: “The report concludes fundamental failings permeated the whole of the operations of the partnership and suggests those charged with responsibility for governance had little regard to recognised standards in public life or the need to achieve value for money from public funds.”

Two members of staff at Plas Madoc Communities First have since been suspended.

Plas Madoc receives more than £500,000 of its annual £735,000 funding from the Welsh Assembly’s Communities First programme.

A joint investigation was launched between the Wales Audit Office and the Internal Audit Service of the Assembly Government after serious allegations were raised by a third party about how the Plas Madoc scheme was being operated.

Auditor General for Wales, Gillian Body, said: “While this report highlights serious failings, it is encouraging to see the Welsh Assembly Government is learning the lessons and is taking measures to tighten up the monitoring of Communities First partnerships.

“They should implement these measures swiftly to ensure events like this are not repeated.”

On Tuesday Social Justice and Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant, AM for Alyn and Deeside, pledged to ensure “robust” measures were now put in place to manage the project.

Clwyd South AM Karen Sinclair said: “I’ve called for all future initiatives funded by the Assembly to have a greater degree of transparency at their core and for a more rigorous early warning mechanism to be set up so that similar concerns to mine do not go unnoticed.This must not be allowed to happen again.

“I’m keen for lessons to be learned from this, not just for the benefit of Plas Madoc, but for other projects across Wales.”

See full story in the Leader

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