AM tackles minister over Communities First issues

Reporter:

Matt Sims

CONCERNS over the running of Plas Madoc Communities First have prompted debate in the Assembly.

A Wales Audit Office report found serious financial mismanagement at the scheme earlier this year.

North Wales AM Mark Isherwood has called for an independent inquiry on the scheme and said he was concerned that issues raised by the Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham (AVOW) over Plas Madoc were not taken into account.

But a senior minister hit back, saying swift action had been taken by the Welsh Assembly Government once issues were raised.

Speaking in the Assembly chamber to minister for social justice and local government Carl Sargeant, Mr Isherwood said: “In the last Assembly, the social justice and regeneration committee considered an independent report commissioned by the Welsh government into Communities First.

“The report identified a lack of funding and human resource controls set by the Welsh government at the outset.

“Last July, the Wales Audit Office published a report into Communities First in general, which also identified a lack of financial and human resource controls implemented by the Welsh government from the outset.

“Most recently, a report on a Communities First partnership in North Wales indicated that the Welsh government was made aware of problems as long ago as 2003 and the Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham subsequently brought problems to its attention. You state that you have now implemented a requirement for all of the partnerships to put proper financial controls in place.

“Why did the Welsh government not do this earlier, either in this Assembly or through members of the current government in the last Assembly when these problems were first highlighted in reports commissioned by the Welsh government and delivered by the Wales Audit Office?”

Mr Sargeant replied: “I am led to believe that Welsh Assembly Government colleagues took steps swiftly before I was appointed to this post.

“These are all in order, and they have been audited by the Wales Audit Office and internal agencies within the Welsh Assembly Government.”

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