Actica Consulting tapped to review Swansea's 11 City Deal projects

06 February 2019 Consultancy.uk

A Surrey-based consulting firm has been appointed by the UK and Welsh Governments to carry out an independent review into the City Deal for the Swansea Bay City Region. The initiative has faced criticism for how slowly it has awarded funds to prospective projects.

The Swansea Bay City Deal is a £1.3 billion investment in 11 major projects across the Swansea Bay City Region. The initiatives are spread across Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea. Over the next 15 years, the projects based on key themes of Economic Acceleration, Life Science and Well-being, Energy, and Smart Manufacturing are expected to boost the regional economy by £1.8 billion and generate almost 10,000 new, high-quality jobs.

However, the investment drive seems to have stalled in recent months. While 11 City Deal projects have been identified, none of their business cases have been signed off by both Governments, which together could commit up to £241 million in funding toward their execution. The remainder of City Deal funding would be made up of £360 million in other public sector funding – including local authority borrowing – and £673 million of leveraged private sector finance; however, while the Governments withhold the green-light, these funds are also left in limbo.

Actica Consulting tapped to review Swansea's 11 City Deal projects

One of the projects left in purgatory at present is a proposed Wellness Village at Delta Lakes in Llanelli, which is seeking £40 million from the City Deal. The project, which claims it will create 2,000 jobs, has been approved by Carmarthenshire County Council, but the Welsh Government is still weighing up its response to the planning application. The facility would include an Institute of Life Science, a Community Health Hub, a Wellness Education Centre, a Clinical Delivery Centre and new leisure centre.

Carmarthenshire Council has not disclosed how much it has spent on the Wellness Village to date. The Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton, has however confirmed he will investigate the decision making of Carmarthenshire County Council in relation to Wellness Village project. Council CEO Mark James and Professor Marc Clement, the suspended dean of the School of Management at Swansea University, were the drivers of the project.

Independent review

With rumblings of dissent on the matter, in December both the UK and Welsh Governments announced a "rapid independent review" into the City Deal scheme by Actica Consulting to examine the process which has seen projects earmarked for the huge levels of funding. Actica is a consultancy which often takes on major procurement contracts for the UK Government. The review will cover due diligence and governance in relation to all elements of the deal and its implementation.

According to a Welsh Government spokesperson, “The Welsh and UK Governments have jointly appointed Actica Consulting to carry out the independent review of the Swansea Bay City Deal announced in December, and work has already commenced. Further updates will be made available when appropriate.”

A Swansea Bay City Region spokesperson meanwhile stated, "As outlined by the UK government and Welsh Government, considerable progress has been made since the signing of the Swansea Bay City Deal. We will now work closely alongside both governments on the independent review, with all partners remaining fiercely committed to delivering this unprecedented programme of investment.

Related: National charity CTA launches tender for consultant in Wales.

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