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Questions raised by Plaid Cymru over enterprise zones “secrecy”

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The Welsh Government has been criticised by Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Economy & Enterprise over its refusal to provide a breakdown of jobs created and funding provided in each of its enterprise zones.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru AM for Ynys Môn, said: "How can one judge the success or otherwise of each of the enterprise zones if the Welsh Government is refusing to supply information on jobs created and retained since they were set up two years ago?

"When large sums of public funds are involved, it is clearly in the public interest that this information is made available. This is about accountability or lack of it as far as the Welsh Government is concerned.

"It is clear three months on from the Finance Committee’s report that there remains an air of secrecy and the Welsh Government is continuing to show a lack of transparency. Plaid Cymru wants enterprise zones to work but it is important the government proves they are."

Last December Finance Committee chair Jocelyn Davies AM said following publication of its report on enterprise zones: "There is still an air of mystery surrounding the Enterprise Zones since their announcement by the First Minister more than two years ago.

"The committee found it very difficult to establish solid information about their objectives, their funding or how their performance is being measured. We believe that, if their purpose and performance is to be properly scrutinised, the Welsh Government needs to be much more transparent about these enterprise zones."

Plaid Cymru submitted a series of questions in a Freedom of Information request to the Welsh Government about the operation of the seven enterprise zones. Plaid Cymru was told that the Welsh Government had provided £12,784,747 in grant and £7,314,000 in loan payments since April 2012.

In its response to the FoI, the Welsh Government claimed that "harm would be likely to occur if a detailed zone by zone breakdown or jobs created and retained was put into the public domain at this time".

The Welsh Government also argued that premature release of a detailed breakdown would be "misleading to the public". They also claimed that release would cause "detrimental damage to the companies already located within the zones or those inward investors considering relocation or expansion".

Plaid Cymru will be seeking an internal review from the Welsh Government of its ruling.

Last October, the First Minister said that almost 2,000 jobs have been created across the seven zones, with a further 6,500 planned, 3,000 of them in the Cardiff zone. But he did not breakdown the figures by zones.

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