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Plaid Cymru to seek judicial review of housing association merger

Plaid Cymru has warned it will seek judicial review of a housing association merger, with the party wanting to thwart a decision by the shareholders of Tai Cantref housing association to combine with Wales & West Housing.

Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards and AM Adam Price called for a halt to the £30m deal, which would see Wales & West take over Cantref’s 1,800 homes.

They said bidders has been expected to submit applications within only seven days, and preliminary merger discussions were not offered to all potential bidders.

Tenants would not see their homes brought up to the Wales Quality Housing Standard until 2024 under the merger, four years longer than previously expected, the politicians said, and no formal consultation on the merger has taken place with tenants.

Adam Price said: “The Welsh Government has been negligent in its monitoring and support of Tai Cantref. If the cabinet secretary for housing allows this merger to proceed without the input of tenants it will rightly be seen as a cynical move to mask the abject failures of the Welsh Government.”

He said Tai Cantref could have “a very positive future” and noted that no problems had been raised about its financial viability.

Jonathan Edwards said: “I am deeply concerned by the way in which this takeover in all but name has been conducted.

“These concerns are not just about process, of course, as this takeover will have serious consequences on local employment and the use of the Welsh language in everything it does.”

The two parliamentarians were this week due to meet Carmarthenshire Council to discuss how it could work with neighbouring councils to “defend residents from a takeover which is against the interests of tenants and against the interests of west Wales”.

Cantref”s interim chair Kevin Taylor said he had met Edwards and Price to discuss their concerns.

He said: “Cantref is confident that its decision to seek a merger, and after careful consideration, to do so with Wales & West Housing (WWH), is the right course of action for both our tenants and staff within the organisation.

“Cantref, along with WWH, has made it clear that Cantref’s ethos of a regional and local focus will continue and is fundamental to how the organisation moves forward. Local businesses will be supported wherever possible, and importantly the merger will ensure current staff have opportunities to develop and grow within the organisation. We are looking forward to the future with confidence.”

Mark Smulian