BBC 'breached faith' on HQ move, Rhodri Morgan claims

Image caption The new building will be part of the wider regeneration of the current bus station site in Central Square

Former first minister Rhodri Morgan has accused BBC Wales of a "breach of faith" following the corporation's decision to relocate its headquarters to Cardiff city centre.

Mr Morgan claims the Welsh government spent £10m improving roads to Cardiff Bay on the understanding the BBC would build HQ premises there.

A BBC Cymru Wales spokesman said Mr Morgan was "mistaken".

The broadcaster announced this week it would move to Central Square by 2018.

In his weekly column in the Western Mail newspaper Mr Morgan claims the Welsh government agreed to invest £10m in new roads before building work on BBC Wales' Roath Lock drama village began.

He said the investment was agreed in a discussion with the former BBC Wales executive Nigel Walker.

Following that conversation Mr Morgan said he understood that at some point in the future BBC Wales would relocate its headquarters to the Roath Lock site - but admits he made no record of the conversation.

Nigel Walker was the project director the drama village development at the time, and has since left the corporation.

Image caption Rhodri Morgan said he understood BBC Wales would move its headquarters to Cardiff Bay

In an interview with BBC Wales Mr Morgan said the agreement was made when the BBC was considering two sites for its new drama village, at Roath basin in the bay, and the former Freeman's cigar factory site on Penarth Road.

"We agreed with the BBC that we would put money into covering the road access - about £10 million - because the Penarth Road site could not provide the basis of a Welsh media city," he said.

"Since we agreed that we would put the £10m in in order to create a Welsh media city - not just a drama village, there's been a breach of faith here," argued Mr Morgan.

"The BBC should look at its conscience and say - well we may be able to wriggle out of this legally - but actually we do owe £10m as well as an apology to the Welsh government and to the licence fee payers for choosing a more expensive option than the Freemans cigars factory for the drama village."

A spokesman for BBC Cymru Wales said Mr Morgan was mistaken and insisted no agreement, either formal or informal, was made between Mr Walker and Mr Morgan regarding the relocation of BBC Wales' HQ.

"The suggestion that a single individual in the BBC could make such a commitment doesn't stand up to scrutiny," the spokesman said.

"Our decision - announced this week - to relocate our HQ in Wales followed years of careful analysis by a wide range of staff across the BBC, and an open competitive tender process that included more than a dozen potential locations across Cardiff.

"We believe our decision to relocate to Capital Square will deliver a significant economic and creative dividend to Wales, strengthening Wales' credentials as a world class production centre."

The Welsh government did not wish to comment.

Mr Walker has also declined to comment.

Image caption Roath Lock is home to BBC dramas including Casualty and Doctor Who

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