Wales politics

Circuit of Wales must 'operate on own two feet'

MotoGP Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The British leg of the MotoGP was scheduled to come to Ebbw Vale

The Circuit of Wales racetrack needs to "operate on its own two feet" according to the economy secretary Ken Skates.

Welsh ministers decided last week that the taxpayer should not offer a £210m guarantee to the proposed development near Ebbw Vale.

The team behind the scheme - which would cost £433m in total - has pleaded with the Welsh Government not to walk away from the idea.

"It's a private sector project now," Mr Skates told BBC Wales.

He added: "It would be for the Circuit of Wales team to come forward with a project that is financed by the private sector, that can operate on its own two feet without any demand on public resource."

Job opportunities

Mr Skates said the Welsh Government would be focusing instead on its own scheme for a £100m auto-industry business park in the town, which it claims could create 1,500 jobs.

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Media captionEbbw Vale will get a £100m business park regardless of the Circuit of Wales, says Ken Skates

"We're making sure that we can create a world class cluster of tech companies in the part of Wales where, God knows, we need to make more opportunities for employment," he said.

"It needs to be done sooner rather than later and that's why we're hitting the ground running."

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said he wanted to see evidence that the new technology park could deliver the 1,500 jobs outlined by Mr Skates.

He said the Welsh Government had a "poor track record" on job creation in the area.

"We've had an enterprise zone in Blaenau Gwent since 2011, but just 8 jobs were created in 2014/5, which is a lamentable record," Mr Davies said.

"How can we possibly have confidence that this new scheme can deliver anywhere near the 1,500 jobs they claim?"

The project, first unveiled in 2011, has been dogged by controversy.

Its backers - the Heads of the Valleys Development Company (HoVDC) - had wanted the Welsh Government to underwrite 80% of the cost, revised down to about 50% when ministers asked for a rethink.

Alongside the circuit itself, which would have hosted the British leg of the MotoGP for at least five years, there were also plans to bring BMX and mountain biking, indoor skiing and concerts.

Michael Carrick, the founder of the project, said on Monday it was "too important" to walk away from.

He has also revealed he would have been in line for £1.7m if the deal had been completed, but defended the figure as a reward for seven years of unpaid work.

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