'Swansea has been short-changed over £19m marina plans'
THE Welsh Government has been accused of "short- changing" Swansea over stalled plans for a major new £19 million marina project.
The 400-berth marina in the Prince of Wales Dock was to be the centrepiece of the SA1 development, and would have almost doubled the number of berths available in the city.
The Welsh Lib Dems claimed people and companies had invested in the area on the understanding that the project would go ahead, and that cash generated by selling land to developers would be ring-fenced and used to build it.
But now a letter from Business Minister and Gower AM Edwina Hart has confirmed that ring-fencing was scrapped in 2008, with cash from land sales at SA1 instead going to Cardiff Bay to be redistributed.
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The Lib Dem former leader of Swansea Council, Chris Holley, said the news was a blow to the SA1 development.
"The council was a party to the Welsh Government's plans that saw money from land sales on SA1 ring-fenced for the lock gate development and other works. However, this money has now been taken away from Swansea and has been spent elsewhere in Wales.
"That is very shabby treatment of the city by the Welsh Labour Government.
"It is further evidence that Swansea is being continually short-changed by Labour, who have consistently taken voters here for granted."
Fellow Lib Dem councillor and AM Peter Black — who's questioning of the business minister led to the letter — also expressed his concern.
He said: "I will be pressing the business minister for an assurance that the £19 million needed to install these lock gates and channel is found as soon as possible so as to make the second marina a reality.
"People and business have moved to SA1 fully expecting this development to go ahead. It seems that they have been fooled by a false Government prospectus."
Plans to build a new marina for leisure craft in the Prince of Wales Dock were first announced in 2003.
The marina was to be accessed by new £19 million lock gates and a tidal channel, and the area around the entrance was earmarked for a multiplex cinema, bars and cafés, flats and a hotel.
It was hoped the scheme would help make Swansea a major maritime destination on the Bristol Channel.
Though other development has taken place around the dock, the marina has never materialised.
A Welsh Government spokeswoman said the decision to end the ring-fencing of budgets in SA1 was taken by the previous Labour-Plaid coalition.
She said: "The Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science Department has a clear process in place to allocate funding to projects as they are brought forward and has already provided significant support to Swansea, including £2 million in March of this year to acquire Oldway House to facilitate the city centre regeneration.
"In addition, Welsh Government investment in SA1 over the past four years has been £9.3 million, which exceeded sales income in the same period by almost £6.4 million."
The Welsh Government refused to be drawn on whether it was planning to continue with the marina project.