Thursday, 16 December 2010

More arrests over Plas Madoc Communities First

The lengthy criminal investigation into Plas Madoc Communities First is starting to bear fruit. This is from the BBC news..

A second man has been charged after an investigation into allegations of financial irregularities involving a scheme to regenerate one of Wales' most deprived housing estates.

Police said a man, 35, from Manchester, had been charged with four offences of money laundering and one offence of fraud in relation to the Communities First scheme at Plas Madoc, Wrexham.

He was bailed and is due to appear before magistrates on 31 December.

The investigation continues.

On Tuesday, a 46-year-old man was charged with theft and fraud as part of the same investigation, and is also due in court in Mold on 31 December.

Another man, the scheme's finance officer Andy Bunning, and co-ordinator Miriam Beard, were suspended earlier this year after an auditor's report revealed management weaknesses and a "fundamental lack of financial control" within the Plas Madoc Communities First project.

Mr Bunning later resigned and Ms Beard was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing.


Word on the street is that Bunning will be done for admitting fraud against the CSA while the two men are said to be related to Miriam Beard.

The wider political question is what this scandal means for Communities First. Despite some examples of good practice, it's now widely accepted that CF has failed miserably to achieve what it set out to do within the poorest 180+ communities in Wales. That's because there were no benchmarks set at the outset, no targets set for completion and an overall failure to define the scheme's perameters. In short, it was a recipe for throwing money at impoverished communities in the hope they would improve.

This blog has mixed views of Communities First. Unlike Labour, we are not slavishly for the bureaucratic top-down scheme. Unlike the Tories, who want to stop funding altogether, we do believe that the poorest communities in Wales need capacity building to develop new employment and opportunities. We do not believe in abandoning these key areas. There are models of good practice in terms of how to engage with the local community and actually respond to their needs - Hightown in Wrecsam is one small example.

Unfortunately, the experience of the past two years suggests that Labour ministers want to bury their heads in the sand - not least in the way they have constantly trumpeted Caia Park Communities First as a model of good practice. More on that later.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hope its not the Deputy Head of Ruabon, he was the vice Chair. Why hasn't Miriam Beard been charged?
What's happening to Cllr Blackwell?

Llyr HG said...

The fundamental mistake was that too many areas we're designated Communities First areas at the outset. WAG didn't have the capacity to scrutinise them all properly.
The programme has done a lot of good in many areas across Wales but it's the bad apples that grab the headlines.

Anonymous said...

Communities First is nothing more than a job creation agency for redundant and failed Labour politician!

Anonymous said...

The problem with Communities First is, the politicians who "set it up" can't stop being politicians. And when something goes wrong with OUR MONEY, they play politics and instead of stamping it out immediately, they go on to say the positive things about CF. But do you know what? It's been a TOTAL disaster. Think what all those millions of pounds could have done if it had been spent properly. Unfortunately, there are too many Plas Madoc's about, but not quite as blantent.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Communities First is, the politicians who "set it up" can't stop being politicians. And when something goes wrong with OUR MONEY, they play politics and instead of stamping it out immediately, they go on to say the positive things about CF. But do you know what? It's been a TOTAL disaster. Think what all those millions of pounds could have done if it had been spent properly. Unfortunately, there are too many Plas Madoc's about, but not quite as blantent.

Anonymous said...

I dispute the comment of Communities First being a DISASTER, I live in a Communities First area (in fact Plas Madoc) and have experienced first hand the opportunities the staff who are left there are providing for the community!!!

Anonymous said...

Communities First must be the biggest waste of money conceived in Wales.