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BBC Wales's Justine Greene
"1.5bn of development aid earmarked for west Wales and Valleys could benefit thousands of businessses and voluntary bodies."
 real 28k

Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 07:51 GMT
Threat to Wales's 1.2bn Euro cash
Funding uncertainty is hampering projects, said Val Feld

Head of the Assembly's economic development committee, AM Val Feld has spoken of a "serious funding problem" with the European Objective One project.

Speaking to a meeting of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Ms Feld referred to the issue of finding matching funds from the Treasury for the year 2001 onwards.

The UK Government needs to pledge funds to match the European money before the grants - the highest level of EU regional aid - can be paid to Wales.

She also suggested that the uncertainty over funding could be preventing people from coming forward with projects

Projects not encouraged

She said that so much of the Assembly's time is taken up with discussing and negotiating funding that they are not spending the necessary time encouraging projects.

Ms Feld said that this is a "hindrance" and asked the Welsh Affairs Committee to make representations to the Treasury on behalf of the committee.

Members of the European Task Force said they felt that they were not able to contribute to the Objective One consultancy document as fully as they would have wished to as they were asked to comment on areas that were too detailed.

Match funding pledge

The committee heard that because members of the taskforce did not have enough knowledge of the specific areas and details, they did not take part in the consultation.

Hundreds of businesses and voluntary organisations are hoping to benefit from the Objective One grants.

Most of the money, which can be used for a variety of schemes, will be spent on business, training and tourism development. West Wales and the south Wales valleys are the main areas which will benefit from the money, as they are the poorest parts of Wales.

Prime Minister Tony Blair last month promised he would not let Wales down when it came to Objective One funding.

He said the Treaaury would provide the match funding needed to release the 1.5bn of European Union development aid.

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See also:
19 Oct 99 |  Wales
Assembly set to discuss European funds
29 Sep 99 |  Wales
Assembly 'risks losing Euro aid'
27 Sep 99 |  Wales
Ron Davies spells out Assembly's 'crucial test'

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