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BBC Wales's Rhun ap Iorwerth reports
"There have been complaints from all over Wales about the slowness of the scheme"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 20 September, 2000, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Morgan defends Euro aid programme

The First Secretary has defended the Assembly's running of the European Objective One aid programme for west Wales and the Valleys.

Despite concerns that administrative delays are putting schemes at risk, Rhodri Morgan said grants for so-called 'fast-track' schemes will be available from next month.

There have been complaints this week from all over Wales that the assembly had been slow getting the schemes off the ground.

A leaked memo from the West Wales European Centre listed a number of matters of concern.

In addition, the Rhondda Cynon Taff Objective One partnership said administrative delay had led to confidence in the programme draining away.

First Secretary Rhodri Morgan
First Secretary Rhodri Morgan: Programme on track
Pressure on the assembly grew with the resignation of the Objective One project manager in Gwynedd, Dewi Llwyd Evans, who complained about a lack of assembly leadership.

"We are not learning from the mistakes of the past, we are rushing into a situation where people do not know what is happening," said Mr Evans.

Mr Morgan said complaints were to be expected about a programme of the size of the 1.2bn Objective One scheme, which will run over nine years.

At the launch of the new Wales European Centre in Brussels, Mr Morgan insisted that after sorting out some practicalities, the first grants would be available next month.

'Difficult decisions'

"Overall, for a grant scheme of this kind, it is progressing very well according to the timetable," said Mr Morgan.

Gareth Williams, a former special adviser to ex-First Secretary Alun Michael, said constant media attention on Objective One meant difficulties for the politicians.

"There are some difficult decisions to be made - which might have been made earlier - but politicians have backed off because concerns they might be unpopular," said Mr Williams.

"There is a need for Rhodri Morgan and everyone downwards to take a deep breath and take those decisions."

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19 Jul 00 | Wales
Murphy's pledge on Euro funds
18 Jul 00 | Wales
Brown gives Euro boost to Wales
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