Sprouts nursery was set up on Rhosddu Road, Wrexham, with Â£155,000 funding from the Welsh Government under the Viable and Vibrant Places funding scheme for the borough in 2013. The council also paid Â£90,000 into the project.Alarm bells were soon ringing because it made promises about additional nursery care that it didn’t meet and effectively used public money to undermine existing successful nurseries in the area. In September 2017, the council closed the nursery with significant losses.
It’s now more than 14 months since Councillor Marc Jones, Plaid Cymru’s councillor for Grosvenor ward, asked that the whole episode be scrutinised by the council. On Wednesday, the Employment Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee will discuss the matter at the Guildhall.
A report into the failure concedes that “lessons need to be learnt” but Cllr Jones said he was concerned that problems were being swept under the carpet:
“People working in the sector and my Plaid Cymru colleague Councillor Arfon Jones raised concerns about Sprouts before it even opened. The funding was used in a way to undermine existing businesses and that can’t be right.
“When I was elected in May 2017 I also raised my concerns with senior officers and it’s taken this long to get some public scrutiny. The report admits several failings but doesn’t, in my view, explain why they happened and how it couldn’t happen again in the future.
“If the council’s Executive Board doesn’t accept and learn from these kinds of failures, then it is going to keep making the same mistakes in the future.”