Welsh agency's links with Tesco attacked: Chris Blackhurst reports on threatened legal action by a rival retailer over a supermarket development deal

THE WELSH Development Agency has become embroiled in fresh controversy - this time over its close links with Tesco, the store group.

Dr Gwyn Jones, who last month resigned as the WDA chairman, also sits on the Tesco board and David Malpas, a WDA director, is Tesco's managing director. Dr Jones joined the Tesco board in January last year and serves on the company's influential remuneration committee that determines the pay of senior executives.

A recent Commons Public Accounts Committee report criticised the WDA for a lack of financial controls and accountability. Among the instances highlighted were the hiring of a man as marketing director with convictions for fraud, payments to model agencies and redundancy settlements that did not need to have been made. Now, a retailer is threatening to take the agency to court over a deal involving Tesco. And at the same time, Rhodri Morgan, Labour MP for Cardiff West, is calling for the WDA and Tesco to sever their links.

Tesco has relocated 600 staff from its Hertfordshire headquarters to new offices in Cardiff. But Mr Morgan said: 'In spite of the new jobs brought to South Wales by Tesco, many people are uneasy about the number of close relationships that existed between Tesco and the WDA.'

Tesco made pre-tax profits of pounds 581m last year. In its latest accounts published yesterday, the WDA revealed it had provided pounds 7.9m for the development by Spenhill Limited, a wholly-owned Tesco subsidiary, of a 115-acre site at Nantgarw near Swansea in Mid-Glamorgan. Spenhill plans to turn the former surface mine into an industrial park. Of the pounds 7.9m, the bulk, pounds 6.4m, went on improving the infrastructure and pounds 1.5m was spent on building factory and office units.

The National Audit Office, which prepared the WDA's accounts, made a point of stating that both Dr Jones and Mr Malpas declared their interest in Nantgarw to the agency's board.

Another deal involving the WDA and Tesco could become the subject of a legal action. A rival store chain, Co-operative Retail Services, is furious at the way in which Tesco won the right to develop a supermarket site in Aberdare, Mid-Glamorgan.

The CRS claims it had received permission to develop the six-acre site from its joint-owners, the WDA and Cynon Valley Council. But sources close to the CRS said that the pair apparently later changed their minds and, unknown to the CRS and its property adviser, Landmark, put the site on the market, where it was promptly bought by Tesco.

Alan Hedley, of Landmark, has written to the National Audit Office about the deal and the CRS is considering legal action. 'The circumstances behind the situation have given us cause for concern,' a CRS spokeswoman said. 'We've consulted our legal representatives and we're continuing to hold the situation under review.'

Tesco said any writ from the CRS would be 'vigorously pursued'.

Mr Morgan added: 'It may all have been above board but I would be much happier with a greater separation between the company and the agency. The inter-locking of directorships between David Malpas and Dr Gwynn Jones seems to be undesirable for a company like Tesco that is doing a great deal of business with the WDA. Business does not just have to be done, it has to be seen to be done. That is well-nigh impossible when you have inter-locking relationships of this kind.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?