A Freedom of Information request has shown that the Welsh Government bought 29 houses in preparation for building the M4 relief road – two of them just months before it was scrapped.
Two properties were bought for £575,000 and £400,000 in April 2019, two months before the First Minister took the decision to abandon the M4 Relief Road scheme.
In total 29 houses were purchased for £15,277,202 through compulsory purchase orders in preparation for the new road. Since then seven have been sold, seven are now tenanted and 15 lie vacant.
The total annual rental income for the properties currently tenanted is £106,504 a year, whilst 7 properties have since been sold for a total of £2,140,735.
The Welsh Conservatives who put in the FOI request said that the findings increase the total waste on the M4 Relief Road to £157 million.
Shadow Minister for Economy, Business and Infrastructure, Russell George MS, said it all amounted to a further “financial waste”.
“[It] would take the Welsh Labour-led Government almost 145 years to make up the amount they’ve wasted through renting the properties,” he said.
“Equally disturbing is the apparent shambolic decision-making process within the heart of the Welsh Government, where two properties – worth just under £1 million – were purchased just two months before the First Minister unilaterally abandoned the M4 Relief Road scheme.
“People will rightly be frustrated by being short-changed of £157 million especially when the money could have strengthened our public services by increasing pay for our vital healthcare workers.
“The Welsh Labour-run Government has, once again, expected the taxpayer to pick up the tab for the vast sums of money spent on a project it later sank. An eye-watering £157 million of taxpayers’ money has been frittered away, and worse still there is nothing to show for it.”