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THE HERALD FRIDAY AUGUST 19 2016


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3 News future could be decided by judicial review


area where the Tai Cantref headquarters is based, said there was a ‘catalogue of reasons‘ behind their call to stop the process and said the lack of consultation with tenants is reprehensible. The reasons behind their call to stop the process include: • A questionable tender process for which bidders were expected to submit applications within just seven days, in addition to


‘preliminary merger


discussions‘ not being available to all potential bidders;


• Tenants being expected to live in sub-standard


accommodation with the Wales Quality Housing Standard not being met until 2024 – an additional four years on the current completion expectation on 2020.


• The dilution of the Welsh language in one of West Wales’s largest employers;


• No formal consultation on the merger has taken place with tenants.


Assembly Member Adam Price


said the Welsh Government has been negligent in its monitoring and support of Tai Cantref, stating that the Cabinet Secretary for Housing allowing such a decision to proceed


without the input of tenants would be seen as a cynical move to mask the abject failures of the Welsh Government. Member of Parliament Jonathan


Edwards said Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire Councils should consider how they can work together to challenge the ‘takeover in all but name’by Wales and West housing. A second vote by the shareholders


to approve the takeover is scheduled for August 23. Calling for the shareholders


to stop the process, Adam Price said: “When local authorities were discussing the transfer of their housing stock, it was a requirement for tenants to vote on their preferred course of action. In this instance, however, consultation with tenants has been non-existent and wholly deplorable. “I understand the merger will


result in a significant delay in reaching the Wales Quality Housing Standard. Tenants will be forced to live in sub-standard accommodation until 2024 – some 12 years delay on the originally 2012 timescale. “At the very least, tenants must


been consulted on whether they are prepared to accept this and other consequences of the merger. “The Welsh Government has


What went wrong at Tai Cantref? Construction woes: projects like this caused Cantref woes


Even though the Welsh


Government has been desperate to keep the report into Tai Cantref under wraps, The Herald has been informed by a source closely concerned in the saga that it uncovered significant failure in the management of major projects and risk management. In addition, institutional failings were identified in relation to the housing association’s internal processes and management structures. Tenants would, however, have


been left wholly unaware of the issues, as a managerial merry-go- round followed the report’s provision to the Welsh Government, while the Housing Association appeared to suggest nothing was amiss, despite the departure of former CEO Lynne


Sacale, the Chair of the Board, David Wilcox, and other members of the management team. Major factors were a string


of bad investments in student accommodation in Aberystwyth and flats elsewhere, including a project in Cardigan in which the contractor engaged by the Housing Association went bust before completing a major project. As a result of what can be


reasonably concluded to be mismanagement, lenders upon whom the Association depended threatened to pull their funding, as Tai Cantref either had breached or was at risk of breaching, the terms of guarantees given to the lenders. Enter the Welsh Government


and the process for takeover which could yet end in the High Court.


been negligent in its monitoring and support of Tai Cantref. If the Cabinet Secretary for Housing allows this merger to proceed without the input of tenants, it will rightly be seen as a cynical move to mask the abject failures of the Welsh Government. “Tai Cantref can have a


very positive future; indeed, no problems have been raised about the organisation’s financial viability. The first step to transforming the housing association is for its shareholders to rethink the takeover proposals, not least to give tenants their say, and not allow themselves to be used to mask the failures of the Welsh Government.“ Jonathan Edwards added:


“With the Welsh Government refusing to release a key report on its statutory investigation into the housing association; with just seven days given for tender bids to be submitted; and with only select organisations afforded ‘preliminary merger discussions‘ before that bid


process, I am deeply concerned by the way in which this takeover in all but name has been conducted. “These concerns are not


just about process, of course, as this takeover will have serious consequences on local employment and the use of the Welsh language in everything it does. “Adam Price and I met with


representatives of Carmarthenshire Council’s Executive Board on Wednesday to discuss how the council, working in partnership with neighbouring authorities, can defend residents from a takeover which is against the interests of tenants and against the interests of West Wales. “In the meantime, I would urge


Tai Cantref shareholders to reject this takeover proposal or risk the prospect of a judicial review – action which we are strongly minded to support.” Adam Price AM said: “Jonathan


Edwards MP and I met with representatives of Carmarthenshire Council’s Executive Board and shared with them our regret that a local housing association, rooted in the community, is in the position it finds itself. “We believe that accountability


to local tenants will be diminished, and that the considerations of tenants will be weakened in what will be a much larger organisation not based in West Wales. “There were a series of


alternative bids available to the organisation which maintain local ownership of the housing stock. “We’ve shared our concerns


regarding the process. It is now up to those who have suggested an alternative solution to consider whether they wish to challenge the decision of the Tai Cantref Board.”


Adam Price: Welsh Government ‘were negligent’


Residents should be defended; Jonathan Edwards MP


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