Questions have been raised about ongoing delays to the Circuit of Wales project, in the Senedd.
It is hoped the £435 million racetrack in Ebbw Vale, which has been handed a £2 million grant and a £7.32 million bank loan guarantee by the Welsh Government, could create 6,000 new jobs in the area.
But the plans have twice been blocked by the Welsh Government and a number of claims have been made recently around alleged mismanagement by developer Heads of the Valleys Development Company.
Earlier this month, it was announced the Wales Audit Office has launched an investigation into how the firm used the Welsh Government cash.
Speaking in the Senedd, leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies said the potential benefits of the project were vast, but he was concerned
Addressing first minister Carwyn Jones he said: “Sadly the Heads of the Valleys company that is promoting this project has been suffering really bad headlines of late and there’s been a slow, slow drip effect of evidence to point that they really aren’t the best partners to actually deliver this project.
“Do you have confidence in the leadership of the company to deliver the Circuit of Wales project?”
Mr Jones replied: “Do we have confidence in the company? That’s a matter for them, of course.
“We have to make sure that we are prudent in terms of public money being made accessible, and we’ve done just that, to make sure that any project is only financed if there’s a fair division of risk between the private and public sectors, and that is not the situation here.”
He added the Welsh Government would “seek to ensure that there is prudence in terms of money that’s accessed from the public purse”.
“That’s why, despite criticism from his party and others in this chamber, we didn’t release the money for the project to proceed some months ago on the basis that we were not convinced that the project was robust enough in terms of the sharing of risk for the project to proceed with public money,” he added.
But Mr Davies pointed to recent revelations including that Heads of the Valleys paid a gardening company £35,000 for work carried out at the home of owner Michael Carrick, and that motorcycle chassis manufacturer FTR Moto, which was bought by Heads of the Valleys for £400,000, had gone bust.
“It’s hardly a success story,” he said.
But Mr Jones refuted allegations the Welsh Government had mishandled the project.
“As a government we will provide amounts of money for businesses in order to take them to the next stage of business development and a project in terms of development,” he said.
“But there comes a point when it’s absolutely right to say to any business ‘We will not finance the project unless you find enough private backing that will take the project ahead without there being 100 per cent guarantee from the public sector’.
“That is something that we were not prepared to do and that represents value for money for the taxpayer.”