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Home / Latest News / Minister won’t let councillors view Russell Goodway letter

Minister won’t let councillors view Russell Goodway letter

The contents of a letter at the centre of a row over an attempted multi-million pound land deal by Cardiff council is to be kept secret, the Economy Minister has decided.

Labour minister Edwina Hart says she will not allow a cross-party committee of councillors to view the letter, despite repeated attempts.

Councillor Russell Goodway, cabinet member for economy, had been under increasing pressure – even from some members of his own party – for the letter to be disclosed.

He yesterday said the minister’s decision had “vindicated his position” and called on those pressing for the letter’s release to apologise.

The saga dates back to last November when Coun Goodway was questioned about the council’s attempt to buy land at Callaghan Square.

At the time, he referred to a letter which he said was sent to him by the Welsh Government advising a “third party” wanted to purchase the site to “land bank” it.

The Labour-run council’s deal never went ahead, but councillors continued to call on him to produce evidence of the letter.

Six months on, Coun Goodway said his only copy had been shredded and it was a matter for the minister to decide whether to release it.

The leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, this week asked Mrs Hart whether she would give permission to council leader Heather Joyce for the letter to be viewed by the committee. In a one-word written reply, she said: “No.”

Mr Davies said: “I find this whole affair quite bizarre and the Economy Minister appears to have hung her Labour colleague Coun Goodway out to dry on this.

“If the letter supports the claims that he made last year then it should be produced and the matter be put to bed once and for all. This has really gone on long enough and I see no reason for further delay.

“It’s difficult to sympathise with Coun Goodway, however, who appears to have found himself in a position all of his own making. Frankly the whole sorry affair is distracting people from the real issue at hand; that of public bodies effectively nationalising the office stock in Wales.”

Coun Goodway, however, said far from being “hung out to dry”, he was grateful that Mrs Hart had “protected” his position on the issue.

Coun Goodway said he’d always stated the letter was marked “commercial in confidence” and he had received advice from the council’s chief executive that it was not his place to release it.

“I have done entirely the right thing and acted on advice from the council’s chief executive,” Coun Goodway said. “I think that my position has been vindicated throughout and I hope that those people who have tried to force me to do something I was not in a position to do will apologise.”

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