Ebbw Vale racetrack getting 'illegal' state aid - Silverstone

SUBSIDY ROW: The Circuit of Wales plan for Ebbw Vale

'DISAPPOINTED': Michael Carrick

First published in News
Last updated

A ROW has blown up over plans for a motor racing circuit in Ebbw Vale, with claims from top racetrack Silverstone it could be being funded by illegal state aid.

Silverstone Circuits Limited has written to the Prime Minister asking for clarification of financial support for the Ebbw Vale Circuit of Wales project.

There have been reports that public money could be put into the circuit, possibly via the Welsh Assembly.

However, a statement from Silverstone said its bid for financial support to secure the future of Formula 1's British Grand Prix was denied on the basis that this would be classed as illegal state aid.

"Silverstone has been advised that an injection of funds by the Welsh and/or UK governments to the Circuit of Wales project could also amount to illegal state aid, as a transfer of state resources would give Circuit of Wales an economic and selective advantage over other circuits (and developments)," said the statement.

"There are currently a number of well-established, privately-funded circuits in the UK, including Wales, that feel that the British motor sport industry would be threatened by the addition of a government-funded circuit.

"Silverstone has no objection to competition between UK circuits, but it has to be a level playing field.

"Silverstone reiterates that it is sympathetic to the economic situation in Ebbw Vale, but motor sport at circuit level is not particularly profitable and is often loss making. Many UK circuits are under-utilised and struggle for revenue. It is unrealistic to suggest Circuit of Wales will be the exception."

A spokesman for the Circuit of Wales said that it was "important to note" that the Circuit of Wales is located in one of the poorest areas of the country and as such it qualifies for support in encouraging economic activity. Any application for support, once made, will be fully appraised in line with existing policy and procedure.

Michael Carrick CEO of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, commented: “We are disappointed to have heard of the content of this letter, it sounds like Silverstone is resistant to investment within the automotive sector which is vital to its continued growth and development in the UK. The suggestion of 'illegal state aid' made by Silverstone also highlights they do not understand the basic process of applying for state funding of this nature.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Apart from an initial grant to fund the early stages of project development there has been no request or offer for any funding support for this project.”

Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith added it wouldn’t be fair if assistance for the Circuit of Wales was stymied by the self interest of Silverstone.

He said: “The objection from Silverstone for possible state funding for the Circuit of Wales feels a bit like the pot calling the kettle black”, he said.

“In recent years Silverstone has received much UK Government and Local Government financial support for their development.”

“The last government provided £8m to speed up construction of the A43 bypass to help ease congestion near the Silverstone circuit.

“Northamptonshire County Council loaned the motor racing group £13m in 2010 to help it update the facility including track and pit lane, and are currently providing a £1.5m investment to help rollout the Silverstone Masterplan (including Park and Ride).

“Meanwhile, a Government-funded programme announced in 2011 allowed Silverstone to house a University Technical College to train hundreds for a career in motorsport.

“Any further funding for the Circuit of Wales from the UK or Welsh Governments should be treated on its own merits and receive due diligence by the minister responsible for funding.

“What wouldn’t be fair would be if assistance for the Circuit of Wales were stymied by the self interest of a competitor such as Silverstone.”

A spokesman for No.10 Downing Street confirmed that they had received the letter, but did not give a response to it on Thursday afternoon.

Comments (16)

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5:21pm Mon 24 Mar 14

Magor says...

WAG like spending money on strips of tarmac.
WAG like spending money on strips of tarmac. Magor
  • Score: 3

5:37pm Mon 24 Mar 14

davidcp says...

Not just WAG. Torfaen must have found a box of money because depsite the cust they've started planting new kerbs and crossing lights all over Llanyravon and other parts of Cwmbran JUST before the end of the financial year.

Mainly where they've managed without them since 1961.

STILL don't understand how they have to make 20% cuts but my council tax went UP. Will someone explain the maths, please?
Not just WAG. Torfaen must have found a box of money because depsite the cust they've started planting new kerbs and crossing lights all over Llanyravon and other parts of Cwmbran JUST before the end of the financial year. Mainly where they've managed without them since 1961. STILL don't understand how they have to make 20% cuts but my council tax went UP. Will someone explain the maths, please? davidcp
  • Score: 2

6:49pm Mon 24 Mar 14

Mervyn James says...

They want £50m off the welsh government to get this going, and they won't say who is vying for the site and development, they are trying it on aint they ! Even the Assembly cannot be so stupid as to hand them anything. 6,000 jobs mooted, the most would be 1,000 and there is no commitment from the sports area they will adopt the site for race-going. It looks like a get rich quick scheme for someone better off selling dodgy time-shares...
They want £50m off the welsh government to get this going, and they won't say who is vying for the site and development, they are trying it on aint they ! Even the Assembly cannot be so stupid as to hand them anything. 6,000 jobs mooted, the most would be 1,000 and there is no commitment from the sports area they will adopt the site for race-going. It looks like a get rich quick scheme for someone better off selling dodgy time-shares... Mervyn James
  • Score: -1

7:14pm Mon 24 Mar 14

Magor says...

davidcp wrote:
Not just WAG. Torfaen must have found a box of money because depsite the cust they've started planting new kerbs and crossing lights all over Llanyravon and other parts of Cwmbran JUST before the end of the financial year.

Mainly where they've managed without them since 1961.

STILL don't understand how they have to make 20% cuts but my council tax went UP. Will someone explain the maths, please?
There always seems to be money to spend on what they want.I notice in Caerleon there are 20mph signs all over the place.
[quote][p][bold]davidcp[/bold] wrote: Not just WAG. Torfaen must have found a box of money because depsite the cust they've started planting new kerbs and crossing lights all over Llanyravon and other parts of Cwmbran JUST before the end of the financial year. Mainly where they've managed without them since 1961. STILL don't understand how they have to make 20% cuts but my council tax went UP. Will someone explain the maths, please?[/p][/quote]There always seems to be money to spend on what they want.I notice in Caerleon there are 20mph signs all over the place. Magor
  • Score: -1

7:20pm Mon 24 Mar 14

kenny john says...

Are silverstone worried??? Not too sure whether circuit of wales is to be a success, however they are trying to bring investment into south east wales, thats a good start for me. If it goes ahead it will be a massive coup and may well show the owners of other tracks that they have obsolete tracks and have not moved with times. Best of luck to the circuit and i hope it succeeds for wales.
Are silverstone worried??? Not too sure whether circuit of wales is to be a success, however they are trying to bring investment into south east wales, thats a good start for me. If it goes ahead it will be a massive coup and may well show the owners of other tracks that they have obsolete tracks and have not moved with times. Best of luck to the circuit and i hope it succeeds for wales. kenny john
  • Score: 16

7:25pm Mon 24 Mar 14

Valrep says...

Michael Carrick needs to put his money where his mouth is. Blaenau Gwent need to approve the planning and allow the building to commence, as it is then and only then that the various motor sport bodies take a seriously look at the project. Once all this is sorted then is the time for Carrick to ask for help from the WAG.
Michael Carrick needs to put his money where his mouth is. Blaenau Gwent need to approve the planning and allow the building to commence, as it is then and only then that the various motor sport bodies take a seriously look at the project. Once all this is sorted then is the time for Carrick to ask for help from the WAG. Valrep
  • Score: 0

8:27pm Mon 24 Mar 14

scraptheWAG says...

cannt see it taking off another **** up by the WAG
cannt see it taking off another **** up by the WAG scraptheWAG
  • Score: -7

8:56pm Mon 24 Mar 14

-trigg- says...

The insane amount of money being spent on this track could be better spent on scrapping the bridge toll Wales entry fee.

That would provide a substantial and sustained economic boost for the whole of South Wales, far in excess of the pie in the sky 6000 being quoted.
The insane amount of money being spent on this track could be better spent on scrapping the bridge toll Wales entry fee. That would provide a substantial and sustained economic boost for the whole of South Wales, far in excess of the pie in the sky 6000 being quoted. -trigg-
  • Score: 6

9:00pm Mon 24 Mar 14

stevey says...

Mervyn James wrote:
They want £50m off the welsh government to get this going, and they won't say who is vying for the site and development, they are trying it on aint they ! Even the Assembly cannot be so stupid as to hand them anything. 6,000 jobs mooted, the most would be 1,000 and there is no commitment from the sports area they will adopt the site for race-going. It looks like a get rich quick scheme for someone better off selling dodgy time-shares...
Facts are £30m off Welsh Gov. and £20m off Westminster actually Merv.
They cannot say who is vying for the partnership/sponsors
hip etc due to commercial etiquette. This is a penny in the pot compared to HS2 so mean minded people can nit-pick but it is really nothing,with the potential of let's settle on 1,000 jobs not 6,000 I think it is still value with what it could bring in the future. This IS the most deprived area in the country and without investment, whether it is this or some future project, then there will never be jobs, hope or any fabric ever to build upon.
All I see here is untruths and misinformation and criticism for no real or honourable reason, clear cut case of too much time with too many opinions and access to a computer........dead
ly and stupid combination.
[quote][p][bold]Mervyn James[/bold] wrote: They want £50m off the welsh government to get this going, and they won't say who is vying for the site and development, they are trying it on aint they ! Even the Assembly cannot be so stupid as to hand them anything. 6,000 jobs mooted, the most would be 1,000 and there is no commitment from the sports area they will adopt the site for race-going. It looks like a get rich quick scheme for someone better off selling dodgy time-shares...[/p][/quote]Facts are £30m off Welsh Gov. and £20m off Westminster actually Merv. They cannot say who is vying for the partnership/sponsors hip etc due to commercial etiquette. This is a penny in the pot compared to HS2 so mean minded people can nit-pick but it is really nothing,with the potential of let's settle on 1,000 jobs not 6,000 I think it is still value with what it could bring in the future. This IS the most deprived area in the country and without investment, whether it is this or some future project, then there will never be jobs, hope or any fabric ever to build upon. All I see here is untruths and misinformation and criticism for no real or honourable reason, clear cut case of too much time with too many opinions and access to a computer........dead ly and stupid combination. stevey
  • Score: 2

9:46pm Mon 24 Mar 14

Calon_Lan says...

Funny enough Silverstone's contract with Moto GP is due to end this year after a disastrous five years. Moto GP say that they are glad to get out and even if a racetrack isn't available in Ebbw Vale for the 2015 season then they are willing to wait a year and transfer to Donnington in the interim, but they will definitely not go back to Silverstone. They cite a lack of infrastructure, a lack of power, and not enough space in the paddocks for support races and hospitalities. All in all not fit for pupose - rather fit for knocking down. It's a shame that this information comes not from The Argus but from Germany, it's a shame that German journalists are able to blow Silverstone's cover once and for all but Gwent journalists are not.
Aside from these details, if this investment doesn't go ahead who exactly will benefit? The only answer I can come up with is no-one, and that I'm afraid is simply not good enough. Blaenau Gwent deserves a break, the private investment outweighs the public by a factor of 6 and I for one would rather the government spend it on jobs than unemployment benefit.
Funny enough Silverstone's contract with Moto GP is due to end this year after a disastrous five years. Moto GP say that they are glad to get out and even if a racetrack isn't available in Ebbw Vale for the 2015 season then they are willing to wait a year and transfer to Donnington in the interim, but they will definitely not go back to Silverstone. They cite a lack of infrastructure, a lack of power, and not enough space in the paddocks for support races and hospitalities. All in all not fit for pupose - rather fit for knocking down. It's a shame that this information comes not from The Argus but from Germany, it's a shame that German journalists are able to blow Silverstone's cover once and for all but Gwent journalists are not. Aside from these details, if this investment doesn't go ahead who exactly will benefit? The only answer I can come up with is no-one, and that I'm afraid is simply not good enough. Blaenau Gwent deserves a break, the private investment outweighs the public by a factor of 6 and I for one would rather the government spend it on jobs than unemployment benefit. Calon_Lan
  • Score: 9

9:59pm Mon 24 Mar 14

pettsy says...

Nobody bat an eyelid when Cardiff City centre got the go ahead for , ooh , let's see....Saint David's shopping complex, the Millennium Theater , The Richard Burton Theater Cardiff Bay , A 15 Million pound library , the Welsh Assembly, etc....etc.....But when Ebbw Vale gets something in the pipeline ,all hell breaks loose .If the racetrack was earmarked for Cardiff City Center it would be half finished by now .
Nobody bat an eyelid when Cardiff City centre got the go ahead for , ooh , let's see....Saint David's shopping complex, the Millennium Theater , The Richard Burton Theater Cardiff Bay , A 15 Million pound library , the Welsh Assembly, etc....etc.....But when Ebbw Vale gets something in the pipeline ,all hell breaks loose .If the racetrack was earmarked for Cardiff City Center it would be half finished by now . pettsy
  • Score: 13

9:07am Tue 25 Mar 14

Floppy backed says...

Only those who watched week in week out can comment and proves that WAG have done absolutely no due Diligence - no risk assessment. Its pie in the sky if you listened the the investors in the city - you always mention your investors as it brings in more the reason why Carrick wont mention them because they dont exist! The amount of hot air thats being circulated up the valleys is disgusting, training schemes to give youngsters jobs - what jobs? If it does get built it will be in debt - fact. If so any white elephant to go with the airport - all nicely paid by the tax payers!
Only those who watched week in week out can comment and proves that WAG have done absolutely no due Diligence - no risk assessment. Its pie in the sky if you listened the the investors in the city - you always mention your investors as it brings in more the reason why Carrick wont mention them because they dont exist! The amount of hot air thats being circulated up the valleys is disgusting, training schemes to give youngsters jobs - what jobs? If it does get built it will be in debt - fact. If so any white elephant to go with the airport - all nicely paid by the tax payers! Floppy backed
  • Score: -1

11:35am Tue 25 Mar 14

Cymru Am Beth says...

Magor wrote:
davidcp wrote:
Not just WAG. Torfaen must have found a box of money because depsite the cust they've started planting new kerbs and crossing lights all over Llanyravon and other parts of Cwmbran JUST before the end of the financial year.

Mainly where they've managed without them since 1961.

STILL don't understand how they have to make 20% cuts but my council tax went UP. Will someone explain the maths, please?
There always seems to be money to spend on what they want.I notice in Caerleon there are 20mph signs all over the place.
Yes and loads of deep b****y potholes.
[quote][p][bold]Magor[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]davidcp[/bold] wrote: Not just WAG. Torfaen must have found a box of money because depsite the cust they've started planting new kerbs and crossing lights all over Llanyravon and other parts of Cwmbran JUST before the end of the financial year. Mainly where they've managed without them since 1961. STILL don't understand how they have to make 20% cuts but my council tax went UP. Will someone explain the maths, please?[/p][/quote]There always seems to be money to spend on what they want.I notice in Caerleon there are 20mph signs all over the place.[/p][/quote]Yes and loads of deep b****y potholes. Cymru Am Beth
  • Score: -2

12:15pm Tue 25 Mar 14

varteg1 says...

What gets to me is, when a small opencast proposal is vaunted, Sargent turns it down out of hand despite it being approved after an Assembly appointed inspector, with a mass of scientific and environmental evidence favouring it proceeding, his excuse being a guideline exclusion zone of 500 metres.

Yet here we are having a discussion on a massive earth moving project that will, without doubt, raise up immense levels of dust and cause disturbance for far more than that small opencast scheme. being approved by that same minister and the Assembly, with far more people, and even food factories well within that same 500 mtre zone, but I suppose the fact it may be an ongoing thing with massive levels of noise, vehicular traffic and atmospheric pollution from powerful racing machines whenever a meet is on, some how means it is less of a problem than the opencast I mentioned.

I wonder if Sargent is a motor racing fan?

I know one thing, if he is or not, by allowing this project to go ahead, he and the Assembly are bloody hypocrites.
What gets to me is, when a small opencast proposal is vaunted, Sargent turns it down out of hand despite it being approved after an Assembly appointed inspector, with a mass of scientific and environmental evidence favouring it proceeding, his excuse being a guideline exclusion zone of 500 metres. Yet here we are having a discussion on a massive earth moving project that will, without doubt, raise up immense levels of dust and cause disturbance for far more than that small opencast scheme. being approved by that same minister and the Assembly, with far more people, and even food factories well within that same 500 mtre zone, but I suppose the fact it may be an ongoing thing with massive levels of noise, vehicular traffic and atmospheric pollution from powerful racing machines whenever a meet is on, some how means it is less of a problem than the opencast I mentioned. I wonder if Sargent is a motor racing fan? I know one thing, if he is or not, by allowing this project to go ahead, he and the Assembly are bloody hypocrites. varteg1
  • Score: 0

2:05pm Tue 25 Mar 14

Explainitplease says...

But its ok for Silverstone to receive millions of pounds from the lottery.
Agree its all pie in the sky ie. never gonna happen because its just not in the right place, but for Silverstone to throw their toys out of the pram is just childish. (see what i did there?)
But its ok for Silverstone to receive millions of pounds from the lottery. Agree its all pie in the sky ie. never gonna happen because its just not in the right place, but for Silverstone to throw their toys out of the pram is just childish. (see what i did there?) Explainitplease
  • Score: 0

6:31pm Tue 25 Mar 14

varteg1 says...

Magor wrote:
WAG like spending money on strips of tarmac.
I am unsure about that, unless you refer to the dualling of the Heads of the Valleys road, a necessary project but only partially completed to date.

Most roads I travel on these days appear to be rapidly reverting to the status of farm tracks. My own little road has not been dressed for over forty five years, despite a promise 20 years ago it was to be done the following year.
I am minded to say though, irrespective of the Assembly ( I refuse to call it 'government') this has probably been the case long before the Assembly came in to being and a great deal of whatever work is being done to our roads is in the remit of both the Local authorities and the Highways agency, so it may not be too accurate to slate the Assembly, useless as it seems to be, for shortcomings that are not in it's remit never mind agenda.
[quote][p][bold]Magor[/bold] wrote: WAG like spending money on strips of tarmac.[/p][/quote]I am unsure about that, unless you refer to the dualling of the Heads of the Valleys road, a necessary project but only partially completed to date. Most roads I travel on these days appear to be rapidly reverting to the status of farm tracks. My own little road has not been dressed for over forty five years, despite a promise 20 years ago it was to be done the following year. I am minded to say though, irrespective of the Assembly ( I refuse to call it 'government') this has probably been the case long before the Assembly came in to being and a great deal of whatever work is being done to our roads is in the remit of both the Local authorities and the Highways agency, so it may not be too accurate to slate the Assembly, useless as it seems to be, for shortcomings that are not in it's remit never mind agenda. varteg1
  • Score: 0

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