The leader of Labour in Carmarthenshire has welcomed news that the Wales Audit Office are continuing their investigations into the handling of a grant application for the former Lloyds Bank, in Ammanford.

In April, at an Executive Board Member Decisions Meeting, a decision was made to approve a grant application for redevelopment of the former bank in Quay Street as part of the Ammanford Regeneration Development Fund.

The application was submitted by Andrew Owen, an employee at the council, who received a grant of almost £145,000 to convert the building into accommodation and office space.

The decision to award the grant was taken by Cllr Dole in private at an executive board decision meeting for the leader on April 11.

The information relating to the grant application was deemed to be exempt under the Local Government Act, but the meeting agenda named the applicant and said he was a council employee.

Cllr James said he felt there was a lack of accountability about the decision to award the grant, and claimed that some residential space would be created as part of the bank revamp.

The £300,000 Ammanford Regeneration Development Fund is intended to provide prospects for immediate job creation.

In May, Councillor Rob James, Labour leader in Carmarthenshire, called for an investigation into the matter, which the Wales Audit Office have confirmed is continuing.

Cllr James said: “I am pleased that the Wales Audit Office are continuing to investigate our complaint into the Lloyds Bank grant application.

“We have received a number of queries from those living in the Amman Valley on this matter and I feel that it essential that we ascertain whether public funds were mishandled, whether the applicant has met the criteria for this grant and whether the Leader of the Council has a conflict of interest in granting public funding to individuals that may be connected to him politically.

“I look forward to seeing the Wales Audit Office’s findings into this matter.”

At the time of Mr James’ initial complaint, Plaid council leader Emlyn Dole said the claims made by his rival were “totally outrageous”, and accused him of “blatant political mischief”.

Cllr Dole said he had no idea who the applicant was and therefore did not need to declare any interest.

Economic Development Manager Stuart Walters said: “We have discussed the matter with the Wales Audit Office and have addressed the issues raised by Cllr Rob James. We look forward to receiving the final report and outcome.”