Despite the lack of sunshine, The Wye Valley River Festival got off to a good start on Friday and I was delighted to join the 10th birthday celebrations on Monnow Bridge in Monmouth. Many people behind the scenes on the festival committee had obviously worked hard to make it happen, alongside support from Monmouth Town Council and Monmouthshire County Council. Some of the funding came from the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, which was set up post-Brexit to replace the old EU structural funds and means all parts of Wales can now get access to a pot of money through the local authorities. This unique cross-border arts and environment festival runs until 12 May and you can check out what’s on at

 Last week I reported how new First Minister Vaughan Gething had received donations totalling £200,000 for his successful Welsh Labour leadership campaign from an environmental group whose main director and owner had been given two suspended prison sentences for dumping toxic sludge in the Gwent Levels. A subsidiary of that group also received a £400,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales (DBW), which is wholly owned by the Labour Welsh Government.

It now transpires another £25,000 was given towards the leadership campaign from a taxi company which is being sued by drivers for failing to pay the minimum wage. Apart from the willingness of the First Minister to accept controversial donations like this, it does raise serious questions about the decisions being made by DBW – not least because it is funded using taxpayers’ money. According to its latest annual accounts, the bank made a loss of £62m in 2022-23. In the previous financial year, the loss was over £28m.

Deciding to invest in a company is a tricky decision and you either need to understand the sector well or be doing it in partnership with somebody who does. Looking through the accounts, our taxpayer-funded bank instead appears to be following a high-risk investment strategy where it is simply buying up 100 per cent shares in a variety of companies. Each do a diverse range of things and do not publish profit or loss accounts because of their relatively small size. Taxpayers therefore have no idea of knowing if these companies are actually doing any business. I fear these losses are just the beginning and there are more to follow, which is why I am suggesting the Senedd’s Public Accounts Committee launches an urgent inquiry.