Health Minister is accused of turning back on Llangollen developer

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

THE man heading a scheme to turn a former hotel into an international community and learning centre has accused Wales’ new Health Minister of turning her back on him.

Pol Wong, a Shaolin monk and martial arts expert, has spent the past five years working with the Assembly Government on his dream to transform the disused River Lodge on the banks of the River Dee in Mill Street, Llangollen, into a venue for residential courses in all aspects of martial arts training.

Mr Wong and Powys Fadog, the social enterprise organisation he represents, also plan to provide residential Welsh language courses and use the building as a base for guided historical tours and events.

He signed a lease agreement with the Assembly Government, which owns the property, in 2009 and has so far spent £90,000 on feasibility studies.

However, the building has been empty since 2007 while the government makes its mind up about the project’s future.

Mr Wong said despite on-site security patrols the building has been the target of a number of burglaries in the past few years.

In each raid intruders have left a trail of destruction, with ceilings brought down and holes punched in walls apparently so thieves could strip out copper piping.

As Powys Fadog’s lease on the building is due to run out at the end of this month, Mr Wong recently wrote to the new Health Minister, Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths, seeking a meeting to discuss the situation.

But he said: “She refused to meet with me to even discuss the matter.

“She is the Minister for Health and of course the central theme of our project is health and well being.

“Also the fact that she is local is really sad.

“She does not even give a reason for not meeting me.

“I am very disappointed that she has turned her back on a hard working, innovative group of locals.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Mr Wong is already in discussions with the Welsh Government on a range of issues relating to River Lodge, none of which relate directly to the Health Minister’s portfolio.”

See full story in the Leader

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