AMs call for inquiry into Llangollen cultural centre project

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

TWO North Wales Assembly members are calling for a public inquiry into the handling of a project to open a cultural centre in Llangollen.

The disused River Lodge hotel was bought by the government in 2007 after the community group Powys Fadog submitted plans to transform the premises into a social enterprise centre, running guided tours and residential courses in Welsh and martial arts.

The group said that this would create up to 30 jobs.

In 2009, the man heading the scheme, Shaolin monk Pol Wong, signed a two-year lease option with the government and says he has so far spent £90,000 on feasibility studies. But the lease option ran out this summer and Mr Wong says the government has now halted the project.

North Wales AMs Llyr Huws Gruffydd and Mark Isherwood have written to First Minister Carwyn Jones asking for a public inquiry into the way the Government has handled the project.

Mr Wong said: “In December 2009 we had negotiated a package with the responsible WAG officers and had appointed contractors to start work.

“However, the project was stopped for some reason.

“The reason we have been given now, after two years, is that we don’t fit with WAG policy and although there is WAG policy making a commitment to tourism, they say that we do not support tourism.

“So WAG has withdrawn its contribution to the funding package because we do not support tourism and the time has run out. I just think this is an absolutely ridiculous conclusion made by highly qualified and highly paid officials.”

Llyr Huws Gruffydd said: “I have written to Edwina Hart, the Minister in charge of the department that owns the building, asking her to review this unfair decision.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “As stipulated in the agreement for lease, signed in June 2009, Powis Fadog had a two-year period in which to demonstrate that it had secured sufficient funding to undertake a detailed programme of repair and improvement works to the property and to pay the rent.

“As they were unable to meet this requirement the Welsh Government has notified Powys Fadog of the termination of the agreement for lease.”

See full story in the Leader

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