‘Loan to finance dragon won’t come from taxpayer’

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

THE man behind plans for an ambitious new regional landmark has stressed a £500,000 government cash boost he is seeking will not be paid for by taxpayers.

Erbistock art dealer Simon Wingett has a vision of creating a 200ft tall tower, topped by a Welsh dragon, on land off the A5 near Chirk.

The £9 million project would also include a cultural centre and landscaped gardens.

He was told by Visit Wales – the tourism arm of the Welsh government – the scheme is eligible for a loan of up of to half a million pounds to get the project started.

He has visited Cardiff to brief officials from the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales.

He said: “It was a very good meeting and I gave them the complete story about the benefits it will bring to the local area and the wider economy of Wales.

“However, I want to make it quite clear that we are not talking about taking taxpayers’ money here.

“What I have applied for is a repayable loan to help kick-start the project.”

Mr Wingett believes the scheme will create nearly 200 jobs and attract an extra £3.5 million a year into Wrexham.

He added: “Officials are now going through my application and I am hoping the final decision of whether we get the money will come before the end of this year.”

Mr Wingett has spent years putting the Waking the Dragon project together in memory of his father, estate agent Frank Wingett, who died from cancer.

He has launched a public appeal to raise the building costs and claims it will bring in £1 million a year for research into the disease.

Wrexham Council has already agreed to sell him the land and last February approved a planning application for the project.

Mr Wingett believes the £500,000 loan would provide a vital incentive for other backers to invest in the project.

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