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Monday, February 18, 2013

River Lodge's future questioned by llanblogger



* The fate of the former River Lodge has been questioned by llanblogger.

Llangollen’s derelict River Lodge is not for sale on the open market, with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB)  having an option to buy the property from the Welsh Government. 

These two facts are confirmed in the response to a Freedom of Information request submitted last month by llanblogger.  

The lodge – also known as the former Woodlands Hotel – on the A539, has been at the centre of a long-running row over its future. 

And it has most recently been mentioned as the possible site for a new health centre where some of the services lost by the imminent closure of the town’s Cottage Hospital could be relocated. 

Through the now defunct Welsh Development Agency, the Welsh Government bought the building on the banks of the River Dee at the gateway to the town in 2007.  

Sole purpose of the deal was to facilitate a community project by Powys Fadog.  

But the development never went ahead and following a series of vandal attacks the property now lies empty and derelict after costing the taxpayer a considerable amount of money.  

The saga has sparked major criticisms of the part played by the government and led last year to the publication of a critical report by the independent Welsh Audit Office.  

That report described the government’s decision to purchase River Lodge as“flawed” and said it had “represented poor value for money”.  

Two sessions of the Welsh Assembly’s powerful public accounts committee – one held in Llangollen Pavilion last October – have since taken evidence on the circumstances of the acquisition and attempts to dispose of the property. 

In our FoI request, llanblogger asked the following questions: 

1.      Is the property still in the ownership of the Welsh Government?

2.      Is the property currently up for sale or disposal by any other means?

3.      Is the Welsh Government currently in negotiation with any party, private or

corporate, regarding the acquisition of the property?

4.      If up for sale, what is its current asking price for the property and how does this compare to the sum originally paid for it by the former Welsh Development Agency?

5.      Is the Welsh Government currently in negotiations with the Betsi Cadwaladr

University Health Board about the property's potential sale to the board?

6.      If negotiations are taking place between the Welsh Government and the Betsi

Cadwaladr University Health Board, at what stage are these negotiations? 

In the reply, received today (Monday), a Welsh Government official says: “For
question 1, I can confirm that the property is still in the ownership of the Welsh
Government.
 
“For your remaining questions, I can advise that the property is not up for
sale on the open market and as such there is no open market asking price. 

“The Welsh Government has recently entered into an option agreement with Betsi
Cadwaladr University Health Board for them to purchase the site.”

This is confirmed by a notice on the Welsh Government website from August 2012, whixch says: “The Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science has been asked to approve the granting of an Option for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to purchase River Lodge, Llangollen, the property having been offered to the public sector in accordance with the National Asset Transfer Protocol.”
Llanblogger is currently awaiting a response to a seperate FoI request submitted to the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board last month about its intentions for River Lodge.

1 comment:

  1. Monday must be FOI day at Welsh Government for River Lodge. Had part of my FOI back today, details of over 18 meetings between Welsh Government and Betsi about acquiring the site, going back to early 2010. Powys Fadog having an option to lease the site described as a 'big problem'. Lots more on the way in the post apparently. Complete stitch up this one.

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