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Thursday, February 5, 2015

First Minister grilled over River Lodge case

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has this week challenged First Minister Carwyn Jones over the conduct of the Welsh Government in relation to the Llangollen River Lodge case.
Mr Isherwood has previously accused the Welsh Government of “hiding” the truth about the case and this week he raised new developments in the Assembly Chamber.
He said: “For the second time, the Welsh Government has been taken to the Information Rights Tribunal in the Llangollen River Lodge case, and for the second time, the Welsh Government has lost.
"Your Welsh Government classed the request for information to or from you, to or from Edwina Hart, and to or from Jane Hutt as vexatious, but despite appointing top London barristers at huge public cost, the Tribunal found that, in all the circumstances, the request was not vexatious.
“We already know from previous documentation obtained, that the Welsh Government did apply inappropriate political pressure on the health board to locate a health centre in a completely inappropriate place. What else are you trying to cover up?”
The First Minister replied: “So, we know the Conservatives are against the health centre in Llangollen. That’s what he’s just said. So, we’ll note that one.
“The allegations he made are nonsense, of course. Can I remind him of this? Of the requests that we receive, only 0.2% end up with information being released, despite our original position—0.29%, actually. I have to say that, in terms of compliance, our rate is better than the UK Government, far better than Northern Ireland, and streets better than Scotland.
"So, when it comes to compliance and considering Freedom of Information Act requests, we are in a very good place. There will be occasions such as this, of course, where, despite the Information Commissioner agreeing with us, the tribunal does not agree. That is something, of course, that happens from time to time, in Government.”
Mr Isherwood added: “This Tribunal judgement raises very serious questions about the conduct and motives of this Welsh Government. Residents have expressed to me their concerns that  Llangollen’s new health centre on this site will lack beds and minor injuries provision, whilst creating a pinch point on the road which will affect traffic and needing a costly bridge over the Dee.” 

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