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Thursday, October 4, 2012

River Lodge issue goes under microscope again

* The derelict former River Lodge.

The facts behind the Welsh Government’s acquisition and action to dispose of the former River Lodge in Llangollen will go under the official microscope again next week. 

The Welsh Assembly’s powerful Public Accounts Committee will discuss the controversial issue when it meets in public at Llangollen Pavilion at 1pm next Monday (October 8). 

The committee will take evidence from government officials involved in the £1.6 million acquisition five years ago and from Powys Fadog, the organisation which had planned to use the building to house a community project. 

As part of a high-level Assembly’s inquiry, the issue was last discussed by the committee at its meeting in July, with the details being reported at the time by llanblogger

At that session, Wales’ top civil servant has admitted the way the Welsh Government handled the purchase was a “sorry story”. 

Through the now defunct Welsh Development Agency, the 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 hotel 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 earlier this year to the publication of a critical report by the independent Welsh Audit Office. 

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

Dame Gillian Morgan, Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Government and head of the civil service in Wales, told the committee’s July session:  “There is more information on this issue than anything else. 

“This was unsafe all the way through from beginning to end.  

“There should have been enough alarm bells ringing for people to say ‘stop this’ but that didn’t happen.

“This is indefensible … this is something that is a sorry story and we should not be in this position.”
AMs also quizzed officials giving evidence to the committee on what was now likely to happen to River Lodge. 

James Price, the Welsh Government’s Director General for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, explained there were ongoing discussions about the possible acquisition of River Lodge by the local Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board 

Mr Price said the health board was the only organisation to so far an express an interest in River Lodge. 

At the end of an hour’s debate on the issue, committee chairman Darren Miller AM said it would come back before members when they return after the summer recess and that he would been having further correspondence about it with Dame Gillian.

Mr Millar said this week: “Following the publication of the report by the Wales Audit Office into the sale of River Lodge Hotel the National Assembly for Wales’s Public Accounts Committee decided to conduct its own inquiry.

“The Wales Audit Office’s report states that the hotel’s purchase price was not supported by a valuation, that the Welsh Government paid more than the property was worth, and at the time of purchase had not undertaken a robust assessment of risk. This is very concerning.

“We intend to establish the chain of events surrounding this purchase and decisions around its disposal, and ensure processes are on place to avoid it happening again.”

Further meetings are planned on the issue over the next month or so, according to the Welsh Assembly.

Assembly officials advise booking in advance to have a seat at the meeting by calling 0845 0105500, or emailing



    Please follow the link above to see the Permanent Scretary's reasons for taking away Powys Fadogs funding,so keeping the building empty,and ultimately bringing about the threat of the local hospital closing....

  2. This is my statement given to the Public accounts Committee....