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Friday, April 19, 2013

Crucial River Lodge report due out "soon"

* The derelict River Lodge in Llangollen.

The Welsh Assembly’s influential public accounts committee will publish its eagerly-awaited report into the acquisition and subsequent attempts to dispose of the former River Lodge in Llangollen “soon”, according to its chair. 

In response to a query from llanblogger about developments in the long-running saga, Darren Millar AM said earlier this week: “The public accounts committee is planning to publish its report into this matter soon.  

“It will be available on the Assembly website once published.”

The building, on the A539 approach to Llangollen, has been empty for the past few years and has fallen into dereliction.

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 for £1.6 million in 2007.

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

But the development never went ahead and following a series of vandal attacks the hotel now lies empty and vandalised. 

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

The public accounts committee has held a number of hearings into the issue, the latest of which was held at Llangollen Pavilion on October 8 last year.   

At that time the committee heard evidence from Pol Wong, chair and chief executive of Powys Fadog, and Amanda Brewer, a chartered surveyor with the Welsh Government and originally with the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) which was absorbed into the Welsh Government.  

Also giving evidence to the hearing was Gareth Hall, former director of economy and transport at Welsh Government who was head of the department in which Amanda Brewer was employed.  

Pol Wong said this week: “Of course I'm anxiously awaiting the report, after giving evidence that completely refutes the story portrayed by the Government in the Welsh Audit Commission report.”

The site of the River Lodge has been mentioned as a possible location for the new health centre which is due to house some of the services which had been provided at Llangollen Cottage Hospital until its recent closure.

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