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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Row over hospital's fate rumbles on

A LANGOLLEN campaigner claims a question mark still hangs over the ownership of the town’s former Cottage Hospital despite moves to demolish the building to make way for social housing.
* The shuttered former Cottage Hospital.
A planning application is pending for the Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd housing association to build a number of six new homes on the site of the Victorian hospital in Abbey Road plus a further six on the car park opposite.
But Martin Crumpton, who led strong local opposition to the closure of the 137-year-old hospital by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board last year, says he believes behind the scenes discussions are still going over the ownership of the empty building.
And he says these talks hinge on a deed of dedication – originally thought to have been a covenenant - one vital clause of which is said to stipulate that the building must revert to the Vivod Estate, a large landowner in the area, which originally donated the building to the people of Llangollen, if it is no longer being used as a hospital.
Mr Crumpton says he has submitted two Freedom of Information requests to the health board for details of legal arrangement, neither of which have been answered.  
But, after making his own investigation, he claims he now knows why he received no official response from the board.   
He said: “The requests should have been answered in 20 days but two months on and I’m still waiting for a response.
“All I’ve had has been obfuscation, prevarication, nonsense requests for further clarification - anything but an answer.
“In the latest letter from Dr Peter Higson, the chair of Betsi Cadwaladr, they’re still denying any knowledge of a covenant on the Cottage Hospital and the well-known reversion clause that says it must revert to the Vivod Estate in the event it’s no longer used as a hospital.
“But now I know why. Technically, it turns out that it’s not a covenant. It’s a deed of dedication, and it does have the famous reversion clause.
“I believe that Betsi Cadwaladr, who had always assumed they owned the hospital outright, are now negotiating a settlement over the deed of dedication.”
Mr Crumpton added: “We getting sold out on the Cottage Hospital, and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is operating clandestinely when they’ve promised in front of the Public Accounts Committee to be open and transparent.
“How on earth can Denbighshire’s planning committee even consider an application for the hospital site when ownership hasn’t been established?”
Mr Crumpton says this is a question he will put to Graham Boase,  Denbighshire’s head of planning and public protection, when he has a pre-arranged meeting with him on August 13.

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