New Health Minister and Wrecsam’s Labour AM Lesley Griffiths has refused to meet the head of a social enterprise looking to establish a health and well being/cultural centre in Llangollen. The Minister sent a response back to Mr Pol Wong of Powys Fadog Community Development Centre following a meeting request to simply state 'The Minister declines your request', no further explanation was given.
The Powys Fadog centre has been the subject of a plethora of questions to Ministers and AMs, along with calls for a public enquiry to the First Minister Carwyn Jones due to scandalous and unexplained blocks in getting the project off the ground. The group had raised funds for the centre back January 2010, when suddenly the project was stopped by the Permanent Secretary of Wales Gillian Morgan without explanation. Since that time the group have been trying to get to the bottom of what happened but to date, over 16 months later, there has still been no explanation from WAG. With repeated calls from former Clwyd South AM Karen Sinclair for investigations and audits into the project, along with demands for a health centre on the site instead of the Powys Fadog project, Mr Wong felt a meeting with the new Health Minister was both appropriate and urgent. The refusal of the Health Minister to meet Mr Wong follows a previous meeting refusal a year ago by Labours Carl Sargeant, Minister for Social Justice and Regeneration.
The Powys Fadog projects will create up to 30 jobs in Llangollen along with business start ups and training. The project will also be a world class social enterprise that provides preventative health care and remedial therapies through the ancient art of Shaolin Kung Fu. A key objective of the centre will also be a focus on Welsh language and culture, with residential Welsh language courses and cultural tours on offer to both locals and International visitors.
Mr Wong said:
“I’m amazed when we’re in this time of cuts, people losing their jobs and such an emphasis on the strain on our health service, that a project like this is considered not to be part of the Health Ministers portfolio. The incredible thing about this is that the Welsh government has spent a fortune and a ridiculous amount of resources in actually trying to stop the project. However, they are still unable to give a reason why they’re behaving in this way. No body can get any answers from the Welsh government at all. I can find no other way to describe this other than a simple case of discrimination and subsequent cover ups.”
Plaid Cymru's new Assembly Member for North Wales Llyr Huws Gruffydd said:
"I don't understand why the health minister would refuse to meet local people regarding a social enterprise designed to create jobs and improve people's health and wellbeing in the Llangollen area. It suggests that she's already decided against the scheme without listening to both sides of the argument, which is not an encouraging sign from this new government.
"Unfortunately, it's a pattern we've seen before. This scheme has been undermined by some local politicians and Assembly civil servants, despite the potential boost it could also bring in terms of sustainable tourism for the Vale of Llangollen. Given that the building - which is owned by the Welsh Government - is deteriorating on a daily basis, what are Labour ministers doing to bring the old Woodlands Hotel back into use for the benefit of the community?"