Friday, 10 June 2011

Health Minister refuses to discuss health project

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?"


Anonymous said...

Isn't Mr Wong a Welsh patriot? We all know that 'Welsh' Labour doesn't like that sort of thing. Anyway, good luck to him and this exciting project.

Anonymous said...

This has the makings of a huge scandal with WAG desperately trying to cover its tracks after spending more than a million buying the building and then wasting a further million by not maintaining it. The officials who have blocked this need to go. The politicians who have left a flagship project fester for years should also go (oh, she has). Lesley Griffiths should not go down the Karen Sinclair line of tribal opposition to a project.

Anonymous said...

labour hate anything to do with the welsh language - simple. The call themselves welsh labour, what a joke. English labour in wales would be more appropriate. Gotta keep those natives in their place

Anonymous said...

There is a need for an enquiry into how Welsh Government officials fucked up here, who screwed the Woodlands and caused thousands of pounds of damage; questions remain unanswered whether this was an inside job to destroy any prospects of it ever being used as a hotel or housing. The next move will be to demolish it and then to build a new Health Centre probably called the Karen Sinclair Medical Centre. Lesley Griffiths knows all this which is why she won't meet with Pol.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We need Jacqui Thompson Caebrwyn up here to find out what's going on; she constantly has one over Carmarthenshire Council so WG officials won't be too much trouble.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the WAG have more sense than to waste time and money on mumbo jumbo health care and remedial therapies with no scientific background. At least a health centre would benefit the whole community. There are plenty of local facilities which Mr Wong can hire to use to practise his Kung Fu.

And as for the comments about the Welsh language, when will plaid and it supporters stop the superiority complex many of them seem to have when comparing themselves to non-Welsh speaking Welsh people or assuming they are English! Not a positive way to promote the language or the culture!

Plaid Whitegate said...

Anon 1542 - you'll struggle to find a comment (Anonymous or otherwise) here that refers to Welsh speakers having a superiority complex.

We tend to file this under Myth 187, next to "I walked into a pub and they also started speaking Welsh" (myth 186) and "It's not a proper language - they haven't got a word for entrepreneur" (myth 188).

Plaid Queensway said...

Looks like this blog post has hit a nerve with someone!

'mumbo jumbo', clearly anon hasn't bothered to look into the scientific research done about Shaolin kung fu practises,or bothered ask about Pol's proven track record improving children and adults health across north east Wales. Another one who likes to shoot their mouth off without bothering with the facts, not related to KS by any chance?

As for the comments about the language, agree, file it under myth 187!

Paul Rogers said...

as a past student of Mr Wong I can assure you the health benefits of his practises are outstanding.How wonderful to open a centre so diverse in such a beautiful town. What an absolute disgrace they (Labour) will not even talk about it.....anti welsh.

Anonymous said...

Typical (Old and New) Labour thinking: they can't take credit for it, so they don't want it to happen.

Pol Wong said...

Anon 1542,You've never heard of the health benefits of Shaolin Kung fu?!Actually I have a proven track record of improving health of young and old in N.Wales for 25 years, including remedying asthma,migraine,child obesity,back troubles. Also there are many studies done by Havard , Hong Kong and Beijing Universities,Berlin University etc...
Your attitude actually mirrors exactly the small number of people who are opposing this project and quite blatently is prejiduce based.
The real problem is the percieved threat coming from the "Welsh stuff".. For your information...

This is a world Class project.World class from a business and economic view ,World Class as a social enterprise and with the added value of being an International centre of excellence.

What plans do WAG have to provide jobs in Llangollen for locals ?,

This project will create 30.

What plans do WAG have to provide much needed childcare facilities in Llangollen?

Part of the building has been set aside to accomadate a creche to enable parents to access affordable childcare and therefore take jobs they wouldn't be able to.This will also provide a training facility for those interested in careers in childcare.

What plans do WAG have to provide business start up and training in Llangollen for locals?

Powys Fadog have advanced plans for the formation of 3 local businesses right off,as well as training for business and employment.

What plans have WAG got for subsidised facilities and activities for the young and older generations ?

PF will turn this derelict building into a community hub for locals of all ages,with facilities for groups, activities,events and services(eg free bus service, meals on wheels,community visits etc)

What plans have WAG to increase out of season tourism in Llangollen?

Powys Fadog will bring thousands of international visitors throughout the year,including 20 000 for 5 days to attend The World Martial Arts games.

Of course the answer to all of these questions is NONE..

This project will deliver all of these and will be a genuine grass roots Welsh cultural/langauge centre.(note- is this" Welsh stuff" bit the problem? Lets see what transpires over the coming weeks...)

The project will be producing well rounded ,healthy,disciplined,respectful and confident individuals with a sense of enviromental and community responsibility.

Incredibly these things were actually being acheived at the site before Pol Wong approached WAG to give him a helping hand and translate what he had been doing on a voluntary basis into a fully sustainable Social Enterprise,since then all this activity has been stopped there.

It is truly laughable when WAG talk about value for money when a small group of top officers and politicians have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds stopping this project .They have spent thousands of pounds preventing information coming out about their behaviour. Even more disgracefully these people are being paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for the privilege!

Also remember the building has been empty for 4 years and has been broken into 6 or 7 times has had burst pipes and the price to re furb has risen from £150k in 2005 to £850k in 2010.

So further thousands of pounds are being spent on security and maintenance of an empty building.(However the security is only called up after break ins,and the maintenance similarly after damage has been done). Of course this is all taxpayers money!

Of course by now Powys Fadog would have been paying £31 000 a year in rent.