Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The 'Wellness' Village; The cost escalates

With the news dominated by stories of our A & E departments at breaking point, patients in corridors for hours etc etc and our NHS in general facing huge funding issues a disturbing snippet emerged from some recent scrutiny minutes concerning our council's foray into private health care. 

Wendy Walters, an Assistant Chief Executive (we have two of those, and a Deputy Chief Executive) informed the committee that the cost, or 'investment' as the council prefers to call it, for the 'very very exciting' 'Wellness Village' proposed for Delta Lakes, Llanelli is now £200m. 

This is twice the £100m estimate from last summer, but, she says, £127m is 'anticipated' to come from the private sector. I'm guessing no one's got a clue how much it will cost. And even if private investment materialises, that still leaves at least £70m. 

For background to this project, which is Chaired by Meryl Gravell as part of the ARCH collaboration programme and led by Carmarthenshire Council, (well, Meryl and Mark), please see my post from August; Wellness Centre - or a luxury spa? and Cneifiwr's post Merylmania - return of the undead from June. 
Otherwise, please google, there's some spectacular 'Wellness' life-coaching jargon out there.

With the £7m put by for a new Llanelli care home, and a £3m pot for repairs both being funnelled into this public/private venture it's time for some serious questions to be asked. The Welsh Government has already stumped up a couple of million for scoping exercises and consultants reports. 
Fortunately, Ms Walters has offered to arrange a seminar on the project for all councillors. This will be for their information only of course as the Chief Executive has already declared that councillors will not be making the decisions. 

So before councillors get swept away by motivational, 'futurist' conceptual b******s, and a '3D architectural visualisation' of how the vision in white might look, perhaps they should consider doing a bit of research and asking a few pertinent questions;

For example;

1. Doesn't a decision to funnel public resources into private health care fly in the face of moral and political commitment to preserve and invest in the NHS?

2. Given the financial crisis currently faced by the two health boards, the county council and the Welsh Government, where is the £70m coming from?

3. How exactly will this benefit the people of south west Wales? Would they not prefer Carmarthenshire's public money was 'invested' in helping our hospitals, extra staff for A & E perhaps, rather than meditation rooms and conference suites? Have they been asked?

4. How much of this project is based on the conceptual ideology of the Global Wellness Institute, the promotion of luxury 'health and beauty tourism' and alternative therapies?

5. Who exactly are the private investors coughing up the 'anticipated' £127m? 

6. Will this be another Parc y Scarlets, bleeding the taxpayer dry for years to come? Or even another Welsh Government Technium Project, defunct after ten years? 

7. How much taxpayers' money has already been spent? Including the value of the land?

Visualisation from ARCH
A wholly private enterprise would be a different matter but this involves public cash and at the very least, and given the current crisis in health and social care, never mind the highly questionable track record of County Hall vanity projects, the involvement of the County Council should be open to scrutiny, challenge and democratic oversight. 

4 comments:

Myfanwy said...

I heartily agree with every word you've written and am appalled by the whole concept. It appears to be yet another flagrant waste of taxpayers' money at a time when we are told that there are not the resources to fund basic health and social care. Why, oh why, can't the council get its priorities right instead of splashing cash around on yet another vanity project which will be of no benefit to anyone on the lengthening waiting lists for routine surgery or needing help to get dressed, washed and fed in their own homes? I despair.

Anonymous said...

Again unbelievable arrogance on the part of very senior officers.Councillors are really badly equipt in dealing with people who are hell-bent in doing exactly as they please.It used to be called " Empire building"

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of our councillors have shown themselves completely and utterly unequipped to carry out the basic function of councillors and that is to look after the interests (and money!) of the people who elect them in the first place.
Come the next local elections, I, for one will not vote for any councillor seeking re-election as the have virtuAlly all shown themselves completely unfitted to carry out the duties of representing their electorate PROPERLY - one gets the feeling that most of them are in it for themselves and the hugely over-generous allowances and expenses they receive. The should ALL bve places "ON THE DOLE"!

Anonymous said...

The usual moans and groans are a sad indictment on what is a wonderful opportunity for Llanelli, putting it at the forefront of a better way of living and bringing much needed, high quality jobs to the area. Llanelli is a woefully low-wage,low-aspiration economy. The development portrayed will act as a magnet for further investment in the area. Who could have thought, 25 years ago, that Llanelli would turn from an ugly duckling, from which anyone with an ounce of talent could only think about leaving for somewhere better, into a town which has a much brighter and better future. The town is changing and attitudes need to change to reflect that.