Sep 152014
 

The other night I watched Dewi Prysor on S4c, tracking down the Men of the North, telling us of Taliesin’s poetry, visiting the natural fortress of Dumbarton Rock, and trying to establish the relationship between the Picts and the Welsh (or, if you prefer, Brythons / Britons) of southern Scotland and north west England. Worth watching because a Welsh person who knows the history of our people (rather than the history of an area called ‘Wales’) will never regard Scotland as a totally foreign country, and nothing that happens as a result of the referendum will change that.

I’ve tried to explore a little of this history on my recent vists to Scotland. For example, after becoming aware of the separate Scottish version(s) of Merlin / Myrddin I made up my mind to take a detour to the village of Stobo, near Peebles, long associated with the legend. This Merlin is not the advisor and mentor to Arthur but bard to a local ruler named Gwenddoleu, and he was driven insane after witnessing the slaughter at the battle of Arfderydd in 573, becoming the wild man of the woods (Merlin Sylvestris). It’s conceivable of course that this ‘Scottish’ Merlin is the original for the later Welsh or Norman / Breton Merlins.

CLICK TO ENLARGE ANY OF THE STOBO KIRK IMAGES BELOW

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As I say, on one of my trips I promised myself a visit to Stobo, but I missed the turning (the wife was probably nattering). So we drove on and arrived at our destination where, after booking in, I wandered about a bit and found, on land not far from the ruins of the abbey, old headstones, and the first one I read was dedicated to a woman with the surname Stobo. I don’t normally believe in ‘things like that’, but the coincidence did make me pause. And promise myself that I would definitely make the trip to Stobo.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Which is a rather out-of-the-way place, but well worth a detour. Stobo Kirk has some remarkable old stones and a little window showing Myrddin being baptised by Saint Kentigern. Though in Scotland Kentigern is more usually known as Mungo, patron saint and founder of the city of Glasgow. In Welsh he is Cyndeyrn, the founder of Llanelwy (St. Asaph). Not far from Stobo, along the B712, you can find the ‘Altar Stone’ opposite the entrance to Altarstone farm. This, it is said, is where the unbaptised Merlin would practice sacrificial rites and / or where he was baptised by Kentigern. (The rest of the stone may be in Stobo Kirk.) Despite the stories of this Scottish Merlin being confusing, and from a cultural context that has been lost, details were retained that probably meant nothing to those repeating them, especially following the adoption of Christianity. Such as the legend telling of Merlin’s triple death, which is pure Celtic, ritualistic and sacrificial. It was the death suffered by Lindow Man and many others whose remains have been found in peat bogs in Ireland and on the continent.

I’m telling you this to explain the affinity I feel for Scotland, particularly the south. Obviously I am supporting a Yes vote in Thursday’s referendum because as a Welsh nationalist I believe the referendum will have major implications for Wales; but there is another, perhaps atavistic, reason for wishing to see these old Welsh territories free of English rule.

Rosamund Angharad Lloyd headstoneUPDATE 20.09.2014: Something I left out of the original piece (because I didn’t have a photograph to show you) was the intriguing headstone in the graveyard behind the kirk. Having visited Stobo again on my visit to Scotland this week, I can now show you the headstone and explain – as well as I can – who the lady was it commemorates. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Rosamund Angharad Lloyd was of course Welsh; the daughter of an Edward Lloyd of Rhyl, though she appears to have been born at Aberpergwm, near Neath, in 1860. Her mother was (and here I quote): ” . . . Matilda Susannah, only dau. and heiress of Lieut.-Colonel Edward Smyth of Castella, co. Glamorgan, by his wife, Rosamond Matilda Bushe of Burcot, co. Oxford; born 17 February 1818; marr. at St. George’s, Hanover Square, London (by the Rev. Francis Llewelyn Lloyd, B. D., Senior Fellow of St. John’s CollOwain E W Greaves headstoneege, Cambridge), on Thursday, 17 September 1857; marr. 1stly William Williams of Aberpergwm, co. Glamorgan, who died, aged 67, 17 March, and was buried at Aberpergwm 21 March 1855″.

Rosamund Angharad Lloyd was married on St. David’s Day 1881 to Edward Seymour Greaves, who himself had been born in 1849 at Tremadog, one of the Greaves family of Blaenau Ffestiniog slate fame. (You’ll see that Rosamund married twice, the second husband being Lord Henry Grosvenor. The Dukes of Westminster, perhaps the richest landowners in this island, are Grosvenors.) I’m not sure how many children Rosamund and her first husband produced but one was Owain E W Greaves, whose stone is next to that of his mother.

But I still couldn’t understand why mother and son were buried in Stobo kirkyard, for neither of Rosamund’s husbands had any obvious connection with Stobo Castle. Then I ran across this, which told me that, “In 1939 Stobo Castle was bought by Wenefryde Agatha Scott, 10th Countess of Dysart”, obviously the Wenefryde referred to on Owain’s headstone, and presumably buried with him. Since 1978 Stobo Castle has been a luxury health spa.

As I mentioned earlier, the Stobo area is associated with Kentigern / Mungo / Cyndeyrn, who is credited with founding the religious settlement that became the cathedral at Llanelwy / St. Asaph. (See the picture above of the window in Stobo kirk.) When Edward Lloyd died in December 1882 Letters of Administration were granted to his daughter Rosamund by the authorities at St. Asaph cathedral. Small world.

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I say “English rule”, because this referendum has exploded the myth of ‘Britishness’, and if Scotland votes Yes then the very term becomes obsolete. We have, as former Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason has observed, seen the BBC placed on a war footing, casting off all pretence at impartiality and switching to propaganda mode, as if Scotland was Iraq, and Alex Salmond Saddam Hussein. We have heard big banks forecast plagues of locusts, and supermarket chains warn of frogs . . . the oil is running out . . . a nuclear-free Scotland could never join NATO (most members are nuclear free!) . . . Scotland will be offered Devo-max if she says No to independence (the same Devo-max No 10 wouldn’t allow on the ballot paper?) . . . lie after threat after lie. With humour provided by John Prescott, arguing that if Scotland says Yes we’ll never have Team GB to beat the Germans!

Perhaps it’s possible to be even more specific than simply saying ‘English rule’, for what’s really being protected is the interests and prestige of an English elite, one overwhelmingly concentrated in the south. As this report tells us. Judged on wealth, housing, health, crime levels, etc., the 50 most desirable places to live in Britain are all in southern England. Or to put it another way: Of the 50 most desirable places to live in the UK not one is in Wales, Scotland, northern England or Northern Ireland. What an indictment of a state in which we are all supposed to be equal beneficiaries of what it has to offerNigel Dix. Yet as I write this, London politicians and their local lackeys are telling the Scots they would be mad to leave this wonderful UK! They would be mad to stay.

It’s no different in Wales. Our Glorious Leader, Carwyn ‘the veto’ Jones, embarrasses himself every time he opens his mouth. Fortunately, few people in Wales pay him any heed, and none outside Wales. Moving lower down the Labour totem pole, I was struck by a letter in this morning’s Wasting Mule from Councillor Nigel Dix of Caerffili. (Click to enlarge.) Right-on socialist, our Nige; yet he sees no contradiction in lining up with bankers and big business to oppose what he sees as “nationalism”. It seems that Dix is not only unable to recognise propaganda of a very unsubtle kind, but also believes that the only thing driving the Yes campaign is Alex Salmond, the SNP, and ‘nationalism’. Pay attention, Dix! you might learn something. If there is a Yes vote on Thursday it will have been achieved due to Labour voters in Scotland wanting to escape the corruption and inequalities of the UK. Even if the Yes vote falls short of the 50.1% needed, hundreds of thousands of Scottish Labour voters will have defied the Labour leadership, and the party may never see them again. Think about that.

Tomorrow I shall head north; not to campaign or canvass, just to be there and savour the atmosphere of a nation’s re-birth; for make no mistake, nothing will ever be the same again, whatever the outcome of the referendum. Rest assured that I shall have more to say when I return.

AS I SHALL BE AWAY AND UNABLE TO ACCESS MY BLOG I MAY BE SLOW TO APPROVE COMMENTS. AND IF THERE’S A YES VOTE, WELL . . . I COULD TAKE WEEKS TO SOBER UP.

Sep 112014
 

Well I never, WalesEye is being nasty to Jac, again. You may recall that the first attack from that quarter came on September 2nd, and to believe the hysterical rantings it contained, I was about to shipped off to Devil’s Island for being an absolute rotter. Unless, that is, you read the piece carefuWalesEye logolly, for it was all ifs, buts, maybes; quoting  ‘police sources’, ‘An observer’, bloke down the pub, and others, all of them expressing ‘deep concern’, interspersed with statements of mine taken out of context, and vague talk of legislation regarding internet libel. In fact, there was very little specific to me, and nothing concrete about any offence I might have committed. It was, as we experienced bloggers are wont to say, a load of old bollocks. I let it pass without comment, apart from one to a blog post by Y Cneifiwr.

Other than that, my only reaction to this nonsense was to remove WalesEye from my blogroll. So I didn’t pick up on the latest attack on me, or rather, what claimed to be a report about a “botched” police investigation into me and / or my blog . . . an investigation of which I was blissfully ignorant until informed by WalesEye, for North Wales Police have made no contact. It seems that I, and I alone, am responsible for threats on the life of our old friend Jacques Protic, and damage to his property. The source for all this is – wait for it! – Jolly Jacques himself.

Now if I understand this rambling piece correctly, it is being alleged that threats were made to Protic’s life following the publication of this piece, Cymrophobia and the Many Identities of Jacques Protic on August 14th last year. Or possibly this piece, Cymrophobia 2: The ‘Reverse Midas’ from August 21st.

Yet Jacques Protic has his own blog, Glasnost, he also comments on countless other blogs; he writes letters to newspapers, and in any other way he can think of puts out his hatred for all things Welsh, especially the language. And as I have stated previously, he uses a number of pseudonyms. Yet, despite all this those who (it is claimed) threatened his life did so after reading something I had written. Presumably they phoned and said, ‘Oi! Protic, I have been reading Jac o’ the North, and he has persuaded me to take your life. Be absolutely clear on this – it was Royston Jones aka Jac o’ the North who put the idea into my head’. When you think about it, or read it out loud, you realise what absolute nonsense it is.Jon Jones

Yet according to WalesEye North Wales Police carried out an investigation into these ‘threats’ to Protic’s life and alleged damage to his property. Further, this investigation was “bungled” by a police constable that WalesEye actually names! This police constable was, we are told, disciplined; we are also given the name of the inspector who (presumably) disciplined him. Is it fair to name and humiliate someone on a blog using what is claimed to be information from an internal police report? Is GogPlod now giving out its internal reports to interested bloggers? If so, where’s mine? If not, then from where did WalesEye get this information?

The likely source is Protic. I suspect he did make a complaint, perhaps about me, and it was treated with the ridicule it deserved. He then submitted a Freedom of Information request and he was fobbed off with some story about a botched enquiry, for remember, the police have not been in touch with me, as they would have been if they’d taken Protic seriously. But even if this is what happened, why did they name the constable?

Anyway, I don’t fancy wasting much more time on Protic or WalesEye, but I can’t resist drawing your attention to the glaring contradiction between reality and the fantasy presented by WalesEye. To believe WalesEye (and to quote Protic) I am the “ugly face of Welsh nationalism”, a frothing-at-the-mouth loony (even without the Argie red!) attacking a decent and rational chap simply trying to express his perfectly reasonable views. Make up your own minds. The panel on the right is from ProtProticic’s blog, here’s a link. A Welsh LEA is accused of ethnic cleansing . . . by a Serb! Couldn’t make this up, could you? (Incidentally, Part II never appeared.)

Having mentioned Protic’s Serb background, let me take the opportunity to clear up another matter. WalesEye quotes me, from my blog, saying: “I was hoping to avoid this, but it has to be said – Protic is a Serb”. I’m not sure what WalesEye hoped to suggest with this incomplete phrase, but here is the full paragraph: “Finally, and I was hoping to avoid this, but it has to be said – Protic is a Serb. Now many of you will know that over the years I have defended the Serbs against their many detractors, but I was never blind to the atrocities committed – by all sides – in the Balkan wars. So, tell us, Jacques; would a Croat, or an Albanian, or a Bosnian Muslim, have the freedom, in Serb-controlled territory, to mouth hatred of Serbs in the way that you spew out your hatred for us Welsh?” When you have it in full it says something entirely different to what WalesEye is trying to infer. And as for the Chetniks, I was attempting to explain recent Serbian history, but I never suggested that Protic or his family were “extreme right wing Serbians”, as ‘J Jones’ states.

So what’s it all about, why am I suddenly so popular with WalesEye? The answer may lie, again, with Protic; for in his latest post he bemoans the evil of ‘cybernats’. The opening paragraph is pure Protic, though I wonder if he can give us any examples of the ” . . . horrendous instances of Scottish nationalism and its hatred of anything English”? Probably not; but then, truth, verifiable examples, rational discussion, facts and figures, have never been Protic’s strong points, exemplified by his post accusing a Welsh local authority of ‘ethnic cleansing’. WalesEye seems to have taken up Protic’s ’cause’, they’ve certainly been exchanging information and opinions about me, each trying to out-‘bastard!’ the other, so I hope they’ll be very happy together, for they deserve each other.

The obvious thing for me to do now is submit my own FoI to Gogplod, and see if I ever was investigated. Stay tuned!

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 12: For the past couple of days Protic has been spouting his evil on David Cornock’s BBC Wales political blog, but most of his commeProtic BBCnts have either been removed or “referred for further consideration”! Wise up, Parry, this guy’s got more chips on his shoulder than even you. I know you both hate me, but I’m still going to give you some friendly advice – avoid Protic like the pox, because he’s an obsessional bigot. In his world EVERYTHING that’s wrong with Wales can be attributed to the Welsh language.

Sep 082014
 

On August 28th at Swansea Crown Court Naz Malik, former CEO of race industry charity Awema, was found not guilty on two charges of fraudulently paying the charity’s cheques into his own account. A third charge, that he used Awema money to pay a life insurance policy, was not proceeded with.

Naz MalikThe real issue never was that Naz Malik might have had his hand in the till, consequently this misguided prosecution was, at best, a distraction, with the danger that Malik’s acquittal will be interpreted as a vindication of Awema and the system that has created so many Awemas. This would be both wrong and dangerous.

I first encountered Naz Malik back in the late 1990s before his ambitions went national. He was then running the Swansea Bay Racial Equality Council. I was struck by the fact that he regularly came out with silly statements that had little to do with racism and everything to do with politics. Specifically, he would suggest that Welsh nationalism – and presumably Plaid Cymru – was inherently racist. A little checking soon revealed that Malik was a Labour Party stalwart, and even hoped to be a candidate at either Assembly or Westminster level, as did his children. Leading me to believe there was a quid pro quo arrangement that saw the local authorities on the Bay (Swansea, Neath Port Talbot) fund Malik in return for him putting the boot into them wicked nashies.

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As regular readers will know, I have, for many years, been a consistent critic of Malik, Awema and the system that gave birth to Awema. Unfortunately my pre-2010 posts are now lost due to Google pulling the plug on my old blog for no good reason. (So avoid Google Blogger unless you want the same fate to befall you!) Even so, I have enough information to ask the following questions.

  • After warnings in 2003 and 2007 that things were not right at Awema, why did the ‘Welsh’ Government continue funding the organisation? (In fact, there were 19 warnings from the Wales Audit Office!)
  • What justified Malik increasing his daughter Tegwen’s annual salary from £20,000 to £50,000 in the space of three years? Or rather, why did those funding Awema not ask this question at the time?
  • Did Naz Malik ever have the authority to unilaterally increase his own salary and benefits package?Awema Kenya
  • Why did no one in the ‘Welsh’ Government think it strange that they were funding a ‘Welsh’ charity that, on the Charity Commission website, claimed to also be operating in Kenya and Pakistan, using EU funding allocated to be spent within Wales?
  • Given the known problems with the Malik family’s running of Awema was it wise for Labour to have Naz Malik’s son, Gwion Iqbal Malik, as a candidate in the May 2011 Assembly elections, and for First Minister Carwyn Jones to be seen canvassing with him? (Surely this should have been vetoed?)
  • Why did no one wonder what the link might have been between Awema and Malik’s sister Fahro’s (now defunct) charity Lynk Reach Ltd? Or whether that connection was right and proper? (I’m told she was born in the same city, Nairobi, and in the same month, as Peter Hain. Funny old world!)

Well over seven million pounds of largely EU funding was squandered on Awema. As part of a wider system of Labour Party patronage that then enables local clients beholden to the party, like Naz Malik, to oversee their own systems of self-enrichment, patronage and nepotism. A veritable pyramid of corruption. So lucrative is this racket that once it became clear late in 2012 that Awema’s days were numbered a replacement sprang up, just a few streets away, in the form of Race Council Cymru.

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I’m afraid my home town is getting a bad reputation for third sector corruption. In June this year I Mo Sykeshad to report on the charity MEWN. In more recent posts, The Impoverishment of Wales and Ancestral Turf, I have dealt with another Swansea-based charity, YMCA Wales. There had been rumours for a few years that this was a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, and with my – ahem – customary perceptiveness, I wrote about YMCA Wales in July last year in YMCA ‘Wales': Another Trojan Horse At The Trough.

YMCA Cymru’s chief executive, Mo Sykes, went missing in July, the trustees placed the organisation in receivership, while the ‘Welsh’ Government – perhaps hoping to appear decisive for once – called on DePlod to investigate.

Yet the problem isn’t with Swansea, the fault lies with a system that if it’s not designed to attract peripatetic third sector parasites will inevitably have that effect. For the word will quickly spread in their magazines, on their websites, and through the channels of the Guardian readers’ very own freemasonry, Common Purpose, that Wales is a soft touch, money is being showered on any shyster who can deliver a persuasive spiel.

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In the dock at Swansea Crown Court should have been ‘Welsh’ Labour, not its creature, Naz Malik. It should have been charged with squandering EU and other funding on professional grant-grabbers in order to buy support, while turning a blind eye to how that funding was used, and abused, lower down the food chain. Also in the dock – for this system could never have flourished without it – should have been the self-styled Welsh media, fearful of upsetting the Labour Party and, as a result of that cowardice, betraying the Welsh people.

The real worry is that Wales now has a system that blatantly mis-uses grant aid to fund political patronage, and that this inevitably leads to nepotism, self-enrichment, corruption of all sorts – and yet no one seems to care! This is the real problem with the third sector in Wales. In fact, this sums up the third sector in Wales. And we shall all suffer while this pernicious system endures.

Sep 022014
 

In the direct male line my great-grandfather was a David Jones of Meidrim, a small village encountered a few miles after heading north out of Sanclêr to start climbing the ridge after which you drop down into the valley of the Teifi. Young Dai went up to Swansea around 1880 and there met another recent arrival from the west, Madelaine Jones of Cei Newydd; they married and had nine children. It might have been more had Madelaine not been eleven years older than Dai. And of course, for me, growing up in Swansea, Carmarthenshire was just across the Llwchwr. Oft-times as a youth did I stand on the east bank of that mighty stream and gaze longingly over to the land of my ancestors. Well, no, I made that bit up.

I mention this to explain that I have these, and other, connections with Sir Gâr, so I feel entitled to comment on a picture emerging that tells of money being showered around to provide services that are either unneeded (known in Third Sector terminology as ‘Money for old rope’) or else for services that could be provided more efficiently by the public or the private sector (known as ‘Third-rate, Third Sector’).

Lest anyone is in any doubt about exactly what the Third Sector is, let me explain. It is called the ‘Third Sector’ because it is neither the private sector (business / private enterprise), nor is the public sector (government departments, local government, etc). It is, as the name suggests, a third way of doing things, a third option for delivering a service. There has always been a Third Sector of organisations, mainly charities, relying on donations, legacies or whatever to continue with their work. This is fine, and commendable; which of us would refuse to put our hand in our pocket for the NSPCC, RNLI, Barnardo’s, RSPCA, Oxfam, and a host of other bodies that do bloody good work.

Yet in recent decades the Third Sector has grown, and changed in other ways, due partly to government cut-backs on public spending and partly due to a policy of stripping responsibilities from local government. These imperatives have had a number of consequences. Mainly that money being thrown around by central or local government inevitably attracts shysters. While for the public, the result is that the services on which they had previously relied are now of inferior quality and often totally unreliable. There are two other factors involved in Third Sector funding that should worry anyone who sees the dangers in political patronage or wants a secular society. For many of the recipients of public – usually EU – funding have links to the Labour Party; and too many of those being funded to provide services to the vulnerable belong to  fundamentalist religious outfits, such as the Towy Community Church; or else are real oddballs who shouldn’t be given a penny, and even without funding, should be warned off any involvement with those who need professional help. (I shall give an example of one these later.)

Apart from my ancestral connection, the reason I’m focusing on Sir Gâr is because it seems to be providing a perfect environment for everything that can go wrong with the Third Sector in Wales to go wrong. Helping to create that environment is a highly dysfunctional council ruled by a vindictive chief executive who, with the help of a few senior officers (plus highly-paid external lawyers) and a clutch of top councillors, has turned the county into a banana republic. As we know, a banana republic encourages all manner of skulduggery. I have written about the county in the recent past, but it’s always worth returning to Sir Gâr.

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In my previous post I reported strange goings-on at Llandovery YMCA, after which I was directed to a couple of videos on YouTube. The first of those videos can be found below (or here on YouTube), it gives an idea of what the money is spent on in Sir Gâr. The funding in this video comes from the county’s Rural Development Plan.

The first interviewee is one Tom Duxbury, who teaches “traditional rural skills”. Duxbury is of course English. Next up are Gill Wright and Jane Ryall who run a ‘community company’ offering bunkhouse bed and breakfast. Both are, again, English. The next double act is Jill Tatman (of Llandovery YMCA, mentioned in my previous post) and Lee Mattocks, who have expanded the local YMCA into yet another ‘community enterprise’. I shouldn’t need to tell you that both are English.

In fact, Jill Tatman has done very well out of the public purse. She bought the Grade II listed building known as ‘Windermere House’ on Stone Street in Llandovery . . . and what do think happened then, children? – that’s right! it was refurbished for her using some of the £2.78m allocated to the Llandovery and Llangadog Townscape and Heritage Scheme. Nor must we forget that her little empire is housed in the old YMCA building. The YMCA had pootered along in Llandovery for many years, but then Tatman took over, and began using the good name of the YM to access lots of funding to provide her with a salary and a very, very generous pension pot (even though she’s already well past retirement age!). Her ‘partner in crime’ (figuratively speaking of course), was Mo Sykes, now missing as recent shenanigans at YMCA Wales are covered up investigated. This is one old bird who knows how to milk the system! I wonder what she did before she decided to bless us with her presence?

This next video (available here on YouTube), features Gill Wright, again, telling us about the wonders of the Llandovery Heritage Centre – Business Hub. Assisted this time by Emily Davies – who is Welsh! So Emily may be working for the funding programme. (Clock Wright’s face when Davies is speaking at 1:48: ‘Look, Hermione – I’m with a native!’) The building is a ‘community venture’, offering copying facilities and laminating machines, “meeting space” and other facilities the good folk of Llanymddyfri cannot do without. At 1:53 the video shows what perhaps we are expected to believe are two young entrepreneurs planning their next venture . . . though the one on the left looks suspiciously like Glyn Jones, a Rural Community Inclusion Development Officer, it may even be the back of Glyn’s head we see at 1:32. All in all the Heritage Centre – Business Hub is quite an impressive set-up, which has obviously cost a few quid . . . yet Wright suggests at 2:46 that the process “may have upset a few local people”; but that’s all behind her now as she looks for more funding, for yet bigger premises, in a town of less than three thousand people!

These first two videos share a few features worthy of comment. First – and believe me, for I know of what I speak – one of the keys to unlocking grant funding is to argue that you’re providing a service or facilities for the public at large, the correct button to push being ‘community’. Second, Wright and Tatman are both past retirement age. Without I hope sounding ageist – being a pensioner myself – shouldn’t this funding be better directed than by supplementing the pensions of a couple of memsahibs? Though I suppose this might explain the presence of younger ‘assistants’.

The third video – in which we see Glyn Jones playing himself – tells of the work being done by the Llandovery Job Club. (Available here on YouTube.) In addition to Glyn we shall meet a couple of other people we’ve met already. At 1:27 it’s Jill Tatman, and at 3:47 Lee Mattocks. Then at 4:40 we meet a new face in Dan Morin who, with his wife, “left London about a year ago”. At 5:24 we meet Mrs Alannah Morin who tells us they “wanted to leave London because we were tired of the rat race”. This is the sort of thing one hears from City brokers buying million pound properties on the Pembrokeshire coast . . . but one is unlikely to find such people in the local job club. So why did a black couple from London move to a small Welsh town with no job waiting for them? I can’t help thinking there’s a story here we aren’t being told.

It is obvious that what we have here is an over-generous and misdirected funding programme simply throwing money around willy-nilly. Money is being used to provide ‘facilities’ for communities that were blissfully unaware of their deprivation until the people you’ve seen in these videos sniffed out the oodles of funding on offer. Interestingly, the ‘facilities’ are run by English people, used by English people . . . with Welsh involvement limited to providing the funding.

Something I found significant was the use of the Welsh language to disguise what is really happening. Not a lot different to bilingual signage in Tesco Porthmadog to hide the fact that the staff employed in the store are overwhelmingly English. Or the Planning Inspectorate having a Welsh language version of its website. We see it everywhere: the cosmetic ‘victories’ of language campaigners bring us to the point where the Welsh language is used to deflect criticism of programmes that will destroy it. How weird is that?

What we’ve seen here is not unique to Sir Gâr, it’s happening all over Wales. Money is being squandered on unnecessary projects, given to amateurs whose only real talents are the ability to complete an application form and know what ‘buttons’ need to be pressed to access the funding. There are Welsh kids growing in some areas who think that only the English are allowed to run certain things. This is not by accident.

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Staying in Sir Gâr, I’m now going to look at (takes deep breath) Ymddiriedolaeth Atgyfnerthu Treftadaeth Sir Gâr. In translation, and general usage, Carmarthenshire Heritage Regeneration Trust; but the official name, with both Companies House and the Charity Commission is the Welsh name. Which might make it difficult for anyone unfamiliar with the Welsh name to track CHRT Companies House front pagedown details. Perhaps another example of the Welsh language being used insincerely, to deflect criticism and deter investigation. (On the right you’ll find the front pages from both Companies House and the Charity Commission. Click to enlarge.)

For the sake of brevity I shall henceforth refer to CHRT, which is classified, by Companies House, as a private company limited by guarantee with no share capital and exempt from using ‘Ltd’. There are three curious features that (with the invaluable help of BD) I have explored and would now like to bring to your attention.

First, in addition to the company and the charity there is a third entity, CHRT Ventures Ltd, Company Number 06820763, Incorporated on February 16th 2009, which is also a private company limited by guarantee with no share capital. As for what it does, the Companies House website can only say, “Other information service activities not elsewhere classified”, which could mean just about anything, though it would appear to be a CHRT Charity Comm front pagetrading arm of the Trust, a regular enough arrangement, but it appears not to fulfil that role too well. For the most recent figures I can find, for the year ended March 31, 2013, show that CHRT Ventures Ltd had assets of £13,985 but liabilities of £37,311.

The next curiosity is Claire Deacon Linkedinthe salary arrangements of the CEO, Claire Deacon, whose Linkedin front page can be found on the left (click to enlarge). I say that because Ms Deacon has been employed by CRHT as a consultant while also employed as CEO. On page 29 of the most recent accounts (click here) we are told that, “During the year, Ymddiriedolaeth Atgyfnerthu Treftadaeath Sir Gar (CHRT) employed the services of Ms Claire Deacon, CEO, a historic building consultant. The total expenses paid by CHRT for consultancy was £59,159 (2012: £41,873). At the year end, CHRT owed Ms Claire Deacon £9,436 (2012: £3,386). This balance is included in trade creditors”. This probably explains why employees’ remunerations in 2012 amounted to £175,355, but fell to £152,117 in 2013 for the same number of staff. Yet Ms Deacon was paid considerably more in consultancy fees than the £23,238 ‘saving’ between the figures for 2012 and 2013.

Is this standard practice, that a CEO can boost his or her income by also acting as a consultant to the organisation that employs her? How is it done? Did Ms Deacon say, ‘If you want me to do this work, then you’ll jolly well have to employ me as a consultant – and that will cost you a lot more than my CEO’s salary’. But if a consultant was needed – and seeing as we are dealing here with public funding – was the opportunity advertised, put out to tender, or was it all stitched up in-house? I really would like to know how these things are done.

The third and final curiosity will be found if you look at the Charity Commission website image, where you’ll see that under ‘Where it Operates’, it says, ‘Throughout Wales’, which sounds a bit ambitious for a relatively small local charity in Sir Gâr. Or perhaps not. For if we return to the latest accounts, and go to page 5, you will find this under the heading, ‘YMCA, Merthyr Tydfil’ “This project has continued to develop with funds being secured for project development and the purchase of the building, a price having been agreed with the owner. The Trust is working closely with the Local Authority and other key funding partners including HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) and Welsh Assembly Government. It is proposed that the purchase will proceed once key triggers have been secured, these including confirmation of offers of funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and the local Merthyr Tydfil Townscape Heritage Initiative for the first phase of works and a business plan”. Note how everything seems to be planned out without funding confirmed. Is this a tactic to pressure the funders? Anyway, why is the Carmarthenshire Heritage Regeneration Trust buying the YMCA building in Merthyr?

The suggestion made in the report I just linked to is that the building will be used as a “teaching facility with some office space available”. (Yet more ‘community’ flim-flam.) A project that Ms Deacon estimates will cost £5m. Clearly, CHRT is branching out, in more ways than one. More millions of public funding will be spent to . . . well, to do what, exactly? Given what I’ve set out here, and hundreds of other examples I could have used from across Wales, we be can be reasonably certain that few benefits will accrue to the local people. The beneficiaries of al this funding will be Claire Deacon – who might even act as her own consultant on the project! – plus more shysters like those we met in Llanymddyfri.

And once again, there is a YMCA building involved. I have heard many strange things lately about YMCA Wales and its relationship with local branches, how the latter have been taken over, exploited, even wrecked. There is a post here, which I hope will be written by someone who understands the picture far better than I.

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Wales is the poorest country in western Europe (possibly all of Europe). Because of our poverty we qualify for large amounts of funding to relieve that poverty and the associated deprivation. But instead of using the money for the purposes for which it has been given, the civil servants who run Wales on behalf of London, and their soul-mates at a more local level, have dreamt up cunning plans to kill a number of feathered creatures with but one projectile.

By diverting funding to the likes of the grant-grabbers dealt with here those disbursing the money can claim that services and facilities previously provided by your local authority and other agencies are still there, but now provided by the likes of Gill Wright and Jill Tatman, so nothing’s really changed. If your local library’s been closed down and you can’t access a computer, don’t worry, go along to the local ‘business hub’ and put up with the whinnying of those you’ll find there. But you’ll be expected to fOlive Trust WEFOorget that the library would also have had books, and employed locals. Need a nursery school? Don’t worry! Drop little Harry into the local Pentevangelic church. When you pick him up he’ll be folding Ukip leaflets and damning ‘sodomites’.

In my opening paragraph I promised to introduce you to a real oddball, so welcome to the Olive Trust (or ‘Creoso’, as the website puts it), based in Swansea but also, apparently, operating in Carmarthenshire, and with strong Labour connections. The woman running this scam is Denise Kingsley-Acton . . . did I hear someone ask if she’s English? (As a matter of fact she is.) I had a little spat with this woman towards the end of 2012, she claimed she’d reported me to the police (a bit like WalesEye), that she’d worked for MI5, all sorts of nonsense. The woman is clearly in need of help herself, but that didn’t stop the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) considering an application from her in 2010 for a cool one million pounds. (See right, click to enlarge.) Of its type, this is a gem, I urge you to read it. The money was to be used, predictably, “to regenerate a building for community use”.

So if you’re thinking of getting in on this racket yourself, then here’s the secret: find an old building, get a grant to buy it, then apply for other grants to turn it into a ‘community’ building. Nobody will worry if the scheme fails, for this is just an exercise in giving out money and ticking the right boxes on forms nobody will really check. Plus, failed schemes are black marks against those who gave out the funding – politicians and bureaucrats – so everyone has a vested interest in pretending that these projects all deliver. And of course, you and your little clique will rake it in.

If the assorted funding programmes continue in this way then, in a few years time, every village and small town in Wales will have three or four buildings ‘regenerated for community use’, or some other ‘facility’ that isn’t really needed. They’ll all be run by English people, for the benefit of other English people, and hundreds of millions of EU funding will have been used to subsidise the colonisation of Wales.

Aug 262014
 

The more I learn about how Wales is administered the more I realise that it is not run in the interests of the Welsh. Whether it’s social housing, grant funding, top jobs, higher education, the more you dig the more it’s brought home to you that Wales is a colonial possession of England, organised along worryingly discriminatory lines. All of which makes devolution a charade, and exposes the ‘Welsh’ Government to be nothing but a sad bunch of clowns and puppets dancing to London’s tune. Those in other parties who dream of replacing Labour as ‘the Government’ would do no better.

Here are some examples to explain what I mean.

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‘IEUAN AIR’

The contract for the daily air service from Valley on Anglesey to Cardiff is up for re-negotiation. The service is usually – though perhaps unfairly – known as ‘Ieuan Air’, after the former Plaid Cymru leader and Deputy First Minister in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition (2007 – 2011), who was AM for the island and a regular user of tIeuan Air 2he service. The wider issue is covered here in his usual exemplary way by Owen Donovan on Oggy Bloggy Ogwr. You’ll see that Owen tells us, “The marketing and ticket booking services are provided by Manx company, Citywing, while the air service itself is provided by Links Air, based on Humberside”, and this aspect is what I shall focus on.

First, Citywing. In fairness, Citywing offers a full Welsh language version of its website, though seeing as it operates just one route within or from Wales this might worry some, who might wonder if this company has any other business. As Citywing is registered in the Isle of Man it’s not easy to get information on the company, which seems to have been founded as recently as November 22, 2012, when MD David Buck staged a management buy-out of the company, previously known as Manx2. A name change was possibly necessitated by Manx2 being involved in a crash at Cork airport on February 10, 2011 in which five people died. It seems that Citywing merely sells seats on “flights operated under charter from Van Air Europe and Links Air“.

My knowledge of this business is minimal, but it seems that we are very much down at the bottom end of the market, a kind of sub-Ryanair operation flying to and from Blackpool, Gloucester and other less-in-demand destinations in 19-seater planes because stricter legislation may come into force if more passengers are carried. The planes involved may be owned by the Czech company Van Air Europe and leased to Links Air with Citywing flogging tickets. Who knows? There’s so much leasing and sub-leasing going on in this game I’m surprised Nathan Gill and his gang aren’t involved, especially as Links Air is based just across the Humber from Hull.

Linksair Ltd is run by Jonathan Gordon Roy Ibbotson and his wife. It is one of three companies still trading out of a large number of companies with which 51-year-old Ibbotson has been involved. Some have failed owing money, and of the three still extant one, Linksair Properties Ltd, was only formed in July, and the other, Hangar 9 Ltd has (apparently) nothing to do with aviation, being involved in property letting, with a few outstanding mortgages to its name, and may even be Roissy Aircraft Management Ltd (another of Ibbotson’s companies) after a name change. To confuse the picture further, Ibbotson has run two companies called Hangar 9 Ltd!

Ibbotson's companies

Ibbotson obviously has an ‘interesting’ business career, so interesting that I would be loath to hand him a penny of Welsh public funding; and was there no company in Wales that could pretend to be an airline and sell a few tickets? Whether there was or not is academic, for this Anglesey – Cardiff air service has outlived whatever usefulness it might once have had, and seeing as most of the passengers have their fares paid for out of public funds it was never a viable commercial proposition. So scrap it. And if the ‘Welsh’ Government is serious about internal communications, that fare-paying passengers will use, that will create jobs within Wales, then start backing the re-opening of the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway link, as the first stage in a full west coast line.

In this first example we see millions of pounds of Welsh public funding being given to English companies for a service Wales doesn’t need. This money could obviously be better spent.

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CARTREFI CYMUNEDOL GWYNEDD & LOVELL

When the humour is on me I turn to a longer-term project of mine, a post examining the colonisation of rural Wales; how it’s being achieved, and what steps need to be taken to curb it. One thing that quickly became clear is how little was done at governmental level to replace the jobs lost over recent decades in agriculture (including creameries, abattoirs, etc), quarrying, forestry, utilities, nationalised industries and local government. These losses were disguised by propaganda arguing that tourism would provide jobs for everyone. This decline in the numbers of ‘real’ jobs needed by adult Welsh males resulted in the predictable reduction in the Welsh population . . . which has then been disguised by the English immigration encouraged by toLovell Reg officesurism.

Here I want to look specifically at local government, or rather, a successor body. In 2010 Gwynedd’s council housing stock was transferred to Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, and now the housing maintenance that would previously have been done by the council’s own workforce and local sub-contractors is done by a major English company called Lovell. Gwynedd is covered from Lovell’s North West and North Wales regional offices in Altrincham, Cheshire and Birkenhead, Merseyside. The south is covered from the ‘Midlands, South Wales and Southern’ regional offices in Birmingham, Cardiff and Hampshire. Which means it’s reasonable to assume that other Welsh local authorities and housing associations have become partners with Lovell. How many I wonder? I should mention that Lovell is also in the business of building new properties.

Here we are, fifteen years into devolution, and yet this major company still carves up our homeland and attaches the dismembered parts to English regions in the traditional, contemptuous manner of English business and administration. Lovell then compounds the insult by handing out its contracts to other English companies; contracts that in many cases are too big for smaller Welsh companies to apply for. In fact, when you read more abLovellout it, it looks as if the ‘partnership’ system is designed to exclude smaller firms. And when you see a photo such as the one I’ve used here (taken from the Lovell website) you can’t help wondering if there might not be a cartel of large English companies at work deliberately excluding smaller, more local companies.

Anyone can see the advantage for Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd in giving out a single contract for maintaining all its properties and then letting Lovell get on with it, but this is a very short-sighted policy. I have seen Lovell and their sub-contractors at work in this village. Working four-hour days due to travelling times from their English bases – and therefore taking twice as long to do the job! Does this system make sense on any level other than the convenience of the suits at CCG: employment is lost, money leaves the area, and jobs take longer to complete than if local companies were employed!

A system so ludicrous, so indefensible, can only arouse suspicion that someone at Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, or higher up the food chain, is in receipt of certain ‘inducements’.

This example shows money raised by a ‘Welsh’ organisation – from CCG’s Welsh tenants and the ‘Welsh’ Government – given to English companies to put Welsh companies out of business and Welsh workers out of jobs. Can you imagine such a system operating anywhere else on earth!

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YMCA WALES

This is an ongoing story, so regard what I tell you here as a ‘taster’. But first, I suggest you go back to a couple of posts I put out last year; first, YMCA ‘Wales’, Another Trojan Horse At The Trough, and then, YMCA ‘Wales’ and the Green, Green Pastures.The latest news – as of Friday last – is that the ‘Welsh’ Government has called in Plod to investigate YMCA Wales. Any investigation will almost certainly centre on the organisation’s former chief executive, Mo Sykes, who seems to have left her post in unexplained circumstances last month.

When I learnt of Ms Sykes’ departure I put out a couple of tweets, and I’m pleased to say that I had some responses. Here’s one anonymous response, as I received it:

  • Mo Sykes selling assets and cashing investments to pay off YMCAW overdrafts and debts.
  • Sykes spearheading campaign to build and sell at Penrhyndeudraeth without proper discussion at board level. (See last year’s posts.)
  • Took control of Port Talbot YMCA without board approval and proceeded to empty it’s bank account to “repay” a non existent loan to the national body.
  • Local branches of YMCA not linked to the national body in any way other than name. Receive no finance or any other support from Mo Sykes or her cronies.
  • Local branches struggling to survive whilst Sykes takes her newborn child and nanny on ‘fact finding’ mission to USA.
  • Some Trustees pleaded with charity commission to step in when militant Mo would not recognise concerns of trustees and was acting without authority. (This was two years ago, so why didn’t the ‘Welsh’ Government intervene at this stage, rather than allowing things to further deteriorate?)
  • Chairman after chairman turns blind eye to numerous attempts by group of determined trustees for transparency.
  • Many trustees resign after being shouted down by CEO and chairman Peter Landers for refusing to sign off on annual accounts moments prior to AGM commencing. (Landers is elsewhere described as ” . . . head of Newport YMCA . . . a loud, scruffy man . . . counting the days to his retirement . . . “)
  • Many whistle-blowers are crushed and humiliated by Sykes for seeking the truth. One hounded from post within YMCA and then pursued and punished through a new employer.
  • Hopefully, now, the truth will out and local branches will get the support so desperately needed from Welsh Government.

Another response was equally revealing, and disturbing:

“For 20 years the Llandovery YMCA was functioning as a small charity with less than £10,000 annual income, mainly from camping trips, bible study, after school fees and renting out the meeting room. Then in 2011 it’s annual turnover suddenly rocketed to over £100,000 with an innovative food box programme. This was an emergency relief project to stem the little known Llanymddyfri famine. Over 200 relief boxes per month (food and nappies) were distributed, and according to their annual report, which was generously supplied by the Kings Church in Newport under a scheme headlined as ‘Jesus Cares’.

The new venture was kicked off in 2011 with a grant of £44,000 from Carmarthenshire County Council and Llandovery YMCA saw a jump from zero to two staff being employed, incurring a cost Sykes-Tatmanof £23,000 in salaries. In 2012 there was a further consolidation with a cash injection of £103,000 from the Big Lottery. Only a part of this was spent on refurbishment of the premises as a tidy £25,000 cash payment was made to a trustee, Ms Jill Adeline Tatman, who, incidentally, is also on the payroll. The number of staff by the end of 2013, was four, with, by now, £50,000 going out of the payroll, and an annual pension due of exactly £3,500 annually.

They then in 2013 it landed an additional £16,000 Rural Community Inclusion Grant thanks to the work of a projects officer, also employed by Carmarthenshire County Council. The cash really started creaming in and in 2014, Llandovery YMCA landed a further £250,000 grant from the People and Places Lottery Fund, for a “ground-breaking therapeutic and emotional support project”, but as far as I can see the only emotional support provided is to Jill Adeline Tatman laughing her way to the bank from her home, also, as it happens, done up with public funds.

Trustee, Jill Adeline Tatman, originally from Redhill, Surrey, educated at a privately run evangelical college in Derbyshire and, like Mo Sykes, is a former trustee of YMCA Wales. She’d purchased the grade II listed “Windermere House” in Stone Street, Llandovery. This property was part of the Llandovery and Llangadog Townscape and Heritage Scheme which was refurbished in 2011 with a portion of the £2.782millon townscape fund, £737k of which was grant funded from Carmarthenshire Country Council. Not only does she get public funds to line her purse, but got some cash to do up her own house.”

Tatman was a director of YMCA Wales from November 2004 to November 2005 and personal assistant to the CEO, which might explain why the missing Mo Sykes (originally from the Six Counties) is a Trustee of Llandovery YMCA. Though the Charity Commission website tells us she is also a Trustee of the Bargoed and District YMCA and the Onllwyn and District YMCA. Accounts are overdue for the latter, so if the Charity Commission is expecting them from Mo Sykes they may have quite a wait. Something is clearly very wrong with YMCA Wales, and has been for a considerable time, so I ask again, Why did it take the ‘Welsh’ Government so long to pull its finger out?

I’m getting shyster fatigue from writing about those who migrate to Wales in order to take advantage of the ‘How much do you want?’ grant culture, but here goes, again . . . Tatman, based in a small Welsh town, has recently been given £250,000 for: ” . . . a ground-breaking therapeutic and emotional support project . . . and also go towards developing new opportunities for the unemployed through education and training”. In a relatively prosperous little town of less than 3,000 people how many unemployed are there, and what qualifications does Ms Tatman have to help them? Or what help can she give that no one else is currently giving? And how many kids are there in Llandovery needing ” . . . therapeutic and emotional support scheme for young people through art”. Truth is, all she’s really done is secure salaries for herself and her cronies. Plus of course, pensions, which I’m told are very ‘imaginative’ in their structure and very rewarding in the benefits they bestow..

In conclusion, I should point out that even though YMCA Wales is based in Swansea, it’s up in the wilds of Llansamlet somewhere, not in the grand old YMCA building on the Kingsway, that edifice we’ve seen so often in recent years on our television screens. For as I’m sure you’ll remember, this lovely old building was once home to AWEEMA and our old friend Naz Malik. Naz, I regret to say, is currently in the dock at Swansea Crown Court. You know, I sometimes think that the Third Sector in Wales should really apply for funding from the Arts and Entertainment pot, because some of what they serve up is better than any soap opera.

YMCA Wales is yet another example of a Third Sector funding scandal: immigrants of dubious probity subverting a respected organisation to serve their own interests by exploiting the poverty and deprivation that results from the Union with England. And this one could be big, it could make old Naz look small coal.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 4, 2014: YMCA Wales in administration.

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SWANSEA COUNCIL

It is with great relish and lashings of schadenfreude I report that civil war has broken out among the ruling Labour group on Swansea city council. Unfortunately, I cannot as yet tell you of any fatalities, but I live in hope. Here is a brief communique. It seems that the trenchcoat-wearing rodomontade (God I”ve longed to use that word!) who has until now directed this farce, one David Phillips, felt increasingly insecure and decided to sack a couple of cabinet members he felt did not worship him as he thought they ought. But now it appears they were not alone, and it may be Il Duce himself who is under threat! Some intriguing comments to the stoBenito Phillips, Il Duce Abertawery on the Evening Post website by ‘pjrpost’ allege wrongdoing by the council’s HR department and a cover-up by the Labour administration. This, again is a story with ‘legs’, so I urge you to keep up with it. Another kick in the plums for the Labour Party is always good news.

The reason I’m including it here is because – as regular readers will know – I’ve written about this Labour shower before, many times. (Just type ‘Swansea council’ into the search box at the top of the sidebar.) It is the worst council the city has ever known, not least because many Labour councillors, including the council leader, are strangers to Swansea; they neither know the city nor care about it. Their loyalty is to the Labour Party, and the Labour Party alone. This is the dog-in-the-manger politics we suffer nowadays that sees political parties wanting power not to exercise it on behalf of the people but to keep some other crew out of power. For serving the Labour Party in this way Swansea’s councillors are rewarded by being allowed to pursue their pet issues (using council money of course), be that obsession promoting gay rights, saving the planet, or funding the Cwmrhydyceirw Unicorn Sanctuary.

On another level, as I write this the Swans are doing rather well, having won their first two games, but of course the club’s income is somewhat limited by having such a small stadium, which also means that many fans are unlikely to ever see a live game. The stadium should have been extended when the Swans were in the Championship, certainly after the first season in the Premier League. The Liberty Stadium is owned by Swansea council, and you’ll understand why the stadium is not being expanded when I tell you that the council leader, the aforementioned David Phillips, is a Liverpool supporter; one of the council’s representatives on the stadium management committee, Nick Bradley, proudly boasts of his undying love for West Bromwich Albion; while the chief executive of Swansea council, ciggie-puffing Jack Straw (no, not that one), is a Nottingham Forest supporter. This is the sort of thing you can expect when a council is run by a rag-bag collection of drifters, political chancers, students who couldn’t find their way home and single-issue obsessives.

Though on the plus side it is rather encouraging; for it suggests that Labour can no longer find local candidates, and has to rely on English immigrants. This is Bangor and Aberystwyth writ large.

In this final example we see Wales’ second city being run by strangers loyal to a political party whose only ambition is to keep Wales subservient to England. A gang who then waste public money funding all manner of nonsense but neglect the real interests of a city they don’t understand and people with whom they cannot possibly identify.

UPDATE August 28 2014: Disillusioned party members cornered Il Duce this evening and forced his resignation without recourse to the indignity of lamp-posts. It only remains now to see what happens to the clique with which he surrounded himself; these include his wife, assorted losers, and odious, self-promoting members of Labour Yoof who need Sat Nav to find their way around the city they help run.

Many would have it that Phillips jumped before he was pushed, as – it is alleged – was the the case when he left his job with HMRC (or whatever it was then called) down in Pembrokeshire.

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Here we have looked at some examples of colonialism and discrimination at work. The UK government gives the ‘Welsh’ Government billions of pounds, but then civil servants and others ensure that as much as possible of that money either makes its way back to England, is given to English people living in Wales, or else is spent on projects that do nothing to improve the wellbeing of Welsh people.

These examples show this evil and discriminatory system at work. A system that makes a mockery of devolution; for unless devolved powers are exercised in the interests of Welsh people then ‘devolution’ is more damaging to Welsh interests than the system we knew before.

Aug 182014
 

It’s not often that I write about events outside of Wales, but I feel moved to say something about the current crisis in Syria, Iraq and Kurdistan. While the situation in the region is not entirely the fault of the West, we cannot escape blame, and it goes back a lot further than George Bush and Tony Blair.Ottoman Empire 1914 The Middle East today serves as a stark reminder of what can go wrong when greed and short-sightedness combine with military might.

A century ago this region was all that remained of the Turkish Ottoman empire, stripped of its European territories but still covering a considerable area. (Click on map to enlarge.) When Turkey joined with Austria-Hungary and Germany to fight against France, Britain, Russia and Serbia in World War One, then a German victory became the only hope for saving the Ottoman empire, and perhaps even that wouldn’t have been enough.

Turkey’s involvement in the war was largely restricted to defending Turkey proper, most notably at the battle of Gallipoli, but there was activity further afield, with military engagements involving regular forces of the Allies and also guerrilla actions by Turkey’s Arab subjects. The examples of the latter with which most people are familiar are those covered in  T. E. Lawrence‘s autobiographical Seven Pillars of Wisdom and later, in the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

Long before Turkey was actually defeated the vultures – in the forms of Britain and France – were circling, and debating who was to have which part of the soon to be dismembered corpse. The negotiators were Mark Sykes and Georges Picot who, in 1916, set about dividing up the Arab and Kurdish lands of the Ottoman empire with straight-edge rulers and little or no regard for ethnic, religious or other distinctions. Summed up in a phrase used by Sykes: “I should like to draw a line from the ‘e’ in Acre (on the Mediterranean coast) to the last ‘k’ in Kirkuk (in Kurdistan)”. Of course neither Arabs nor Kurds were consulted in the drawing up of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the whole exercise was done in the interests of France and England. Which betrayed those Arabs who had fought with Lawrence believing they were to be rewarded with independence, and also cheated the Kurds, who had been led to believe they were to gain independence from the collapse of the empire wherein most of them lived.

As the twentieth century progressed Turkey became a (nominally) secular and (ostensibly) Western state and is now hoping to join the EU; the Arabs gradually gained their independence, which then saw a succession of kings and ‘strongmen’ come and go; Israel was established and grew in strength; while 20 million or more Kurds suffered discrimination and oppression at the hands of Turks, Arabs and – to a lesser extent – Iranians. But perhaps the most important political and economic development was that oil was discovered in vast quantities beneath the deserts of the region, and it was this discovery that influenced more recent developments.

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A rumour that refuses to die is that Saddam Hussein was toppled from power in 2003 by the USA – aided by a coalition of the star-struck and the wilfully stupid – because he was threatening to trade Iraqi oil in Euros, rather than dollars. To explain, briefly; the USA makes countless billions of dollars every year from doing nothing, Mossadeghsimply because crude oil is traded in US dollars. If Saddam had carried out his threat, then other countries would almost certainly have followed suit, Russia (the world’s biggest oil producer in 2013), Iran (No 4), China (No 5), Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela (No 9), with others having to fall into line. This may of course be nothing but a conspiracy theory . . . but it’s a lot more credible than the nonsense we heard about weapons of mass destruction, or the idea that an absolute tyrant who tolerated no challengers was supporting and nurturing Al-Qaeda.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was about oil, oil for the USA. (As was the earlier Gulf War to ‘liberate’ Kuwait.) This unquenchable thirst for oil explains the toleration of slavery and other forms of barbarism in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. In fact, oil explains just about everything the West has done in the region, particularly since World War Two, beginning with the removal of the democratically elected Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran in 1953, engineered by MI6 and the CIA. His crime? He wanted to use Iranian oil for the benefit of the Iranian people. (Be warned, Alex Salmond!)

As this noble and honest nationalist put it at his trial: “Yes, my sin – my greater sin . . . and even my greatest sin is that I nationalised Iran’s oil industry and discarded the system of political and economic exploitation by the world’s greatest empire . . . This at the cost to myself, my family: and at the risk of losing my life, my honour and my property . . . With God’s blessing and the will of the people, I fought this savage and dreadful system of international espionage and colonialism . . . I am well aware that my fate must serve as an example in the future throughout the Middle East in breaking the chains of slavery and servitude to colonial interests”.

And so it continued, anyone who challenged Western interests was undermined and removed, any butcher with billions in foreign bank accounts who was perceived to be serving Western interests was supported. The collapse of the Soviet Union encouraged the Americans to act even more recklessly; with what passed for US foreign policy being determined by old CIA dictums such as, ‘The enemy of my enemy must be my friend’ and ‘He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch’. Which, inevitably, and among other successes, resulted in arming the Taliban in Afghanistan, and supporting Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran. Short-termism in the diplomatic and military spheres to complement that in the economic sphere that resulted in the Crash of 2008.

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Of course, the problem with undermining or removing strongmen is that once they’re gone things start falling apart, and all manner of undesirables emerge. That’s what happened in Afghanistan, and that’s what’s happening now in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Making recent US foreign policy the classic definition of madness – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Finally realising this may explain why the US refused to help the more moderate opponents of Bashir al-Assad in Syria which, as we now know, has led to the emergence of something infinitely more dangerous – the jihadist butchers of IS. So that even by doing the right thing for once the USA has cocked up, again.

Everyone expresses surprise at the speed of the IS advance, almost a case of, ‘Where did they come from?’, which is strange, for the USA has satellites that can read car number plates; they have known about IS for months, the CIA has known its strength, its movements . . . but seemed unconcerned. Why the change of heart? There are, I suspect, two PKKreasons. First, it may be significant that IS began to make news at a time when the US and its allies needed a distraction from other deeds being perpetrated in Gaza. Second, IS was now threatening the Kurdish oilfields, where there are many US citizens, military and civilian. Yes, there is a real humanitarian tragedy, but this has simply been used to disguise the true reasons for the sudden concern about IS. Just ask yourself, ‘What exactly has the US done to alleviate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Yazidis and Christians?’ Well, they dropped a few bottles of water, and that seems to have been about it.

Even so, the Kurdish Peshmerga should have been able to defend both Yazidis and Christians by holding off IS . . . if they’d had the weapons. One of the more revealing facts to come out of the region recently was that in one engagement the Peshmerga had to retreat because a) IS had superior weapons and b) the Peshmerga ran out of ammunition! The Kurds are the West’s most reliable ally in the region; Kurdistan is as close as you’ll get locally to a democratic and secular society (that’s why the Christians and Yazidi fled to Kurdistan); so why the hell are they not properly armed? Well, you see, that would upset the Turks, who worry about weapons getting into the hands of their own Kurds or, more specifically, the PKK guerrillas. Which means that the USA, in order to pander to an increasingly Islamist government in Ankara – that oppresses its own Kurds – leaves its only real ally in the region almost undefended. What sort of a foreign policy is this that can’t even work out who the good guys are?

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Properly equipped the Peshmerga can secure Kurdistan and the contested areas (from many of which they were ‘cleansed’ by Saddam Hussein) but they are unlikely to venture far into Sunni Arab areas for any lengthy campaign because that would be interpreted by the Sunni Arab tribes as an act of aggression, and likely to drive them towards IS. That said, the Kurds would probably engage in a short campaign to defeat IS (which the West should support on purely humanitarian grounds), but it is not the long-term answer, nor must the West use and then abandon the Kurds as it has done in the recent past. When the alternatives are considered it becomes clear that this is the best option, for those alternatives would appear to be: giving aid and support to the almost exclusively Shia military of Iraq (i.e. the regime that has already alienated the Sunnis); encourage Bashir al-Assad to go on the offensive; urge the Turks to intervene; turn a blind eye while the Iranians send in the Revolutionary Guards; or put US military boots on the ground again.

kurdistan landscap

Click to enlarge

The reason there isn’t a more inclusive regime in Baghdad is all the fault of a cack-handed implementation of ‘democracy’. Because when outsiders insist that a divided country like Iraq starts using a political process with which its people are entirely unfamiliar then the people will vote along sectarian lines and the largest group will inevitably dominate at the expense of the other two. Trying to balance things out by giving Sunni Arabs and Kurds a share of power greater than their numbers merit will only antagonise the Shia Arab majority. Given that the Baghdad regime and its military have no support outside Shia areas means that unless the Kurds can be persuaded (and equipped) to intervene against IS then this tragedy will have to play out to whatever conclusion awaits the long-suffering inhabitants of the region.

Once IS is defeated there must be an acceptance that Iraq is no longer a viable country; and that cohesive political and social entities are not created by straight lines drawn on maps by people who don’t have to live with the consequences. The same might apply to Syria and Lebanon, and perhaps other countries in the region. The Kurds must be given a secure and defensible homeland guaranteed by international treaty. Partly because it is their inalienable right, partly because the Kurds may be the only hope for a democratic and pluralist society in the region (and a refuge for minorities), and partly because it is in the long-term best interests of the West. And it should go without saying that once IS is defeated there will inevitably have to be trials for the crimes committed, whether the suspects come from Grangetown or Grozny.

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Let no one be in any doubt that I have the best interests of the West at heart; it’s just that I happen to believe that those interests will be better served from now on by being true to what we have always preached – democracy, religious freedom, protection for minorities, equality for women, freedom from arbitrary arrest, altruism, open and honest business transactions, etc., etc., and insisting that we will not deal with countries that cannot support these same values. (In fact, the ‘ethical’ foreign policy promised by one of Blair’s henchmen.) Because if Russia can be punished with sanctions for the heinous crime of seeking to defend fellow Russians, then why should Saudi Arabia and Kuwait escape sanctions for funding IS?

Finally, while I wish the Scots every success on September 18th – and I’ll be there myself – I also look forward to a world that is much less reliant on oil. Not because I have anything in common with environmentalists and the like (God forbid!), but because I am sick and tired of slimy, two-faced bastards claiming to represent me and the wider ‘Western community’ lying through their highly polished teeth as they suck up to despots who may have fleets of private jets but still live in the Middle Ages; moral degenerates who have emerged from of the cesspit of ‘the political centre ground’, with their fixed smiles and their talent for ignoring or explaining away all manner of brutality, corruption and evil just to keep the oil pumping.

Footnote: As I was about to publish this piece I came across this post in the New York Times, which is correct up to a point but obviously cannot be too critical of the USA.

Aug 132014
 

It says something for the education systems in Britain and Ireland that so few people have heard of one of the most important battles fought in these islands before Hastings. Indeed, if Brunanburh had ‘gone the other way’ there might never have been a battle in 1066, for there might not have been an England for William to conquer.

Let’s set the scene: Alfred the Great Brunanburh nameof Wessex died in 899, and there is a tendency to think that before he died he had driven out the Danes and left a legacy of a prosperous and united England. Not quite. Alfred did indeed defeat the Danes, but all he did was save Wessex and by so doing avoid a complete Danish takeover, but on his death the Danes remained in control of much of England. Though Alfred had re-taken London in 886 and by so doing helped lay the foundations on which others could build, and he possibly saved the English nation from complete absorption, a terrible fate for any people.

Alfred was merely king of Wessex, for this was the time of the heptarchy, England divided into the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia, Kent, Northumbria, East Anglia, Sussex and Essex. These had fluid boundaries and the picture was of course further confused by much of England, particularly the east and the north, still under Danish rule. For example, there may have been a king of Mercia, but he would probably have ruled west Mercia, as the east was under Danish control. The seven kingdoms are outlined in the map, which also shows an independent Cornwall and the northern boundary of Northumbria at Edinburgh, for Lothian – the old Gododdin – was not ceded to Scotland until the middle of the tenth century.

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Despite Alfred and others calling themselves rulers of the English, the title meant little until the rise of his grandson Æthelstan. On the death of his father Edward the Elder in 924 Æthelstan became king of Wessex and effective ruler of much of England. Perhaps as a way of indicating his intentions, one of his first campaigns followingHeptarchy his coronation in 925 was the annexation of Northumbria.

On July 12, 927 Æthelstan called various rulers to Eamont Bridge, just south of Penrith, to acknowledge him as Bretwalda, or high king. Among those attending with Scottish and Pictish rulers were Owain of Strathclyde and Hywel ap Cadell of Deheubarth. This date is regarded by many as the end of the heptarchy and the beginning of modern England. The choice of Eamont may have been significant because the river Lowther that runs through the village could have been a political boundary at the time, perhaps the southern frontier of Strathclyde.

The same year saw Æthelstan capture York from the Danes, and call another gathering at Hereford. The purpose of which was to fix the Welsh border at the river Wye. In attendance, to accept Æthelstan as overlord, were Hywel of Deheubarth and Owain of Glywysing and Gwent. In 931 Owain’s successor, Morgan Hen (‘Old’), plus Hywel and Idwal Foel (‘the Bald’) of Gwynedd, were called to London to attend Æthelstan’s court as sub-kings. Just a few years later, in 934, Tewdwr of Brycheiniog was ‘invited’ to London to sign English land charters. While in the same year, Hywel of Deheubarth, Idwal of Gwynedd and Morgan Mwynfawr (‘the Wealthy’) of Morgannwg were compelled to accompany Æthelstan on his campaign against Constantine II of Alba.

In addition, he drove the Cornish from Exeter and fixed the boundary between English and Cornish at the Tamar, and was already issuing coins that described him as ‘King of all Britain’. You didn’t didn’t need to be a soothsayer to realise that Æthelstan had ambitions that went way beyond re-uniting the English. The question was, how should individual rulers respond to his ambitions?

Looking back from 2014, I guess the choices were: 1/ Submit, in the hope that English rule wouldn’t be too bad and that you wouldn’t be swallowed up by England.Brunanburh sites 2/ Accept Æthelstan as overlord in some fingers crossed sort of way and hope that full independence could be regained at some future date. 3/ Resist English encroachment and fight. Most of Æthelstan’s increasingly worried neighbours chose option 3.

Who was to be top dog in these islands was decided in 937 at the battle of Brunanburh. On the side opposing Æthelstan were Constantine II of Alba, Owain of Strathclyde, and Olaf Guthfrithson, Norse king of Dublin. Æthelstan’s army was exclusively English . . . apart from units volunteered by Hywel ap Cadell of Deheubarth. There is no reference in any of the accounts to Gwynedd being involved on either side.

For the tenth century, where battles tended to involve a few hundred men, Brunanburh was on a different scale entirely, possibly because – as some claim – it was pre-arranged. We know that thousands fought at Brunanburh, thousands died. Constantine’s son fell; two of Æthelstan’s cousins died; the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says that five kings and seven earls died on the enemy side alone. Such was the scale of the battle that for decades afterwards the English referred to it as “the great war”. Though Æthelstan was victorious the enemy leaders all escaped; it may have been this, coupled with his great losses – or the reluctance of his followers – that meant he was unable to capitalise on the victory by pursuing and totally crushing his enemies.

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Nations have been founded and empires brought down by a single battle, Brunanburh could have been another history-changing encounter. In reality, it changed very little, the protagonists went home and things carried on much as before. The one great consequence of Brunanburh was a united and strengthened England, free from any immediate threat, that would inevitably seek to dominate its neighbours in the years and centuries to come. In fact, this consequence of an English victory could have easily been predicted before the battle, for Æthelstan had left no one in any doubt of his intentions. That being so, how do we explain the reluctance of the Welsh to get involved in a battle so close to Wales?

The answer lies with Hywel ap Cadell of Deheubarth, better known today as Hywel Dda (‘the Good’), the most powerful ruler in Wales, who did so much to keep his more ‘headstrong’ compatriots in check, and remembered today as the codifier of Welsh laws. A complex character, an anglophile, yet by the end of his life Hywel ruled over an almost united and independent Wales . . . but it was ‘independent’ only for as long as the English allowed that pretence to linger. Like all men he faced many choices in his life, and Brunanburh was perhaps the one with the greatest potential for change.

Yet the potential of Brunanburh to change history could only have been realised by an English defeat. Which might have been achieved had Hywel ap Cadell sent his troops to fight with their Strathclyde cousins and the others, and allowed other Welsh rulers to do the same; for had they acted together English power might have been broken at Brunanburh. What would have emerged is impossible to say, but our ties with Strathclyde would certainly have been re-established, and the collapse of English control would also have allowed us to link up again with the Cornish and the Welsh east of the Tamar.

Yet today, Hywel ap Cadell, the good king Hywel Dda, serves as a role model for many Welsh of a ‘pragmatic’ political bent. He is held up as an example the rest of us should follow in our attitudes to England – not like that ‘nasty’ Llywelyn, or that ‘horrible’ Glyndŵr, nothing but medieval warlords, they are . . . butchers, look – ach y fi!. From a nationalist perspective, Hywel can be seen as the man who preferred to remain England’s loyal servant than to seize the opportunity of restoring his people to some of their former glory.

Aug 062014
 

I betook myself to Aberystwyth yesterday, accompannied by the wife and a couple of grandchildren (in case the old car needed a push). ‘Callous bastard’, I hear you cry . . . so, anyway, I went for a coffee before wandering about the old town, seeing what had changed since my last visit. drunk traps

Quite a bit, as it happened. Inhabitants of Aber’, or regular visitors, will know that the council has been working around the front of the railway station for twelve years or more (well, it seems that long), laying out bus bays and new pavements. Walking from the Mill Street car park (soon to be lost under Marks & Spencers and Tesco), I turned the corner by the station to be greeted by a veritable minefield of drunk traps. Just look! the picture (click to enlarge) shows a short stretch of pavement with at least a dozen obstacles over which, or even into which, an unwary imbiber might fall. All this in a university town!

I tell you, if I was an ambulance-chasing lawyer or some other variety of shyster I wouldAber shelter be hanging about this area of a Friday or Saturday night just waiting for the inevitable tumble, followed by the yell of shock and then the drawn-out moan of agony, whereupon I would leap from the shadows and present my card, for there’s a fortune to be made here! And with an ‘assistant’, giving gentle ‘nudges’ . . .

On a lighter note, but staying with the topic of the immoderate consumption of alcohol, I am delighted to report that the shelter on the promenade, so badly damaged in the January storms, has been restored. Over the years, this noble and welcoming structure has provided a roof under which many a weary bon viveur has rested his head for the night, me included.

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Last year I wrote a post called Neighbours From Hell, which was well received and is still getting lots of visits. (You’dog kennelsll see it featured in the sidebar.) One of those I wrote about was Leanne Meredith, and her collection of aggressive dogs. So aggressive that a one-tonne bull these dogs attacked had to be put down. The latest news is that Ms Meredith, originally of Wimbledon, has done a runner, yet, since the attack, one of her dogs, an American bulldog, has been kept in “official kennels” – where the little darling has run up a bill of £24,000, which we shall pay! (Click on cutting to enlarge.)

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Straying not far from the subject of English undesirables in Wales I am indebted to the ever-reliable BD for this tale of windfarm bribery and the privatised probation service.

As you may be aware, Pen y Cymoedd is the massive windfarm on the western side of the Heads of the Valleys. (Click on image to enlarge.) This grant-guzzling monstrosity and eyesore is being built by Swedish company Vattenfall which, as is the way in such ventures, is bribing the local communities with their own money. Among those applying for a slice of this faux largesse is the Wales Community Rehabilitation Company Ltd. As BD says, when he first saw the name he assumed it was a group to help seriously deprived communities in the area blighted by these monsters, villages such as Glyncorrwg and Blaenllechau; but no, it has little to do with such communities, and perhaps not a lot to do with Wales.Pen y Cymoedd

The one-page website tells us that the Wales Community Rehabilitation Company is a successor to the Wales Probation Trust and is a privatised Third Sector subsidiary of the Englandandwales Ministry of Justice. It is a private limited company, Incorporated on December 4, 2013 (Company Number: 08802571), and it clearly hopes to be funded by generosity from sources such as Vattenfall plus, we can be sure, the ‘Welsh’ Government. Welcome to the privatised probation service.

BD tells me that the directors are David Rees Evans, a retired banker, living in Colwyn Bay, who is on the North Wales Probation Circuit; retired group captain Neil Trevor Bale, who owns Cyfie Farm guesthouse on Efyrnwy, and is chairman of the Tourism Partnership of Mid Wales; Clare Elizabeth Roach, previously the HR manager at the Royal Voluntary Service, after a stint in HR with South Wales Police; Bernadette Elizabeth Ann Rijnenberg, who was also director of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Support Services Limited; and Andrew James Skene Emmett, who resigned from the The Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company Limited, because ‘he moved to London’.

So we appear to have yet another ‘Welsh’ organisation that is mainly English in its composition. Given its business, and the colonial relationship between Wales and England, I believe we can confidently predict that many of its clients will have no previous connection with Wales. In which case, and yet again, ‘Welsh’ money, or money promised to ‘Welsh’ causes, will be used in the service of England.

But isn’t it a strange name for a service looking after ex-cons and offenders? You can understand why BD initially thought it was in the business of reinvigorating run-down communities. One to watch, I think.

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Finally, how could I do an update post without a mention of ‘Bishop’ Nathan Lee Gill MEP!

It seems that I misunderstood the info I received about Gill’s Humvee with the Humviewbig screen in the back. (Misunderstandings are almost inevitable when trying to communicate by text messages.) I assumed it was a big television screen inside the vehicle when, in reality, it was a 6ft x 5ft LCD advertising screen affixed to the rear. As shown in the picture (click to enlarge). This link will take you to some other pictures, including some of the man himself. You’ll also see that Humview Ltd, Gill’s short-lived company, seems to have been based in Pensans, Kernow. Which is very interesting, for it might answer a question that’s been puzzling me about Gill’s brother-in-law, Brian Lynn Quilter of Lledr House, Dolwyddelan.

The thing is, I have this e-mail (click to enlarge), sent from lledrhouse@aol.com, which can only be from Quilter. It seems to have been sent to either the London Gazette (which announces company liquidations) or the Official Receiver, possibly both. Quilter is American, married to Gill’s part-time cop sister. My guess is that he came over some twelve years ago. But the point is that, being married into Gill’s family, he would of course know Anglesey, possibly other parts of the north, and obviously the old Gill stamping ground of Hull and the adjacent area of Yorkshire. But Plymouth is quite a way from both, so how did Quilter get himself into business down there? (The business being the migrant housing racket.)

Well, given that we know now GPlymouth e-mailill was operating in Cornwall, then Plymouth’s not far away, just over the Tamar; and in many ways the ‘capital’ of Cornwall in much the same way that Liverpool is / was ‘the capital of north Wales’. Which then raises the obvious question, why was Gill himself in Cornwall? Was he running migrant housing scams down there, in Cornwall and south west England, as he was in Hull?

Returning to the e-mail, it’s dated March 15, 2010, so in its chronological sequence in comes just before the second (and final) Notification of Strike-off Action against Quilter Properties Ltd appeared in the London Gazette on April 23, 2010. So it could be part of a tidying-up exercise, even a confession – for Quilter is almost certainly talking in the e-mail of undeclared, (cash-in-hand) income – but it also raises one final question.

Given what we know about how HMRC has operated in recent years, and also given that HMRC was interested in Gill and his business associates, was a deal struck, in which Gill and Quilter paid off a nominal amount in order to get HMRC off their backs?

Aug 022014
 

After just over two years as head of the Planning Inspectorate in Wales Richard Poppleton is to leave. I have written about Mr Poppleton a couple of times in the recent past; first, on December 30 last year in Richard Poppleton, ‘Organ Grinder’, and again on April 1 this year with Richard Poppleton, On Tour. Seeing as he took up his position as recently as April 2012 this is a rather early – and indeed, sudden – departure. Is he retiring, being re-assigned, or recalled to Berlin London?

I took an interest in Poppleton and his agency for two reasons. First, I wanted to know why the Planning Inspectorate forces through Local Development Plans that demand new housing in excess of local need. Second, I hoped to establish the relationship between the ‘Welsh’ Government and the Inspectorate. The first question is answered below. As for how the buffoons down Cardiff docks interact with the Planning Inspectorate, well, the reality is that the Planning Inspectorate is an Englandandwales outfit and an executive agency of the Department for Commuities and Local Government in London.

The Inspectorate operates in Wales on orders from the DCLG; the only contribution from ‘Welsh’ ministers is to nod in agreement when required, and to read from scripts prepared for them by the Inspectorate’s apparatchiks and other English civil servants. Summed up in this clip from the Gov.UK website entry for Mr Poppleton. The website clearly says ‘Director of Wales, Planning Inspectorate'; not ‘Director, Welsh Planning Inspectorate'; not even ‘Director, Planning Inspectorate Wales’. Clearly, he runs the Wales office for the Planning Inspectorate in London. Anyway, Poppleton is history, he will soon be replaced by another English civil servant.

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Thickett Planing Resource

TONY THICKETT, THE NEW GAULEITER

When I heard the name of his successor, Tony Thickett, it rang bells, so I started searching through my blog, and sure enough, I found him. On March 13, in my post, Bodelwyddan and the Bigger Picture, Thickett’s name emerges as the planning inspector responsible for forcing through the Denbighshire LDP. I urge you to read the blog post and the planning inspector’s report, especially pages 16 – 27, ‘Housing; Need and Supply’, pages 28 – 31 ‘Affordable Housing’ and page 35 where, under ‘Other Matters’, the Welsh language, social and cultural fabric is dealt with.

For those who don’t have the time . . . The council argued, quite correctly, that the 2011 Census and other recent figures had superseded the original LDP and clearly indicate that Denbighshire now needs to plan for fewer new dwellings. Thickett’s response was, in effect, ‘Yes, quite right . . . but we are pushing ahead with the original figure anyway, so shut up!’ In the original LDP there had been provision for 2,250 – 3,000 ‘affordable homes’, but Thickett believed that “around 1,874 affordable homes could be delivered”. On the Welsh language, he made it clear that in his opinion it didn’t really count for anything.

Thickett was accompannied on his excursion to Denbighshire by a Gwynedd Thomas, another planner, obviously Welsh, but clearly outranked by Thickett. How does Gwynedd Thomas feel about being used to give a little local colour to this squalid exercise in colonialism?

More information on Thickett can be found in the panel on the right (click to enlarge) it comes from planningresource.co.uk. Note the announcement was made by the Planning Inspectorate, not the ‘Welsh’ Government. Though I find it strange that this press release, taken from the GOV.UK website, should imply that the appointment means Thickett is “returning to Wales” – where the hell is Denbighshire?

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Thickett’s work in Denbighshire, his report that says, ‘We can do whatever we damn well like, no matter what the evidence and statistics say’, is a warning of what is to come, especially when two new pieces of legislation are enacted: the Planning (Wales) Bill and the Housing (Wales) Bill.

For those who have not been following my countless posts on this new legislation, let me quickly bring you up to speed. The housing bill is, basically, a load of flim-flam for the Left about looking after gypsies and regulating private landlords, yet the main purpose is to integrate social housing allocation in Wales with that in England. Which will mean that a deliberately homeless family of scruffs with no connections with Wales whatsover could be moving to a property close to you in the very near future. (Yeah, I know it already happens but, believe me, when the new legislation comes into force, the floodgates will be opened.)

The changes to the planningStrategic Development Plans laws have been welcomed by builders, developers, estate agents and even lower forms of life not discussed in polite society. Development plans will cover larger areas than the existing local authorities and councillors will be squeezed out to give more power to council officers (too many of whom are not Welsh) and ‘appointees’. Taking power away from Welsh councillors is something I would normally applaud, but a return to the quangoes – which is what the Bill advocates – cannot be supported. The basic reasoning of the new legislation is that planning should be left to the professionals with as little input as possible from those who will be affected by the decisions made by these professionals.

To whet your appetites further, I have included an illustration (click to enlarge) taken from a paper by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners published in December 2013, to help their clients understand Strategic Development Areas in Wales. You will see that our two main cities are shown, presumably as the hubs of their planned city regions (yawn!), but what is that red gash snaking across the north from the border to end in a blob somewhere near Bryngwran? It is described as “the A55 Corridor”, and can only be a commuter corridor . . . not for northern Welsh people to work over the border, but to facilitate the movement into Wales of English people already working over the border, for which thousands and thousands of new homes will be built. (I added Bodelwyddan to the map to help you get the fuller picture.) All this, remember, before the legislation is even passed. The vultures are circling!

You must not think that this is confined to Swansea, Cardiff and the north, for the whole country is under threat, as Cneifiwr recently reminded us with another illuminating post from Carmarthenshire. There, despite the most recent statistics making it clear that population increase will be far lower than previously anticipated by the LDP, and household size (across Wales) larger than predicted, the number of new dwellings planned for has actually been increased! Then, further mirroring Denbighshire, the number of affordable homes to be built in Carmarthenshire has been reduced. Even attitudes towards the language follow the Denbighshire lead; protection for the language will now apply only to those communities where more than 60% of the population speaks Welsh, of which there are just five left. How can the Planning Inspectorate and council planning officers (invariably operating in concert) say, ‘Yes, we agree, the demand for new housing has reduced . . . so we’re going to build even more new houses!’.

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The only answer to that question is that housing in Wales – private and social – has little to do with what we Welsh need. Housing is now quite blatantly being used to increase the English population of Wales and thereby weaken Welsh identity, done in order to reduce the demand for further constitutional change. Then Wales can, to all intents and purposes, be assimilated into England . . . even if the pretence of ‘Wales’ is maintained in sport and other ‘bread and circuses’ spheres. The English Planning Inspectorate is a major player in this ethnocidal strategy. As are the other civil servants, with their hands up the backs of the dummies in the ‘Welsh’ Government, making these wretches say whatever London wants them to say.

We Welsh are on the point of becoming a minority in our own country. This trend has been observable for almost half a century, unsurprising because it began in response to the national awakening of the 1960s. It takes in not just housing, but higher education, the Third Sector, tourism, discrimination in employment, lack of training opportunities, reducing funding to Welsh farmers, highly selective grant funding, the ‘managed decline’ of the Valleys and other areas . . . in short, anything that can be used to disadvantage, sideline and minoritise us Welsh. Others see it, and comment on it without inhibition or sense of guilt; but we Welsh must not discuss it – for to do so makes us ‘racist’. The great taboo subject of contemporary Wales! Compared to this threat to our very existence as a nation nothing else matters: not fracking, not M4 ‘improvements’, not saving the planet, and we certainly shouldn’t concern ourselves with which set of puppets is on stage down Cardiff docks.

Organising an effective resistance to the colonisation strategy cannot be done overnight. Remember that our enemies have taken forty years and more to get to the position they are in today. But the resistance must start with people talking to each other, for there are too many groups and individuals scattered about the country achieving very little because they are precisely that – disparate and dispered groups and individuals. So start putting out feelers, talk to each other, look for common ground, start co-operating, with the aim of finding candidates to give the electorate a clear nationalist alternative on the regional lists in the Assembly elections of 2016.

I advocate this because more important than all the groups and individuals I refer to are the many thousands who have lost faith in the established parties. Many of these were so desperate to show their contempt for the Lab-Con-LD-PC cabal that they voted in large numbers – even in the Valleys! – for the clowns, cretins and crooks of Ukip on May 22. Provide a rallying-point for these who have lost faith and it will be rewarded. Make the elections of 2016 the springboard for a new movement that will start reclaiming our country!

Jul 312014
 

I am indebted to D P for drawing my attention to the Owain Glyndŵr Fields Initiative. If, like me, you were unaware of OG Fieldsthis project, then this extract from the website might help: “The Owain Glyndwr Fields Initiative was established to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Owain Glyndwr, Prince of Wales, through the protection of recreational open space in his name. The initiative, which was endorsed by the National Assembly for Wales, was launched when the first field was established in the shadow of Caerphilly Castle in 2001 and has since seen 20 sites around Wales dedicated to the statesman.”

These sites have a curious geographical spread: one in Caerffili, one in Powys, one in Conwy, two in Monmouthshire, five in Gwynedd, and no less than ten in Wrecsam! Some are where you’d expect to find the great man commemorated, such as Machynlleth and Pennal, but why is there nothing in Denbighshire, at Rhuthun or Glyndyfrdwy? Out of twenty-two Welsh local authorities only six have shown any interest at all.

There’s not a lot to argue with there, unusually patriotic for those clowns down Cardiff docks, even though they only “endorsed” the initiative (so whose idea was it?). But if you look more closely at the web page, and the menu tabs above, you’ll see that the Owain Glyndŵr Fields Initiative is just a Welsh manifestation of something much bigger called Fields in Trust. And when you read the blurb on the home page you realise there’s nothing new about this at all.

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For it says: “We were founded back in 1925 as the National Playing Fields AssociatiFiton by King George V. Our mission is the same now and (sic) as it was then: to ensure that everyone – young or old, able or disabled and wherever they live – should have access to free, local outdoor space for sport, play and recreation. These spaces are vital to building happy and healthy communities and sadly continue to be threatened by all kinds of development.

We are a national charity and operate throughout the UK to safeguard recreational spaces and campaign for better statutory protection for all kinds of outdoor sites.”

Now I’m sure that many of you will have heard of the National Playing Fields Association, and I can recall the King George V Playing Fields down on the Mumbles Road in Swansea (always referred to as ‘Ashleigh Road’), though these are hired out by the city council, and certainly aren’t free, as suggested in the Fit blurb just quoted. When I tried to find Fields in Trust on the Charity Commission website (using the charity number given, 306070) I landed with the National Playing Fields Association. Then I found, at the foot of the website, “Fields in Trust is the new operating name for the National Playing Fields Association”. So Fit is nothing more than a re-branding exercise. But what’s the point of that?

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Charities ForumThe answers start to come when you know that Fit is part of the Charities Forum, “Founded by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry” (with the duke president of Fit). So on one level, it’s an attempt to give the impression that the junior royals have something useful to do. Which then gives the BBC and certain newspapers the opportunity to remind us how hard these royals work, and what good work they do, and to make sure we know they do it all for nothing!

When you check out some of the other pages on the website then you realise that the re-branding also has a more political nature, to serve contemporary political purposes. For one of the other initiatives, Centenary Fields, is linked with the World War One celebration of Britishness and unity. (‘You listening, Salmond!’)

Centenary Fields

For with the Scottish referendum just seven weeks away it’s no surprise to learn that in Scotland Centenary Fields is linked with Poppy Scotland. There appears to be no direct Welsh equivalent of Poppy Scotland but there is Cymru’n Cofio / Wales Wales RemembersRemembers, which looks like a spin-off from the UK commemorations. I found the Cymru’n Cofio image on the Caeau Canmlwyddiant page under the ‘Cymru’ tab. I’m giving the page name in Welsh because the Welsh pages of the Fit website are remarkable for being in Welsh only, without English translations! I suppose the tab should have read ‘Cymraeg’ instead of ‘Cymru’. Which would then mean, presumably, that the information for Wales would be another example of ‘For Wales, see England’.

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I have no problem with remembering those men who fought and died in the Great War, it is only right that we do so. But let us also remember how unnecessary and avoidable that conflict was, and that the only victors were American capitalism and Russian communism. If we are to teach children about WWI then don’t confine it to the bravery and the stoically-endured suffering; tell them about the political folly and the military incompetence, the executions of ‘deserters’ and ‘cowards’, and all the other things that challenge the sanitised version. Because I worry that the version being pushed now is not a lot different to what Wilfred Owen warned us against in the final lines of Dulce Et Decorum Est:

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old lie; Dulce et Decorum est

Pro patria mori.

(The phrase comes from an ode by the Roman poet Horace, and means, roughly: ‘It is noble and fitting to die for one’s country’.) Though I suppose, in fairness, there is a big problem for a country like Britain, because you can’t really tell kids the truth about war knowing you’ll need some of them to unquestioningly fight in the next Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq . . .

To finish where I started, I believe that every civilised society should have plenty of open spaces for its people, I grew up in a city blessed with wonderful parks and playing fields. But these open spaces shouldn’t be exploited to promote some silly idea that heirs to the throne have any real purpose beyond breeding and waiting their turn; nor should the innocent and wholesome role of parks and playing fields be traduced in the service of sanitised and politicised interpretation of war.