Apr 152014
 

At the risk of repeating myself . . . There is an issue I touched on in an earlier post that has been nagging at me to the point where I think it needs another post to elaborate and explore it better.

In my attempts to explain the machinations of the Planning Inspectorate I have often used the example of Denbighshire. Partly because I like (inland) Denbighshire and partly because it serves the purpose well. In particular, I drew attention to the anomaly of Denbighshire being told – by the Planning Inspectorate – to build 8,500 new housing units (some of which have already been built) between 2006 and 2021 despite the population being projected to increase by only a further 2,927 between 2014 and 2021.

In an earlier post, Bodelwyddan and the Bigger Picture, I drew attention to a Planning Inspectorate report of 2013 into Denbighshire’s Local Development Plan, and the report’s rejection of the county council’s very reasonable attempts to get the new housing figure reduced in line with the revised population projections. What the inspectors said can be found in part 4.8 of their report, reproduced in the panel.4.8 What I neglected to explain fully in the earlier post was what is meant by “the LDP’s objectives and aspirations”, which expose the absurdities behind forcing a Welsh local authority to plan for some four or five times the number of new housing units it actually needs. So what are the “objectives and aspirations” of the LDP?

In essence, the LDP argues that because Denbighshire has an ageing population it must remedy this by bringing in to the county a younger population. The Planning Inspectorate is therefore saying, ‘Because you attract so many elderly English people to Denbighshire you must improve the county’s age profile by attracting a younger English population’. This is the insane ‘aspiration’ of the LDP, this is the double whammy I refer to in the title.

Yet at the 2011 Census the percentage of the county’s population in the 65+ age bracket was just 21% (the figure for Wales is 18.4%). Yet only 42.7% of Denbighshire’s 65+ population was born in Wales. While the figure for the 0 – 49 age group was 67.8%, and well over 70% away from the coastal towns. So the 65+ figure for Denbighshire isn’t really high enough to justify the numbers of new dwellings being demanded by the Planning Inspectorate. Strengthening the suspicion that the county is being forced into allowing thousands of new dwellings, close to the A55, for commuters from Merseyside, Manchester and Cheshire. Nothing at all to do with correcting a generational imbalance, that is merely a pretext.

Using the Denbighshire argument the Planning Inspectorate could demand excessive numbers of new housing in any area with an above average percentage of the population in the 65+ age bracket. Which would mean Gwynedd SW Wards mergedjust about any rural area. Which is clever, and naughty, considering that it was the Planning Inspectorate that very often insisted on the flats and retirement bungalows that attracted the retirees and the elderly in the first place. Making the Planning Inspectorate’s solution a bit like ‘treating’ a hangover by getting drunk again and repeating the process endlessly. (Something I read about, somewhere.) There has to be a better way – the planning equivalent of not getting drunk in the first place.

In the area where I live the 65+ age group accounts for 30.1% of the total population, and of that group just 31.6% was born in Wales. (Click to enlarge panel.) By the Inspectorate’s own reasoning, this is not healthy, and something should be done to remedy the problem. But a younger element cannot be attracted to the area a) because there is little or no work and b) southern Gwynedd – unlike Denbighshire – is too far away for English commuters. So either we remedy the generational imbalance by bringing in a non-working younger population or we curb the numbers of retirees and elderly moving in. The answer is becoming obvious, especially when isolated.

The whole Western world admits to the accelerating problem of a falling birthrate / ageing population and wonders how to cope. Yet here, on the periphery of Europe, one of the continent’s poorest countries is actually encouraging elderly people to move in! This will result in the death of the Welsh language and the loss of Welsh identity, it will push the NHS and other services beyond breaking point while, economically, this house of cards cannot endure, because the idea that it’s possible to have a healthy, functioning society when the bulk of the adult population is economically inactive is simply delusional. While to misrepresent this phenomenon as proof of ‘Caring Wales’, or to make a virtue of it by arguing that it shows how ‘attractive’ Wales is to outsiders, is no better than telling a rape victim that she should be flattered that someone found her so irresistable.

Curbing the numbers of retired and elderly people moving to Wales must henceforth be a priority for the ‘Welsh Government, because if this is not done then the costs will rise, and eventually engulf us. Now, obviously, the ‘Welsh’ Government, even if it was so minded, could not pass legislation stating this as an objective, but it could certainly introduce legislation to ensure that the flats and retirement bunglaows aimed specifically at buyers of a certain age, living outside of Wales, are no longer built in the numbers, and the concentrations, of the recent past.

Curbing this unsustainable influx would also ensure that the Planning Inspectorate could not engage in the black arts of planning as it has in Denbighshire – using one form of colonisation to demand another.

Apr 082014
 
SUBMERGED HISTORY

History has always been a passion of mine, and one era that fascinates me more than most is the so-called ‘Dark Ages’, that period covering the departure of the Romans and the German incursions. In the traditional interpretation of this period there is deliberate confusion about just who was living in England when the Anglo-Saxons arrived and, perhaps more importantly, what happened to them.

These elusive people are variously called ‘Celts’, ‘Britons’, ‘Romano-Britons’, ‘sub-Roman Britons’ or ‘Brythons’; the language they spoke can be ‘Celtic’, ‘Brythonic’ or ‘Brittonic’. They are never called what they really were – Welsh. (Obviously, this is not what they called themselves, which would have been something like Cumbrogi – from which Cumberland derives – developing into Cymry and thence Cymru.) To the German invaders our ancestors were waelisc; i.e, strangers . . . in their own country. In truth, the language they spoke was a form of early Welsh and would be understood by speakers of modern Welsh; but it must never be called Welsh, even though Anglo-Saxon, unintelligible to speakers of modern English, is now called ‘Early English’. This obfuscation explains the average English person’s sequential understanding of the period as: 1/ Celtic savages daubed in woad, 2/ Romans come and civilise Britain, 3/ Romans leave, 4/ Anglo-Saxons arrive. A seamless, and bloodless, transition from Roman Britain to Anglo-Saxon England.

BRITAIN c. 540 (click to enlarge)

There were almost certainly German warriors in Britain during the time of the empire, for hiring mercenaries, auxiliaries or foedorati was an accepted way of augmenting the regular army, and in the empire’s later years a majority of Roman forces may have consisted of Germans. With the withdrawal of the last Roman outposts (c. AD 410) Britain came under attack from the Irish and the Picts; the former sailing up the Severn Sea as far as the prosperous Cotswolds, and the latter raiding down the east coast as far as London. Undefended, and lacking any experience in tackling seaborne raids, the leaders of the Romano-Welsh followed the imperial example of recruiting mercenaries.

This arrangement held until the German mercenaries got greedy and, using the traditional pretext that they were underpaid, rebelled against their Romano-Welsh paymasters. This First Saxon Revolt of 442 did not start well for the Germans and could have resulted in their total defeat had they not received reinforcements from their homelands. This marked the start of the mass migrations that were to turn the Romano-Welsh lowlands into England. The next few decades saw intermittent warfare before the English suffered a crushing defeat at Mons Badonicus / Mount Badon (attributed to ‘Arthur’) some time around 518 resulting in a period of ‘containment’ and, according to Gildas, relative prosperity. But internal strife, plus two visitations of ‘Yellow Plague’, greatly weakened the Welsh and prompted the Second Saxon Revolt of the mid-sixth century, which largely swept away what remained of Romano-Welsh Britain.

WHERE DID ALL THE WELSH GO?

To answer that question let us remember that the centuries of European expansion and colonisation were often justified by arguing that the conquered territory was ‘backward’, or by claiming that ‘civilisation’, Christianity, even cricket, were being taken to benighted savages. But the Anglo-Saxon takeover of England always presented a somewhat different problem. This was because the fertile lowlands the invaders coveted were the most Romanised parts of the island, inhabited by a sophisticated and Christian population. Something else was needed.

Homework full

For while butchering and enslaving the original inhabitants of Britain didn’t bother the Anglo-Saxons of the time, it did cause their descendants and apologists a bit of a headache. How to justify it? Answer: Right of Conquest, enshrined in international law until fairly recently. This sees sturdy, ale-swigging blonds initially defending a degenerate population that had lost the will to live once their Roman protectors left. Then, after being short-changed by these ingrates, our heroes take over the whole country. (Which was largely empty anyway.) The kind of propaganda found here, from which the panel above is taken. A good clean fight after which the defeated Welsh trooped off to Wales, Cornwall, Cumbria, Brittany and Galicia

This version, told by the English to themselves and the wider world, would have been uncontested if we Welsh had all been killed off, or assimilated, but we weren’t, and the alternative version was kept alive in Welsh folk memory, to regularly surface for a wider audience. Such as when Henry Tudor marched into England in 1485 to take the throne of England. Harri Tudur (as he was known to us) was accompanied by thousands of Welsh soldiers, many of whom saw the venture as a crusade to avenge the Night of the Long Knives (Brad y Cyllyll Hirion) and other massacres, and to reconquer England. The memory of this massacre of three hundred unarmed Romano-Welsh elders at a peace conference with the Germans was still remembered in the nineteenth century, and inspired the term Brad y Llyfrau Gleision (Treachery of the Blue Books) to describe the defamation of a whole culture. One outcome of the Blue Books was of course the imposition of an English educational system on Wales, one that had no intention of teaching Welsh children their own history.

So what did happen to the Welsh of lowland Britain? The truth is, as Gildas and other sources attest, a combination of genocide, expulsion / migration, and enslavement. (The real history that Time Team and other Anglo-Saxon propaganda glosses over or ignores completely.) In the video, Dr. Mark Thomas of University College London, goes as far as suggesting that the Welsh remaining in what had become England were kept as slaves and subject to a controlled breeding programme, which might explain the lack of Welsh DNA in the English population. (Perhaps even a form of apartheid.) Not a pretty picture, is it? Small wonder it’s been necessary to draw a veil over this chapter of English history. More than a mere chapter, the very genesis of England

ENGLAND LOST, WALES THREATENED

The intervening centuries saw a struggle to avoid being completely over-run and wiped out by the English. Constant wars and further incidents of duplicity such as Cilmeri brought us to the glorious national rising of Owain Glyndwr (1400 – 1412). After that war thousands of Welsh fighting men left (many with their families) to join the armies of France, England and other countries. At the battle of Agincourt in 1415 there may have been more Welsh on the French side than on the English, and God knows there were enough fighting with Henry V to provide Shakespeare with material. As late as the 1630s the great English writer John Milton (Paradise Lost) could describe the Welsh as “An old, and haughty nation proud in arms”. The English still hated and despised us; partly because we were truculent, stroppy buggers, and partly because, by our very existence, we kept reminding them of how they’d stolen England from us. (For as someone once said, “You always hate those you have wronged”.)

Welsh migrations

ESCAPING GENOCIDE AND SLAVERY (click to enlarge)

Yet by the eighteenth century Wales had been pacified. We were still unmistakably Welsh, with virtually all of us speaking the language, but something had changed. The old fighting spirit had gone, we now seemed resigned to being second-class citizens in an exploitive and suffocating Union; more concerned with salvation than with Y Tiroedd Coll (The Lost Lands); happy to serve a new wave of Germans occupying ‘the throne of London’. The harsh conditions brought by industrialisation, and rural unrest, saw a brief revival of the old stroppiness, but we were no longer Welsh, we had become ‘labour’, and the enemy was not England, but ‘capital’. For those who still cared, the struggle now was to avoid the complete loss of our identity by pathetically trying to prove to our masters that a Welsh-speaking population could be utterly and unquestioningly loyal . . . not like those horrid Irish (Catholics). The English pretended to accept this while plotting to totally destroy Welsh culture and identity. (For our benefit, of course.) On the national stage, the domination of the chapels in the nineteenth century was succeeded in the twentieth century by that of the Labour Party, with neither having much interest in defending Welsh identity, and promoting Welsh interests, unless it could serve narrow party political interest.

THE ENEMY WITHIN

Today the English come not to split our children’s skulls and rape our women but with the modern equivalents of beads and bibles. In one town there is a story being played out that encapsulates modern Wales. Supermarket chain Tesco wants to build a new hyper-super-mega-store in Aberystwyth, next door to it will be Marks and Spencer. The citizens of Aber’ pack the chapels and churches to thank God for this munificence. The local councillors, freemasons and other forms of pond life calculate their back-handers. There’s just one problem . . . the car park site allocated isn’t quite big enough, nearby houses will need to be demolished. The owners of these houses have been bribed or intimidated into selling, but one refuses. Fifty-nine-year-old Enid Jones has, with great dignity, maintained that she likes living in her house, and wants to stay.

For this unconscionable impertinence she has been vilified by shits in suits, while in the town’s lodges fearful incantations are heard, and the local business community throws the killer dart by accusing her of that crime against which there is no defence – standing in the way of progress! Since when did building yet another fucking supermarket equate with human ‘progress’? Anyone wanting to understand the change that has taken place in the relationship between the Welsh and the English over 1,600 years could do a lot worse than consider the case of Enid Jones. For it tells us that the English have won a great victory by making large numbers of Welsh think like them, by evaluating things through an English-benefit prism. To the point where Welsh people take the side of a massive English company interested in Wales solely for profit. A company that short-changes Welsh farmers and producers, and that – given recent experience – will bring in English staff to its Aber’ store, while almost certainly putting Welsh shops out of business. But Tesco must be supported, for it is the bringer of Progress – hallelujah! – and to facilitate this incalculable benefit to the citizenry of Aber’ a Welshwoman must lose her home.

What echoes!

Due to the ascendancy of these ‘English-thinkers’ who fester and slither among us we face a struggle now to avoid being completely over-run. This could be Dorset or Lincolnshire in the mid-sixth century; the objective has remained constant, only the methodology has changed. In large parts of Wales we are again becoming waelisc, strangers in our own land. Today they can just walk in and dispossess us with their money, and their laws. Their royals and their aristocrats can claim what lies beneath our feet, above our heads, even the Welsh sea! They come with smiles, and lies about loving Wales, wanting to do the best for us . . . yet it’s always them that benefit.

The nation that once covered this land from Cornwall to the Clyde is now reduced to second-class status, and is slowly losing even its remaining pockets of territory. Unless we start fighting colonialism, and its English-thinking supporters among us, it will soon all be over, for this time there is nowhere else to go.

Apr 032014
 

I first came across the name Wales Weekly on the Syniadau blog, in a post about it and Daily Wales. The latter I knew about because I’d had some involvement, but Wales Weekly was new to me, so I followed the Syniadau link without thinking much more about it. Then, today, I picked up a tweet from Wales Weekly and followed it to the piece it linked with.

What I found was headed Wales tourism target Chinese traveler. I was struck by the title’s appalling syntax and US spelling, my mood lightening only as I recalled Robert E. Lee’s favourite war horse. Then I got to thinking that this was clearly a story about overseas visitors to Wales, yet it was appearing just two days after a report showed that the number of overseas visitors to Wales had actually dropped by 23% in a decade. So was the Wales Weekly piece good news in response to bad news? Naturally, this got me wondering about who’s behind Wales Weekly.

What I found in the ‘About us’ section was, “Wales Weekly is a weekly paper focusing on international news that will influence Wales, and breaking stories in Wales that affect the world”. (“Paper”?) Impressive claims, and while many external events impact on Wales, I can’t honestly think of anything that’s happened in Wales for a hell of a long time, if ever, that had international repercussions . . . apart from the Swansea Laverbread Riots of 1893. And there was a gmail conWales Weeklytact address. The next step was to see what kind of articles are published about “international news” or, more intriguingly, the Welsh news that will “affect the world”.

One quick way of checking what a site contains is the Tag Cloud. For a new site like Wales Weekly this is relatively easy to check, and this is what it told me. ‘Wales’ scored 40 topics, next was ‘Cardiff’ with 19 (and ‘Cardiff University’ with 10), followed by  ‘Sport’ with 8. Swansea did not figure, nor did any city, town or region other than Newport (4). Clearly this is the ‘Wales’ of the Notional Assembly and the ‘Welsh’ media. Next I checked on the articles and who’d written them, thinking maybe I’d recognise a name or two.

The article on Chinese tourists that drew me to the site was written by Xi Zhang. Unknown to me and presumably Chinese. Elsewhere on the site I found articles with the attributions Bing Li, Shuyu Guo, Ying Tian, Lee Ping, Chenxi Li, Olia Hu, Sherry Ye, which, when added to the tag cloud ‘evidence’, suggests that this site is the work of Chinese students(?) based in Cardiff(?). But I also came across contributors names that are not obviously Chinese such as Carla Guerreiro Santos, Sarah Weckerling and Charles Young, so are these also students? Another name was Andres Bandas who can be found under the ‘Culture’ heading with regular ‘Eating With Andres’ articles. Now the only Andres Banda that I can find on Linkedin lives in London – is this him? And are reviews of Cardiff eateries the kind of “breaking stories in Wales that affect the world”. I think not.

In fairness, further rooting unearthed a ‘Blog’ section and a ‘from the editor’ piece by Chenxi Li. But if she is the editor, why isn’t this stated on the homepage, or in the ‘About us’ section? Anyway, the article argued for devolution of major energy projects to the ‘Welsh’ Government, which some would welcome, but not me. If power was handed over to those clowns down Cardiff docks we would all be employed in polishing solar panels wearing wind turbine headgear (plugged into the grid) in a country attracting every eco-crook on earth with the promise of money for old rope funding for imaginative and environmentally friendly sources of energy. But if nothing else, the article shows an interest in Wales . . . even if it does resonate of cut and paste. In addition, she writes that Wales exports 13% of the energy she generates. Surely the figure is much higher, I’ve heard some argue that we produce two or three times what we need?

Young

Click to Enlarge

I’m not sure what to say about Charles Young. He wonders whether Wales would follow if Scotland voted Yes to independence. Presumably to strengthen his argument that Wales would not he reminds us that Scotland was a big player in the Industrial Revolution . . . but Wales, to judge by the inference, was not! Mr. Young is so well read on the subject of Welsh attitudes to independence that he can even quote that profound and respected political thinker Griff Rhys Jones; and there are other gems encapsulated in the panel (but read the full article for yourself). I suspect that, the name notwithstanding, Mr Young’s first language may not be English.

If, as I believe, Wales Weekly is produced by a group of foreign, mainly Chinese, students in Cardiff, then this should be made clear in a sub-header on all pages, and of course in the ‘About us’ section. Without this being made clear a website containing dubious or incorrect information, produced by people with little knowledge of Wales, and imperfect English could, because of its title, be mistaken somewhere in the world for a semi-official publication, and cause damage to Wales. Being reasonably sure that this is not the intention of those involved I would hope to see the recommended changes made before the next issue appears.

I also hope that this ill-conceived and poorly-executed venture has not received support or funding from any official quarter, governmental or academic. From within Wales or from outside.

Apr 012014
 

‘Who he?’, I hear you implore. The answer is that Mr Poppleton is the esteemed head of the Planning Inspectorate in Wales, that wonderful agency that not only grants us wind farms but also forces our councils to build thousands of new homes for people who haven’t yet thought of moving to Wales.

Regular readers of my bloRichard Poppletong will know that over the past few months I have given quite a bit of coverage to the Planning Inspectorate. I believe I have established that, despite claiming to be somehow under the control of the ‘Welsh’ Government, the Planning Inspectorate is in fact an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. Further, the Inspectorate is run on an Englandandwales basis with – for appearanceʽ sake – a branch office in Cardiff. To mistake this for a separate, Welsh organisation (as we are encouraged to) would be a grave mistake. Mr Poppleton and his agents carry out the wishes of their masters in London. Neither tolerates any Welsh interference.

Perhaps Mr Poppleton, or someone, has been reading my blog; for I learn that the man himself is currently on a tour of all twenty-two Welsh local authorities in the hope of ‘explaining’ how the Planning Inspectorate is organised and how it operates. To aid him he has a little PowerPoint presentation, so here I offer you the chance to go through the document; while beneath it I have selected a few points I think deserve to be highlighted. (To open the document in a separate window and follow page by numbered page, right click here.)

Download (PDF, 114KB)

P4        Curious wording for the first bullet point, but note that it makes no claim to a separate Welsh framework, merely “a section based in Cardiff dealing with Welsh matters”.

The second bullet point is very interesting. Are we expected to believe that the “planning inspectors” are freelance, independent of the Planning Inspectorate? Who recruits them? Who do they report to? Who pays them? How would a planning inspector keep canis lupus from his portal if he fell foul of the Planning Inspectorate?

P5        This page desperately tries to pretend that planning in Wales is determined by the ‘Welsh’ Government. But the only planning officials in Wales are those working for the Planning Inspectorate which, as we know, is an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London.

Also worth remembering is that “Welsh policy” is invariably – and increasingly – the same law as England with ‘(Wales)’ inserted into the name of the Bill / Act. A perfect example would be the Housing (Wales) Bill currently snaking its way through the Notional Assembly. The Bill makes thirty-nine references to ‘England’. The Housing (Scotland) Bill makes not one reference to our shared neighbour. There’s a message there!

P6        Again, in bullet point 1, weird syntax. (Is this a translation?) But note, “supported by the administration in Cardiff” but not ‘answering to the administration’. Suggesting yet again that the ‘Welsh’ Government merely provides office space.

Bullet point 2 confirms what I’ve been told by a number of people. Planning inspectors are brought in from England to adjudicate on matters in a country they know nothing about.

P8        Ah, posterity, what bullshit is spouted in thy name! The Edmund Burke appeal to “those who are to be born”, a weapon regularly found in a dissembler’s armoury.

P9        Very interesting first bullet point. And note the underlining. Could almost be a reference to social engineering. For wasn’t the Nazi lebensraum policy about ‘shaping’ eastern Europe?

P13      “Co-operation and collaboration”. Interesting, this. I have no objection in principle to cross-border commuting, it’s commonplace on the continent and elsewhere, however . . . I suspect that ‘housing market areas’ and ‘travel to work areas’ are used here to justify excessive house building for the benefit of English commuters in the north east, Powys and Gwent.

P14      Ah! posterity, again. Though isn’t ‘constituents’ a word from the political rather than the planning lexicon? Wouldn’t ‘residents’ or ‘population’ fit better? Is it telling us that tomorrow’s constituents, in large parts of Wales, will not be today’s constituents, or their descendants?

P15      “Those yet to come”. Enough posterity, already!

P21      “Plans and policies are not to be slavishly followed without thought and local application”. Of course not. As Denbighshire found out, when a planning inspector went back and demanded yet more unnecessary housing.

P26      Translation of bullet point 3: ‘Local knowledge is OK, but you must have outside experts like our inspectors who can’t even pronounce the name of the community they’re wrecking.’

P27/28  Explains why so many damaging schemes succeed – the law is weighted against anyone – individual, interest group or local authority – engaging in what will almost always be decided is vexatious obstruction, and they will have to pay the cost(s).

P29      “Sheer volume not enough”. If everybody in an area was to object to a scheme their views could be disregarded by a “decision maker”, i.e. a planning inspector.

P31      “National policies”. Which nation?

P33      “S106”. Planning conditions or sweeteners, such as a local occupancy stipulation or the developer building a highway or other community benefit.

P34      “S73” Can be used to undo S106 conditions, and can also be used to grant retrospective planning permission. Which could mean in practice that a scheme is given planning permission on the understanding that there will be local occupancy clauses attaching to all or some of the properties, but that this is then overturned by an S73 ruling. Or, to be utterly cynical, those applying for any scheme could use the S106 local occupancy clause as a ploy to gain planning approval while knowing that once approval is granted they will apply for an S73. Worse, those granting planning consent could also know this.

P35      The figures speak for themselves; though it should be remembered that even though almost two-thirds of appeals are dismissed this does not take into account the many who would like to appeal but are deterred by the prohibitive costs.

P36      The English Planning Inspectorate is to be given even more power in Wales.

P37      A blueprint for taking more power from local authorities. Not necessarily a bad thing, but when the power is to be transferred to the Planning Inspectorate, an unelected foreign agency, then it’s definitely a bad thing. Note the implication of bullet point 3. “(Welsh) Minister (though PINS) to administer and decide the largest development applications”. In other words, the Planning Inspectorate will make decisions and get some dumbo down Cardiff docks to make the announcements.

Also, “poorly performing” Local Planning Authorities – i.e. not passing enough planning applications – are to be stripped of their power. This threat coupled with the punitive costs involved will emasculate any local authority that refuses to nod through virtually every application that comes before it. Plus, of course, the LDP.

P38      Reinforcing the threat of the Planning Inspectorate taking over responsibility for planning in Wales using the puppet regime down Cardiff docks as a human shield and mouthpiece.

Planning Bill

Click to Enlarge

Planning in Wales (I nearly made the mistake of saying ‘Welsh planning’!) is undergoing big changes, and few outside of the ‘opposition’ appreciate the full implications. Though the building industry understands, as this piece illustrates. (Note how the quote from Carl Sargeant makes yet another bloody reference to “future generations”!) The Bill dealt with in the article I’ve linked to is the Planning (Wales) Bill, available here. You can read it yourself, but this piece from the Planning Inspectorate media centre might tell you all you need to know. Again, let me pick out what I consider to be the salient points.

  1. The ‘Welsh’ Government is to take powers from local planning authorities; that is, your local council. As I said above, no bad thing in itself, given the record of many councils, but with larger and possibly more efficient councils on the horizon why do it now? Or is that the reason?
  2. Local development plans would be “subject to refinement”. In other words, councils could be told to build even more unnecessary new homes than had been agreed in the LDP.
  3. Planning applications could by-pass local planning authorities and be made direct to the ‘Welsh’ Government (fronting for the Planning Inspectorate). Worrying, and would this apply to National Parks?
  4. Despite the comforting reference to Scotland the Planning Inspectorate does not operate there. It is an Englandandwales body.
  5. Though it talks of the ‘Welsh’ Government this legislation officially hands control over virtually all planning in Wales to the Planning Inspectorate, an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London.
  6. The Planning Inspectorate article makes it clear, more than once, that when this legislation is enacted the chances of successfully appealing against any of the Inspectorate’s decisions will be almost zero.
  7. “Major changes are afoot”. Yes, indeed. And all for the worse.

Another Bill currently going through the stages is the Housing (Wales) Bill. I have written a number of posts on this subject, work back from here. The only publicity this Bill is getting concentrates on the provisions for tighter regulation of private landlords. But the Bill covers the entire rented sector, and makes clear that our social housing providers – councils and housing associations – will in future co-operate fully with their English counterparts. This means that anyone qualifying for a home in England will automatically qualify in Wales . . . even if they’ve never set foot in Wales.

The consequences are easily predictable. Our less responsible housing associations will go on a building spree knowing they now have an inexhaustible supply of potential tenants in England. These will be described as  ‘vulnerable’ and having ‘needs’. But don’t shed any tears, for these are just euphemisms for problem families, drug addicts, paedophiles, other criminals, the (deliberately) homeless, etc. While this is obviously good news Puppet show, captionfor social housing providers has anyone considered the wider costs of bringing such people into Wales? This post might help. Another consideration is that despite the increase in the social housing stock it will become more difficult for Welsh people to secure social housing because of that inexhaustible supply over the border.

It has become obvious to me in the research I’ve done into the Planning Inspectorate and other agencies that housing and planning is used to attract English colonists with the express intention of weakening and eventually destroying Welsh identity. For the simple and obvious reason that without Welsh identity there can be no political threat to emulate Scotland. That being so, then the counter-measures needed are equally obvious.

We need a five-year residency period before anyone can access social housing, and social housing providers – especially in rural and coastal areas – must be encouraged to buy existing properties (as they were once able to). We need open market housing limited to meeting local need; but more than anything, in the private housing sector we need a mechanism that either reserves a percentage of housing stock for local people, or else financial assistance enabling Welsh people to compete with outside buyers.

This was always about more than housing and planning. They know it; it’s about time we realised it.

Mar 282014
 

Since the recent events in Ukraine and, more importantly, Tsar Vladimir’s response to those events by invading rescuing the Crimea, politicians, journalists and others have been looking around the region at other countries with Russian minorities and asking which might be the next to be invaded rescued. Here’s a good piece from the BBC website.The first map, beneath the picture of the icon-clutching and flag-waving babushka gives the percentages for ethnic Russians living in neighbouring countries. (Click to enlarge.) Some of the figures – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Estonia, Latvia – are quite startling. There are reasons for these figures.

Let us consider Estonia which, withEthnic Russians its population today of just 1.3 million – of which almost 25 per cent is Russian – is a marvel of survival. For centuries part of the Swedish empire, with a Baltic German aristocracy and upper class, and then part of the Russian empire before beating off both Freikorps and Red Army in the chaos following WWI  to become independent in 1920. In 1940 the Red Army returned to ‘defend’ Estonia . . . the deportations began shortly afterwards. During the post-war period, in the process of ‘integrating’ Estonia And Latvia into the Soviet Union, more deportations took place and Russians were encouraged to move to the two countries. Yet today, despite all the talk of Russian minorities and their potential to provoke further aggression, the lack of curiosity about how those minorities got there is rather odd. We shall consider this later.

If you scroll further down on the BBC article you will come to the map showing Trans-Dniester or Transnistria (pop 500,000), snaking along the Ukraine-Moldova border. I suppose a brief explanation is required, so here goes. Moldova (pop. 3.5m), also shown on the map, is territory taken from Roumania (along with the chunk of land between Moldova and the coast) because that country, or its leaders, backed the wrong horse in World War Two. Worse, Roumanian troops took part in the invasion of the Soviet Union, and ‘Uncle Joe’ Stalin was a man who knew how to bear a grudge.

With the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1990 the Russians living on the east bank of the Dniester, aided by some of the Ukrainian population, declared independence from Roumanian-speaking Moldova, and even fought a short war with Moldova in 1992. The excuses for this breakaway were that the Moldovans had stopped using the Cyrillic alphabet, had declared that the Moldovan language was in reality Roumanian, and this made the Slavs on the east bank of the river fear they were about to be swallowed up by the most easterly outpost of Latin and Romance-speaking Europe. As a result of the earlier conflict there are today Russian ‘peacekeeping’ troops based in Trans-Dniester, and due to their presence the European Court of Human Rights considers Trans-Dniester to be under Russian control. Which, as the map explains, places Russian troops close to the heart of Ukraine. Should this be a case of ‘watch this space’?

The reason I am mentioning Trans-Dniester is because yesterday’s Wasting Mule carried a piece by David Williamson headed, ‘Wales has blazed trail Transnistria can follow‘. It seems former Lib Dem Deputy First Minister Mike (now Lord) German recently visited Trans-Dniester / Transnistria with some other meTrans-Dniestermbers of the Parliamentary Defence Committee. (Among them Labour MP Dai Harvard, whose comradely heart must have soared at the sight of those Russian uniforms.) In what I take to be an attempt to make the recalcitrant Slavs rejoin Moldova, “Lord German, who secured a coalition with Labour in the Assembly’s first term, argues that the example of Wales is ‘very relevant’ as a demonstration that a region can enjoy devolution and that the rights of a minority language can be protected.” What devolution? What protection?

If they follow his advice, and if it works out as it has in Wales, then here’s the future for Trans-Dniester. Following Moldova’s re-unification with Roumania, the parliament in Bucharest will grant Trans-Dniester autonomy. This will be an M. Mouse establishment to buy off local deadbeats too lazy to work and too proud to beg, whereas real power will be exercised by civil servants answering to Bucharest. There will even be legislation to protect the local lingo. Then Bucharest will encourage Roumanians to move to Trans-Dniester, in order to homogenise and better integrate this peripheral region with the core. Result: Local lingo killed off and Trans-Dniester fully assimilated into Roumania. That’s what would happen if Trans-Dniester followed Wales; but it won’t happen, as I shall explain.

The reason no one in the English media, no UK politician, asks when, and by what route, these Russian minorities arrived in so many other countries is obvious – the methodology and the motivatation is all too familiar to those who know their history. It’s what England did from Canada to the Cape, and from Ireland to the Malvinas, and is still doing today in Wales. It is colonisation, pure and simple. Planting your people in a country or region so as to give you a claim on that country, and a pretext for interfering if those people are ‘abused’. That might explain the silence of the Right, but what of those who claim to have seen through the smoke in Kiev to discern fascist hordes on the march; those staunch opponents of nationalism and imperialism who are strangely blind to their Russian varieties? Their silence makes it clear that even though communism is gone the Left still blinds itself to the true nature of Russia. Hypocrites all!

Lord German’s comparison of Wales with Transnistria was plain stupid. Though they are just a drop in the ocean of close on 200 million speakers of the language the Transnistrians are safe because if there were any moves on them that could be interpreted in Moscow as ‘oppression’ then Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin would intervene. When Welsh dies, that’s it, a language is gone forever; Wales has no big brother to come to the rescue. Mike German is, apparently, unaware of these glaring differences; and this ignorance encouraged him to misrepresent the position of the Welsh language and thereby mislead the Transnistrian Russians.

But you’ve got to wonder about those Russians of the Dniester sitting through a speech by the spellbinding Mike German. Were they incredibly polite? Desperate for entertainment? Did they think that German was his nationality, and he’d come with money? Was there a blizzard blowing outside? Were they all drunk? Was it a combination of some or all of the aforementioned? Answers on a post card, please, to . . .

Mar 242014
 

I had intended writing something similar to this post a while back, when I heard that Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) was launching a new campaign. For those who’ve missed it; the ‘campaign’ has started, but seems to consist of nothing more than small groups chaining themselves to the gates of out-of-the-way governmCyIGent buildings where the chainees are ignored, by the media and just about everyone else. As campaigns go, this exercise in futility is going nowhere.

Having originally decided that CyI and the non-campaign wasn’t worth the effort of a post, I have changed my mind over the past few days for reasons alluded to in the title. The bigotry is that exhibited by the sad git working in some Cardiff shop, who said on Facebook, “I love wales and it’s beauty, but the welsh language gets right on my fucking nerves. Two girls in the shop at the moment speaking to each other in welsh. I’ve had to turn bobby womack up to 8″. As the piece in Daily Wales, and the comments it attracted show, there were attempts to explain or laugh off the outburst. One comment even tried to justify the bigotry by claiming that Welsh is not a “mellifluous” language. In which case, neither is German, or Russian, or countless other languages. While on the other hand, French is very ‘mellifluous’, but that never stops those who share Shop Boy’s anglo-insular views from detesting Johnny Frog and everything about him and his culture.

So, we start with a clear and indefensible case of bigotry, which should have been followed by apologies all round, apologies accepted, end of story. But, no; for this morning, the radio station misrepresenting itself as BBC Wales put out a phone-in programme asking why so many people are upset by the sound of the Welsh language. (AvailaOliver Hidesble here.) Note that the ground of the debate has now shifted significantly. In less than forty-eight hours it has become an established fact that the sound of the Welsh language is irritating; and this elevates Shop Boy to the status of martyr, standing up to tyranny on behalf of the silent majority!

Proving yet again that whatever independence the BBC once had is long gone. What’s more worrying is that the Beeb isn’t even being run by Tory central office, it’s being run by the intelligence services. Alex Salmond has a lot to answer for. Keep it up, Eck!

I wasn’t able to hear the whole show but one woman I did hear made cogent points about expenditure on the Welsh language. Which I think is where language campaigners have got it very badly wrong. It boils down to psychology. Put yourself in the position of someone who does not speak Welsh, is not hostile towards the language, but one day – maybe low on funds – has a revelatory moment when he receives his bilingual council tax demand or electricity bill, and says to himself, ‘How much am I paying to have my bill translated and printed into a language I don’t understand?’ At that point he switches from ambivalence towards the Welsh language to hostility. And there are hundreds of thousands like him. And it’s all so unnecessary.

It happens because CyI has, for decades, pursued the strategy of recognition and visibility. In essence, this demands – in addition to pointless tokenism – that the Welsh language must have equal legal status with English, and must be seen and heard, everywhere in Wales on a par with English. Which is fine . . . up to a point. That point being that Gwynedd is not Gwent, Maenchlochog is not Manorbier. While the most virulent bigot living in Gwynedd cannot reasonably object to expenditure on a language he hears spoken all around him, no one should be surprised when an otherwise proudly Welsh anglophone in Abergavenny questions similar spending in his area. Without I hope sounding like an Adferwr I think we have to accept these differences.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg’s refusal to accept them has had two consequences. First, comprehensive bilingualism, across the country, in every aspect of life, does not establish a bilingual country – it just pisses off too many people unnecessarily, few of them bigots. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, by quixotically pursuing this policy of national bilingualism Cymdeithas has left Y Fro Gymraeg undefended, and seriously damaged the language’s chances of survival.

For where was Cymdeithas yr Iaith a few years ago when Tesco opened its new store in Porthmadog and shipped in an English workforce of over 100? And what of the other retail chains and businesses doing the same thing in Gwynedd and other Welsh-speaking areas? Are we to believe that this doesn’t affect people’s ability to use their mother tongue in their everyday lives? That this doesn’t deprive Welsh speakers of jobs in their own communities? How can anyone argue that the survival of the language is better ensured by demanding ‘Talu Yma’ signs in Cardiff stores, or insisting that the proceedings of Merthyr council’s sub-committee on rat infestation are published bilingually? This begins to sound less like a strategy to save one of Europe’s oldest languages and more like job creation for those CyIG members and former members with translation businesses.

And don’t answer me with the old nonsense about ‘dividing’ Wales along language lines. Wales was already divided, and enforced bilingualism across the board is only exacerbating the problem. Worse, by turning people against the language you risk turning them against all things Welsh and losing them entirely. (Plaid Cymru being a good example.) To the point where a cynic – no, not me – could argue that Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg has, over the past thirty-odd years, failed miserably at what it claimed to be doing, yet has successfully queered the pitch for many others.

What is needed is a strategy to, firstly, defend what remains of Y Fro Gymraeg. Then take the fight outside of the heartland to those who want it. For example, by getting involved in any struggle for Welsh language education; or any fight against the overdevelopment of a community where the language is still relevant. Finally, reach ouCyIG 2t beyond these areas and groups to those who identify with Wales and are proud to be Welsh, make them see the language, not as a threat, or a waste of their money, but as a vital and desirable part of our shared heritage.

From now on, campaigners for the language need to be more realistic in their ambitions, they need to understand contemporary Wales better (perhaps by moving outside their own circles a bit more), and they need to be a lot more hard edged in their approach. Forget the idiots on radio phone-ins, they are not the real enemy, they are just ammunition for the enemy. The real enemy is those you hope to persuade with the reasonableness of your demands, the virtue of your case. Those who smile and sound sympathetic but are not the reasonable and fair-minded people you want (and they want you) to believe they are.

That is because every survey ever conducted has shown that Welsh speakers are more likely to want greater devolution and independence than English speakers. That being so, only a simpleton would believe that the UK government (or its civil servants who run Wales) will allow – let alone welcome – an increase in the numbers and percentages of Welsh speakers; or think that an anti-Welsh Labour Party down Cardiff docks – knowing that Welsh speakers are less likely to vote Labour – harbours anything but ill-will towards the language and those who speak it.

Understand that the UK Government, the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party, and many, many others have a vested interest in seeing the Welsh language dead. With a nice headstone erected . . . in Welsh, of course. (Translation available from the nice English lady at the desk, her with the CADW badge.)

Mar 182014
 

1/ FOR DENYING US OUR HISTORY

In the nineteenth century, whether or not they had the vote, the overwhelming majority of Welsh people supported the Liberal Party. This loyalty went with them as they migrated from the rural areas to the new industrial communities of the south and the north east. Support for the Liberals might even be seen as one of the ‘pillars’ of Welsh identity, along with the Welsh language and the nonconformist chapels.

But of course our industrial areas also attracted workers from outside of Wales, especially towards the end of the nineteenth century when, as historian Gwyn Alf Williams memorably put it, the ‘human reservoir’ of rural Wales began to run dry of surplus manpower. These immigrants either found the established Welsh identity uninviting (especially if they were Catholic), or else they rejected it, for with their homeland then approaching its imperial zenith many English would have dismissed Welsh identity as inferior or ‘backward’.

Rejection of Welsh identity became a cornerstone to the growth in Wales of the Labour Party. From the outset, Labour in Wales was a non-Welsh party, in direct competition with the party most Welsh people supported. The report accessed by this link and the passage I hGower 1908ave extracted from it (below, click to enlarge) gives a good indication of the Welsh / non-Welsh split in the Swansea area in 1908. It is written by Kenneth O. Morgan the Labour historian and propagandist.

Politics was not the only area of division. Despite now being the beneficiaries of an English education system more Welsh children in 1914 knew of Glyndŵr and Twm Siôn Cati than know of them today. That’s because these and others were the heroes and legends of their people, part of a cultural inheritance that was still being orally transmitted. Because this was alien to the non-Welsh something new was needed; and so, not for the first time, or the last, we find socialists re-writing history.

In this new version, Wales before the Industrial Revolution was nothing more than a region of primitive pastoralists and exploitive landowners with, in still earlier times, warlords and feudalists making a nuisance of themselves. Depriving a nation of its history is of course an old imperialist ploy; not surprising then that few wish to remember how the Labour Party in Wales adopted the same tactic. One that was still being employed until quite recently.

With pre-industrial Wales now dismissed it only remained to re-interpret more recent history. Episodes and movements such the Scotch Cattle, Chartists, the Merthyr Rising, all needed to be integrated into the new schema. We were asked to view these as forerunners of the Labour Party of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Glossing over the fact that hanged Dic Penderyn spoke no English and that the Gwent Chartists who marched to their deaths in Newport called for a ‘Silurian Republic’! (The knowledge of history I mentioned.)

With the writing on the wall many more Welsh eventually went over to Labour. A party formed in opposition to Welshness and all its expressions now justified rejection of Welsh identity as being for our own good because, for example, speaking Welsh was ‘holding us back’. (From what, exactly, was never satisfactorily explained.)

2/ FOR DENYING WALES AN INDIGENOUS ECONOMY

Well into the twentieth century there was a political grouping called ‘Liberal-Labour’; the most famous representative of which in Wales was probably William Abraham, better known by his bardic name of ‘Mabon’, MP for the Rhondda from 1885 to 1910, the year he joined the Labour Party (four years after its founding). Despite the name, this was no combination of Liberalism and the new Labour Party; it was Liberal politicians supported by trade unions, labour not Labour.

During this era the industrial south developed its own trade unions often dealing with Welsh companies and major Welsh capitalists such as David Davies, David Thomas (Viscount Rhondda), the Dillwyn Llewellyns and others. Many of these employers and most union representatives would have been Liberals, nonconformists, and Welsh David Daviesspeakers. Making it possible to argue that by the end of the nineteenth century Wales was on its way to developing an indigenous economy. Yes, it depended on England and the empire to a great extent for its markets, but it was still more identifiably and distinctively Welsh than anything we have seen since. Labour was to change all that.

Labour, with its centralising tendencies and its hostility to Welsh particularisms had little truck with anything that wasn’t big and ‘national’. Welsh companies and Welsh unions were all swept away in pursuit of size and ‘unity’. (Always an important slogan for Labour, ‘unity’.) Predictable that a new party hoping one day to become the government of the UK should want its affiliated unions to be UK-wide, but in the process Welsh workers became no more than cannon fodder in a bigger struggle, used and abused by people who didn’t give a toss about them or their country.

Having encouraged the demise or the takeover of so many Welsh enterprises it was important to ensure that no new ones sprang up to replace them. So ‘Welsh’ Labour kept a tight rein on its flock and its wider patch, discouraging entrepreneurial spirit by defaming those who displayed such errant behaviour as ‘enemies of the people’. All of which served to make Wales an undefended target for English business, a captive market for English-produced goods. The perfect colony; achieved not through military conquest ordered by a bunch of toffs in a far-off land, but by local socialists who viewed native initiative as a lack of solidarity. All done in pursuit of the centralist, English-dominated State.  

Had it not been for Labour Wales would have developed a healthy local economy along the lines of Catalunya or Scotland, looking after her own interests rather than being shackled with what we have today – an economy totally integrated with that of England, one in which Welsh interests are subordinated to those of England.

3/ FOR MAINTAINING ENGLISH COLONIALISM IN WALES

Subordinating Welsh interests to those of England was justified by arguing that organising on a ‘national’ level with UK-wide trade unions, gave workers ‘more clout’. This made sense, up to a point, especially in the post-war period when so many major industries were nationalised; coal mining in 1947, road transport (British Road Services) in 1948, with other industries in the years following, including of course steel and tinplate, which saw the Steel Company of Wales (a very dangerous example) subsumed into British Steel. Few in the Labour Party considered that Welsh interests might be better served by some less centralised system. But as Bob Dylan put it, the times they were a-changing.

Labour reluctantly organised a devolution referendum in 1979 in response to the rise of various forms of Welsh consciousness over the previous twenty years. Due in no small part to most ‘Welsh’ Labour members and supporters opposing devolution the referendum was lost. It finally took more than a decade of Margaret Thatcher to make Labour realise the benefits of devolution . . . for Labour, that is, not for Wales. Control of a Welsh parliament being seen as a consolation prize for losing power in Westminster. What was best for Wales didn’t come into Labour’s thinking. And so – despite another Labour rearguard action led by those champions of the people, Lords Kinnock and Tonypandy – the devolution referendum of 1997 was won, just.

But devolution is a sham. Wales today is run by faceless civil servants answering to London and Labour’s cronies in the Third Sector, financed with misappropriated EU funding; ‘(Wales)’ is inserted in the title of English laws and passed off as legislation originating in the Notional Assembly; Welsh students are paid to leave the country, their places taken by English students; but perhaps worse, is ‘Welsh’ Labour’s consistent refusal to legislate for the benefit of Wales and then defending this by arguing that to promote Welsh interests would be a concession to ‘narrow-minded nationalism’. (By which argument, every independent country on earth pursues ‘narrow-minded nationalism’, including of course the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.) Here are a couple of examples.South Shropshire

The first concerns the current First Minister, Carwyn Jones. Ten years ago he was Planning and Countryside Minister, and was asked by local authorities to consider introducing planning rules to favour local people then being excluded by the booming housing market; in fact, the example he was asked to copy was working just over the border in South Shropshire. He refused, saying that it would pose “legal problems”. So we were asked to believe that legislation already working in England could not be implemented in Wales! Obviously the interests of English holiday home owners and colonists had to take precedence, for helping the less wealthy get a home would bWatere making concessions to ‘narrow-minded nationalism’.

The second example concerns one of our greatest natural resources, water. During the premiership of Tony Blair, the Government of Wales Act (2006) was passed. Section 114 (1) (see panel, click to enlarge) makes it absolutely clear that should a Welsh Government make any moves to get a fair return for the water England takes from Wales then the UK government will intervene. This law was passed by a Labour government in London, agreed to by a Labour government in Cardiff, and the Secretary of State for Wales at the time was Peter Hain, MP for Neath. This is how ‘Welsh’ Labour serves Welsh interests – Welsh consumers paying more than English consumers for water from the same Welsh sources.

4/ FOR BEING WHAT THEY ARE

Looking at it from the other side, as it were, the Labour Party in the UK always did a great job of defusing discontent and preserving the existing order. In many respects the UK Labour Party was the best friend the capitalist and imperialist system ever had. It ensured that Britain was always spared the upheavals seen on the continent and elsewhere. Which makes Tony Blair not so much an aberration, or a betrayal of what had gone before, more the inevitable outcome.

From the perspective of the English Establishment it never really mattered whether the dominant political force in Wales was the Liberal Party, the Labour Party, the Conservative Party or the Aberdare Anarchist Collective. All that ever mattered was that that dominant political force maintained the colonial relationship between Wales and England and allowed no change in that relationship other than the most cosmetic.

Which explains why, after a century of Labour dominance, Wales (and especially those areas where Labour has been most dominant) is today the poorest country in Western Europe, possibly the whole of Europe. While Ukip may fear an influx of Roumans and Bulgars many Welsh would be better off heading in the opposite direction . . . if they had any skills to offer. Few do. Because our education system is now on a par with that of Burkina-Faso and our health service is the envy of . . . well, no one, actually. Though I’m sure the horse-drawn ambulances will soon become a tourist attraction.

Our rural areas are nothing more than retirement and recreation areas for the English. In many parts of Wales the Welsh are now in a minority. Every attempt is made to kill off the Welsh language and destroy all vestiges of Welsh identity other than the most harmless and touristy. Few of our people can afford to buy the homes being built in our countryside and are then denied social housing in favour of English people who have never set foot in Wales. Soon  the term ‘Wales’ will have lost all meaning, and then the assimilation into England will be complete. Welcome to Tibet, UK!

Today, stripped of ideology and purpose, plus the industries and trade unions that sustained it, the principled and visionary movement that scrambled to dominance over the fallen bodies of Liberalism and nonconformism is just a freak show of dilettantes and chancers; people for whom the party is a stage, or else a means to promote their real interest, whatever that might be. While its diminishing band of followers vote Labour much as people support a very poor football team – with blind, unquestioning loyalty but no enthusiasm. While the Labour machine just goes through the motions of politics for no better reason than stopping somebody else occupying county hall, winning Cwmscwt North, or ‘running’ the Assembly.

Labour rose to pre-eminence in a country with a burgeoning economy and a prosperous and confident people; now, after a century of Labour hegemony, we are a broken and impoverished nation on the point of ceasing to exist. This is Labour’s legacy to Wales. ‘Welsh’ Labour has failed on every conceivable level. No-one should question why I detest this gang of back-stabbing, bipedal vermin.

Mar 132014
 

I had intended putting this out on Twitter or Facebook, just to inform people that the deadline for representations on the planned 1,700 new homes at Bodelwyddan in Denbighshire has been extended to March 21st. In view of the new figures available for both population predictions and household size it is well worth challenged this plan because it is clearly no longer needed. (In fact, these 1,700 new homes were never needed.) I have chosen to develop the subject into a post after reading the planning inspectors’ report on Denbighshire’s Local Development Plan. (Click on image to enlarge.)Denbighshire blog map

I want to pick out certain comments made by the inspectors because they are worthy of a wider audience. I say that because although we may be talking here of Bodelwyddan, or Denbighshire, the attitudes displayed by the inspectors have national implications. Because this is how they operate all over Wales.

Let’s start by identifying the inspectors, Anthony Thickett and Gwynedd Thomas. We can safely assume that the report is the work of Thickett and that Gwynedd Thomas is there to lend a little local colour. I Googled ‘Anthony Thickett’ and found his name linked to planning matters all over England and Cornwall in recent years. Though he seems to be based in Cardiff, which provides further proof that the Planning Inspectorate is an Englandandwales body, and answers to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. So what did Mr Thickett have to say last year in response to Denbighshire County Council’s revision of their Local Development Plan? As you might imagine, I was specifically interested in those recommendations that related to housing.

Starting with 4.1 (page 16) we learn that, “The 2008 Welsh Government* projections indicate the need (my italics) for around 8,500 new units in Denbighshire between 2008 and 2023.” The council argued for a lower figure on the grounds that more recent statistics showed a reduced need. The inspectors would have none of it, and their response was a gem of officialese that can be found in the panel (click to enlarge). In essence, it says, ‘Yes, the council is quite right; but we shall still insist on thousands of unnecessary new housing units anyway’. So what are “the objectives and aspirations” that justify the Planning4.8 Inspectorate ignoring the council’s plea? We are told that Denbighshire has an ageing population – or “aging” according to the inspectors – with more deaths than births, which would result in a declining population unless young people moved in to the county. Let us examine this claim.

Denbighshire, like many other parts of Wales, has an ageing population due to the lack of a healthy and balanced economy. Worsened by tourism creating few worthwhile jobs for locals while attracting retirees and elderly people. This can be remedied, according to the inspectors, with a building programme to attract a younger population from outside of the county. But wait! if the lack of jobs forces many young people to move away, where are the jobs for this younger population moving in? Well, most of the jobs will remain where they are now, in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire. For what the inspectors are really talking about is attracting a commuter population. (Apart from the riff-raff being dumped in the coastal ghettoes.) This explains why the bulk of the planned new housing is close to the A55. Moving on, what do messrs Thickett and Thomas have to say on the Welsh language?

You may not have noticed – few have – that Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) has started a campaign demanding that the Welsh language be a material consideration in planning matters. The inspectors address the very same issue, and produce another little gem of officialese (click panel to enlarge). What this says (again, in essence) is, ‘We shall always find a reason to ignore the Welsh language’. But there is sugar on the pill with the following assurance (yup, in essence), ‘Even though we are doing our best to kill off your language, and your very identity, we shallLDP Welsh Language 2 disguise this atrocity with Welsh street names in the new developments’. The kind of cheap and meaningless cosmeticism that has satisfied language (non-)campaigners in recent decades.

The answer to Denbighshire’s “aging” population is not an unending programme of house building but a healthy and balanced local economy to stabilise and grow the indigenous population. Coupled with a presumption against those housing developments designed to attract elderly buyers from outside Wales. These are hardly radical demands when Welsh identity is under threat in a way it never has been before. An assault that if it showed itself with the ugly visage of overt oppression would be resisted; but when it sidles up behind the mask of ‘development’ and ‘economic activity’, then too many are fooled. We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled any more. There are too many areas where we Welsh are already in a minority. It’s time to say, ‘Thus far and no further’. Speak out and don’t allow the colonisation of our homeland to be brushed under the carpet any longer.

Now is the time to do it. I say that because for years the Planning Inspectorate has had everything its own way, It has browbeaten our local authorities with questionable statistics produced by in-house statisticians demanding thousands upon thousands of new homes Wales doesn’t need. Demands then mouthed obediently for them by those traitorous buffoons down Cardiff docks. The game is up. No one can persist in arguing that Denbighshire needs 8,500 new homes to meet a population increase of 4,134, and a household size of 2.31, without admitting to a colonisation strategy.

Make a start by writing to Denbighshire County Council arguing against the plan for a new town of 1,700 homes next to Bodelwyddan. (Many councillors and council employees will be glad to hear from you.) Send an e-mail to planning@denbighshire.gov.uk or write to the Planning Department, Caledfryn, Smithfield Road, Denbigh LL16 3RJ. Why not also contact the Planning Inspectorate at their Welsh outpost: either e-mail wales@pins.gsi.gov.uk, or write to, The Planning Inspectorate, Crown Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NQ. Tell them you know what their game is, and from now on their ethnocidal strategy will be opposed.

* Talking here of “the Welsh Government projections” is rather naughty. The figures were produced by the Knowledge and Analytical Services which, like the Planning Inspectorate, has a few staff based in Cardiff, pretends it answers to the ‘Welsh’ Government, but is in reality part of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London.

Mar 082014
 

On a flying visit home yesterday (none of your business!) I stopped in Morriston, parked on Woodfield Street, and had a look around, for old times’ sake. Perhaps I was drawn there because in my younger days it was not unknown for me to saunter up to Morriston now and again for a shandy or twa.

What I found there shocked me. So many of the licensed establishments in which I had drunk my (very occasional) shandies were now closed. And I hardly deviated from Woodfield Street, the main drag. It was a truly sobering experience (geddit!). And yet, the place was busy enough, there were plenty of people about; so has there been a debilitating outbreak of tee-totalism? Have Temperance extremists taken hold? Fortunately, Morriston was always well supplied with those places where a thirsty man was welcome, so don’t be put off, there’s still plenty of pubs left.

Often, especially on a Friday evening in summer, I would walk up to Morriston via Trewyddfa Road, above Plasmarl, and stop en route at the Smelters Arms, which looked out over the old, but then changing, industrial landscape or, as it was so often described, ‘moonscape’. Needless to say, the ‘Smelt’ is also gone.

Mar 052014
 

I’ve known for a long time that some of what I write annoys certain people. This is why my Google blog was closed down at the end of 2012 with no good reason being given and without me having a chance of appealing. (And I can be very appealing!) Though I like to think that this getting up certain noses is all done in a good cause; by which I mean that I annoy our masters and others by bringing to the attention of a wider audience facts and figures they would rather were not aired.

This hostility I attract takes many forms. On the one hand there are anti-Welsh bigots hiding behind silly names like ‘Cliffoch’, ‘Scrumpy Ned’ and ‘Jacques du Nord’, but other times the hostility takes a more sinister form, such as when someone tried to bring down my blog last November. (Dealt with in the second item of this post.) Now I seem to have been the target of a different kind of attack, which I’m posting about in the hope that someone out there PayPalcan help.

Last night I decided to overhaul my blog, spice it up a little with a few advertisements. While doing this I noticed something very odd had happened to my PayPal donations widget in the sidebar. Where ‘Option 2′ should have been there was a photograph. Don’t ask me who he is, I’ve got no idea. Does anyone recognise him? It could be that he’s as much a victim in this case as me, because I can’t imagine the person hacking into my blog or my PayPal account leaving a photograph of himself! As you can imagine, I immediately took down my PayPal widget.

This morning I logged in to the PayPal website to set up another donations widget. What I found there was perhaps even weirder than the mystery man, certainly more sinister. You will see below (click to enlarge) that on my page is an image of some kind of Nazi flag, with the caption ‘Your customer’s (sic) view’. Have visitors to my blog, or persons trying to make a donation, seen this, and thought I had put it up?

I know nothing about the flag or the mystery man, but I now suspect that the target of the attack wasn’t my blog but my PayPal account, which may have been compromised. I find this amazing. The password I was using (now changed) was the name and date of a battle that PayPal3would mean nothing to most people. So if my account was broken into, then I doubt it was done using my password.

Fortunately there was little money in my PayPal account to be stolen, but perhaps that wasn’t the purpose of this stunt. Perhaps donations were ‘re-directed’? Or worse, could my account and my name have been used to launder money, buy drugs, child porn, God knows what else? Is it possible to just ‘borrow’ the details without leaving evidence on the account itself?

The matter has of course been reported to PayPal, and I’ll let you know how they respond. I’m debating whether to also take it to the police, but there are two arguments against that course of action. If this is the work of who I think it might be, then the police will just go through the motions of an enquiry. But however they respond, they may jump at the chance to deprive me of my computer for a few months.

All advice is welcome and, as I say, I shall provide an update as and when I can.

UPDATE 06.03.14: Progress – of a sort – has been made. First, I received a reply from PayPal. (Click to enlarge.) Not the response I had hoped for, but it could be a stock answer to such complaints in the hope that the complainant will go away and stop bothering them. I won’t. The next step will bPayPal 5e an illustrated air mail letter to Omaha, Nebraska.

The second bit of progress was in identifying the guy in the picture. He is Carl Curtis, a football writer for the Echo and WalesOnline. Someone, via e-mail, even directed me to the image that appeared in my PayPay account. Now that I can see it in greater detail I see there is no swastika in the centre of the flag, but there can be no doubt about the design of the original on which it is based, or the political outlook of those involved. Among the catchy ditties on the album is Master Race. Though after what they suffered in WWII it’s difficult to understand Poles recording an album called Panzer Crusade. Unless of course they blame the Jews for the German invasion!

Putting it all together, I repeat what I said in answer to the comment from ‘Docks Soul’: “And he’s a Cardiff City supporter from Skewen, you say. Can’t be many of them! That’s almost in Swansea, just up from the East Side. So, given the locale (and who can be found there), the football connection, and the Nazi flag, this stunt is pointing in a very specific direction.”

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