Apr 292014
 
Population density 2010

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Using the population density map to the right you’ll see that what I choose to call ‘rural Wales’ is those areas with fewer than one hundred persons per square kilometre, though I would make two adjustments. If the coastal strip – Rhyl, etc – is removed then the rest of Denbighshire qualifies as rural, and although Carmarthenshire falls into the <100 category it makes sense to link Llanelli – in the south east corner – with the Swansea Bay conurbation. This leaves us with some eighty per cent of Wales’ landmass, roughly a quarter of the population, no towns bigger than Bangor, Aberystwyth or Carmarthen, and of course, what remains of the Welsh language’s heartland, Y Fro Gymraeg.

There are three main players in rural Wales whose roles I want to examine in relation to the oft-bewailed ‘rural housing crisis’.

First, we have the local big-shots; landowners, businessmen and the like, for whom personal gain takes precedence over all other considerations. A good example would be Dai Lloyd Evans and his confreres who controlled Ceredigion council, buying up land before planning strategies were made public, and then selling it to developers or building on it themselves. Arguing that without these three- and four-bedroom houses local newly-weds would have nowhere to enjoy their connubial bliss . . . even though the youngsters for whom the gang feigned concern couldn’t afford these houses!

Also involved were estate agents and others looking for a profit. Such as local builders, most of whom were honest enough to admit that the houses they were building were, in the main, for English in-comers. But one builder, who received considerable coverage in the Wasting Mule, went over the top by arguing that if he wasn’t allowed to build houses for English colonists then there’d be no work for his Welsh-speaking workers; consequently, the language would die. An intriguing argument, asking us to believe that the Welsh language in Ceredigion depends for its survival on English colonisation!

Second, we have the equally unconvincing arguments forwarded by the Planning Inspectorate to justify yet more housing such as the Bodelwyddan New Town in Denbighshire. Namely, because Denbighshire has an ageing population – with the bulk of its elderly from England – a younger influx must be encouraged to balance things out. In other words, ‘You have a problem with English colonisation – so we advocate more of it’!

Elsewhere, the Planning Inspectorate promotes housebuilding as a self-justifying, stand-alone economic activity, rather than as something that would, in any normal society, be consequential upon economic prosperity and population growth. Explained as an ‘economic boost’ for rural Wales this is the policy I outlined in my post If You Build Them, They Will Come.

Finally, we are told that ‘Wales needs more houses’ to meet an indigenous demand, and to cater for ‘natural’ growth.

Third, we have social housing providers. Ostensibly meeting the needs of those who cannot afford to buy a home, yet we all know that far too many housing association properties are being allocated to ‘the vulnerable’ and ‘the needy’ from over the border; simpering euphemisms for substance abusers, ex-cons, paedophiles, problem families and the others who make up England’s white underclass.

Y Bwthyn, Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant

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Another problem is that since social housing passed from councils to housing associations jobs have been lost in areas that can ill afford to lose any. In Gwynedd the council’s housing stock went to Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, which then gave the contract for maintaining its properties to an English company, Lovell, which in turn sub-contracted the work to other English companies. My disabled next-door-neighbour waited weeks for his bathroom to be tiled by a firm that either didn’t turn up at all or else turned up around 11am and was gone by 3pm – because they came from Wigan, 120 miles from Tywyn!

There are serious questions to be asked about why the ‘Welsh’ Government is funding – via the Social Housing Grant and other means – what are to all intents and purposes private companies. Private companies that are a) importing undesirables and b) losing Wales contracts and jobs. Organisations about which it is almost impossible to get information due to the fact they are exempt from Freedom of Information legislation, and are not registered with Companies House due to being Industrial and Provident Societies. Conversely, if they are not private companies, but are what they claim to be, which is ‘not-for-profit’ organisations in receipt of public funding, then why are they not subject to FoI requests? Are we not entitled to know how our money is being spent?

I propose returning to the intriguing matter – and anomalous status – of housing associations later, with a full post. (Any information received will be treated with the usual sagacious discretion. Send to: editor@jacothenorth.net.)

Social Housing Grant

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What we see in the three examples I have used above is how deliberate lies become the terms of debate, the very vocabluary, when dealing with rural housing in Wales. It’s like some parallel universe where black is white and right is wrong. That said, there is one unavoidable truth upon which everyone agrees . . . before corrupting that truth to serve the same selfish or anti-Welsh interests. As you will read below.

Rural Wales has an oversupply of housing . . . by which I mean, more housing than will be needed by the indigenous population for at least a generation.

The true problem is that the indigenous Welsh are excluded from much of this housing. Either because they are unable to afford the prices asked for open market housing or else because social housing providers too often find ‘clients’ over the border who take precedence over locals.

But then something very clever happens. The inability of Welsh people to buy private dwellings, or access social housing, is used as the excuse to build yet more housing – from which the unchanged system still excludes them!

To remedy this institutionalised con trick we need to a) provide meaningful financial aid for Welsh (especially first-time) buyers and b) move towards a split market, where a percentage of properties in all areas is reserved for local buyers; while in the social housing sector ensure that no one qualifies for social housing unless they have been resident in Wales for at least five years.

Apr 252014
 

A few days ago I was directed to a piece on the MailOnline website about Barcelona or, more specifically, tourism in Barcelona or, to be really, really specific, high volume and damaging tourism. The problem is that “uncontrolled tourism” is attracting too many low-spending tourists who are turning Barcelona into a ‘theme park’ and making locals feel like strangers in their own city. To give some idea of the perceived problem, in 1993 the city attracted 2.5 million visitors but by 2012 that figure had quadrupled to 10 million. Going to YouTube turned up other videos on a similar theme. One about the Lake District, this one about Snowdonia. And there are others.

Does all this sound familiar – hordes of cheapo tourists over-running a place and making the locals feel like strangers? Of course it does, because it’s what happens in Wales. Though the citizens of Barcelona should be thankful that their city isn’t being bought up by these visitors, looking for holiday homes, a lifestyle change, or somewhere to retire to. Nor is it destroying the Catalan language and identity. And I guarantee that most of the businesses taking the tourists’ money are run by natives of Barcelona. (Though the pickpockets mentioned almost certainly come from further east.)

Wales tourism stats

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The traditional reason that Wales is a low-spend destination for tourists is because tourism in Wales was developed for the convenience of England, not for the benefit of Wales. Which has meant that in practice, we – or those who run tourism here – target English tourists saving their major outlay for holidays abroad, encouraging them to use Wales for weekend breaks and secondary holidays. Then, because these English tourists don’t spend much, we must have them in damaging and unsustainable numbers. This recent news story even rejoiced in the fact that Wales is “affordable” / cheap, without apparently realising that ‘cheap’ is also a derogatory term.

Though the story in WalesOnline is rather confusing. It claims a record 9.93m tourists spending a record £1.7bn in 2013. Yet the figures on the ‘Welsh’ Government website, for 2012 (see panel), claim 10.45m tourists (from the UK and overseas) spending £2,44bn. Presumably the article refers only to tourists from within the UK, though this is not stated.

Numerate readers (of whom I have many) will have worked out that this means in 2012 UK visitors spent on average £165 (up to £171 in 2013), whereas overseas visitors spent on average £405. So why aren’t we doing more to attract overseas visitors, of whom we’d need fewer? Well, in addition to the explanation given above, tourism in Wales also has a political purpose, in that it anglicises Wales; partly by smothering areas in English tourists for months on end and partly by encouraging English tourists to make a permanent move to Wales. And don’t overlook the financial benefits . . . to England. Money spent in Wales by English tourists will eventually make its way back to London, unlike money spent abroad.

(The panel from the ‘Welsh’ Government website also quotes “around 100 million day visits” earning “over £3bn”. I have ignored these figures mainly because we are expected to believe that these are all day trips made from outside Wales; they are not. The most popular pay-to-enter ‘tourist attraction’ in Wales is Swansea Leisure Centre. Most visitors come from within a 15 mile radius. Your next shopping trip or day out in Wrecsam, Llandudno, Aberystwyth, Brecon or Carmarthen may count as a ‘day trip’. So you will understand why I treat such figures with caution, if not contempt. The (nicely rounded) figures for day trips get wild guesswork a bad name, but are, regrettably, what we expect with tourism ‘statistics’.)

The table I’ve compiled (and I hope it’s clear) gives some figures for the tourism industries in Ireland, Scotland and Wales for one year. (Click to enlarge.) The figures for Ireland and Scotland were fairly easy to come by, but not so with the figures for Wales. The ‘Welsh’ Government website is difficult to negotiate, full of guff and propaganda on tourism but low on facts. So I went to StatsWales, the ‘Welsh’ Government’s specialist group for statistics – actually part of an English government department – but the most recent figures available there are for 2010. (A regular failure with StatsWales.)

Tourism table

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A few observations from the table. As an example of how little Wales really earns from tourism note that visitors from the Six Counties to the Republic spent £225 per head, even though many would have been staying with friends and family, or making just a short trip (e.g. Derry to Donegal). Compare this to UK visitors to Wales, who spent just £165. UK visitors to Scotland spent £227 per head. In addition, Scotland made over one billion pounds more than Wales from overseas tourists. Spend per head can be equated with the profit margin, which means that when other considerations – cultural damage, traffic congestion, environmental degradation, etc  – are factored in to the equation then tourism in Wales is a loss-making, bargain basement business. To tourism what the Reliant Robin is to automotive technology. Nothing to be proud of.

Furthermore, reReliant Robinmember that Ireland and Scotland are some four times the size of Wales and both see a ‘spread’ of tourists across the land, whereas most of those who come to Wales head for the west and the north, and stick fairly close to the coast. This, inevitably, results in the kind of overcrowding and unsustainabilty being complained of in Barcelona.

Given the damning facts why is ‘Welsh’ tourism trumpeted as a great success story that cannot be improved on? Why are we constantly reminded that our rural and coastal areas were wastelands ere the arrival of English tourists, and without them to wastelands they will return? In a word, we’ve been brainwashed. We can either continue accepting this ludicrous – and, frankly, racist – propaganda or we can start arguing for a tourism industry for the twenty-first century rather than the nineteenth, one that serves Wales and Welsh people.

Fundamentally, and for benefits across the board, we need to attract more overseas visitors and fewer low-spend tourists from England. To do that we must ditch the defeatist argument that says Scotland and Ireland have a higher international profile. Because even though this may be true today, there are successful tourism destinations now that were unknown a few decades ago. It comes down to promotion, and priorities.

The first priority is for the soi-disant ‘Welsh’ Government to start living up to its name, by putting Welsh interests first. A phased move from caravans to serviced accommodation would be a start. Tourism taxes – especially at ‘hot spots’ – would be another step in the right direction. The second priority must be minimising the influence of the tourism operators who currently control long-term and strategic planning. Few of these are Welsh and consequently have little regard for the damage being inflicted. Too many are driven by self-interest and believe there can never be too many tourists. That’s the major problem with tourism – if you allow it to be run by such people then you end up with the problems of Barcelona, or Venice, or Prague, or Wales. Restraining influences are needed.

Apr 192014
 

Every so often I check up on organisations or individuals I have written about just to see what they’re up to now, lest they feel neglected. A couple of days ago it was the turn of the Welsh Livery Guild. Or, as they have been known since September 6th last year, The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales. Oooohh! there’s posh! For they have been granted a Royal Charter and are now a recognised Livery Company of the City of London.

I first wrote about this crew last July with Welsh Livery Guild: All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go? Then I discovered links between the Livery Guild and the paramilitaries known as the Legion of Frontiersmen, which prompted another post, Dressing On The Right. Next, in early August, I posted the Legion of Frontiersmen, which gave a bit more detail about this very suspect outfit, before finishing on August 11th with Legion of Frontiersmen 2: I Could Have Been a Corporal! It might be worth reading these posts before proceeding.

So, those I ridiculed last year have now received a Royal Charter (from the Privy Council) making them a Guild or Livery Company of the City of London. Along with the Broderers, the Cordwainers, the Fan Makers, the Farriers, the Horners, the Loriners, the Mercers, the Pewterers, the Scriveners, the Tallow Chandlers, the Wax Chandlers, and the Woolmen. Though in fairness, there are a few more modern-sounding guilds: Air Pilots, Information Technologists, Management Consultants and International Bankers. (A full list of all chartered bodies can be found by following the links on this page.) At which point a brief description of Livery Companies may be in order.

The history of these Guilds or Livery Companies goes back to medieval times, and they were originally a way of both safeguarding the business interests of guild members and maintaining standards (e.g. by regulating apprenticeships). These original functions have of course been overtaken by trade associations and trade unions. For example, if you were in the modern fire service who would you want to represent you – The Worshipful Company of Firefighters or the Fire Brigades Union?

One feature of the Livery Guilds – which also struck me last year when I looked at the Welsh Livery Guild – is the disproportionate numbers of military men involved. A few make sense, such as the Master Mariners having Captain John Hughes as Master and Commodore Angus Menzies as Clerk. Others are less easy to explain. For example, why is Admiral the Lord Boyce Master of the Drapers? Or Lt. Col. John Chambers Master of the Wax Chandlers? Military men are even more common among the Clerks; where we find . . .

Brigadier Tim Gregson, Carpenters; Lt. Col. Oliver Bartram, Clockmakers; Vice-Admiral Peter Wilkinson, Cooks; Lt Col. Adrian Carroll, Coopers; Major Jollyon Coombs, Feltmakers; Maj. Gen. Colin Boag CB CBE, Fishmongers; Capt. Shaun Mackaness, Framework Knitters; Lt. Col. Lionel French, Fruiterers; Major Jeremy Herrtage, Gardeners; Brigadier Ian Rees, Girdlers; Cdr. Andrew Gordon-Lennox, Glaziers; Lt Col. Mark Butler, Glovers; Cdr. Robin House, Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers; Rear Admiral Dick Melly, Goldsmiths; Brigadier Robert Pridham OBE, Grocers; Commodore Philip Thicknesse, Haberdashers; Col. Hamon Massey, Ironmongers; Brigadier David Santa Olalla DSO MC, Leathersellers; Rear Admiral Nick Harris, Merchant Taylors; Col. Robert Murfin, Pattenmakers; Cpt. Paddy Watson, Pewterers; Air Cdre. Paul Nash OBE, Plumbers; Col. Nigel Lithgow CBE, Saddlers; Capt. David Morris, Salters;  Lt. Col. Andy Milne, Shipwrights; Maj. Gen. Brian Plummer, Skinners; Lt. Col. John Salmon OBE, Spectacle Makers; Brig. David Homer, Tallow Chandlers; Brig. Jonathan Bourne-May, Vintners; Brig. Michael Keun, Freemen.

All this braid says two things to me. The vast majority of these Livery Companies now have little or no connection with the trades or professions that originally founded them. Second, when we find so many military men in important positions in non-military organisations then something’s not right. Are these really just groups of middle-class men getting together regularly for harmless piss-ups? If so, why can’t they just retire to the country, have a few tinctures, and bark at the peasants? Clearly, Livery Companies nowadays operate as top-of-the-range masonic lodges (that allow women) and act as yet another smouldering tyre in the barricade against egalitarianism that is the English establishment; and one that has, over the centuries, helped London achieve its stranglehold on the economy of Englandandwales.

From a specifically Welsh perspective, the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales is a step backward. Apart from belonging to another age and another country, the Company strengthens the influence of London in Wales, making it yet another tool in the rolling back or undermining of devolution. Then there are the established links with a paramilitary organisation of dubious legality. The current Senior Warden of the Livery Company is W. B. Warlow who is also ‘Lt. Col.’ Wayne Buffet Warlow of the Frontiersmen Welch (sic) Command, one of a number of direct connections between the Livery Company and the Frontiersmen.

Below you will see the invitation sent out (mine must be delayed in the mail) for the Royal Charter Banquet on June 7th at Cardiff City Hall. Heading the guest list is the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones. (Note also that the Livery Guild Clerk is a Squadron Leader!) I believe that Carwyn Jones, who claims to be the leader of a progressive, twenty-first century political party, in a country looking ahead, should think long and hard about giving credibility to these medievalist oddballs with their established links to a paramilitary group (and God knows what else), and who exist to serve London’s interests. Many of the others invited should also think carefully. Not least the Archbishop of Wales . . . unless of course he’s beguiled by the braid and the hose?

 

 

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%). But 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. This 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 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

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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

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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.