Jan 282015
 

I had hoped to have a few days off after posting my previous piece but would you believe it – Wales Eye is having a pop at me again, this time helped by the Wasting Mule. It began – though I had no way of knowing it at the time – with a Twitter message from Martin Shipton on Monday about the link at the top of my sidebar, to which I replied. See the exchange for yourself below.

Shipton request combined

I thought no more of it until yesterday morning when I was alerted to the fact that there was a piece about me on the WalesOnline website, though the article was soon ‘pulled’. Fortunately it’s available here in pdf format. Despite what I’d told Fat Boy, he begins his piece thus: “The Wales Eye news website discloses that the Jac O’the North (sic) blog has been reported to South Wales Police after launching a petition”. Why write that when he knew I had not launched any petition? A few tweets Exchange with Shipton 1were exchanged yesterday, you can see them on the left where they appear in chronological order. (Click to enlarge.) A revealing phrase, “predominant language”.

Anyway, the origin of this ‘story’ was obviously Phil Parry over at Wales Eye. Regular readers will know that I’ve had a run-in with Wales Eye over infamous bigot Jacques Protic and him (allegedly) reporting me to North Wales Police. All the relevant information and links are available in my recent post Seeking a Latter-day Waldorf T. Flywheel. I assume Parry has been kicking cats and plotting his revenge since that piece appeared on January 19th. So what exactly was Parry saying? Seeing as the Wales Eye blog hides behind a pay wall, and to save you wasting your money, the article is available here in pdf format.

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The opening paragraph, which contains the essence of the ‘story’, says: “A website which urges a policy of Welsh homes only for Welsh people has been reported to the police for inciting racial hatred, Wales Eye can reveal”. It goes on to say that “an investigation was undertaken by a police constable and inspector” of South Wales Police. The rest of the piece is rehashed nonsense about Protic and old comments taken out of context. Let us focus on this first paragraph.

Obviously, seeing as it’s not my petition, my website is not “urging” anything, I merely offer visitors to my blog the chance to sign a petition I support, and which I have signed. The petition does not argue for “Welsh homes only for Welsh people”, it merely says that Welsh people should have social housing that has been paid for with Welsh public funding . . . is there an objection to that? Now, moving on to “racial hatred”. The only nation mentioned in the petition is the Welsh, so whoever is making this mischief is reading something into the petition that isn’t there.

Elsewhere in the Wales Eye piece there is a graphic of some houses in Kidwelly explained by, “In another post, endorsed by the blog with a re-tweet, families from London who took houses from a Welsh housing association were called ‘perverts'”. WalesOnline says it this way: “In another Twitter posting, re-tweeted by the blog, families from London who took houses from a Welsh housing association were called “perverts”. An aerial picture singles out a number of homes and the tweet says: “Just in one small Welsh town all these houses were allocated to perverts from London by a Welsh housing association.”

Note that this, like the petition, is something else that did not originate with me. Parry is getting pretty desperate now, so here’s the truth. The case referred to is one of a paedophile gang living Dennis' Kidwelly tweetin Kidwelly that was imprisoned in 2011. Here’s a report on the case from the Daily Mail. Here’s a blog post I wrote around the same time. At the risk of frightening Parry and Shipton with facts, here they are: These people had moved – or been moved – from London; they were housed in Kidwelly by a Welsh housing association (Grwp Gwalia); they were all found guilty of paedophilia and other sexual perversions in a court of law. So what is the issue here? The caption to the picture in the tweet is 100% correct. Parry seems to take offence because the tweet calls them “perverts” – so what would he call them, the perfect neighbours? Or maybe he doesn’t like the fact that it was re-tweeted 21 times.

The reason Parry uses this case – which he obviously hasn’t researched – is because it concerns Welsh social housing being given to English people who are labelled “perverts”; which he hopes to use as an example of ‘racial hatred’ in order to confer something resembling credibility on his hysterical reaction to a perfectly reasonable petition. Trouble is, for Parry, that these people weren’t called “perverts” because they were English, they were called “perverts” because they were . . . you paying attention, Parry! Shipton! – PERVERTS.

Here’s an update on the case from last September. Note the English flag outside Colin Bately’s house – for he was a patriot! Complete with two rottweilers. Just think, Welsh housing associations are taking in people like this, knowing what they’re like, because this gang had Phil Parryconvictions before they moved to Wales.

Anyway, I don’t fancy wasting much more time on Parry and Shipton, I’ll just conclude with the final lines from Shipton’s contribution to this joint-venture into fantasy. He says: ‘”Mr Jones said: “Not my petition. I’m just promoting it for Plaid Glyndwr.” It is understood that South Wales Police will not forward the complaint about Mr Jones to the Crown Prosecution Service.’ This was obviously added after the piece had been written, otherwise he wouldn’t have started by saying I’d “launched” the petition. But it also raises other questions.

For example, seeing as Parry and his fat friend were in cahoots over this attemped smear, and the pretext was the ‘racist’ petition, why was I / my blog reported to the police when they both knew it was not my petition? Because even before my tweet to Fatso on Monday the most cursory check would have shown who actually launched the petition. Are these people really journalists!

“South Wales Police will not forward the complaint about Mr Jones to the Crown Prosecution Service”well, I am relieved; I feared I was bound for the Colonies! But will the police charge whoever made the complaint against me with wasting police time? Come to that, who did report me, for Wales Eye neglects to tell us. Now, I wonder . . .

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The truth is – as any perceptive reader will have guessed – these attacks on me have nothing to do with Protic or petitions, it’s an exercise in black propaganda, or to put it an another way, mud slinging. Done so that anyone Googling ‘Royston Jones’ or ‘Jac o’ the North’ in future will turn up crap like this by Parry and Tub O’Lard. And see that I have been reported to the police. Done to discredit me and, by extension, anything I write. So who’s behind it?

Well, my guess is that it can explained by what I write about. My usual targets are the Labour Party and the Third Sector, which is simply an extension of the Labour Party. It may be no coincidence that this latest attack from Wales Eye comes just days after the latest – possibly final – edition of Cambria magazine became available, which contains my article on housing associations, in which I ask why we have so many of them, and why these quasi-private companies receive so much public funding, and why so much of the money they’re given ends up over the border.

Another subject I’ve touched on recently is Canoe Wales and the National White Water Centre on Afon Tryweryn. Today I received the response from Sport Wales to an FoI I’d submitted about funding to Canoe Wales. Read it here. In a poor country where so much needs to be done, how can anyone justify wasting almost two million pounds in just five years on canoeing, an activity that has little or no Welsh involvement? (And there’s almost certainly public funding from other sources.) That’s how Wales is run today, but you aren’t supposed to know. Ask yourself, are you going to get the truth from the BBC, or ITV, or the Western Mail?

I know how corrupt this country is, and I’m beginning to understand just how much money is squandered year after year on a system of sham devolution designed to encourage colonisation and managed decline rather than make Wales a better country for those who belong here. That’s why I have enemies. Enemies so desperate to discredit me they’ll even use clowns like Parry and Shipton. What will they try next?

P.S. Don’t forget to sign the petition!

UPDATE: In the personal attack on me in his latest post Phil Parry refers back to the Jacques Protic case. I have covered most of the angles in this recent post. Parry seems to think he’s on a winner with this, and keeps bringing it up, almost showing off. What I’m saying can perhaps be explained by this extract.

Wales Eye NWP docs

The “inquiry” referred to is a North Wales Police investigation into me or my blog for nasty things it’s claimed I said about Jacques Protic. Reading the extract in the panel, a number of questions arise.

  • By what route did Phil Parry obtain internal police documents; did they come directly from the police, did they come from Protic, or from some third party?
  • As the officers involved in the “inquiry” were first named on Wales Eye on September 10th last, and North Wales Police was made aware of this in my letter received (and acknowledged) on September 17th, we must assume that NWP has no objection to the contents of confidential police documents being aired on a blog.
  • That being so, what is the relationship between Parry and the North Wales Police? Is he working for them, or are the police merely a conduit for some other agency?
  • Even if Parry has no relationship with North Wales Police, then we still need to know why NWP has allowed confidential documents, naming and embarrassing its officers, to be in the public domain for over four months.
  • I wonder what the police response would have been I’d got hold of internal police documents and splashed them on my blog?

I believe it’s time for a little honesty from those involved in this ongoing smear campaign against me.

Jan 262015
 

Despite having spent most of my adult life away from Swansea my dreams still tend to be set there, sometimes they’re about people, and in places, the waking me has all but forgotten. A contributing factor must be that I take a keen interest in my home town, and in recent years I have despaired at the Labour-controlled council, with its – now deposed – leader and his wife, the refugee English and Austrian Trots, and of course the students recruited to the council straight from the grant-processing plant down on the Mumbles Road. (For other posts on this subject just type ‘Swansea Council’ or ‘Swansea Labour Party’ into the Search box atop the sidebar.)

The erstwhile leader, David Phillips, now sulks like Napoleon on St. Helena, cursing those who toppled him (also rueing the massive drop in household income since him and the missus were given the old heave-ho). Let’s hope this gruesome twosome fade from politics and leave Swansea altogether. The Trotskyists, Bob and Uta Clay, are hanging on in there, still dreaming of writing Swansea’s name in the annals of glorious revolution, but as relevant to contemporary politics as Plaid Cymru is to the cause of Welsh independence. But it’s the students I want to discuss here; those bright young things who brought their joie de vivre (or something) to the drab world of Swansea council life.

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First, Pearleen Sangha, Californian councillor for the Uplands ward. It was known for almost a year that Cllr. Sangha was not attending council meetings and perhaps not even living in SPearleen Sangha party girlwansea, but that was OK because she was in Cardiff working for the Labour Party. Obviously, rumours circulated and her position became untenable when, towards the end of September last year, even the Labour-supporting Evening Post began to ask awkward questions. (Click here and scroll down.) She seemed to panic, saying she’d told “the leadership” back in July that she was resigning as a councillor, and assuring us that she had not received her councillor’s allowance since then. Which might have been more convincing if her Twitter account in late September didn’t still describe her as a councillor, or if her council e-mail account wasn’t still open; or if she wasn’t still shown on the council’s own website Pearleen Sangha Californiaas a Labour councillor for the Uplands ward.

When she wasn’t in Cardiff she was back home in California, or campaigning for a No vote in the Scottish referendum, or just gadding about having a good time. I recall voicing my concerns about a US citizen of Indian ancestry and English birth having the temerity to go to Scotland – a country of which she knows nothing – and tell the Scots how to vote. But it didn’t end there, because the other tweet I’vSangha tweete used suggests that her sister Chenisha, presumably also from California, was helping in the Ynys Môn Assembly by-election of August 2013. She knows even less about Ynys Môn than her sister does about Scotland! Ignorance and arrogance aside, whatever else she was doing Pearleen Sangha was not serving as a councillor for the Uplands ward, and while she may not have claimed her allowance after July 2014 she went missing a long time before that.

Chenisha SanghaHaving mentioned Chenisha Sangha, it should come as no surprise to learn that she also tweets. Though I have no idea who Salt Water Taffy is, I can only assume that he is a seafaring gent from one of our coastal districts. Nor do I have any idea as to why she should have thought him disgusting, but I’m glad he won her over. Picture the scene: an invitation to board his lugger, a few jars of grog by candlelight, maybe a softly crooned shanty then, before you know it, she realises that his barque is worse than his bight and starts taking an interest in his tackle. I wish them well.

*

More recently, two more of Swansea Labour’s student councillors have departed . . . or at least, announced their departure. First, was Mitchell Theaker, of Cockett ward, who is moving to Dubai where he’ll recruit rich Arab students for Sheffield University. Although he announced his resignation the week before last it doesn’t officially take effect Theaker tweet Dubai, Jan 2015until March 20th – even though he’s already left Swansea to take up his new job in the Gulf! Surely he won’t be claiming anything from Swansea council between the date of leaving and the official resignation date?

Theaker’s card was probably marked last August following the overthrow of his patron, when he unwisely tweeted: “Lots of people devastated to hear David Phillips has stepped down as leader of Swansea Council. A principled and distinguished giant of a man.” Mmm. And although he was councillor for Cockett (which lies between Sketty and Fforestach), he never actually lived in the ward. He was last reported to be living with his boyfriend down the Maritime Quarter.

Another who has announced he’s going but, again, not officially until March 20th, is Nick Bradley, of Townhill ward. He too is off to foreign climes. According to the Evening Post he’s taking up a job in “the US and middle east”. Bradley, a lifelong supporter of West Bromwich Albion, was on the board running Swansea’s Liberty Stadium. The by-elections to replace Theaker and Bradley will both be held on May 7, the day of the UK General Election. The reason for this, according to Bradley, is that it “will save time, money and effort at a point when all focus has to be on the budget and the future of our city”. Which is absolute bollocks.

Uplands by-electionThe reason these by-elections are being held on the same day as the General Election is because Labour’s donkey vote will be out in force and it’s hoped they’ll unthinkingly vote Labour in the council by-elections too. An important consideration when we remember the result in the by-election held in November to replace Pearleen Sangha. (Click to enlarge.) This was won by Independent Peter May, who had formerly held the seat, and lost it, as a Lib Dem. In 2010 he had even been the Lib Dem candidate for Swansea West (which contains the Uplands ward), and came within 504 votes of the winning Labour candidate. With its hold on Swansea West weakening it’s understandable that Labour is taking no chances with its council seats.

*

With Sangha, Bradley and Theaker gone, it seems the only ex-student know-nothing (of Swansea) councillor left is John Charles Bayliss, who also represents the Uplands ward. John Boy must be feeling lonely right now, and perhaps vulnerable. Though one rumour I’ve heard Bayliss Twitter picsuggests that he has chanced his arm by asking to be given the council role vacated by Theaker on a Cabinet Advisory Committee, which if true, suggests that he’s counting on his party being desperate to avoid another Uplands by-election after May 7th.

Or maybe it’s a ‘What the hell have I got to lose?’ gambit due to John Boy planning to follow Theaker and Bradley to the Gulf, because before Christmas he was in Dubai with them. His Twitter bio shows them together (Bradley left). Shouldn’t Gays boycott countries where homosexuality is illegal, or go there to protest? They also drink, quite a lot, something else disapproved of by the bearded ones. These three – and Sangha – also bang on about the environment, they all supported further enriching the Duke of Beaufort with wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair, but they don’t give a toss about their own carbon footprint when they’re jetting off here and there. There is something very superficial and hypocritical about these people. Their ‘principles’ are for flaunting, not for defending, certainly not if such defence might interfere with their own hedonistic lifestyles.

Thankfully, they’re slowly disappearing from the scene, yet it could have been a lot worse. To become leader of the council after the May 2012 elections David Phillips needed the support of these students and others because he was never sure of Labour’s local stalwarts. Fortunately, his wife, Sybil Crouch, fellow councillor and (inevitably) cabinet member, worked in the university, and so must have been helpful in finding potential candidates. Just think, If Phillips hadn’t been removed when he was he and his missus could have recruited from the university and eventually made his position impregnable.

*

This episode in the history of the Swansea Labour Party is symptomatic of a wider malaise within ‘Welsh’ Labour. Basically, the party can no longer find local recruits of a high enough calibre to be candidates, even at council level. Which results in it falling prey to drifters, chancers, entryists, arrivistes, parachutists, and single-issue obsessives such as Bayliss, for whom Gay issues are more important than anything that could improve the lives of my fellow Jacks. Leading to the Labour vote SI Exifbeing very ‘brittle’ in many parts of Wales, as we saw in the Euro elections last May. (Click here for results.)

Yet around the Bay, the bruvvers in Aberavon have had imposed on them the scion of the House of Kinnock. Contrary to what most people reading this may think, if the people of Port Talbot elect Stephen Kinnock in May it will be a splendid result for Labour, for it will confirm that the ‘donkey’ vote is holding firm. But it should also remind us that the priorities of the Labour Party and the best interests of Wales are diverging fast. Wales is currently lumbered with a dominant party devoid of ideas and reduced to what can only be described as dog in a manger politics.

So where are the alternatives? The Ukip surge of last May will not be replicated in a ‘serious’ election such as the UK General Election this coming May, though unless the party implodes before then (entirely possible) Ukip will gain seats in the 2016 Assembly elections. The Lib Dems struggle on and will do well to hold Brecon and Radnor in May. The Green Party of Englandandwales can be written off in most regards other than its potential to take student and other votes in marginals. Plaid Cymru failed to capitalise on Labour’s weaknesses last May and will fail to do so again this May; it’s one hope may be Ukip taking enough Labour votes to let it sneak in, Llanelli comes to mind. Which leaves the Conservatives, amazingly, the party most likely to gain in the medium term from the unconscionably slow death of ‘Welsh’ Labour.

I’m glad I was able to write this post, glad to be able to report that three of those who had somehow found their way onto Swansea council, but had nothing to contribute to the wellbeing of my belovéd city, have now left. This episode could be interpreted as locals retaking control from a gang of ‘We-know-best’ interlopers, something we should encourage all over Wales. It would be nice to think that this would be the end of the story; but given the zombie-like nature of ‘Welsh’ Labour it’s almost guaranteed to happen again, if not in Swansea, then somewhere else. Maybe it’ll be your local council . . . unless it’s already happening.

UPDATE: I have just received this telling me that Councillor John Boy Bayliss has been reported to the council, again. Among his many blind spots is the belief that any shyster who can spin a line containing the words ‘eco’, ‘green’, ‘organic’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ (or any combination thereof) must be given planning permission. Preferably carte blanche to save the poor fellowBayliss fracking having to go through the tiresome planning procedure all over again. Worse, anyone who expresses contrary views must be barred from voting on the matter . . . yet he and his (thankfully departing) friends can be quite open about their predetermination and still be allowed to vote! The panel is an example of what I’m talking about. I’ve already used the word ‘hypocrite’ to describe these buggers, and I have no hesitation in using it again.

Jan 192015
 

Regular readers may recall my October 21st post WalesEye, Jacques Protic and North Wales Police. This was a follow-up to my September 11th offering of WalesEye and Jacques Protic – A Marriage Made in Hell, written soon after becoming aware that the WalesEye blog had quoted from what appeared to be police documents about an investigaWalesEye logotion into me or my blog, as a result of complaints made against me – oui! moi! – by Jacques Protic. I suggest you read both posts before proceeding otherwise what follows may not make a great deal of sense.

As might be expected, I contacted North Wales Police. Let’s start with this document dated 15.10.2014 which contains both the substance of my Freedom of Information request of 12.09.2014 and the NWP response. This letter came as an attachment to an e-mail and although the e-mail had a name to it the letter itself had neither name nor signature. Basically, what this says is, ‘Because you are the subject of this information we can’t give you this information’. Which I suppose has a certain kafkaesque logic. I responded with this letter addressed to the Chief Constable on 22.10.14 and e-mailed to North Wales Police’s Professional Standards Department.

On the same day I e-mailed the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales Police. This I did by filling in the online form. The first response – within hours – said that my complaint had been passed to the Chief Constable’s office, and the second response, shortly afterwards, said that my complaint had been passed to the North Wales Police’s Professional Standards Department – to which I had already written! – as this section investigates complaints against the police. Read it all here (from the bottom up). I found this rather confusing because I’d complained to the PCC believing it was independent of the police, and yet my complaint was immediately handed over to the police. If the police retain control of investigating complaints against them then what is the point of the PCC?

Around the same time I filled in a SA1 form to find out what information North Wales Police held on me, as suggested in the response to my FoI request, paid my £10 and sent it off. This is the acknowledgement of receipt of that form dated 24.10.2014, and this is the response. Although dated 11.11.2014 I did not receive this response until 17.12.2014, after I telephoned North Wales Police querying its non-arrival. You will also note that this is another letter without a name or a signature. I don’t know whether to attribute this to bad manners or to our police thinking ahead.

Though in fairness, my next communication from NWP dated 17.11.2014 was signed, by Chief Inspector D. Roome. This was the response from the Professional Standards Department. The letter talks of “an action plan” and tells me that my complaint has been passed to the “Chief Information Officer” and that I can shortly expect to hear from a “local manager” assigned to my case. And so it came to pass. On November 19th I was telephoned by an Ian Davies . . . but I was out that day taking some US visitors around Pembrokeshire before bringing them chez nous. I tried ringing him the following day before we went out again, but no one answered.

We eventually spoke on November 24th, and a weird conversation it was. Ian Davies assured me there had been no investigation by North Wales Police into anything I had written on my blog. Consequently he had no idea how the WalesEye blog could have written what it did. Nor could he offer any explanation as to how WalesEye could name two serving NWP officers has having been involved in an investigation that didn’t take place. I got the impression that Ian Davies was choosing his words very carefully. He promised to send me a letter stating what he had just told me.

I waited for the promised letter, and after leaving a few messages on his answering machine, I eventually spoke again with Ian Davies on December 17th. He claimed that after speaking with the department that sends out such letters mine was “eleventh in the queue”. On January 10th I eventually received the promised reply. It contained four documents. First, a covering letter from Detective Chief Inspector David Roome. (In the previous letter signed by him he was ‘Chief Inspector’.) Next was the report I’d been waiting for. To give it it’s full title, North Wales Police Local Proportionate Investigation Report. Finally, there was another copy of the response to my Subject Access Application of November 11th and another copy of the October 15th reply to my initial request for personal information. Gogplod badgeLet’s look at the first two a little more closely, see what they say, or don’t say, as the case may be.

The covering letter from DCI Roome tells me that “Untrue or inaccurate published comments about individuals is covered under the Deformation (sic) Act 2013 . . . ” (thankfully things have not gone that far in this case). DCI Roome goes on to advise me that I could bring “legal actions against the author(s)”. He ends by thanking me for bringing the matter to the attention of North Wales Police. Wasn’t that a nice letter, boys and girls? . . . well, apart from the suggestion that I might have been deformed by the experience.

Now we move on to the main course, the report itself. This was, I assume, compiled by Ian Davies, for his name is at the foot of the document. The report breaks my complaint up into three parts, which are:

  1. Complainant has made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the information but has been refused.
  2. Complainant alleges that information concerning him has been released by the Police to other persons and has appeared in a public forum – the Wales Eye blog which has caused him distress.
  3. Complainant believes that as the Police did not ask for the article to be removed from the WalesEye blog, it constitutes approval or collusion by the police.

The response to Complaint 1 is basically a rehash of what I’d already been told in other documents – ‘you can’t have information about yourself’. This section concludes with “I have subsequently instructed the system administrators to search our databases, and can confirm that Mr Royston JONES has not been investigated, nor is a suspect in this matter. I can neither confirm nor deny that the existence of any complaint, as this would not be Mr Royston Jones’ personal information.” Which means, what, exactly? “Not a suspect” in which matter? If this means what he told me verbally on November 24th then I and my blog were never under investigation as a result of a complaint made by Jacques Protic. But on the other hand, Ian Davies cannot confirm or deny the existence of any complaint.

Complaint 2 is answered with an assurance that no information (about me and any investigation into my blog?) was ever released into the public domain.

Complaint 3 deals with my suggestion that as North Wales Police did not insist that the WalesEye post be taken down, this could be interpreted as “approval or collusion by thePolice”. The report says, “I have found no evidence to suggest that NWP was aware of the article on the WalesEye blog . . . “.  In fact, North Wales Police was made aware of the offending blog post in my original FoI request to the Chief Constable on September 12th, 2014. A letter NWP acknowledged receipt of in their letter of September 17th. A letter that says: “The content of your letter has been noted and logged”. It is now January 19th, four months on, and ‘Don’t Call the Boys in Blue’ is still available on the WalesEye blog, naming serving police officers and referring to a (non-existent) investigation into something I had written on my blog. Leaving me to conclude that NWP has no problem at all with this article.

Elsewhere in the response to Complaint 3 Ian Davies mentions telephone conversations with me on 24/11/14 and 04/12/2014. We can agree on the first, and while I have no log of the second I won’t quibble, but we most definitely had another telephone conversation on December 17th, which Ian Davies does not mention.

So what have we learnt? If I had to sum up what I’ve been told by North Wales Police it would be, ‘There was no investigation into anything you might have written on your blog following a complaint by Mr Jacques Protic . . . but even if there was we wouldn’t tell you’. Which advances us not at all, leaving me with little more than my original suspicions.

The post that appeared on WalesEye clearly stated that I had been investigated by North Wales Police following a complaint by Jacques Protic. The post (available here in PDF format) even names the officers involved, and claims one of them was disciplined for not doing his job properly. Yet Ian Davies assured me in a telephone conversation on November 24th that there had been no investigation into anything I had written on my blog. And this appeared to have been confirmed in the Local Proportionate Investigation Report. So where did WalesEye get the information? Was it all a fabrication? Unlikely. (And it’s not as if this post was the first; just eight days earlier WalesEye had taken another pop at poor old Jac with this post.)

I see no reason to change my initial suspicion that Protic complained about me to North Wales Police and they went through the motions before fobbing him off with some story about a botched investigation . . . which he then took to WalesEye and they ran with it because – and for reasons I cannot fathom – I am not universally loved in that quarter. (Yes, I know, it’s difficult to believe.) Why do I suspect this is what happened?Waldorf T. Flywheel

Largely because of what Protic was writing under his own name at around this time. On September 9th, the day before the piece appeared on WalesEye, Protic put out this example of his state of mind on his Glasnost blog. (Here in PDF format.) He rails against “cybernats”, and talks specifically of damage to his car, claiming that North Wales Police is “doing nothing tangible” to protect him. Later he refers to “the ongoing erosion of policing standards”. The article also deals with another complaint he’d made to North Wales Police about Conwy Education Authority illegally forcing children to learn Welsh. Read the piece, especially the highlighted sections in the PDF version, and you’ll see that here is a man who sees enemies everywhere and feels let down by North Wales Police, the local Police and Crime Commission (who is a Welsh speaker!) and even the IPCC, that Protic says “effectively said, ‘Bugger Off'”. This man’s hatred for everything Welsh, but especially the language, has affected his reasoning and sense of proportion. How detached from reality does one need to be to believe that Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones belong to some nationalist conspiracy – because they are “Welsh speaking Celts”?

In this shocking episode I have been both lied about and lied to, and now I want the truth. So I am looking for a lawyer to advise me on a possible case of harrassment / slander / defamation (mercifully not ‘deformation’?) / and whatever charge(s) might attach to the wrongful release or misuse of police data. I need some leonine figure to bound from the jungle of jurisprudence to take up my case, an exemplar of his profession comparable to my hero, Waldorf T. Flywheel, shown in the picture. (Moustache, cigar and funny walk all optional.) Said paragon will be expected to offer advice gratis and to take any case on a No win, No fee basis. Offers to: admin@jacothenorth.net.

Jan 162015
 

By one of those delightful coincidences that brighten up our lives I was working yesterday on an update to the previous post, ‘White Water Up Shit Creek’, when I received a phone call from someone I’d mentioned in that piece. Mark Williamson and I then had a lengthy and interesting discussion. He even invited me over to the White Water Centre at Frongoch to see some of the wonderful things going on there . . . and promised not to drown me!

After giving the discussion a little thought I realised that an update would be no way to handle this development, and so I decided on a new post. Also, I decided there and then – impetuous devil that I am! – to give Mark Williamson a chance to respond to the points I had intended raising in the update. I had no idea how this was going to work out – or even if it would work out – but the promise had been made so I was prepared to give it a try. (In the end Mr Williamson decided not to take up my offer, but phoned on Friday morning to suggest a couple of changes.)

Such an offer would have been unique in the history of Jac o’ the North, and may never be repeated. So I don’t want Third Sector shysters, Labourites, white flight colons, BritNats, etc., etc., thinking that this courtesy will be extended to them, because it won’t – you are ever in my cross-hCanoeistairs.

Before proceeding there are a few things that need to be said, points that emerged from the discussion on Thursday that might help with the understanding of what follows.

1/ Mr Williamson was keen to stress again that the National White Water Centre at Frongoch is run by Canoe Wales Sales and Services Ltd not Canoe Wales . . . though Canoe Wales does have staff on site.

2/ Mr Williamson readily admitted that things had been handled badly in the past, but that this was why he’d been recruited – to clear up the mess. He assured me that an improvement in the finances would be observable in the most recent accounts, submitted towards the end of 2014 and not yet publicly available. While the accounts for year ending March 31st, 2015 would be even better.

3/ When I raised the question of why the Centre’s website is ukrafting.co.uk Mr Williamson admitted that that’s mainly what happens there, it’s used for the purposes I mentioned in the post. Though this was qualified by telling me that Canoe Wales runs lots of courses – using the Sport Wales funding – at other venues around the country. He also assured me that none of this funding finds its way to Frongoch or Canoe Wales Sales and Servicing Ltd because the Centre is separate and entirely self-financing.

*

Despite telling myself (and you) I needn’t bother, curiosity got the better of me and I did after all buy the DueDil credit report on Canoe Wales. A few points extracted from that report were to have been the substance of the update. (Incidentally, I was able to download and open the report, in pdf format, but was unable to save it. Does anyone know what a (135) error message means on Adobe Acrobat?)

  • As we have learnt since the banking crisis of 2008, credit ratings are important for countries, but credit ratings started off as a means of gauging companies’ credit worthiness. Canoe Wales’ credit rating was paddling along serenely at 97 or 98 (out of 100) until it hit choppy water in July 2013 that took its rating down to 87. By January 2014 it was down to 70 and bobbed up and down until nearly going under altogether in September 2014 when the rating sunk to 12. Canoe Wales managed to right itself and stay afloat, with the last recorded rating of 53 in October 2014.
  • A curiosity I would welcome an explanation for is that in the DueDil credit report for Canoe Wales ‘Wages & Salaries’ are £294,260 for year ending 31.03.2013 but show nothing for previous years.
  • What is the explanation for Day Smith & Hunter resigning as the Canoe Wales auditors on May 9, 2013 and Salisbury & Co resigning as auditors Canoe Wales credit reporton March 31st, 2014? Who are the auditors now?
  • Salisbury & Co were so unimpressed with the state of Canoe Wales’ finances that, according to the DueDil credit report, they were unsure whether Canoe Wales was a going concern. (See panel.) Did anyone at Sport Wales pick up on this? Is this in any way connected with the same auditors’ resignation?

*

Although Mark Williamson declined my offer of 250 words he did have a few things to say in a third phone call this morning. Unfortunately, this call caught me at an awkward moment and I wasn’t able to remember all the points on which I wanted clarification.

For example, I should have raCanoe Wales Tree Top Adventureised the point that he (Mark Williamson) has been recruited to get the finances of Canoe Wales into better shape. Which should not be difficult given the large amounts of public funding being received from Sport Wales (and possibly other sources). Another advantage – from now on – is that Rescue 3 (UK) Ltd has folded and been written off. Further income is anticipated from the profits of the Frongoch Centre, now being run by Canoe Wales Sales and Services Ltd; this from the rafting and other activities available there. These include 4 x 4 off-road driving, clay pigeon shooting, quad biking and ‘tree top adventure’ (see panel). In fact, when you take all that into account, it would be difficult for Canoe Wales not to show a profit.

Though this still leaves unresolved the status of the mysterious Canoe Wales (Commercial) Ltd. There are no accounts yet available for this company, so it might still prove a burden for Canoe Wales. Additionally, what if Canolfan Tryweryn does not make a profit, how will it survive seeing as it’s run by a separate company from Canoe Wales and unable to access Canoe Wales’ public funding? I ask this because the most recent figures available for Canoe Wales Sales and Services Ltd show current liabilities of £164,131.

Despite what the helpful Mark Williamson told me I still have difficulty regarding these three entities as separate. A difficulty due to the fact that Canoe Wales Sales and Services Ltd has just two directors, David William Wakeling and Andrew Jeremy Booth, who are also the only directors of Canoe Wales (Commercial) Ltd. Both these companies are wholly owned by Canoe Wales of which Wakeling and Booth appear to be the controlling directors. So with the best will in the world, I remain unconvinced that public funding given to Canoe Wales will not find its way to one or both of the subsidiaries. And seeing as both subsidiaries are wholly owned by Canoe Wales then the parent company is responsible for any losses these might incur, as with Rescue 3 (UK) Ltd. (Refer to previous post.)

*

Over and above these financial and structural concerns there are other, less material considerations that would probably not occur to those running these ventures, and even if they did, would be unlikely to resonate.

Everything at the White Water Centre has been made possible by the drowning of Capel Celyn and the expulsion of its people; our people. Now stag parties and other groups from England – Liverpool included – go there to have a good time, to drink and laugh, to career about the countryside on quad bikes and in 4 x 4s, to whoop and holler almost within earshot of the drowned village. Another example of tourism in Wales but not of Wales.

The whole concept of Canolfan Tryweryn is insensitive, almost vindictive and triumphalist. Perhaps not a lot different to dancing on the grave of a vanquished foe.

Jan 132015
 

Some of you may recall that I recently put out a message on social media asking if anyone had any information on the National White Water Centre on Afon Tryweryn, at Frongoch, near Bala. (Two names there resonant of England’s imperialist past, Tryweryn and Frongoch.)

My reason for asking is that the Centre’s website gives neither Charity Commission number nor Company number; there is no indication of how the centre is run, for not a single individual’s name Cofiwch_Drywerynappears on the website for management, staff, trustees, or anyone else. I searched both the Companies House website and the Charity Commission website but could find nothing for the National White Water Centre. Then I noticed that the e-mail address is info@ukrafting.co.uk so I searched for ‘UK Rafting’, but I drew another blank. (Interestingly, the Centre’s website address is ukrafting.co.uk.) The only conclusion I could draw was that there is a third entity, other than UK Rafting and the National White Water Centre involved, which is nowhere named on the website.

So on Monday morning, bright and early, before driving the missus to work (car not whip), I e-mailed the Centre asking four questions:

1/ You are called the ‘National White Water Centre’. Is that the ‘Wales / Welsh National White Water Centre’, the ‘UK National White Water Centre’ or the ‘England / English National White Water Centre’?

2/ No management is listed, nor is there any mention of trustees, so how is your Centre run?

3/ Are you registered with the Charity Commission, if so, what is your number? Are you registered with Companies House, if so, what is your number?

4/ How are you funded?

Within a few hours I received a telephone call from a suspicious Scotsman named Mark Williamson who apparently works at the Centre but was phoning me from somewhere in “south Wales”. In answer to my e-mailed questions he was able to tell me that the Centre is not a charity but a commercial enterprise, run by “C W Sales and Services”. When I asked what C W stood for, he told me Canoe Wales. So the Centre, on Afon Tryweryn, would appear to be a commercial arm of Canoe Wales. Yet on the Canoe Wales website I could find no mention of the Bala Centre until I used the search facility, and this page came up. On funding. Mr Williamson was rather vague, and when it came to which nation the ‘National’ element in the name refers to, even vaguer. Saying that when the Centre opened (in 1986) it was the only one of its kind in the UK, so presumably it is the UK National White Water Centre.

*

So, by Monday afternoon, I had something to get my teeth into, C W Sales and Services. The Companies House website told me that this PLC was Incorporated 06.11.2012 and its Company Number is 08282630. On the Companies House website I also found, Canoe Wales (Incorporated 09.03.1990, Co. No. 02478971) and Canoe Wales (Commercial) Ltd (Incorporated 02.11.2012, Co. No. 08278776). All three have their registered office at ‘Canolfan Tryweryn, Frongoch, Bala, Gwynedd LL23 7NU’.

Next stop was DueDil for financial and other information that I might have to pay for on the Companies House website. First, CW Sales and Services Ltd., to which Mr Williamson had directed me. Without getting bogged down in figures, the company is not healthy with, at 30.03.2014, net current liabilities of £164,131. The current directors are David William Wakeling and Andrew Jeremy Booth, and the company is wholly owned by Canoe Wales.

Moving on to Canoe Wales itself,CW Turnover the accounts are overdue at Companies House but the most recent figures, at 31.03.2013, show net worth at £199,786, down from a high of £542,036 at 31.03.2008. (The net worth may in part be attributable to property or land as Canoe Wales has two outstanding mortgages.) The current directors are David William Wakeling, Glyn Royston Stickler, Alan John Baker, Emma Aldridge, Andrew Jeremy Booth and Paul Donovan. (More info available here.)

The most recent filed accounts confirm what Mr Williamson told me, “As at 1st April 2013, commercial trading activities and the operation of the white water centre at Canolfan Tryweryn were transferred to CW Sales and Services Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary”. The accounts also showed that two of the directors had made loans to Canoe Wales, David Wakeling £45,000 and Emma Aldridge £10,000. “Government grants” amounted to £222,736. Despite the white water canoeing and the educational angles promoted on the website and elsewhere the accounts show that the largest source of income is “rafting”, which I suspect is little more than stag parties, supermarket middle management on beery ‘bonding’ courses, and Islamist terrorists having fun, which makes the White Water Centre at Frongoch little more than another insulting ‘Playground Wales’ tourist business. The SW of course refers to Sport Wales, public money, yours and mine. (Click on panel above to Canoe Wales adverse reportenlarge.) The DueDil pages for Canoe Wales also suggest there is an adverse credit report available. I don’t feel the need to pay the £11.99 requested to tell me that Canoe Wales is heading up Shit Creek.

Finally, Canoe Wales (Commercial) Ltd. The only directors are Wakeling and Booth and the company is 100% owned by Canoe Wales. I was unable to get financial figures as, according to DueDil, the company did not trade during year ending 31.03.2013 and the most recent accounts, for y/e 31.03.2014, are still being processed.

When looking through the information on Canoe Wales I noticed that there was another company mentioned as being part of the group. This was Rescue 3 (UK) Ltd, Registered at a Manchester address with the Company Number 04613689 and Incorporated 10.12.2002. The directors at the time the liquidators were appointed in August 2013 were Paul Eamon O’Sullivan, Philip Blain, David William Wakeling and Ashley James Charlwood. Familiar names such as Baker, Aldridge and Stickler abandoned the sinking canoe 31.03.2013. The lack of white water facilities in Manchester meant that Rescue 3 (UK) Ltd took advantage of the Frongoch Centre and other facilities in Wales. The company’s website is closed but the company almost certainly had some connection with Rescue 3 Europe. The folded company had a share issue of 50,000 £1 shares and was wholly owned by Canoe Wales, which obviously took the hit when Rescue 3 (UK) Ltd folded. Explained in the CW accounts thus (click to enlarge):

Rescue 3

Let’s recap. Canoe Wales started life in 1990 as the Welsh Canoeing Association, explained here in the Document of Incorporation. Its purpose to represent canoeists in Wales. Though I couldn’t help noticing that this first document lists among its objects: “To act as the Association governing the sport and recreation of canoeing in Wales on behalf of the British Canoe Union. How often have we read something like that? Then, at a meeting held on October 5th 1996, at the Welsh Institute of Sport in Cardiff, it was decided that henceforth the Management Council would be known as the Board of Directors with Council Members becoming Directors and all the other attendant changes. (Click here for details.) The Chairman at this meeting, also the Chairman of the Association, was a Mark Charlton. Blain was elected Vice-Chairman and Wakeling Treasurer. I suspect that the name was changed to Canoe Wales in November 2008. One question someone may be able to answer is, if the Welsh Canoeing Association wasn’t formed until 1990 who opened the White Water Centre at Frongoch in 1986?

*

What we have with Canoe Wales is a model I have encountered many times before. To begin with, there is the parent body, all fluffy and lovable, doing wonderful things with kiddies, the disabled and the disadvantaged, run by frightfully nice people with silly names and rings in assorted orifices. This set-up relies for its very existence on hefty dollops of public funding, for Wales is a wealthy country with money to spare. Problems start when those running these Third Sector outfits see themselves as entrepreneurs (a word for which there is no equivalent in Welsh, by the way), and they set up ‘trading arms’ and branch out in other ways. A good example would be the one and only Naz Malik, who was not only operating in Wales but also, as this Charity Commission page tellAWEMA Charity Commissions us (click to enlarge), in Kenya and Pakistan! Why was he allowed to operate outside of Wales with Welsh public funding? Was I the only one to notice this? But as I say, it doesn’t really matter because Wales is so wealthy.

The status of these offshoots can vary. Some will be wholly owned by the parent company, others will be free-standing private companies, with any profits going to the directors who, in a parallel dimension, are also the officials of the publicly-funded body. These private offshoots will invariably use facilities and equipment owned by the parent body and paid for out of the public purse. I was introduced to this angle a couple of years ago when told about a women’s ethnic minority charity in Cardiff, I believe the name began with the letter B. The problem was that the husband of the woman running the show had a private company doing very similar work, and they saw no problem in him using the equipment and facilities of the charity that had been bought with grants from the ‘Welsh’ Government and other sources. But they were both well connected in the Labour Party and so nothing was done about it. In fact, the husband was ‘promoted’ to run another charity in the Valleys.

The next problem encountered is entirely predictable. It invariably transpires that our Third Sector grant-grabbers are not the next Richard Branson (unless they’re replicating Beardie’s success in space tourism). This results in spin-offs hitting the rocks, with considerable sums of money having to be written off, as in the case of Resue 3 (UK) Ltd. So who covers these losses? Are they paid for out of grants to the parent body? Perhaps the bigger question is, who keeps track on behalf of the funders of where the money goes, and how it’s used, especially when the body to which the grant is given has spawned a number of offshoots that do not themselves qualify for grants? The question is partly rhetorical, because I am one hundred per cent certain that there have been many examples of funding being misused in this way. But as with Malik’s ‘Today Swansea, tomorrow the world’ approach, no one seems to care. It would be too embarrassing for those giving out the grants to have all these cases exposed.

Something else I noticed while wading through the Canoe Wales paperwork is that they’ve changed their auditors four times, or rather, the auditors have resigned. It happened in 1999, 2002, 2013 and 2014. It may be nothing, but losing two auditors in the past couple of years may suggest something more than carelessness. Were I a funder I would certainly be asking questions.

In conclusion, I suspect that Canoe Wales is breaking up on the rocks of mismanagement and over-ambition, kept afloat only with public funding (and loans from the directors!). This funding from Sport Wales is presumably given because it’s believed Canoe Wales fulfils some educational or other worthy role. But as the accounts make clear, the bulk of the punters come for the fun and games of rafting (as the website URL suggests) – so why are large amounts of Welsh public funding being used to keep open a water ride for drunken jollying that probably employs no Welsh people and lies so close to Capel Celyn? Insult piled upon insult. Canoe Wales is an expensive failure that should not receive another penny from the Welsh public purse. Pull the plug!

*

FOOTNOTE: One reason I enjoy doing posts like this is that once you start digging there’s just no telling what you’ll unearth. This case being a perfect example. For when I started digging into the background of David Wakeling, to find out what his day job was, and how he could afford to loan Canoe Wales £45,000, I discovered that he owns Toucan Systems of Abertillery, Company No 02068869, which manufactures high-spec electroPippa Bartolottinic components. Another director is Mark Williamson, the Scotsman I spoke with on the telephone. Mr Williamson is also a director of Beaufort Tenants Management Ltd of Monmouth, Company No 02847525. So was Williamson recruited into Toucan because Wakeling knew him through Canoe Wales, or vice versa?

Perhaps even more interesting was another name on Toucan’s list of previous directors (April 2001 – May 2003) – a Ms Pippa Bartolotti, self-styled leader of the equally self-styled ‘Wales Green Party’. What a small world! Some Greens suggest that Ms Bartolotti is not what she seems, that she is persona grata with the Israeli authorities and that she has been involved with companies connected with the military. Toucan is such a company. The woeful ‘protests’ she organised for the NATO summit in Newport last September did nothing to lift the cloud of suspicion hanging over that head of wild, abundant hair.

All of which raises the possibility that Canoe Wales is indeed a dead duck financially, but is being kept open for reasons that cannot be stated.

Jan 072015
 
This post is a revised version of an article that recently appeared in Cambria magazine

When I was growing up in Swansea in the 1950s most of the people I knew lived in terraced houses owned by people we didn’t know. For our house, the rent was collected by a chain-smoking bottle blonde from Mumbles who would enter the payment in her rent book with the kind of yellow fingers that persuaded me to become the only 10-year-old in the area who smoked his Woodbine from the other end of a cigarette holder. (Well, I was too young to give up smoking.) Despite our rent-collector’s aesthetic shortcomings, her caBuddy Hollylling was considered a steady job, and quite respectable. There were a lot of them about. Another I recall was a man with a bicycle that had a small motor affixed to the back wheel, which I found fascinating. I can see him now, tackling hills with the tails of his long, drab mac flapping behind him.

Some of these rented properties would then be sub-let, or lodgers would be taken in to help pay for a ‘telly’, or a week in Tenby. One such sub-lettee was ‘Old Sam’, who lived in someone’s front room across the road from us. Sam had piles of pennies (he had piles of just about everything, come to that!) and I’d be sent across the road when the gas meter was running low. Then, some tme in 1958, my father decided to join the property-owning classes. This rise in the status of the Joneses was not without disruption; for example, our new home needed a bit of work, things like a kitchen and an indoor lavatory.

So while the builders were in I was farmed out to my maternal grandmother over on Pentregethin Road. And it was from there, walking through a building site to Penlan School one bitterly cold February morning, that I overheard a trio ahead of me talking; “‘Ave ew yerd, mush – Buddy Holly been killed”. There’d been a light snowfall and the wind had blown the snow against the piles of builders’ sand. It was so cold that the snow didn’t melt, yet the fall had been so light that I could almost make out the individual flakes. That’s how I heard of the death of my idol, though the rest of that day is lost.


Those of our acquaintance that didn’t live in privately rented properties tended to live on council estates, such as Penlan, through which I had walked that dreary February morning. Penlan belonged to a new generation of post-war council estates, supplementing those Swansea had constructed in the inter-war period – Lloyd George’s ‘Homes fit for Heroes’ – most noticeably the massive Townhill-Mayhill estate, collectively and colloquially referred to as, ‘The ‘Ill’. As in, ‘Whe’ by do ew live, luv?’ ‘Up on the cowinʽ ‘Ill!’. (I’m making myself quite homesick here.)

Despite the allocation system for council tenancies being, theoretically at least, needs based, it was a decided advantage if one was a Labour Party member, trade union official, or friend / relative of a local councillor. Of course, as a young lad the complexities of this allocation system were beyond my ken, though it must be said that many of my elders were also confused. Especially those who thought they had enough points to put them near the top of the waiting list, only to find that they had been queue-jumped by a woman no better than she ought to be whose only ‘points’ seemed to be . . . no, let’s not go there, or I shall be accused of picking on the Labour Party again.

Yet it’s worth remembering that prior to World War One there had been very little housing built by local authorities; in fact, I’m not sure there was any council housing built in Wales. Before the Great War housing had either been built by the big companies and mine owners or quarry owners for their workers, or else the need for rented property was met by speculative developers. (In the village where I now live most of the properties over 30 years old were built by the owners of the local quarry in the 19th century to be rented to their workers.) But the fact was that just about everybody had a home, even if it was a little room like Sam’s, piled high with pennies, newspapers and God knows what else in a permanent fog of stale urine. Well into the 1950s unmarried adults (and many young married couples) lived with their parents, the elderly invariably lived with their adult children, while single men and young women who left home to work ‘took lodgings’ or found a ‘bedsit’.

So we can safely say that council or social housing, despite our familiarity with it today, has been a feature of Welsh life for less than a century. With its hey-day probably already in the past, for today most Welsh local authorities have lost their housing stock to housing associations. Another big difference between 1915 and 2015 is of course that most people today are home owners, and many more aspire to be, which is another need being met by housing associations with ‘shared ownership’ schemes and other imaginative arrangements. All of which makes housing associations worthy of closer inspection.


Despite self-applied labels such as ‘social enterprises’ and ‘not-for-profit organisations’ most housing associations are registered as Industrial and Provident Societies; registered with, but not regulated by, the Financial Services Authority. And unlike companies limited by guarantee they have share capital. Then, and despite wanting us to believe they are public bodies, housing associations are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act 2000. (Your local council is of course covered by the Act.) All that being so, and it suggesting they are not public bodies, why have housing associations in Wales received billions of pounds in public funding since the arrival of devolution in 1999? And why is so much of this Welsh public funding seeping over the border in the form of maintenance contracts and sub-contracts for English companies?

If you think I’m exaggerating, just remember that thirty years ago the housing departments of our councils provided many tens of thousands of jobs, making this sector one of the biggest employers, especially in our rural areas. There were those employed in building and maintaining the hundreds of thousands of council properties, and there were also jobs in administration, allocating properties, collecting rents and dealing with all manner of queries. Thirty years ago local authorities were big players in the economic life of the country. ‘But surely’, you ask, ‘the council staff simply transferred to the new owner of the properties?’ Well, usually . . . some . . . and to begin with . . .

To explain what’s happening now I shall use an example I have studied on my own door-step – literally from my own door-step! In 2010 Gwynedd council’s housing stock was transferred to Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd (Gwynedd Community Housing), and to begin with, things seemed to carry on much as before. More recently, worrying changes have been apparent. The contract for maintaining the properties was awarded to Lovell, a major English company which has its ‘local’ branch office in Cheshire. Lovell in turn sub-contracted to smaller companies over the border. Let me explain how this works in practice.

In 2013 Lovell’s sub-contractors were working in the Tywyn area and my next-door neighbour waited months for his bathroom and kitchen to be re-tiled. The tilers travelled every day – when they bothered to turn up – from Wigan. Their day worked out at roughly four hours of travelling and five hours of work! And this lunacy, remember, is being perpetrated with Welsh public funding and at the expense of Welsh sub contractors!

More recently we have seen the controversy over CCG’s attempts to bring in English managers. Defended and disguised with arguments such as ‘unable to find suitable Welsh-speaking applicants’ and ‘seeking the best for the job’, when the truth is that it’s a move to better ‘integrate’ CCG with the Englandandwales social housing setup. Those it is hoped to recruit will have contacts in England that will ensure Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd secures more tenants from the lucrative – but damaging to the host community – ‘vulnerable’ sector. The real question is, where did this diktat originate? Because CCG’s chief executive, Ffrancon Williams, seems to be just a mouthpiece in this, and the acquiescing Board member nothing but a smokescreen. The decision was certainly taken elsewhere.

The table below (click to enlarge) shows the amounts of funding given to Welsh housing associations in just one six-year period and from just one funding stream, the Social Housing Grant. Couldn’t that seven hundred million pounds – and all the rest! – have been better used?

Social Housing full

There are just so many problems attaching to the current arrangements for social housing. The one I have just dealt with in Gwynedd is replicated across Wales, resulting in thousands of jobs being lost and billions of pounds of Welsh money flowing over the border – Welsh public money that is supposed to be used to boost the Welsh economy! In addition, Wales is locked into an Englandandwales system that means a large family of English social misfits (or worse) can qualify for social housing in Wales ahead of locals; as can criminals, drug addicts, paedophiles and other who qualify as ‘vulnerable’, and therefore generate more income for whoever houses them. With such rich pickings on offer no one should be surprised to learn that many housing associations are building properties in numbers that cannot be justified by local demand – especially in some rural towns – and are only being built at all to meet the lucrative demand from England. As an example of what I’m talking about let’s remember the paedophile gang housed by Gwalia in Cydweli, which generated a lot more income than if those properties had been used to house law-abiding locals.

STOP PRESS: Just before posting I learnt that police in Haverfordwest are warning interested parties (schools, etc.,) that convicted sex offenders are now being housed in the centre of the town.

I don’t wish to paint an overly depressing picture (recalling ‘The Day the Music Died’ has already had me reaching for the Kleenex!), but social housing in Wales is an indefensible system. To conclude this section, and expose the lunacy from another angle, consider this. Apart from hundreds of councillors worried about losing their allowances just about everyone else in Wales believes we need many fewer local authorities. That being so, why does our ‘Welsh’ Government encourage the proliferation of housing associations – actually funding them to compete with each other? Or to put it another way: why should an area deemed too small to have its own local authority have half a dozen or more housing associations on its patch fighting like ferrets in a sack over the social housing racket?


The day of council-owned social housing is clearly coming to an end, dealt its death-blow by Margaret Thatcher’s Housing Act of 1980 and its ‘Right-to-Buy’ provisions. I would like to believe that we are approaching the end of social housing altogether and heading towards a system in which all rented accommodation will be provided by private sector. Housing associations are obviously a half-way house towards such a system, and were probably designed to be just that. What I would like to see in the next few years is their full privatisation. The writing may be on the wall, and it’s in David Cameron’s own hand.

In January 2012 the UK Prime Minister announced new legislation (due in 2015) for the governing of co-operatives (including Industrial Provident Societies), and he said, “We know that breaking monopolies, encouraging choice, opening up new forms of enterprise is not just right for business but the best way of improving public services too”. What I’ve underlined is a strange term to use in relation to what purports to be nothing more than legislation to consolidate earlier Bills and iron out anomalies. ‘New forms of enterprise’ in the same sentence as ‘public services’ should also have raised a few eyebrows.

Then we have the Housing (Wales) Act of 2014. On the one hand this seeks to further integrate Wales with England but it also has a lot to say about the ‘Regulation of Private Rented Housing’, with little of it aimed at your average ‘Buy-to-Let’ investor. My reading of Part One of the Act (by far the largest of the nine Parts) is that it sets the ground rules for a major shift in the provision of social or rented housing. And why not?

Housing associations already borrow money from banks and other institutions, so why shouldn’t they be allowed to look for commercial investors and shareholders? They would have little trouble in attracting them given that they have solid assets in the form of their housing stock. Housing associations would be ideal investment vehicles for pension funds, and socially acceptable for the more ‘ethical’ investor. Fully privatised social housing, with the right legislation in place to guarantee secure tenancies, prioritising locals, fair rents, etc., would not only provide investment opportunities but such an arrangement would also relieve a great burden on the public purse.

And there is of course another great advantage to handing the provision of rented housing over to the private sector. There is unquestionably a housing shortage, not in Wales, but in England. Despite the platitudes and promises, there is no intention of ever meeting the needs of all those wanting to own their own home, because to do so would reduce the value of millions of other homes people have invested in. So the demand remains. So why not meet it by letting the private sector build decent homes for rent, dwellings with – as on the Continent – more cachet than social housing and its connotations of problem families, pit bulls and sink estates? Give people a decent home, solve the housing crisis, and create jobs in the process, something that could be done without causing revolution in the suburbs.


Those buffoons down Cardiff docks who persist in masquerading as the ‘Welsh’ Government need to decide whether they want to start living up to their billing, or whether they continue allowing Wales to be run by English civil servants taking orders from London and doing little more than feeding the parasites of the Third Sector. If they choose the former, then one of the most convincing ways of showing their newly-grown gonads would be to devise Welsh laws for Welsh needs, rather than being bullied into accepting English laws with ‘(Wales)’ inserted into the name. Social housing might be a good place to start.

The table below shows that the fastest growing hoising sector in Wales is the private rented sector. Much of this is accounted for by ‘Buy-to-let’ mortgages but, increasingly, major companies and corporations are moving into the sector. Again, why not? As I’ve said, the demand for home ownership will never be met because to do so would lead to a collapse in property values; so why not allow private and commercial landlords to provide more salubrious accommodation than is currently provided by housing associations?

Housing by tenure

As I hope to have persuaded you, the current, Twilight Zone model of publicly-funded quasi-private companies is an unsustainable nonsense resulting from Margaret Thatcher’s ‘Right-to-Buy’ legislation. The irony being that it is currently sustained by ‘Welsh’ Labour and it’s right-on cronies in the Third Sector. This situation leaves us with two options. The first would see a new model of publicly-owned social housing, serving Welsh needs, employing Welsh people, and giving contracts to Welsh companies. The second option is to cut housing associations adrift (from public funding) and say, ‘Right you’re on your own now, behave like private companies, find shareholders and raise your own funding using your massive assets as collateral’.

The first option takes us back to that system we were once comfortable with (and so proud of); whereas the second option takes us back to private landlords (but without the bottle blondes with nicotine-stained fingers). Either option will be an improvement on the absurd system we know today; which sees far too many housing associations in Wales, and too many of them wanting to employ English staff, give contracts to English companies, and take in English tenants – and do it all using Welsh public funding!

After reading this you may wish to sign the petition advertised at the top of my sidebar.