Feb 252015
 

After my previous post, Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, I have been giving more thought to the subject, and doing a little digging; which has led to a disturbing possibility presenting itself. By which I mean that someone, perhaps even someone local to Swansea Bay, is trying to sabotage this project for their own selfish reasons.

Treading carefully, I have decided to present this post as a combination of incontestable facts, presented as FACT: and limited to the paragraph in bold type following, interspersed with paragraphs containing deductions, assumptions or informed guesswork, before concluding with a reasonable hypothesis extrapolated from what has gone before.

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FACT: The past week or so has seen a number of stories in the media unfavourable to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project. The first appeared in The Telegraph on February 15th, written by Energy Editor, Emily Gosden, and repeated in the Western Mail and WalesOnline on February 17th, about Cornish villagers up in arms over plans to quarry granite for shipping to Swansea Bay. Ms Gosden was at it again on February 21st, attacking on another front with this report arguing that the electricity generated by the tidal lagoon would be hideously expensive. This piece used as its source a submission produced by Citizens Advice.

So we see negative attention suddenly being paid to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. The really damaging attack of course came from Citizens Advice.

FACT: Those familiar with recent goings-on in Wales will recall that there was a plan to throw a massive barrage across the Severn Sea from Penarth to Weston-super-Mare. The company behind this project is, or was (it may be in liquidation), Hafren Power. A number of its leading figures left, the former chief executive to form Severn Tidal Energy.

Hain Spanglefish

CLICK TO ENLARGE

FACT: The leading political backer of the Severn Barrage project was, and remains, Peter Hain, Labour MP for Neath. In fact, Hain resigned from the shadow cabinet in May 2012 to concentrate on promoting the project. In June 2013 the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee killed off the barrage proposal with a very critical report. Mr Hain attributed the rejection of his project to the influence of Bristol Port, one of whose owners, David Ord, was a substantial donor to the Conservative Party.

The Spanglefish website devoted to Peter Hain (from which the panel above is extracted) suggests that Hain hopes to resurrect the barrage project when there is a Labour government in Westminster. There is of course a general election in May. The website also suggests that ‘Welsh’ Labour is backing the barrage project.

FACT: In a WalesOnline article from September 2013, linked to above, and again here, “Mr Hain said that while he was convinced the project has no future at present, he hoped it could be resurrected under a future Labour Government.” While this article, from just last month, reported, “He (Hain) remains hopeful that the stalled Severn Barrage project, potentially creating tens of thousands of jobs, could be resurrected”.

Haywod Linkedin

LINKEDIN PROFILE (Click to enlarge)

FACT: The CEO of Citizens Advice is Gillian Guy, who is also chair of the Audit Committee of the National Audit Office.

FACT: Dr Elizabeth Haywood, aka Mrs Peter Hain, and another backer of the barrage project, was on the Remuneration Committee of the Wales Audit Office from July 2011 to March 2014. Since January of this year she has had a personal interest in electricity matters by becoming a non-executive director of Scottish Power Energy Networks Holdings Ltd.

Severn barrage

THE ONCE AND FUTURE SEVERN BARRAGE?

Given that the Wales Audit Office is probably no more independent of the National Audit Office in London than the ‘Welsh’ Government is of Westminster it is entirely reasonable to assume that Dr Haywood of Hafren Power and Gillian Guy of Citizens Advice are known to each other. And would be known to each other even if I’m being unduly cynical about the relationship between the two bodies. (For cynicism is not in my nature!)

FACT: Peter Hain and Elizabeth Haywood are both committed to the Severn barrage project. Additionally, Peter Hain has publicly voiced his opposition to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon.

If the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon goes ahead, and is successful, others will be built. This will almost certainly be the final nail in the coffin of any Severn barrage, or any other major tidal barrage anywhere under the jurisdiction of the Westminster government. It seems to be a case of either / or but not both.

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The Severn Barrage project never went away, it has been lying dormant (much like the company behind it, Hafren Power). A cynic – something I’ve already made clear (if only parenthetically), I am not – might interpret the above information thus:

There are two very good reasons for supporters of the Severn Barrage to attack the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project at this time. First, they are hoping for a Labour victory on May 7th, so in anticipation of that, now is a good time to ‘resurrect’ their project, as has always been the intention. Further, the rival tidal lagoon project is currently at the critical stage of waiting for the Planning Inspectorate to recommend acceptance or refusal to the UK government, after which there is a further three-month period during which the UK government must say yea or nay. So why not kill two birds with one stone by trying to influence the decisions of the Planning Inspectorate and the outgoing UK government, while also reminding a Labour government-in-waiting of the economic bounty that could be lavished by a Severn barrage? And doesn’t it tie in well with all the recent talk of a Cardiff – Bristol city region (with poor old Newport as the spread in the sandwich).

Hain barrage

HAIN QUOTED IN ARTICLE (BY MARTIN SHIPTON) IN WALESONLINE JANUARY 21, 2015

The barrage is said to have, or possibly had, powerful supporters, among them, Tony Blair, Rhodri Morgan and the Notional Assembly. And of course, the Western Mail / WalesOnline, which will support anything that has Labour backing. Making this the ideal time for ‘Welsh’ Labour to clear up the confusion over whether a motion supporting the barrage was passed in the 2014 conference, as is suggested by the Peter Hain tweet below from March 29, 2014. (For some reason I’m blocked from Hain’s Twitter account!) The current briefing against the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon also provides ‘Welsh’ Labour with an opportunity to make clear its position on the project. The same opportunity naturally extends to the Labour MPs and AMs around Swansea Bay . . . though of course we already know where Peter Hain stands.

Hain Labour tweet

PETER HAIN TWEET FROM MARCH 29, 2014. (SUPPLIED BY ‘STAN’)

FACT: Peter Hain and Elizabeth Haywood obviously have considerable experience and contacts in business and politics; in addition, they have a company, Haywood Hain LLP, that specialises in ‘Media and Political Communications’.

I fear there may be more to the recent attacks on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project than concern for the tranquility of a Cornish village, or a commendable regard for electricity consumers being ripped off. Big money is at stake, and – speaking for our hypothetical cynic – it could be that certain persons of influence are trying to kill off a very worthwhile and beneficial project for the Swansea Bay region.

Any further information to admin@jacothenorth.net

UPDATE 26.02.2015: As predicted above, Peter Hain has used the report produced by his wife’s former colleague to rubbish the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and promote the Lazarus Severn barrage in this piece. I know none of us think much of Llais y Sais, but does it have to be so predictably obsequious and revolting!

Feb 232015
 

My attention was drawn yesterday to a piece in the Sunday Telegraph, by Emily Gosden the Energy Editor, about the proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. (Read it here.) The ST piece itself did little more than quote from a report, ‘Response to call for evidence on Swansea Bay tidal lagoon proposals’ produced by Citizens Advice and submitted to an unnamed agency, presumably a UK government department tSwansea Bay 1hat had requested submissions, possibly the Planning Inspectorate. (Read it here.) A similar piece, attributed to ‘Rupert Denholm-Hall Business Reporter’, was in this morning’s issue of Llais y Sais, and WalesOnline. (To be found here.)

According to Citizens Advice, the price guaranteed – by the UK government – for electricity generated by the Swansea Bay installation will be higher than other forms of generation and is therefore a bad deal for the consumer. In addition, alleges Citizens Advice, the process for arriving at the agreed price is unduly secretive. All damning stuff from experts in the field. For the alternative interpretation, check out the developers’ – Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) plc – website here, pay particular attention to the ‘Project benefits’ section. Now I’m going to make a few contributions of my own in response to Citizens Advice.

Swansea Bay 2The Citizens Advice report is very narrow in its vision, and simplistic and superficial in its conclusions. It says, basically, ‘This is big business ripping off Joe Public when there are cheaper ways of generating electricity’. It focuses exclusively on price. So my first response would be that this price is not set in stone, so don’t get your knickers in a twist over something that hasn’t yet happened and can be changed. If this is a ploy to pressurise the UK government into hard bargaining with the developers, then fine, though my worry is that Citizens Advice may be acting in the interest of discredited forms of electricity generation such as wind and solar: expensive, unreliable, and offering none of the benefits of a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay. Benefits that the Sunday Telegraph overlooked, but I would have expected to be highlighted by the ‘National Newspaper of Wales’.

So what are these benefits’ of which I speak? Well, to begin with, let’s us look at the alternatives. Oil supplies are finite, as is gas (unless we rely on Mr Putin, and successors who may be even more unfriendly towards the West), Swansea Bay 3many people are unhappy with nuclear energy, there is opposition to fracking, coal is being phased out, wind and solar energy are expensive and unreliable . . . which leaves us with, what? Well, there is a reliable source of energy that can – unlike wind and sunshine – be predicted years in advance and harnessed at countless points around our coasts. Swansea Bay is ideally located because it has the second highest tidal range on earth – so why not harness this power?

Then, the lagoon is going to be a big contract, providing over a thousand jobs during construction, using local suppliers, and putting a lot of money into the local economy. There will even be permanent jobs, on site, when the contract is completed. This is a direct benefit of the kind that is never provided by wind and solar ‘farms’. As this is a relatively new technology Swansea Bay could build up a wealth of expertise, both human and corporate, that could bring considerable economic benefits to an area where they would be most welcome. Benefits that need not be confined to Swansea Bay.

Swansea Bay SA1

SA1 DEVELOPMENT, EAST OF RIVER TAWE

Staying local, the lagoon fits in well with other developments on Swansea’s hitherto neglected East Side and the docklands east of the river Tawe, while further infilling the gap between Swansea and Neath Port Talbot (the most obvious of all council mergers). Not only does it complement the SA1 development (see image) but the lagoon will also reach to the new Swansea University Bay Campus, which actually lies outside the city boundary in Neath Port Talbot.

As the images also show, the lagoon will be rather more than a generating plant. It will be an amenity for local people, where they can go walking, cycling, angling, etc; the lagoon itself would provide a perfect location for water sports. (Obviously the lagoon will have to compete with all the fun-filled leisure opportunities available at power stations, open-cast sites and wind farms, but I think it will manage such competition.) And those amenities will not just be for local people, for I can see the lagoon becoming something of a ‘celebrity’, attracting visitors from a wider area, and from around the world. In fact, the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon could be viewed as a leisure and recreation facility that just happens to generate a lot of electricity as well!

Swansea Bay Campus

SWANSEA UNIVERSITY BAY CAMPUS (FOREGROUND) WITH SA1 DEVELOPMENT IN BACKGROUND

And who’s to say that the lagoon won’t become known to a wider audience who may never even visit the area. For Swansea Bay has a growing reputation as a location for movies and television series. The old Ford plant on Jersey Marine, which would overlook the lagoon, is now being used as a studio, and the steelworks in Port Talbot are an old favourite for ‘inferno’ backdrops and dramatic night skies. Then there’s Gower . . . Yes, Swansea Bay is more than Twin Town, great though that movie was.

Finally, despite what Citizens Advice would have us believe, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is not entirely a conspiracy of big business against the downtrodden masses of energy consumers. The project invited local investors, and I have family and friends back home who have put in thousands of pounds. Obviously most of the funding will come from institutional investors, but don’t overlook the Jack pound. A lot of local people, of modest means, are also backing this project.

For these reasons I tell Citizens Advice to report the whole picture, not focus on one aspect and, by so doing give a very selective and prejudicial view, that risks creating the impression that the project is being slammed in order to promote discredited hippy technology or the Severn Barrage. I’m sick and tired of Wales being ordered by Englandandwales organisations, however worthy and well-intentioned.

And to those running parent company Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd I say, having your corporate headquarters in Gloucester, with subsidiaries such as Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) plc being no more than parentheses is a big mistake. The project upon which the future of your company hangs is Swansea Bay, so stop acting in a colonialist manner and get your corporate presence down there and recruit local staff!

Feb 182015
 
Cash cow 1

CLICK TO ENLARGE

The ‘milking’ referred to is done by the Third Sector, that demi-monde wherein dwell ‘Welsh’ Labour’s kept women (and a few men), serving no purpose beyond diverting public money from better use and performing all manner of despicable acts for those who own them. Perhaps it was ever thus, but since the arrival of devolution, and the recognition by our continental cousins of our relative poverty, what had once been a cottage industry of home-grown Labour nepotism and corruption has expanded into a pseudo-economy.

A few years back I started looking into the Third Sector and its relationship with ‘Welsh’ Labour, and in that time certain features have become obvious. Chief among them, that we now have a whole sector of Welsh life dependent upon Labour Party patronage in the form of funding and preferment, which those belonging to this sector repay by promoting the Labour message and by attacking Labour’s political opponents. This client class has become the Japanese knotweed of Welsh life – invasive, destructive, of no use to anyone (other than Labour), and damaging to the wider environment. We should be rooting it out, but it won’t be done because ‘Welsh’ Labour, losing support among the native electorate, is becoming ever more dependent on this monster it has introduced.

One obvious manifestation of Labour losing support is its inability to recruit decent Welsh candidates. It was this problem that led to the recent fiasco in Swansea when the ‘local’ Labour Party was eventually taken over by people who were strangers to the city. Resulting in the embarrassment of Il Duce Phillips and the student councillors, with their sybaritic lifestyles and complete ignorance of the city they were supposed to be running. A self-inflicted wound caused by Labour offering free party membership to students in Swansea University. Yes, that’s how bad it has become for Labour. Something else illustrated by this episode is Labour’s worrying links with certain trade unions, the National Union of Students being one, but another worthy of mention is Unison.

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Now when I were nobutalad – a long time ago I know – trade unions were taken seriously by working class men such as those among whom I grew up. They elected their union representatives, they knew them, and if there was any issue that needed to be discussed then they could have it out with them, at union meetings or even down the pub or club. It was the trade unions, more than anything else, including the Labour Party, that defended their interests. All that is gone. After countless mergers and a dramatic fall in union membership we are left with a few big unions run by professional union officials, mirroring the professional politicians, all equally divorced from real life.Dawn Bowden

As mentioned, one such union is Unison, and one of its full-time officials is Dawn Bowden of Bristol Cardiff, who is tipped to become Labour’s candidate for Caerffili or Islwyn (depending on whether there’s a gender fix) in next year’s elections to the Notional Assembly. Quite how long she’s lived in Wales is uncertain, but she’s loyal to the Labour Party and belongs to that union which is almost ‘Welsh’ Labour by Eaglestoneanother name, so that’s her elevation assured.

Her Twitter account says that she is married to @Carrageryr, so who might that be? Well, it’s another Labour Party star named Martin Eaglestone, perennial Labour loser in Arfon. (Eaglestone, Carrageryr, geddit?) Though in past elections he was living with his wife and five children in Y Felinheli. (I blame all these conferences they go to, and the drinking.) Eaglestone’s Linkedin profile describes him as, “Welsh Policy Officer at Labour Party – Welsh Labour”, whatever that means. He supports West Bromwich Albion while Bowden supports Brizzle City, so neither knows much about football.

I single out Unison because this seems to be the union of choice for many Labour politicians in Wales, even those, like Swansea’s student councillors, who’ve never done a day’s work in their lives. In many ways Unison operates (certainly in Wales) as an adjunct to the Labour Party rather than as a trade union in the traditional sense. Maybe Labour’s political opponents should have a new slogan – ‘Vote Labour, get Unison!’. Though the problem is also found in England, with other unions.

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Returning to the Third Sector, in my delvings a number of things have become apparent, but one that I feel needs to be highlighted is the practice of publicly-funded bodies setting up wholly-owned subsidiaries, for reasons that are not entirely clear, or may even be of dubious probity.

In recent posts I have looked at Canoe Wales, and the extraordinary level of funding that body receives from Sport Wales, £378,000+ in the current financial year alone (see panel below). Yet Canoe Wales has two subsidiaries, C W Sales and Services Ltd and Canoe Wales (Commercial) Ltd. The first of these subsidiaries runs the adult playground at Frongoch, near Bala, while the other is dormant. The representative of Canoe Wales that I spoke with assured me that Canoe Wales’s finances would soon start to improve, and I’m sure he’s right, for seeing as the running of the Frongoch Centre has passed to the subsidiary and Canoe Wales is so well funded it would be strange if Canoe Wales’s books didn’t begin to look healthier. The Canoe Wales representative also told me that his organisation had passed all the auditor’s checks. Which, again, I don’t doubt; but I guarantee that the Wales Audit Office does not look into subsidiaries, for the very simple reason that these do not – directly – receive any public funding.

consolidated accounts

Allowing publicly-funded bodies to form subsidiaries creates the temptation for an organisation to transfer ‘bad news’ to a subsidiary, safe in the knowledge that the WAO will not investigate the subsidiary. I’m not for one minute suggesting that this is what has recently happened with Canoe Wales, but C W Sales and Services Ltd is not in a healthy financial state. If C W Sales and Services Ltd did not exist then its indebtedness of £76,798 would be shown against Canoe Wales, and would be picked up by auditors.

That said, it could be that funders are aware of such arrangements. Staying with Canoe Wales, its accounts for year ending March 31 2013 state that “As at 1st April 2013, commercial trading activities and the operation of the White Water Centre at Canolfan Tryweryn were transferred to C W Sales and Services Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary.” Yet despite this burden being lifted Canoe Wales’ funding from Sport Sport Wales fundingWales leapt from £266,000 in 2012/13 to £378,000 in 2013/14 and 2014/15 (click to enlarge). How do we explain this unless Sport Wales is aware of, and approves the use of, a subsidiary that may be beyond the remit of the Wales Audit Office and will – as the clip above reveals – not be mentioned in future Canoe Wales accounts?

As I say, it’s a phenomenon I have observed regularly in my investigation of how public funding is dished out in Wales. Here’s another example, with a further twist. This example is Carmarthenshire Heritage Regeneration Trust / Ymddiriedolaeth Adfywio Treftadaeth Sir Gaerfyrddin, according to its website, but Ymddiriedolaeth Atgyfnerthu Treftadaeth Sir Gaerfyrddin on the websites of both the Charity Commission and Companies House. Confusing. Maybe deliberately so. Is this a laudable use of yr hen iaith or an attempt to hinder investigation into a body universally known as the Carmarthenshire Heritage Regeneration Trust?

Either way, the Trust has a subsidiary, deep in the red, called CHRT Ventures Ltd. Now for the ‘twist’ I referred to earlier. The chief executive of the Trust is Claire Deacon, and the Trust’s 2012 accounts say this:  “During the year, Ymddiriedolaeth Atgyfnerthu Treftadaeath Sir Gar (CHRT) employed the services of Ms Claire Deacon, CEO, a historic building consultant. The total expenses paid by CHRT for consultancy was £59,159 (2012: £41,873). At the year end, CHRT owed Ms Claire Deacon £9,436 (2012: £3,386). This balance is included in trade creditors”. How the hell can an employee suddenly declare herself a consultant to the body she works for and then demand more than she would have been paid in salary? The full story of Ymddiriedolaeth Atgyfnerthu Treftadaeth Sir Gaerfyrddin, and more, can be found here

Here’s another example, this one from the fleece jacket sector. The issue of public funding and subsidiaries, with the added problem of Welsh public funding seeping across the border, even extends into academe, as this post explains. And how could anyone forget Naz Malik and Awema? Let us remember that the Malik family was staunch Labour, with father and son hoping to be Labour candidates. To help their cause Naz Malik would regularly sing for his supper by proclaiming against ‘racist (Welsh) nationalists’. And what the hell is happening at the YMCA? Then there’s housing associations. We are told by the ‘Welsh’ Government that 22 local authorities is far too many, too expensive, and so there must be ‘streamlining’ – so why is that same ‘Welsh’ Government funding dozens and dozens of housing associations that compete with each and duplicate each other’s work? The answer is that housing associations are stuffed with Labour supporters (and future candidates). Read about it here.

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There are countless other examples of Third Sector bodies, publicly-funded agencies, etc., ‘diversifying’, or setting up subsidiaries and ‘trading arms’ into which ’embarrassments’ can be diverted, beyond the scope of auditors mandated only to check the recipient body itself. Though what happens if one of these subsidiaries actually makes a profit, will the profit be declared to the funding body?

This loophole is known to those disbursing the funding and is almost certainly familiar to those entrusted with ensuring that the funding can be properly accounted for. Which raises the question, why is this loophole not closed? The suspicion must be that it’s left Eaglestone Linkedinopen in order to help hide some of the public funding being wasted by the Third Sector. Because to expose this waste would damage both the Third Sector and the Labour Party, and they need each other, their fortunes and their futures are intertwined.

We have on our hands a sick man called the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party or, if we go by Eaglestone’s Linkedin profile, “Labour Party – Welsh Labour”. (Perhaps the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party is as much a fiction as the ‘Wales Green Party’.) This party is no longer able to find decent candidates from within the nation so it has to rely on recruiting officials imported by its trade union partners and those who have swarmed here to make careers for themselves out of celebrating and exaggerating Wales’ deprivation in order to get their sweaty paws on the money that has been given to alleviate that deprivation.

The Labour Party, with all its hangers-on and cronies, is suffocating Wales. Unpatriotic, anti-initiative, increasingly dependent for its survival on people who don’t know Wales and don’t care about Wales, it can only maintain its position because there is no other party electors find more attractive. Which is why I repeat that Plaid Cymru has fifteen months (the General Election of May 2015 and the Assembly elections of May 2016) to prove that it can mount a serious challenge to Labour; if it fails, yet again, then we must have a new nationalist party, a party that puts Wales and Welsh people first, rather than one that constantly exposes its weaknesses and lack of ambition by looking to do deals with anti-Welsh parties. Fifteen months.

Feb 132015
 

Last month I wrote a couple of pieces about Canoe Wales and the National White Water Centre on Afon Tryweryn at Frongoch, near Bala. First here and then with the follow-up here. Unfortunately, while writing these pieces Companies House had not made the most recent accounts available to the general public. Though I was assured by the affable and helpful Mark Williamson – who phoned me after the publication of the first piece – that the latest accounts for Canoe Wales credit reportCanoe Wales would show an improvement. For he had been brought in for that very purpose. And someone was certainly needed, because Canoe Wales was shedding auditors at an alarming rate and the most recent to depart had expressed concerns as to whether CW was a viable concern.

Talking of the National White Water Centre, Mr Williamson stressed that this venue now has nothing to do with Canoe Wales; a company called C W Sales and Services Ltd runs the Centre, which seems to be little more than an outdoor playground for adults, offering rafting, quad bike off-roading, clay pigeon shooting, bungee jumping and similar activities. While Canoe Wales goes back to 1990, C W Sales and Services was Incorporated as recently as November 7, 2012 . . . and is wholly owned by Canoe Wales.

So, now that I’ve got the latest (abbreviated) accounts, what do they show? For Canoe Wales, the parent company, the picture does indeed look a little brighter . . . but only a little. Net assets, which stood at -£22,950 on March 31, 2013, had improved to -£20,313 on March 31, 2014. Perhaps the figure would have been worse had it not been for two of the directors lending Canoe Wales £55,000. Though this may be explained by not taking out money owed rather than by putting money in. (Diolch, Dewi.) The March 31, 2014 accounts for C W Sales and Services Ltd show net assets of -£76,798 (there is of course no previous figure), which means that Canoe Wales’s net assets should be read as -£97,111, though Canoe Wales chose not to do this.

consolidated accounts

As that extract from the accounts puts it, “the parent of a group”, for there is yet another ‘child’, Canoe Wales (Commercial) Ltd. This company was also formed in November 2012, and the accounts for year ending March 31, 2014 shown it as a dormant company with a share issue of £1. It, too, is wholly owned by Canoe Wales. I suppose the question has to be, why form another company in addition to Canoe Wales and C W Sales and Services Ltd; what role is envisioned for Canoe Wales (Commercial) Ltd? Canoe Wales and its two subsidiaries have their addresses as ‘Canolfan Tryweryn Frongoch’. Canoe Wales (Commercial) Ltd and C W Sales and Services Ltd each have just two directors, David William Wakeling and Andrew Jeremy Booth, both of whom are also directors of Canoe Wales.

While the reason for setting up Canoe Wales (Commercial) Ltd may be unknown, it could be that C W Sales and Services Ltd was set up to run the White Water Centre because it would be difficult to justify using Welsh public funding to subsidise an IT department from Birmingham having an alcohol-fuelled weekend of farting about in the Welsh countryside.

Which brings me to the issue of public funding, for at the time of writing the original pieces I had yet to receive a reply from Sport Wales to my Freedom of Information request. I now have those figures, see below. You will note that between 2009/10 and 2014 /15 the Sport Wales grant to Canoe Wales rose from £247,500 to £378,000. Or to put it another way, during the worst financial crisis in living memory, when Wales is experiencing cutbacks across the board, someone saw fit to increase funding to a bunch of paddlers by some 53%! How did no Welsh politician pick up on this?

Sport Wales funding

So what is the justification for this extravagance? Because we can be sure that this funding creates very few (if any) jobs for Welsh people. And why is Sport Wales putting so much money into canoeing while cutting back funding on grass-roots sport with much more Welsh participation? Especially when we know that canoeing attracts some very unsavoury colonialist types who go out of their way to seek confrontation with Welsh anglers by demanding unrestricted access to all Welsh rivers and lakes?

And here’s a question for the ‘Welsh’ Government. How can you justify bumping up, year on year, funding for an activity offering little tangible benefit to the people you claim to represent – and nothing they couldn’t do without until economic conditions improve – while cutting back on funding for food banks? What order of priorities does this exhibit? Or is it ‘window-dressing’, an attempt to hide the truth of contemporary Wales? Then there’s the funding cut to young Welsh farmers, yet another attack on our farming community . . . to clear the land for the fleece jacket invaders such as those attaching to Canoe Wales?

So many questions about canoeing in Wales. Time, surely, for our politicians to insist on answers to a few pertinent questions: 1. Which outfit is responsible for which debts, and will publicly-funded Canoe Wales pick up the tab if the Frongoch Centre – run by its subsidiary, C W Sales and Services Ltd – sinks? 2. What is the point or purpose of Canoe Wales (Commercial) Ltd? 3. Given that so much public money is involved is anyone concerned that ‘parent’ and subsidiaries are run by the same two men? 4. For an organisation in receipt of public funding on this scale to be in debt to the tune of almost £100,000 is very worrying, so who is monitoring the situation on our behalf? 5. Finally, and fundamentally, how can anyone justify giving £378,000 a year to Canoe Wales?

UPDATE 14.02.2015: Something else I should have mentioned is the sinking of a previous subsidiary, Rescue 3 (UK) Ltd, written off in the 2013 accounts for £50,000, which may or may not account for the ‘loans’. Though ‘written off investments’ in the 2013 accounts totalled £69,742, the remainder described as ‘intercompany balance’.

Feb 102015
 

Campbell mergedLast Friday I started receiving tweets from a Denis Campbell @UKProgressive. A complete stranger to me (thank God!), it was immediately apparent that he is a friend or colleague of Phil Parry at Wales Eye. Some of these tweets are worth repeating here (click to enlarge), the full exchange can be found either on his Twitter timeline or mine.

It seems that Campbell along with Parry and a Dario Llinares are the self-proclaimed UK Progressives. (Though Campbell has a North American accent.) They have a blog, or rather, some kind of news feed, with most of the news – perhaps unsurprisingly – coming from the USA. Better yet (for the masochists among you), these three produce a weekly podcast of comment on politics and current affairs as The Three Three MuckrakersMuckrakers. Not a name I would have chosen, but there you are.

If you’ve got the stomach for it, a list of their podcasts is available here. And here’s a YouTube link to one on Ukip. It was posted over four months ago but has attracted just 130 views, most of which – to judge by the comments – have come from outraged Kippers. Anyway, this whole podcast concept strikes me as being very, very weird. It’s basically three blokes talking to each other, on film, and somehow believing that out there, in the big wide world, somebody cares. I’m holding a £20 note that says there is nobody out there who gives a fuck about what these three self-deluding tossers think about anything.

Something else worth noting is that while I have no doubt they would describe themselves as being anti-war and against militarism, especially that daemon of the Strangelove era the Military-Industrial complex, Campbell does love his martial metaphors and allusions – “When I go into battle against the inept Govt here . . . @WalesEye covering my back!” And “Shoot at one, you shoot at us all.” (Now there’s a thought!) All this from a keyboard warrior; no different to me, you might argue, except that I haven’t always been one.

*

Then, on Sunday, I received a strange tweet from another unrecognised source, which simply read Parry kids tweet#SonofaVermin. I eventually worked out that it must be from Parry’s son. (The boy’s command of the English language is on a par with his pa.) On Monday I received a similar tweet from – presumably – Parry’s daughter. Rather surprised by these interventions I responded to both with the tweet on the left. To explain the reference to ‘Vermin’. This is the word I used to end my previous post. I used it because anyone familiar with Welsh political history will know it’s a word employed by Aneurin Bevan to describe Conservatives. I believe the actual phrase was, ‘lower than vermin’. I then received a few more tweets on the ‘vermin’ theme, presumably from friends of Parry’s kids. I was very Chris Waredisappointed to see Parry rope in his kids and their friends, but then, if the man can report me to the police for things I haven’t done, and get his fat friend on Llais y Sais to repeat those lies, why should I be surprised at anything? Can I now expect a hostile tweet from his Auntie Gwladys? (‘He’s being nasty to me, Auntie Gwlad’.)

Monday saw someone else join in the attack with a series of tweets from a Chris Ware, who lives in ‘Penarth, UK’. I soon established that Ware belongs to the Cardiff menutter tweetdia bubble. The Labour-supporting Cardiff media bubble. We had a fairly heated exchange which Ware concluded by reminding me that “the world has far bigger problems than these tiddly ones in Wales”. Our exchange was obviously being followed because one of Ware’s tweets was re-tweeted twice – once by Phil Parry and once by, er, Wales Eye! Early in this exchange there was an interjection from Wales Eye, favourited by Ware. I publish it, and my response, on the left. (Click to enlarge.)

*

I think we are dealing here with the slithery, sneering, self-righteous soft Left that wet its knickers when Tony and Cherie arrived in Downing Street. In Wales they preach ‘internationalism’ as a way of avoiding the mess their party has made of Wales, preferring to waffle impotently about things over which they can have no influence and then condemn as ‘racist’ anyone wanting to make things better for our people in our country. Because of course, to even suggest that Wales is less than perfect is to condemn the record of their party.

These creatures are to be found everywhere, they almost form a ruling class, representing no one but themselves . . . and of course, the Labour Party, ‘Welsh’ Labour, that rag-bag of third-raters that serves no useful purpose beyond being colonial England’s agent, in return foProtic Labourr which it is allowed to dish out the funding and the jobs to its supporters.

Given that Protic is Labour, as are Parry and Shipton, and so probably are the other two Muckrakers, while the latest poodle to join the attack is most definitely a bruvver, this probably explains why Parry and Shipton have been reading through my blogs, checking old photographs, following my tweets, looking for something to use against me in the hope of discrediting me and what I write about the Labour Party. The only question is whether they’re doing it off their own bat, or whether somebody in the Labour Party has had a word, and asked them to go after me.

Either way, I’m fairly certain now that these attacks on me from Wales Eye and Llais y Sais are retaliation for my attacks on the Labour Party. That being so, I shall not waste any more time on Parry and his gang unless they go too far or unless there are developments in other quarters. With an election approaching it’s only right that I concentrate on putting the boot into ‘Welsh’ Labour, and doing it hard and often.

Feb 052015
 
FOR THE BENEFIT OF PHIL PARRY AT WALES EYE,
WHO CLEARLY NEEDS ME AND MY BLOG FOR INSPIRATION

 

It was a cold and dark January day threatening snow when (the late) Glyn Rowlands and I drove down to Lampeter in the vehicle I’d just carjacked. (Took me ages to get the bugger out, and then another ten minutes to get used to the disabled driver controls.) To break up the journey we set a couple of holiday cottages ablaze on the way down. At one point we got chased by cops but we forced their car into a hedge just outside of Llanrhystud. Oh, the fun we used to have in those days!

Arriving at Glandenys it was wonderful to see the stately pile look so warm and inviting. We were stopped at the gates by members of an elite unit of the Free Wales Army who, together with their dogs, were patrolling the grounds. We were escorted up to the main entrance and there he was, our host – Commandant Julian Cayo-Evans of the Free Wales Army, looking every inch the officer and the country gentleman.

We were ushered into the big dining room where everything was prepared for the ceremony: the roaring fire, the flickering candles casting their eerie shadows in a room full of invited dignitaries. There was the KGB representative, a man from the IRA Army Council, an imposing individual from ODESSA with an eye-patch (surely not Skorzeny!), a top capo from the Chicago Outfit, and assorted emissaries from Argentina and other countries that had a beef with England. In fact, there was very little space to move in that vast dining room. Additionally, there were of course many high-ranking FWA men.

Before the ceremony began there was the customary mingling, small talk, and exchanging of business cards. I found myself in a fascinating conversation with a charming fellow from the Orient. I’m not sure if he was trying to sell me a rubber plantation or offering me his sister in marriage. (The hand signals are very similar.) Whatever, not being sure what I’d end up with – and having no need for either – I smiled politely, declined his enticing offer, and insisted that we have a skinful next time he was in my neck of the woods.Medals

All the while the drinks flowed, and before John Barleycorn could take his disruptive hold of the proceedings our host called for everyone’s attention. “Friends, comrades, even those of you who’ve just turned up for the booze, we are gathered here today to present our comrade Jac with his medals”. “Hooray” went the shout around the room, “Good old Jac” was heard echoing from the throng.

I stepped forward – careful not to trip over the entrails of the virgin we’d just sacrificed – and stood facing our Commandant. “Jac” said he, “you’ve been an absolute bastard lately, and to show our appreciation I am presenting you with these medals”. Well, I was overcome, tears welled up as I thanked Cayo and the assembled host . . . among which I could see the man I had previously been talking with, still making hand signals, only this time it looked as if he was propositioning me! But as I say, the gestures are easy to mis-read.

The ceremony over, we all got down to serious drinking. The man from the KGB jumped up onto the long dining table and did a Cossack dance before falling off onto the prostrate figure of a Salvation Army Colonel who’d overdone it on the single malt. Next it was the turn of the Papal legate to denounce, in Latin, the evils of drink, whilst emptying his second bottle of Sambuca. Everybody was having a great time, but then we noticed that the snow was now falling rather more heavily and so, despite Cayo’s insistence that we stay, Glyn and I grabbed a few bottles and staggered to the car for the trip home.

What a trip it was! First we knocked down a couple of old ladies on their way to chapel in Felinfach, then we hit a cow just outside Aberaeron! I know we shouldn’t have been in the field, but it was snowing and we were pissed. After that things got a bit better . . . though that cyclist in Aberarth was definitely asking for it. We got through Aberystwyth without hitting too many pedestrians and eventually reached home. What a day!

*

OK, maybe it wasn’t quite like that. But the day I got my medals was certainly a snowy Sunday, and Cayo and Glyn were definitely there, but after that it gets a little hazy. It was all a long time ago . . . but not too long that it can’t be twisted by a vindictive little bugger with an ignored blog who relies for readers on his fat friend at Llais y Sais and other contacts in the colonial media.

I cherish those medals; I wear them at Cilmeri and to old comrades’ funerals. They belong to a time when it looked, if only for a while, as if we Welsh had re-discovered our self-respect, and decided to stand up for ourselves. Sadly, that bright dawn of the 1960s was soon overtaken by the reaction to it, to the point where, today, people who really should know better believe that our sham devolution is some form of self-government. When in truth it is the antithesis of self-government; more decisions about Wales are taken in London today than ever before. And all the while, those who claim to love Wales refuse to challenge the system that is making us a minority in our own country.

And the medals, what were they for? That’s between me and men who are all dead. Better men than the despicable scribblers who denigrate and ridicule those who are unable to answer back. Vermin!

Feb 032015
 

As you might guess, this (originally short) post is a follow-up to my previous one, I Must Be Doing Something Right. It seems that Phil Parry at Wales Eye and Martin Shipton at Llais y Sais just won’t let go . . . though their persistence is not to be compared to slavering pit bulls, more like drowning men clutching at straws. FWA combined

Yesterday afternoon I received a tweet from Fat Boy, you can see it for yourself on the right, together with my response. (Click to enlarge.) Yes, I was flippant, partly because I have difficulty taking the man seriously and also because I’d caught some bug that had me in bed by seven o’clock. I should have guessed that this was the prelude to another attack on me but, as I’ve said, I was feeling rough and on my way to bed.

Refreshed by fifteen hours of sleep I powered up my computer this morning to learn that after I’d gone to bed Shipton had tweeted again, this time about paramilitary Shipton JJ combinedactivity and John Jenkins. His tweet and my response can be found on the left. (Click to enlarge.) What was it all about? I soon found out thanks to an e-mail from a supporter directing me to a tweet from Phil Parry at Wales Eye. (Below.) Again, I replied, and again, the response was somewhat flippant because, quite frankly, and with the best will in the world, I regard the man as an arsehole.

Anyway, it seems I am a “controversial commentator” (thank God for that!) and I support a paramilitary organisation. Which organisation would that be? I certainly support the various Kurdish militias fighting their people’s many enemies, but somehow I don’t think Parry is thinking of the Kurds. Given Lard Boy’s tweets yesterday we can safely assume that tomorrow, Wales Eye will run a World Exclusive! that I, Jac o’ the North, Swansea Jack, Royston Jones, supportWales Eye paramilitary combed the Free Wales Army . . . an organisation that ceased to exist around 1970.

This Earth-shattering news will be taken up by media outlets around the globe, Muscovites will stop complete strangers in a Red Square blizzard to ask, ‘Have you heard about that bastard Royston Jones supporting the Free Wales Army?’ And the response will be, ‘That’s nothing, I’ve heard he used to go drinking with that Cayo Evans in Lampeter’. Before they both shuffle off safe in the knowledge that President Putin would know how to deal with the likes of me. Then again, the coverage might be limited to Fat Boy at the Western Mail. In fact, I’m prepared to bet that the uptake will be limited to Llais y Sais.

So what’s going on here? It started off with Wales Eye, from out of a clear blue sky, attacking me in this concoction on September 2nd. A week or so later Wales Eye ran another piece about the persecution fantasies of Jacques Protic due (allegedly) to something I’d written about him, and this resulted in a North Wales Police enquiry. Then Wales Eye told us that I had been reported to South Wales Police for launching a ‘racial hatred’ petition . . . a petition that I did not launch. (But, understandably, Wales Eye neglected to tell us exactly who reported me.) This lie was then repeated almost verbatim by Martin Shipton in the Western Mail, and in WalesOnline, even though I’d put him straight. (See below.) Now it seems I am to be ‘outed’ as a supporter of paramilitary activity, a member of the Free Wales Army, and an admirer of John Jenkins. (Thank God they don’t know about that statue in Aber’!)

Shipton request combined

What sort of an arrangement is this that sees one of Wales’ most respected journalists (though not respected by me, obviously) acting as researcher for a vindictive blogger? Does Trinity Mirror plc pay Shipton’s salary for him to behave in this demeaning manner? But then, Shipton and Parry are both Labour, and Trinity Mirror has a record of supporting the Labour Party in Wales; who can forget the short-lived Welsh Mirror that crept from under a stone in the wake of Labour’s failure to gain a majority in the first Assembly elections of 1999? This rag was nothing but a platform for Paul Starling Parry, Shipton compositeto spew his hatred for all things Welsh, dressed up of course as ‘combatting the evils of nationalism’.

With an election approaching, is Trinity Mirror doing ‘Welsh’ Labour another favour by targetting me? For those tempted to answer with, ‘You’re not important enough, Jac’, I would answer that I’m obviously important enough for the chief reporter of Llais y Sais to sift through my blog postings, check my photographs, and to monitor my tweets, looking for anything that could be presented as remotely incriminating. It’s clearly a concerted attempt to discredit me and, by extension, what I write. So why is it happening?

Anyway, the whole point of writing this was to prepare my easily shocked readers for the news that tomorrow, on the Wales Eye blog, ace investigator and top notch political analyst, Phil Parry will break the news that I supported direct action. This will then be relayed by his fat friend over at Llais y Sais. And that, my friends, just about sums up the dire state of what today passes for ‘the Welsh media’. Stop Press: Here’s Parry’s World Exclusive!, in pdf format (saving you having to pay to read it). Oh, yes, make sure you’re not eating anything, otherwise you might choke laughing.

P.S. To save certain ‘journalists’ unnecessary delving into my past I shall set the record straight on a few things.

  • I did not sink the Titanic, honest!
  • I may have met Gavrilo Princip at a social event.
  • I was not responsible for the Wall Street Crash.
  • I played no part in the invasion of Abbysinia.
  • I never served in the SS . . . well, not before 1944, anyway.
  • I was never a hippy in the 1960s (though I did wear flares).
  • I did not kill JFK, it was the New Orleans Mob (I was with the Chicago Outfit).
  • I had no hand in the break-up of the Beatles.
  • I was nowhere near Watergate.
  • I have no idea where Jimmy Hoffa is buried (God bless him).
  • I did not invade Las Malvinas The Falklands.
  • I had no involvement in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • I am not related to Slobodan Milosovic (try Protic on that one).
  • I was never formally introduced to Saddam Hussein.
  • I did not vote Yes in last September’s Scottish independence referendum.
  • I have recommended you both for the very highest awards your profession can bestow.