Sep 302017
 

This is a bumper issue to keep you going as the nights draw in and I get on with a couple of jobs that must be done ere winter tightens its icy grip. The post consists of a number of items enabling you to take it in in easy, bite-sized chunks. (‘Bite-sized chunks’!)

Enjoy!

NORTH WALES HOUSING LTD

News reaches me of another housing association heading for the rocks, this time it’s North Wales Housing Ltd. A body all too representative of ‘Welsh’ housing associations, especially with the retirement properties built by its wholly owned “commercial subsidiary” Domus Cambria. (Though it’s nice to see a bit of Latin being used.)

Looked at more critically, Domus Cambria helps explain what’s wrong with housing in Wales. The Welsh NHS is stretched to breaking point by the demands made on it by, among others, English retirees, yet in Conwy, where almost two-thirds of the pensioners were born in England (2011 census), the council is still giving planning permission for retirement flats that are marketed over the border!

Domus Cambria recently sold the last of its leasehold flats on Llandudno’s West Shore . . . after years of trying. Which explains why it is finally showing a slight profit, though as with Mill Bay Homes in Pembrokeshire, this ray of financial sunshine may be due to cash transferred from the parent body rather than any business acumen attaching to those running the subsidiary.

The ‘Welsh’ Government’s Regulatory Opinion and Financial Viability Judgement for 2015 on North Wales Housing was none too encouraging, and explains what a drag Domus Cambria has been for a small RSL with just over 2,000 rental properties.

“Selling homes has proved challenging, but has been managed within the Group’s existing financial resources. Originally, homes were planned to be sold by May 2012. To date, 10 are provisionally under offer but remain unsold. The response from the Group to address the slow sales has drifted along with no real impetus. The mitigations put in place were reasonable but demonstrate the difficulties of the Board deciding to press ahead with this product in highly challenging market conditions.

Despite Domus Cambria’s difficulties, the leadership and some elements of the Board continue to press to undertake more business of this nature – even though phase 1 has fallen short of expectations.” (Something of an understatement considering sales were 5 years behind schedule.)

The Regulatory Opinion for 2016 is marginally better, but the beguiling song of the Shit Creek sirens can still be heard.

Given the problems with Domus Cambria it’s difficult to understand why North Wales Housing has taken on another sideline in Rakes and Ladders an “in house grounds maintenance team”. Especially as the name is hardly original, for I found another Rakes and Ladders in Bridgend, one in Gloucestershire, yet another in Vancouver, and I’m sure there must be more. Confusion guaranteed.

North Wales Housing has also been trustee since 2007 for The Olinda Trust, a registered charity, which ran the Plas Parciau home for dementia sufferers in Old Colwyn. The accounts up to 31 August 2016 paint a bleak picture, showing a deficit of £264,568, which explains the charity ceasing to trade in October 2016.

North Wales Housing Ltd is, like almost all housing associations, an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA website suggests that since 16 September 2016 NWH has also been in the consumer credit business.

click to enlarge

This would have been around the time that The Olinda Trust succumbed to the sirens’ call.

I get the impression of a bunch of incompetents running a housing association too small to survive diversifying desperately in the hope that anyone witnessing this activity will be fooled into thinking those behind it know what they’re doing. They don’t.

Even though North Wales Housing is an IPS, force of habit took me to the Companies House website where, sure enough, I found an entry for ‘North Wales Housing Association Ltd’.

Linked with it is Erw Villas Management Company Ltd, the kind of organisation we encountered when we looked into the Cardiff Bay property dealings of Mark Vincent James, chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council. An organisation that allows tenants a say in the running of the block of flats in which they live . . . unless of course Mark Vincent James and his associates get involved.

Erw Villas Management Company Ltd was originally registered to an address in Catford, East London. It was struck off in May 2008 but restored 31 January 2011. On 2 February 2011 the address was changed to that of North Wales Housing in Llandudno Junction. On the same day all the old directors resigned and North Wales Housing was named as secretary and director.

Though in the Annual Return of 12 August 2015, and even though Paul William Diggory, the North Wales Housing CEO at the time, is named as director, the two original directors – Raymond Marquis and Jonathan Colin – are still the only shareholders.

Diggory was succeeded as director by Owen Ingram, who has in turn been replaced by Helena Kirk, the current CEO of North Wales Housing.

No Annual Return for 2016 is available with Companies House, so I assume it has not been submitted.

So what is the connection between North Wales Housing, Raymond Marquis and Jonathan Colin, and Erw Villas on Conway Old Road in Penmaenmawr? Answers on a postcard, please. (And make sure there’s a stamp on it this time! cos I’m not bloody paying again.)

The more I looked into North Wales Housing the more clear it became how thoroughly English it is. Take a look at the Board; start with the chair, Tom Murtha, who retired in 2012 from Midland Heart and now seems to have a number of part-time jobs, including NWH. There may be two or three Welsh people on the Board of 12.

Or how about the management team, headed by Helena Kirk, who arrived in Wales last October?

Even the job of designing the website was given to a company in England, Hallnet Ltd of Warrington, Cheshire. Is there no company in Wales that could have designed a website? Is this the Mersey Dee Alliance in practice, or is it just taking the piss?

Because it always makes me smile when I hear someone respond to complaints about Welsh organisations stuffed with English staff with, ‘Ah, yes, but you’ve got to get the best people for the job – no matter where they come from’.

North Wales Housing is on the brink of oblivion, brought there by bad management, so to suggest that the current shower, and its predecessors, are and were the best for the job is an insult to the Welsh nation. And that’s without considering the longer term consequences.

Domus Cambria sought, selfishly and irresponsibly, to increase the burden on local services by attracting to the Costa Geriatrica yet more elderly people – and all because the parent body was struggling financially!

‘Ah, but that don’t affect us down by ‘ere, look’. Yes it does, you thick-as-shit Labour-voting cretin! To prop up a failing NHS and social services burdened by the activities of Domus Cambria and others your Labour government down Cardiff docks will rob money from other budgets, and that affects us all, in every part of the country.

There is no reason to keep North Wales Housing afloat any longer, so let it be taken over by another RSL, one that is larger, more efficient, more responsible, and more Welsh.

TRIVALLIS

‘Not more f###ing Latin!’ you scream. Well, yes, and from that hotbed of classical learning, Rhondda Cynon Taf. (Three valleys, geddit?)

Trivallis is another Registered Social Landlord aka housing association that I’m told is in trouble. Hardly surprising when we read in the ‘Welsh’ Government’s Regulatory Judgement of June 2017“The Group has a number of unregistered subsidiary companies – Trivallis Ltd, Meadow Prospect, GrEW, Homeforce, Porthcwlis, Porthcwlis Homes and Bellerophon Project 1 LLP.”

In my experience, whenever a third sector body / housing association creates a ‘trading arm’ or a ‘subsidiary’ things go wrong, as we’ve just seen with North Wales Housing. That’s because these are set up by people who are used to being bailed out by the public purse and have little or no understanding of the realities of business.

Too often they are disasters waiting to happen.

The subsidiaries I’ve just just listed – some of which are dormant, having never got off the ground – are all being brought in-house, obviously heeding the recent recommendation of the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee on “diversification”. (Though I was unable to find anything at all for GrEW.)

In case you haven’t noticed, go to the Trivallis website again and look in the top right corner, where you’d expect to find the ‘Cymraeg’ option, or the flag. It’s not there, is it? The website is entirely in English, and that’s because of the strong ‘Welsh’ Labour influence at Trivallis.

Scroll down to the bottom of the home page and you’ll read ‘Powered by VerseOne Technologies Ltd’. Click on the link and you’ll see that the Trivallis website was designed by a Manchester company, with an office in Edinburgh.

Such commitment to Wales! But so typical of ‘Welsh’ Labour, and too many of its housing associations.

‘HOUSE!’ (but nothing to do with housing)

Back in July Llais y Sais ran a story on bookies’ fixed odds betting terminals. In it, Carolyn Harris is horrified to learn that £8m a year is lost on FOBTs in the Swansea Bay region. And so she should be, for Carolyn Harris chairs the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group.

Fast forward to last week and the same local media treated us to news that the cavernous Castle Bingo club in Morriston has been refurbished. And there to re-open it was – Carolyn Harris. ‘But bingo’s diff’rent, innit, not like them cowin’ FOBTs’. 

I hope those aren’t “dyke shoes”!

Maybe not, except that it’s not all ‘legs eleven’ and ‘two fat ladies’ in Morriston, for the club provides its customers with other ways to lose their money enjoy themselves on what look suspiciously like FOBTs, or approximations thereof.

Described as “electronic entertainment” in the annual accounts

So why was Carolyn Harris there, officially re-launching Morriston’s answer to Las Vegas? The justification seems to have been that Castle Bingo was giving Harris a cheque for GambleAware.

As I wrote this I got to wondering about Castle Bingo, and so I checked on the Companies House website. The company was Incorporated in December 1995. You’ll see that there were two directors; Mrs Diane Elizabeth Stockford of Pontprennau, Cardiff and Mr Jeffrey Charles Harris of Sketty, Swansea.

Harris was also a director of Crown Buckley Ltd, the Brains subsidiary; Cadwalader (Ice Cream) Ltd, which went into administration in October 2015; and Cadwalader (Criccieth) Ltd. Harris is also a director of Meeron Ltd., another company in the gambling business.

Stockford became Brierley, and moved to Rudry, while Harris moved to St Nicholas. Brierley resigned as director in September 2012 and was replaced by Lisa Mary Morgan as both secretary and director. All the while Castle Bingo was providing accounts as a dormant company, explained by the fact that both Stockford and Harris were also directors of Castle Leisure Ltd.

Parent company Castle Leisure Ltd began life in 1911 as The Central Cinema, Cardiff, Ltd. Somewhere along the way, and certainly before May 1988, the company became known as Castle Leisure Ltd.

Here’s the latest list of shareholders for the 235,533 shares. In the year ended 25 December 2016 Castle Leisure Ltd had an operating profit of £4,164,319 on a turnover of £30,591,231. The company has 661 employees at its 8 clubs in Wales and 3 in England.

Of course it would be easy to be snobbish, or judgemental, but after all is said and done, this is an established Welsh company, one that has branched out into England and provides hundreds of jobs giving a lot of people what they want.

That said, there are obvious benefits for all concerned: Castle Bingo operates in Carolyn Harris’ constituency; Castle Bingo gives Harris publicity and a little cheque in the hope that she steers MPs away from their business model; a mutually beneficial association which Labour-backing Trinity Mirror is happy to report having for years enjoyed ‘promotions’ and ‘partnerships’ with Castle Bingo.

Finally: A disturbing report reaches me of unseemly, drunken cavorting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton this week involving – it is alleged – Carolyn Harris and rugby-playing Tonia Antoniazzi, the Labour MP for neighbouring Gower.

I don’t want to believe this scurrilous allegation so I would welcome any further information. Especially photographic evidence proving that such an incident did not take place.

CADW

It’s not often that I get the chance to talk of good news and Cadw in the same report, so I’m going to make the most of this.

A good source informs me of a victory won by the natives of Cydweli, who can now enter their local castle for free. Of course they have to provide proof that they are local, and then sing the first three verses of God Save the Queen. (Joke . . . possibly.)

Castell Cydweli

I’m told that the people of Caerffili enjoy the same concession, while in Conwy it’s just a 20% discount on the entrance fee. But why isn’t there a national scheme to allow all Welsh people into all Cadw premises for free? For God’s sake, it’s not as if Cadw built them, or owns them!

And how difficult would such a scheme be to administer? I mean, everybody nowadays has a passport, a driving licence, a bus pass or something that identifies them. Even if it’s only discharge papers from the Sea Scouts (which I still cherish).

The vast majority of those who visit Cadw sites are tourists, with more money than our people, so let them subsidise our visits. To do so would achieve the impossible – make tourism benefit Welsh people.

A national scheme such as I’m proposing could also introduce more of our people to their country’s history, but of course we’d need someone other than Cadw to interpret that history.

‘SPECIAL TRAIN FOR ATKINS’*

There are many people in Wales who take great pride in devolution, and especially in the thought of Welsh laws being made to serve Wales and her people. Obviously, I’m not one of these because without independence or at the very least a Welsh legal system there can be no Welsh laws.

Without independence or a separate jurisdiction what we are served up too often is simply English legislation with ‘(Wales)’ added to the name. We are given the chimera of legislative power but the real purpose is to keep us in line with England.

Where a genuine ‘Welsh’ initiative is allowed, it’s either an expensive gesture such as free prescriptions, or else it’s the ‘Welsh Government’ succumbing to English pressure groups. The perfect example of the latter would be the proposal to open Wales up to canoeists, ramblers and the rest, dressed up as ‘Sustainable Management’.

But I want to focus on the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. I have written about it before and pointed out that it gives homeless people priority for housing, and who would argue with that? Well, I would, because we are locked into an Englandandwales system that means a family of scruffs making themselves homeless anywhere in England qualify for accommodation in Wales ahead of locals.

Another curiosity of this legislation is that homeless ex-service personnel are also mentioned in the Act as being priority cases. Curious because homeless ex-service personnel do not qualify as priority cases in the equivalent English legislation. The reference can be found at 70 (1) (i).

So why are men and women who have served the English Crown, and suffered for it, not given priority treatment in England? And isn’t it all too predictable that England’s homeless, disabled ex-service personnel, and those suffering from PTSD, those with drug and alcohol problems, will be ‘directed’ to Wales?

Though perhaps the real question is, who inserted this sentence into the Bill? Was it the ‘Welsh’ Government, once again playing gesture politics? Or was it slipped in by a civil servant based in Wales but obeying his or her masters in London?

I’ve got no problem with looking after some poor sod who’s lost both his legs on a foreign adventure about which we were lied to from start to finish, but the way it’s being done looks suspiciously like Wales being dumped on, again.

  • I’ve taken the heading for this section from Kipling’s Tommy. It seemed somehow appropriate.

♦ end ♦

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43 Comments on "Bits & Pieces: North Wales Housing, Trivallis, Castle Bingo, Cadw, Homeless Squaddies"

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Wynne
Guest

Interesting post Jac. It is a pity you are not employed by Welsh Government in Housing Regulation to sort out the mess. From my own correspondence with Welsh Government it is becoming clear that Housing Associations have been allowed to set up unregistered subsidiaries either without presenting a business case {in breach of Circular RSL 05/08 – Group Structures} or the business case was presented and approved by Welsh Government. Interesting to see if the process is now reversed following the recent PAC recommendations regarding the risks associated with diversification. Welsh Government’s recent response to the National Assembly regarding recommendation 11 is copied below.

“Accepted: The new regulatory framework aims to ensure that diversification risks are appropriately managed. This is a requirement of the new Performance Standards {PS 1, 3 and 8} and will continue to form a key focus for the work of the regulatory team. Any issues regarding the robustness of this work will be highlighted by the review of the regulatory framework programmed for early 2018.”

The phrase “appropriately managed” probably provides some wriggle room. I think we will judge them by their actions not their words.

Dr Sally Baker
Guest

Excellent post Jac, it stars a number of organisations and people known to me.

First, North Wales Housing. I have heard horror stories about them. I know a young woman with learning disabilities who lives in a flat of theirs in Gwynedd. She started telling her friends that she wanted to move house but wouldn’t explain why. She was clearly frightened and eventually explained that her neighbour, an elder man was looking in her windows at her. Sadly she wasn’t believed, although she became too frightened to go out and always kept her curtains drawn during the day. After a few months of this, her friends received info that this young woman was actually being seriously harassed and intimidated by the neighbour, so they told her to tell the disability support officer employed by NWH. Gwynedd County Council were paying an enhanced rate of housing benefit for her in return for this ‘support’. The ‘officer’ literally laughed in her face. She was told that she was ‘not allowed’ to request a transfer to another flat (which certainly was not true). She continued to live in fear until last summer there was a police raid on her block of flats and the neighbour who had been intimidating her was arrested. He was a big time class A drugs dealer from Liverpool. He is now thankfully in prison.

I knew another person with mental health problems who years ago became homeless and was housed in the homeless hostel that was at that time in Upper Bangor. I think that it was run by NWH at the time. This young woman had become friendly – very friendly – with another resident at the hostel. One night she sneaked into his room and got into bed with him. She discovered that he was dead. He had died of a drugs overdose in the ‘care’ of the hostel. An ambulance was called and at the same time as the corpse was removed, so was my friend. She was taken to the Hergest Unit where she was sectioned. Her clothes were removed and she never saw them again – she was given one of those police issue forensic jump suits to wear. She was not at any time interviewed by anyone let alone the police about the young man whom she had found dead. She was detained in the Hergest Unit until that young man was buried and his inquest was over. To this day no-one took any statements or evidence from her. The circumstances under which she was taken to the Hergest Unit were never mentioned again and I bet that they weren’t documented either. Everyone was simply told that she was ‘ill’. Because she had been ill previously the dear old Hergest staff weren’t questioned.

The manager of the hostel that night who ‘dealt with’ the body and my friend who found it, was a Paul Diggory, who later became CEO of NWH. I am greatly relieved to hear that he is no longer CEO – although he’s probably sitting on a Gov’t advisory committee now.

I know someone else in a NWH property in Caernarfon. They tell me that their neighbour, who works for the Third sector ‘substance abuse’ organisation CAIS, is dealing in cocaine from the NWH property. To their ‘clients’.

But NWH I think was rotten from the very beginning. Back in the early 1990s they built a development in Mount Street in Bangor. They purchased the old houses that were there previously and demolished them. One of the people who owned three of the houses in question was a well known man in Bangor in those days whom some of your readers might remember – he was called Charles Pierce and was friendly and chatty but seriously ill, he was floridly manic, used to claim to be the King of Bangor and wore a home made crown etc. He had been quite capable before he became ill, he had been an electrician and still carried out electrical jobs. He was scandalously neglected by the mental health services and ended up in such poverty that he put his properties up for sale to raise some cash – I don’t think he was even helped to get disability benefits. His properties were in poor repair and he’d painted crazy things all over them, but they were three sizeable properties and they weren’t derelict or even nearly derelict. At that time the prices of property in Bangor had rocketed because of the A55 and the purchasing of houses by people from England. Charles Pierce was unwell and could not manage his money – he sold those properties to NWH for an absolute pittance, I think that he got about 35K for them as a job lot. NWH supposedly prioritised ‘vulnerable people’. They made a mint out of Charles, they absolutely took advantage. Charles died a few years ago, from yet another treatable illness that the Arfon Community Mental Health Team completely ignored.

Cadwaladers in Cricieth – I had two friends who worked there, they both told very similar tales of serious exploitation and workplace bullying.

Regarding English veterans coming to Wales. CAIS have been for many years drumming up business among Veterans allegedly suffering from PTSD and/or with drugs/alcohol problems. I say allegedly because both former workers of CAIS and other clients have told me that many of the veterans being ‘treated’ for PTSD are actually people who have got into trouble with the law as a result of drugs or drink and are undergoing ‘treatment’ in order to receive a favourable report for their Court case. Some of them are not even veterans.

CAIS owns and manages Hafan Wen detox centre in Wrexham. I have been told by a former member of staff that care there is certainly not what it should be and last year a patient there died in questionable circumstances. Hafan Wen have 25 detox beds, I think it is 13 that are reserved for patients from north Wales and the others for patients of English Health Board. Cllr Marc Jones, leader of the Plaid Group on Wrexham Council, recently appeared in Daily Post online demanding that the Betsi Board should commission all the beds in Hafan Wen. From what I hear, care is so poor in that unit that no-one should be commissioning any of those beds at all – and the beds are astronomically expensive there, CAIS don’t provide that ‘service’ free of charge, although the Welsh Gov’t is giving them millions for ‘community services’ which are very obviously not effective.

But Veterans are big business Jac. The Chief Exec of CAIS, Clive Wolfendale, previously ‘gave oral evidence’ in front of a Parliamentary Health Committee, explaining how there was an ‘absolutely necessity’ for a residential centre for veterans and that Llandudno was the best place for this centre to be sited. Clive claimed that Llandudno had a ‘history of supporting veterans’ – by which he meant that CAIS have been running the PTSD racket for quite some years now. Clive actually mentioned the desirability of a ‘blank cheque’ for this ‘centre’, it was gobsmacking. It was clear that Clive had his eyes on all those veterans that could be gathered in from England as well as other areas of Wales. The Committee asked Clive a few simple questions about the proportion of CAIS’s veterans who had drugs and drink problems as well as PTSD. Clive admitted that he ‘didn’t have the data’. That is pretty elementary data to have if one is going to ask for a ‘blank cheque’. Not that the dipstick MPs even noticed this staggering level of ignorance, the discussion continued in a very warm vein. One of the MPs taking the ‘evidence’ was Nia Griffiths, the Labour MP from south Wales who keeps falling in and out with Jeremy Corbyn. Nia mentioned during the discussion with Wolfendale and the others from the Third sector who were giving ‘evidence’ that the MPs on the committee had very much enjoyed the hospitality that had been offered. It transpired that one of the other representatives from the Third sector had fed and watered the MPs on the Committee the day before they gave evidence.

That’s how it works. A group of not very bright MPs are given a slap up dinner after they ‘meet service users’ or ‘tour the lovely new premises’ and the next day they take ‘evidence’ from some slippery charity chief execs who use cuddly and fluffy language whilst they tell the MPs what a demand there is for their ‘service’. No hard data needs to be produced, because MPs LOVE charities, not only do they get a free dinner but there’s a photo-opportunity for their website as well.

Meanwhile CAIS pulls in millions yet is never asked to demonstrate its effectiveness. But ‘veterans’ is a word like ‘nurses’ at the moment – one dare not say no.

Red Flag
Guest

Interesting I see you use ‘allegedly’ with regards servicemen suffering PTSD.

I served 22 years in the Infantry. I know a few ex ‘comrades’ milking the PTSD system. They are treated as absolute vermin by the rest of the ex-forces community who know a lead-swinger when they see one.

They were invariably the sick chitty merchants when they were serving.

Dr Sally Baker
Guest

I used the phrase ‘allegedly’ to distinguish those whom I was told were passing through the hands of CAIS who did not have PTSD from those former soldiers who do have very genuine problems. I witnessed the most appallingly ham-fisted attempts at treating former servicemen who DID have PTSD in the NHS, there really was no help for them. Which is exactly what CAIS exploited when they launched their scam…

Brychan
Guest

You will also be aware RedFlag that when a former soldier registers with a GP in Wales that the NHS has to apply separately to the MoD for the medical record. This remains under the ‘official secrets provision’ this is additional to the usual data protection requirements for GPs on disclosure. The ‘discharge medical’ cannot be disclosed to others (even charities and third persons) as it is banned. This means that the ‘third sector’ cannot verify genuine need from the sponging fantasy merchant, nor check the veracity of any service claims.

Wynne
Guest

I like the photo of the Lady in Red. Reminds me of Chris de Burgh

I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight
I’ve never seen you shine so bright
I’ve never seen so many men ask you if you wanted to dance
They’re looking for a little romance, given half a chance
And I have never seen that dress you’re wearing
Or the highlights in your hair that catch your eyes
I have been blind
The lady in red is dancing with me, cheek to cheek
There’s nobody here, it’s just you and me
It’s where I want to be
But I hardly know this beauty by my side
I’ll never forget the way you look tonight
I’ve never seen you looking so gorgeous as you did tonight
I’ve never seen you shine so bright, you were amazing
I’ve never seen so many people want to be there by your side
And when…

Stan
Guest

I love irony, Wynne. She looks like a bloated version of Po the Teletubby in that red number – but not half as funny.

Wynne
Guest

Stan. I suspect there may also be a matching red handbag to complement the matching red shoes, probably left on the dance floor prior to the photo-opportunity, although this is pure speculation on my part. With the passage of time we may never be able to establish the facts. I fully accept that my comments may not be commensurate with the high standard of political debate on this blog. Jac or Big Gee will probably tell me to shut up shortly.

Blossom
Guest

A red beached whale comes to mind- no dress sense – no sense!! !

Dafis
Guest

Come off it, that’s a bit harsh on whales !

Joy Bishop
Guest

The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 was a ground breaker the homeless legislation. The pure and simple reason, that homeless ex-service personnel are note cited in priority cases in the equivalent English legislation, is because England lags behind Wales in this arena. Indeed as does Northern Ireland.The Welsh approach makes addressing homelessness a legal duty, councils are now more accountable for how they respond – it’s both more transparent and open to challenge. This is not the case currently in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.(https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/15/welsh-reforms-on-homelessness-england-northern-ireland). The Welsh changes have been flagged by a government inquiry into homelessness in England and it has been announced that England will be adopting the approach Wales. In short, Wales is better at dealing with homelessness and indeed is leading the way. I would however query where the hell the Ministry of Defence is in this, shouldn’t their duty of care extend beyond a serviceperson’s fitness for service.

Red Flag
Guest

Funny you should mention ex-servicemen ( SPECIAL TRAIN FOR ATKINS ). A soldier from my regiment, from Cheshire, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, was housed in Llandudno because he couldn’t get housing in England.

Blossom
Guest

Apparently The Times reported the antics of the 2 Swansea Cllrs At the Labour Party Conf- small paragraph noting their behaviour – bit of research needed Jac !!! a photo allegedly does exist!!!

Brychan
Guest

I see Angela Mary Gascoigne is absolutely delighted with the budget deal between Plaid Cymu and Labour announced today. Here is her tweet from Llamau UK where she is a director.

https://twitter.com/LlamauUK/status/914421668797435904

No doubt she’ll get her hands on more Welsh “supporting people” cash.

Ms Gascoigne is also director of Sedgemore Housing Management Services of Bridgewater who have just launched their down-shift challenge for people in debt in Somerset. Strangely Llamau are concurrently recruiting for a Supported Lodgings Development Worker in Carmarthenshire.

Let me guess. You get spongers from England who are in debt, and move them to Wales where local Welshies will make their bed and cook them breakfast at a fraction of the cost, get the housing benefit flowing paid by the council, while using the Welsh block grant to import them?

WhooHoo, and even get Plaid Cymru to support the whole enterprise !!

Dafis
Guest

Tom Petty dead, which is a great pity especially as he was only 66 ! Great loss. Shame that Trump or Clinton or some of the other useless fuckwits couldn’t piss off instead of him. Nuff said.

Our Cynulliad goes off to excel itself again picking up on that troublesome pup McEvoy for daring to make a gesture of support for Catalan aspirations. “Aspirations” now there’s a word. Our miserable shedfull of dull greys can’t even muster a single aspiration. Tut, Catalonia might raise issues that upset our “betters” and “friends” at EU. Utter bollocks ! That comment in Jack’s tweet column sums up the EU – part of the globalist homogenizing project designed to absorb and remove national identities, not support creation of new ones. They stopped doing that as soon as they shredded the old Eastern bloc with covert funding of certain interests while inflicting pain on others.

Of course Mrs Mayhem and Co are too preoccupied with internal schisms of Tory party to cast a glance in that direction. If they were to do so they certainly wouldn’t pipe up to support a breakaway movement despite Brexit being just that !! Conflicts and inconsistencies galore. But keep Spain happy and they might ease up on demands to annexe Gib.

Brychan
Guest

Dafis – I spent some time this afternoon with a Carmarthenshire farmer, a chap who has contiguous landholdings bordering the A40 which usually displays Plaid Cymru hoardings at election time. He’s incensed that Plaid Cymru have agreed to abstain on the budget vote in the Senedd in order to help the Labour Party. Labour propose a massive cut in the agriculture budget, and this particular farmer will be hard hit as be breeds and nurtures bloodstock cattle, bug bulls that are the best in breed. His animals sell for £8 to £13k and is well renowned in the industry for quality. However, the WG plan to cut the ‘cap’ on bTB compensation at about £5k blowing a big hole in the family business. He’s never had bTB on his farm but he still has to insure against losses if there is. We watched the cynilliad broadcast over a mug of tea and he’s been spitting feathers at Adam Price today, who sat there like a naughty child during the agriculture debate. I suspect that the reason why Neil McEvoy has been suspended from the Plaid group is nothing to do with misdemeanour mutterings, or Catalan window flags. It’s more to do with the fact he’s the only AM who will have nothing to do with these back room deals with Labour. Elin Jones (farming background) has no say as she’s presiding officer. This means the Plaid Group as just a bunch of trendy middle class latte supping urbanites sniffing up on studenty ishoos who are more interested in reading the Guardian than being the Guardian of Wales. Surely Leanne must understand that the thousands who switched to Plaid in Rhondda to elect her did so because she was AGAINST Labour. Meanwhile, in the more rural areas of Wales often referred to as ‘heartlands’ the support for Plaid is about to collapse. Why can’t they see this? Strange that the voice of the poorest part of inner-city Cardiff, McEvoy, has a resonance in the cow sheds of Carmarthenshire. Adam should understand who he’s supposed to represent. Carwyn is taking you for a clown.

Dafis
Guest

Spot on there, Brychan. I openly admit to have backed a Brexit, not out of loyalty to any of the Farage-Gove-Johnson axis but on the basic principle that all these big state structures are absolutely useless and at worse hostile to the interests of most of us the little people.

I was in Sir Gar 2 days ago and over a cup of tea and welshcake with a retired farmer we chewed the cud across a wide spectrum. Many Farmers bought the Brexit promise that their “deal” would be as good after Brexit as before with added benefit of the £/euro instability removed.

Now they can see a double threat looming. The Mayhem regime will fiddle around with the finances to safeguard their assorted rich pals and the sacred cow NHS (despite its endemic wastes, which often feed cash to other Tory party pals). And down the Bay we have a Labour regime that will compound any hardship, conveniently blaming it on those Tories in London who “..’ave cut our budgets in real terms, see”.

In this situation Plaid should be lashing out with a barrage of well aimed, justifiable critiques of the Mayhem and Welsh Labour regimes. Both of them have got themselves stuck into grooves which do not bode well for a whole range of sectors here in Wales. The absolute dishonesty and obvious vested interests of May sucking up to the City institutions, major global corporates and other artful tax dodgers makes for grim viewing, while Carwyn and his mob make a dog’s mess of Wales’ finances with far too cosy a relationship with the opaque bloated 3rd sector and selected corporates. And Plaid stays quiet in its corner, with only “loose cannon” McEvoy having the balls and energy to jump up and attack on a regular basis.

If the Tories in London contrive to engineer a safeguarded “EU standard” package for farmers I would not be surprised to see a major shift in voting patterns next time around. And they have the means. If they insert a ceiling into some of those EU handouts that would serve to limit the serious money that large scale landlords are currently pocketing in parts of the UK the balance could be defended and spread across real agricultural activity. That is a big “if” but might be a necessary part of a package of actions to save their scrawny necks before next elections.

Brychan
Guest

If you look at the Plaid Cymru website and the Labour party press release on the budget, both are claiming that they abolished the tolls on the Cleddau bridge.

The fact is that the bridge was effectively built twice, at double the cost, after the collapse in 1970. It was only opened in 1975 and the £12m cost was made up of £7m overspend which was financed (at 1975 value) from a special treasury loan to the county council with a 40 year payback period. That matured in 2016, and Pembrokeshire County Council decided that the tolls would remain up until the asset is ‘trunked’ in other words handed over to Highways Agency Wales, the Welsh Government. The hand over took place at the end of last year.

There was no outstanding loan upon it. It’s already paid off. This means that the tolls would have been abolished this year, anyway. The debt already having being expunged. Yet we see Plaid Cymru claiming this proposal to be a ‘positive influence’ to propping up Labour. Do they really believe that? I’m sure the good people of Pembrokeshire will know the REAL chain of events. It is as I have described.

Twm S
Guest

A small note on NWH – their out-of-hours calls are (or at least were until recently) handled by a call centre in Merseyside, where most of the staff are incapable of pronouncing many of the street names, let alone providing a Welsh-language service to the few Welsh-speaking NWH tenants.

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