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.

  19 Responses to “Canoe Wales 2”

  1.  

    Error 135 means that the version you downloaded is incompatible with the version of Acrobat you are using to try to save it.
    This could be for one of several reasons. For example they used a newer version of Adobe Acrobat which your version of reader doesn’t understand – or more likely they used some third party, non Adobe, software to create the pdf. This probably happens because DueDil generates the page actively as you download it. They don’t save every page as a separate pdf.
    Try updating your version of Acrobat reader (I assume as a poor blogger you don’t have the full version). If that doesn’t work you could try a different pdf viewer (e.g. Foxit viewer) or make screenshots.

  2.  

    Welsh interests get short shrift UK wide because you are a minority and we have a rather crude form of democracy not very different from mob rule. But then if you had a Indy Wales would not the industrial anglophone south overrule the rural and Welsh-speaking North and West? Also the English (mostly) aren’t out to get you, they just don’t see you, or at least have the faintest understanding of your concerns (e.g. remarks above re Tryweryn). But this is not a specifically Welsh problem, tourism exploits the poorer peripheral areas of the UK as a whole, and it’s rarely the locals who benefit apart from a few menial seasonal jobs.

    •  

      ” . . . tourism exploits the poorer peripheral areas of the UK as a whole” suggests that you are thinking of Cornwall, Wales and perhaps some parts of Scotland. But “poorer peripheral area” need to be scenically attractive to be exploited, which is why the East End of Glasgow, Merthyr, Tees-side, etc., are not exploited in this way.

      •  

        nothing wrong with tourism, if its part of a broad mix of economic activity that yields a decent living those engaged in it ( workers as well as business owners, but often the one and same ! ). Much like agriculture in these so called peripheral areas people work their nuts off and much of the real margins are “shipped out ” of the area. Planners have stuck their noses in and we are at a stage where no activity other than leisure stuff is acceptable. Oh and a bit of wind “technology” cos the bribes are pretty good.

        Comment No 4 below showing symptoms of being face down in water for too long ….puddled ?

  3.  

    DIdn’t they cap the graveyard in concrete before drowning it so it may not be dancing on their graves but it certainly is kayaking on their graves.

  4.  

    Canoe 2
    Can U 2
    2 Can U
    U Can 2
    2 U Can

    Oh the 2 Can U, The 2 Can U
    You’ll never see nothing like the 2 Can U
    When holidaying U Can 2
    In Wales and all the water in the Yukon too

    What a boring article.
    Don’t be such Ms U Ree*
    To cheer you up, watch Malvo killing people in Minnesota*² in the TV series ‘Fargo’.

    * Missouri is means ‘those who have dugout canoes’ and you’ve certainly dug out some bitter memories.
    *² Means ‘silver blue water’. Clay in the soil gives the river a sheen.

  5.  

    Sorry to cut across your theme about Canoe Wales but it is evident that the silly season ahead of May elections is well and truly under way ! Llais y Sais on line reports that :

    “Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood is today calling for the creation of a Royal Commission on Industrial Relations and Employee Rights.

    The AM will press for a fundamental change in employee participation in the workplace and a strengthened role for trade unions………………………..

    Here we are in one hell of a pickle and off she goes to tilt at imaginary windmills. Leadership ?? Woman is in some kind of trance ! So little original thought and creativity going into enabling those “workplaces” to exist in the first place, but there again in Leanne’s fantasy we’ll all be working for the State and on benefits if we don’t feel up to it.

    Sound like this one’s been face down in a puddle for too long also.

    •  

      That’s always been the fundamental problem with Welsh socialists – full of ideas on how to spend money but no ideas on how to create it.

    •  

      Leanne is strengthening employee rights for natives exploited by incomer owners of Gwesty Cymru and outlawing zero hour contracts, tourist seasonal terms which by term of availability is below the minimum wage and degraded access to contributory pension schemes. Too long have tourist property hobbyists from England purchased hotels, bunkhouse lodges, and tat shops in Wales and exploited the native population. These ‘businesses’ make no real contribution to the Welsh economy and should be told to fuck off. We need real high skill real businesses, which due to the nature contribution, see employee participation in the workplace as an essential ingredient to a success. Leanne is not a socialist in Wales, but a socialist FOR Wales. Her efforts might even stop examples like Welsh workers in Runcorn being baked alive in ovens owned by Warrington based Pyranha Mouldings. The casualty was making the same canoes which Mr Williamson uses to paddle down Afon Tryweryn.

    •  

      Are you of the opinion that Employer/Employee relations are fine? Are you happy that many workers rely on benefits to supplement poor wages. Are you over the moon at the rapid growth in the number of zero hours contracts?
      btw: Your ‘face down in the water’ comments on this thread about canoes are in poor taste since they follow so shortly after the death of Dr Damian Pryor in an incident on the River Tawe.

  6.  

    […] 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 […]

Ok, you’ve read what I think, now what do you have to say?