Dec 122017
 

Tis the time of giving, and goodwill to all men – but not on this blog!

A few old favourites return and I take another look at scams with which we are familiar . . . all too familiar. It’s Deck the Halls indeed – with oodles of public funding. For this is Wales, and it’s always Christmas!

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NEIGHBOURS

Following the previous post I wrote to Wrecsam planning department over the weekend, and was answered very promptly on Monday morning. I think I’m now a little nearer to understanding what’s been going on at 33 Grosvenor Road.

To recap: there are adjoining, semi-detached properties at 31 and 33 Grosvenor Road in Wrecsam town centre. The first is owned by the ever-expanding homelessness charity and third sector outfit the Wallich; the second by Bawso, a similar body dedicated to helping women from ethnic minorities.

Both properties have been substantially extended to the rear, as shown in the title plan to 31a (which I assume is the address of the extension).

click to enlarge, below

When I consulted the Wrexham County Borough Council website I only went back as far as 2006. Which meant that I did not find the planning permission granted in July 2002 to then owner Castlemead Homes for an extension to the rear for a “two and half storey rear extension comprising covered car parking area and additional office accommodation”. A completion certificate was issued 16 November 2004.

Which would appear to put Bawso on the right side of planning regulations . . . or maybe not.

Because, if you recall, when we looked at planning permissions granted to the Wallich property at 31 we found that there was an authorised change of use in 2008 to a House of Multiple Occupation, and later that year there was further permission for a “Change of use of upper floors from office accommodation to a hostel for homeless people”.

I guarantee that the Bawso property at 33 is used for a very similar purpose to the Wallich property, but no permission for change of use has ever been granted.

I have therefore suggested to the Planning Enforcement team at Wrexham County Borough Council that they might wish to make enquiries in order to establish whether Bawso at 33 Grosvenor Road has planning permission for the uses to which the building is being put.

To be continued . . .

UPDATE 14.12.2015: The Planning Enforcement team at WCBC inspected 33 Grosvenor Road and the response I got said:

“I have been to visit 33 Grosvenor Road.  They are not running a homeless shelter there, the business merely provides advice and assistance to their customers; there is no overnight accommodation at the building.” After querying the size of the building I was sent a plan. Just look at it!

Over three floors we find fourteen separate offices plus a conference room and a former drawing office. Does Bawso really need such a building? It was probably bought in a job lot with 31 from the previous owner. For remember, Bawso ‘paid’ £457,000 for this building in 2009, a building that, if it’s not used for accommodation, is clearly too big for Bawso’s needs.

So who gave Bawso the money to buy a building it doesn’t need, was it the ‘Welsh’ Government or the Home Office?’

GARDEN PATHS

I may have mentioned that last month I submitted a FoI to the ‘Welsh’ Government asking how many homelessness organisations the WG funds and how much funding is involved. Here’s the response I received last Friday from a Carl Spiller of the Housing Policy Division.

To say I was disappointed with that response would be an understatement. Though I’m not surprised to read that there are 48 different organisations receiving funding to alleviate homelessness; no, what disappoints me is the funding quoted, which is an absurd underestimate.

Let us put this into perspective by referring back to the Wallich, an organisation based in Wales and dealing solely with homelessness. Here are the accounts for year ending 31 March 2017. Go to page 25 and you’ll see that the Wallich alone received almost seven million pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government, yet the reply I got wants us to believe that funding for homelessness is never much more than eight million pounds a year – for 48 organisations!

click to enlarge

Clearly Mr Spiller has latched onto the Homelessness Prevention Grant Programme, perhaps because it helpfully uses the term ‘homelessness’ in its name. Yet there are many other funding streams for homelessness, not least the Supporting People Programme Grant from which the Wallich gained over six million pounds in the past year.

I don’t know whether Mr Spiller is confused, or whether he thinks my mother bred an idiot; but whichever it is I have written to him again asking for the right answer, which might indeed be 48 organisations, but I know damn well it involves more than one programme, with the amount of money running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

To be continued . . .

FARAWAY PLACES

Staying with the Wallich for a minute, something else that caught my eye in the 2017 Accounts was on page 31, in the section headed ’13 Investments’. Where we see this:

click to enlarge

Overseas Equities!!

Can anyone offer an explanation as to why an outfit like this, ministering to the homeless of Wales (and beyond), totally dependent on the public purse – plus the income derived from assets and investments paid for from the public purse – should have overseas equities?

What might these equities be? Dare we imagine this £938,478 (a mere £409,412 the year before) resting in some sun-blest tax haven?

When a third sector body reliant on public largesse has so much spare moolah then it’s reasonable to assume that it’s getting too much in the first place.

A LITTLE PLACE IN THE WEST

In this recent post there was a section headed ‘The “Bedsit Baron” of Pembroke Dock’ based on an article in the Pembrokeshire Herald about Cathal Eamonn McCosker. Well he’s made the news again.

There’s been a fire at one of his properties and someone has been badly burned.

click to enlarge

You’ll notice that there’s no mention of McCosker in the report, but there is a reference to E-Lettings being the owner of the property. This is the company set up by McCosker partly because local estate agents were loath to deal with him and partly because it maximised his profits.

Here’s another reference to E-Lettings from the same edition of the Pembrokeshire Herald, this time reporting a complaint made by E-Lettings against the councillor named in the account of the fire. The complainant is named as E-Lettings “proprietor, Miss Jill Evans”. I can only assume that Ms Evans works for McCosker, because there is no doubt about who owns E-Lettings.

McCosker is just another unscrupulous individual of the sort that has flocked to Wales since devolution turned on the tap of easy money.

It doesn’t really matter whether they speak Estuary English, attend conferences and lie to us about ‘helping people’, or whether they’re more honest about ripping off the public purse like McCosker . . . in many ways I’d prefer to deal with an unashamed rogue like McCosker than the hypocritical bastards I normally write about. You know where you are.

That said, McCosker’s reign of terror in Pembroke Dock must be brought to an end before someone dies, no matter how far up the political food chain the blame extends for corruptly funding his slum landlord empire.

To be continued . . .

THOMAS HARRY SHADY SCARROTT – SURELY NOT!

Someone else who has graced these pages in recent months is Tom Scarrott of Vale Holiday Parks Ltd. Read about him in The Caravanserai of Ceredigion. What a lad!

Our little contretemps started with a difference of opinion over the benefits of tourism. He of course wants us to believe that tourism provides lots of wonderful, full-time, well-paid jobs, it is – as the ‘Welsh’ Government would also have us believe – the economic salvation of rural Wales.

It soon became clear, even in a Twitter exchange, that Scarrott has a problem with the truth on all sorts of matters.

I was not surprised then to have a few people draw my attention to a wee piece that appeared in WalesOnline last week, headed The Welsh firms named and shamed for not paying the national minimum wage’. and to see Vale Holiday Parks appear.

So the man who claims his firm brings prosperity to Ceredigion can’t even pay the minimum wage. Like I say, he’s got a problem with the truth, that boy.

RESORTING WITH UNDESIRABLES

Staying with tourism we head from Ceredigion in a south-easterly direction towards the city of my dreams, before taking a slight detour to the Afan Valley. Of which I have writ before, first with English Tourism in the Colony of Wales, then with Colonial Investments.

This project was apparently dreamed up a Yorkshireman named Gavin Lee Woodhouse who pulled aboard that master of self-promotion, ‘Bear’ Grylls. For public consumption Woodhouse seems to have been replaced to some extent by Peter Moore, “the man who brought Center Parcs to the UK”, and Grylls is also less prominent now.

There was yet another piece extolling the benefits of this venture in yesterday’s Llais y Sais.

click to enlarge

Let me spell out what we’re dealing with here, why there is a valid comparison to be made with what Scarrott does at his Ocean Heights Leisure Park near Cei Newydd, and why they are so damaging to a country without independence and lacking politicians with the balls to impose certain conditions.

Both Ocean Heights and the planned ‘resort’ in the Afan valley are self-contained, by which I mean the intention is to get people to stay there and also make them spend as much of their money as possible on site, rather than have them wander abroad and spend some money in the Wales beyond their electric fences and guard dogs.

This inevitably means that most of the money earned will leave Wales. In Scarrott’s case we know that he banks in England, his auditors are in England – it’s almost as if he fears a coup! The company behind the Afan valley venture is of course an English company.

‘Oh, come on, Jac, you cynical old git, what about the jobs?’

Read the bit in the article where Moore says, “There will be in the region of 1,000, all-year-round, permanent, direct jobs, plus significant indirect employment, the majority of which will be relatively local”. Rarely does one encounter a single sentence containing so many weasel words. Treasure it!

We don’t have independence, but if we had politicians with balls they would insist that: 1/ All direct jobs go to locals. 2/ Indirect employment also goes to locals by using local contractors and suppliers. 3/ Profits will be re-invested in Wales.

But who have we had representing us – why! Ken Skates! The same Ken Skates who thought the Flint Ring was a wonderful idea. Now ably assisted by Dafydd Elis Thomas.

This is flim-flam all the way. In one quote Moore describes the Afan Valley as a rural area, but the truth is the resort will be 10 miles from Swansea city centre and less from Port Talbot steelworks. Rural, yes, but guests are not going to be kept awake by the howling of wolves.

But enough! feast your eyes on the artist’s impression here.

click to enlarge

Look at it! Bloody wonderful, innit . . . I mean, look at them, er, umbrellas, and that bridge – tidy bridge, that is. Makes ew proud to be Welsh, mun . . . not that there’ll be much about it that’s Welsh, apart from its location.

But then, that sums up tourism in Wales.

To be continued . . .

♦ end ♦

 

Dec 082017
 

PROPERTY EMPIRES

In my previous post I wrote about Rose Mutale Nyoni Merrill, queen of the race relations industry in Wales, perhaps undisputed monarch since the downfall of the Malik dynasty.

If you go to that previous post, Wales: Corruption and Poverty, and scroll down to the section ‘Hired Bullies’, you’ll see that I looked at the various roles to which Mutale Merrill has been appointed by the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government, and I explained how she’d used her authority – on more than one occasion – to stifle criticism of her political masters who, in addition to elevating her to these posts, also funded her various companies and charities.

A symmetry with which we are only too familiar in Wales. It’s the form of corruption known as cronyism, or patronage.

The foundation for this woman’s rise to prominence in public life, is an organisation called Bawso, formerly, or originally, Black Association of Women Step Out. Here’s a link to the website, and here’s a link to the Companies House entry. Bawso is also registered with the Charity Commission, number 1084854.

Bawso was founded in January 1996, and although Merrill isn’t listed among the founding members she does appear as the witness to their statements on the Certificate of Incorporation, where she is ‘Rose M. Nyoni’ and described as a ‘project co-ordinator’. So, clearly, she was involved with Bawso from the outset.

1. click to enlarge

Now she appears at the top of the pile on the Companies House page where we are told that she came aboard 27 August 2004 as secretary. As she is also chief executive she would appear to have Bawso in an iron grip.

Though despite Mutale Nyoni being appointed secretary 27 August 2004 she didn’t sign the consent document for that post until 19 May 2005, and it was eventually registered with Companies House 2 June 2005. So was she acting as secretary without official recognition, and then her appointment had to be backdated?

Before quitting this section we’ll just take a quick look at the figures in the latest accounts available, for year ended 31 March 2016.

A figure that struck me as odd was, on page 22, ‘Rental Income’ of £388,803. We find what I assume to be the same figure on page 16, listed there as ‘Income from charitable activities’. That’s a lot of money for rental income, it works out at over thirty thousand pounds a month. Apart from the various grants this is Bawso’s biggest source of income. Where might it come from?

Information on other pages suggests that Bawso has a substantial building – possibly buildings – in the north from which it derives a considerable rental income. Page 28 suggests that Bawso also leases property.

Bawso’s Wrecsam address is 33 Grosvenor Road, a relatively quiet commercial street near the centre of town. At 31 and 31a we encounter another outfit that has appeared on this blog more than once – The Wallich Clifford Foundation.

In fact, the Wallich and Bawso occupy the same building, as the photograph shows. The large building on the left of the picture is split between the Wallich on the left, at 31, with Bawso the right, at 33. (On the right of the picture, at 35, we see the Citizens Advice Bureau.)

2. courtesy of Google, click to enlarge

Naturally, I downloaded the Land Registry details for both properties. Here are the title details for 31, and here the details for 33. You’ll see that the Wallich property was bought in 2009 for £312,000 with no loan or mortgage involved. Bawso’s property next door was bought around the same time for £457,000, again, with no loan or mortgage involved.

A total of £769,000. Substantial purchases for third sector bodies like the Wallich and Bawso. Did some fairy godmother buy this building for them?

But the Wallich was soon extending its new property to create 31a. Here are the title details with a map dated 1 October 2015 showing the substantial extension to the rear, visible in another screen capture from Google.

3. courtesy of Google, click to enlarge

The same map shows that number 33, the Bawso property, has also been extended, and this is confirmed by the Google screen capture (2) above.

Which raises a number of questions. Such, as why did the Wallich and Bawso both feel the need to extend their properties so soon after buying them, and who paid for the extensions?

Perhaps more worrying is, why hasn’t Bawso notified the Land Registry of its footprint-doubling extension? Here’s the latest available title plan for number 33. It shows just the original outlines for both the Wallich and the Bawso properties.

4. click to enlarge

I don’t want you to think that I’ve got in for the third sector, but bloody hell! . . . Here we have two outfits dependent on the public purse and yet they can buy a substantial building in the centre of Wrecsam and then spend another dollop on doubling its size! Altogether this must have cost well over a million pounds.

And Wrecsam is just one corner of their national networks.

Oh, and didn’t I mention . . . the Wallich has another building not far away, St John’s House on Chester Road. Though this is owned by the council. So presumably the Wallich rents it, for I can find no leasehold arrangement. Or maybe they get it for free. Who cares? – it’s only public money after all.

5. courtesy of Google, St Johns House, click to enlarge

*Scroll to foot for important update regarding the Bawso property in Wrecsam*

FOREIGN AID

While researching into Labour Party heavy Mutale Merrill I of course looked into those companies with which she is still involved. These being, Bawso Training and Interpreting Services Ltd and Abesu Ltd. The latter she runs with hubby Travers and step-son Samuel Oliver Crichton.

There’s little to report on either company. Unless they’re fronts for something bigger then they’re just ticking over.

Though one thing I did notice was that on the Certificate of Incorporation for Abesu, in the box marked ‘Previous surname(s)’, is typed Kalimamukwento. So is this her original or maiden name, and Nyoni the name from an earlier marriage?

6. click to enlarge

Of more interest is the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel, a ‘think tank’. It is a registered company, and a charity, number 1159990. Mutale Merrill is chairman.

The accounts for year ending 30 September 2015 were 235 days late in reaching the Charity Commission.

The accounts up to 31 March 2017 are now available. So what do they tell us? Well, before getting to the figures we read on page 14 that “SSAP is currently setting up a young women’s safe space platform in Newport, Bangor and Edinburgh” Edinburgh! With Welsh public money?

click to enlarge

The figures tell us that income is rising nicely, though staff costs of £51,488 account for the greater part of the income, and 78% of the £66,162 total SSAP spent. Leaving £36,319 as current assets, i.e. cash at bank and in hand £25,444, plus debtors £10,875.

click to enlarge

Though I’m wondering who actually does the work, because page 13 tells us that SSAP “recruited a project officer (part-time) in Wales following interviews of 5 candidates. The person in post has been effective as of 1st of November 2016”.

Seeing as the accounts go up to 31 March 2017 the salary for a part-time project officer would never amount to £51,000 in five months; so who’s running the show, pulling down the big bucks?

I’m also a little concerned by the use of the phrase “in Wales”. Does this suggest that the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel has employees outside Wales?

Anyway, to the funders . . .

Wales for Africa, as it says on the tin, “. . . works with individuals, communities, the third sector and the public sector to build the world we want to live in and the Wales we want to be.”

If you have the time, and the inclination, you might wish to read the Wales for Africa 10 Year Report, 2006 – 2016. It has a foreword by Carwyn Jones who, at the time of writing, was still First Minister. Moving on . . .

Comic Relief we know about, and I’m sure we all have our own thoughts.

The Welsh Centre for International Affairs is a registered charity, number 1156822, and based at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff, which, conveniently, is where Mutale Merrill’s Sub Sahara Advisory Panel is also located. I couldn’t help but notice that funding for the WCIA went up from £335,881 for year ending 31 March 2015 to £988,946 for year ending 31 Match 2016.

The accounts for the Welsh Centre for International Affairs come in a glossy and expensive document in which the actual accounts seem almost incidental, so where does it get its money from?

Well, as we can see, some 87% of the income came from just two sources; Wales for Peace with £243,233 and Hub Cymru Africa with £614,000. Have you ever heard of these? I hadn’t, so I did a little trawling.

Wales for Peace seems to be some kind of subsidiary of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs – but how can a subsidiary be giving money to the parent company! Because according to the figures below Wales for Peace gave the Welsh Centre for International Affairs £243,233 and the WCIA gave back £254,734.

7. click to enlarge

I can see how shuffling money around within an organisation might create employment, and give the impression of industry, but does it really achieve anything else?

And what of Hub Cymru Africa?

8. click to enlarge

Are you getting dizzy from going round in circles? Let’s stop now and retrace our steps before we get completely lost, because we are in a maze, and it has been created to deter investigation.

Also, to disguise the fact that Wales, a country so poor it doesn’t have a pot to piss in, has a foreign aid programme! Think about that – a foreign aid programme!

And all so that a bunch of delusional liberals down in Cardiff can be manipulated by shysters into ‘helping’ the less fortunate in foreign climes, and send delegates to conferences in Paris and God knows where else.

These bastards shouldn’t be given public funding, they should be taken around Wales and shown the realities of life – the food banks, the failing services, the deteriorating infrastructure, the poverty, the vandalism, the drugs, the crime, the sheer fucking hopelessness.

But of course those I’m talking about don’t notice any of that, it doesn’t affect them in their insulated lives; they’re doing just fine, and feeling frightfully good about themselves as well. With the rest of us paying for this illusion.

Bastards!

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

Let’s conclude by returning to Wrecsam, a town for which I’ve got a soft spot.

I am absolutely certain that the Wallich and Bawso buying adjoining properties within months of each other was no coincidence. Neither were the extensions. It suggests that they may be collaborating. But on what?

The mission statement for the Wallich can be found in the Objects of the charity, which were revised on October 18, to read:

9. click to enlarge

Whereas Bawso caters to black and ethnic minority women, as it explains on the home page of its website:

“Established in 1995, Bawso is an all Wales, Welsh Government Accredited Support Provider, delivering specialist services to people from Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) backgrounds who are affected by domestic abuse and other forms of abuse, including Female Genital Mutilation, Forced Marriage, Human Trafficking & Prostitution.”

So with one catering exclusively to the homeless and the other to BME women, where’s the overlap, or connection? Homeless BME women, perhaps, but how many would there be in the Wrecsam area?

Maybe the answer lies with human trafficking. Certainly this would explain the Bawso presence in Wrecsam. For if we go to the website and the Diogel Project page, we read, “In 2010 Welsh Government funded the expansion of the project to North Wales in response to increased demand for the service.” (Diogel is Welsh for safe or secure.)

So does this tell us that the property on Grosvenor Road was bought for Bawso by the ‘Welsh’ Government? And presumably the same applies to the Wallich property?

It certainly makes sense, for if we return to the most recent accounts we see, on page 20, that the Home Office gave £373,769 to the Diogel Project and the ‘Welsh’ Government gave another £74,000.

Though if women trafficked from eastern Europe are now being targeted by Bawso then it suggests that the definition of BME has stretched way beyond its original remit. But then, that’s how third sector bodies operate, if there’s an ishoo to be exploited and money to be made . . .

What a mess Wales is in with this self-serving Labour crony-filled third sector, with its property empires and investment portfolios, most of its funding going on salaries, motors and ‘conferences’, and achieving sod all for Wales despite being funded from the Welsh public purse.

It only remains for me to write to the Land Registry informing them that 33 Grosvenor Road in Wrecsam has been doubled in size but it seems the owner has neglected to notify them.

An oversight, I’m sure.

♦ end ♦

 

UPDATE 08.12.2017: We know that the Land Registry was not informed of the major changes to 33 Grosvenor Road, even though the title plan for 31 was revised towards the end of 2015.

So I got to wondering what changes had been approved by the local planning authority, Wrexham County Borough Council. I checked for both 31, the Wallich property, and for 33, the Bawso property, in the 10 years between 2007 and today.

Here’s what the WCBC website gave me.

click to enlarge

There is a full set of planning consents for 31 Grosvenor Road, but nothing for 33. Which suggests that the extension to 33 may have been built without planning permission.

Though of course, if no planning permission was granted then this would explain why Bawso didn’t notify the Land Registry about the extension.

I’m no longer sure whether this is just a planning irregularity or whether a criminal offence has been committed.

 

 

Nov 272017
 

I apologise for this post being a bit long, over 3,000 words; but it’s in four separate and distinct parts, plus a Conclusion. So you can enjoy it one section at a time.

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THE ‘BEDSIT BARON’ OF PEMBROKE DOCK

Pembroke Dock is one of those towns that most people drive past or don’t visit. I suppose if Pembroke, a mile or two inland, had grown as some had hoped, then the Dock might have played Piraeus to Pembroke’s Athens, but fate decreed otherwise.

Even so, Pembroke Dock does make the news, but usually for the wrong reasons. For it is a town in decline, having more in common with Valleys communities than with other Pembrokeshire settlements like Narberth or St David’s.

This decline should have been evident to anyone who read my recent piece Publicly-funded Poverty (under the section heading, ‘The Publicly-funded Private Sector’), where I discussed the fate of the old Coronation School.

You won’t be surprised to learn that this building made the news again last week, as the report below from the Pembrokeshire Herald tells us.

click to enlarge

It would be bad enough if this report about properties owned by that ‘Baron of the Bedsits’, Cathal McCosker, was simply reporting dumped garbage attracting rats, but we have to remember that McCosker received hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to ‘renovate’ these properties. And he’s received hundreds of thousands more in housing benefit.

Money that many people want to see accounted for. All the while the ‘Welsh’ Government does nothing, in order to protect its European funding office (WEFO) from the scrutiny that would expose it as one of those around whom Mr McCosker danced rings, unless of course there was complicity.

Not only does McCosker make a fortune from renting properties that were, basically, given to him (with money on top), he further increases his income from those properties by acting as his own letting agent through his company e-Lettings.

That we know so much about McCosker and the manifest ‘failings’ at both county and national level is due in no small part to two blogging councillors; Jacob Williams and Mike Stoddart, the latter blogging as ‘Old Grumpy‘.

In a recent post, ‘Unknown quantities’, Stoddart dealt with data and statistics telling us that almost everyone housed by Pembrokeshire council was ‘local’. Though I’m not sure if the table below applies only to council lettings or also to those of housing associations.

Given the numbers I would guess the figures represent the ‘shared register’.

courtesy of ‘Old Grumpy’ click to enlarge

Either way, the table gives us an insight into the connection between the likes of Cathal McCosker and social housing providers (because of course the figures for ‘no local connection’ are nonsense). This link is found across Wales with private landlords great and small enjoying close working relationships with council housing departments and housing associations.

This is how it works, and how it benefits everyone . . . except of course, you and me.

If a tenant can stick it out in some grotty flat or bedsit, with drunks, paedophiles, thugs, people threatening to jump out of windows, and gets on nodding terms with the local rodent population, then after a year – and perhaps the wave of a wand – he or she is transmogrified into a ‘local’, and because they are locals in unsuitable accommodation they simultaneously soar to the top of the list for nice new social housing.

This system ensures a steady supply of tenants from outside of Wales for unscrupulous private landlords like Cathal McCosker. Some will find their own way but most are directed to places like Coronation School through many private landlords having a relationship with social services departments, probation companies and other agencies in England.

This system also guarantees a steady supply of tenants for housing associations and councils (though few councils have social housing responsibilities any longer). This is important, because with the ever-present threat of being gobbled up by a predator, or the risk of public funding being cut, housing associations like to be seen to be busy, and if this can be achieved by housing the former tenants of Cathal McCosker and hundreds like him, then so be it.

Just think about that for a minute. Or better still, think what the response might be if you tried to explain this system to someone who doesn’t know Wales.

‘So let me get this straight: you pay private landlords huge sums to bring in problem tenants from England, people that you know in advance will cost you more money by being a burden on your police forces, your health service and other facilities; then you spend yet more money buying or building social housing for these people – are you insane! Do you have money to burn?’

The only people who speak in defence of this system are those who prosper from it and those who view social housing as another tool to be used in colonising and Anglicising Wales.

A five-year residency qualification for social housing must be introduced.

We also need legislation to ensure that some scrubber from Wolverhampton who’s made herself and her kids homeless does not become a priority case for Welsh social housing, as happens now . . . all too often.

Both measures would go a long way to restoring peace to our communities and also save Wales a lot of money.

LLANDOVERY YMCA

Another subject I’ve covered more than once is Llandovery YMCA, or whatever it intends calling itself now that the YMCA has told it to stop using the label.

You can catch up with earlier writings by starting with YMCA ‘Wales’, Another Trojan Horse at the Trough, then comes The Impoverishment of Wales (scroll down to YMCA Wales), followed by YMCA ‘Wales’ and the Green, Green PasturesAncestral Turf, which was in turn followed by News Roundup 24.03.2017 (scroll down to Llandovery YMCA), and finally YMCA England(andwales).

Until quite recently there was an organisation known as YMCA Wales run, it would appear, by a woman from Northern Ireland called Mo Sykes. In 2012 or 2013 (perhaps earlier) YMCA Wales began dealing with an English charity for the homeless known as Green Pastures, run by ‘Pastor’ Pete Cunningham.

This may have been an attempt to boost the flagging finances of YMCA Wales, for Mo Sykes is said to have been ruthless in screwing money out of local YMCA operations that often left them without funds. Whatever the money was used for it didn’t save YMCA Wales from administration in 2014, after which it was taken over by YMCA England, with the major asset, the Newgale Outdoor Education Centre in Pembrokeshire, being sold in 2015 for £507,000.

Around the same time it was being reported that Mo Sykes had left in rather a hurry. Which probably explains why her publicly available Linkedin profile goes back no further than 2014.

courtesy of ‘Third Sector’

During her time at the helm of YMCA Wales (or maybe down in the bilges scuppering the ship) Mo Sykes formed a relationship with another recent arrival with a nose for easy money, a certain Gill Tatman of Llandovery YMCA.

More information on Gill Tatman and those grouped around her can be found in videos someone with a sense of humour saw fit to upload onto YouTube. You’ll find them in the posts I’ve linked to above.

By some route Tatman had come into possession of Llandovery YMCA, which had chugged along for years but was now about to take off as a ‘hub’, open to all manner of groups, from the local marrow growers (third Wednesday of every month) to the Teifi Valley branch of the Taliban (every Friday after prayers and the ritual stoning of the smokers outside the Kings Head on the way from the mosque).

Whatever function it may have purported to serve Llandovery YMCA’s real purpose was to provide a salary and a pension for Jill Tatman, and a place where her cronies could delude themselves they were doing something useful; you know, ‘contributing’.

Click to enlarge. Though a trustee – and I speak from experience – should not be paid.

But things started to go wrong last year, and led the National (Englandandwales) Association of YMCAs to remove Llandovery from its list of registered affiliates. This may or may not have been linked to Tatman’s husband being accused of having an unhealthy interest in children.

So it may have been coincidence that around the same time Carmarthenshire County Council removed the building from its list of approved youth clubs. As one former trustee was told, the council is “not supporting any provision within the old YMCA premises”.

And yet . . . Jill Tatman is still allowed to have children on the premises. It seems there’s a loophole she exploits by running an after school club open only two hours a day.

There are always loopholes, as Mr McCosker can testify, but what really surprised me was that Llandovery YMCA’s after school club is approved and advertised by an organisation called Clybiau Plant Cymru (Kids’ Clubs).

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Here’s more information about Clybiau Plant Cymru, which is registered with Companies House, where its latest accounts tell us it has an income of over a million pounds a year, more than 30 employees, and its biggest funder is the ‘Welsh’ Government through its Children and Families Delivery Grant.

Seeing as Tatman’s little empire has been disowned by the YMCA, blacklisted by Carmarthenshire Council, shunned by all except the most desperate local parents, why is the ‘Welsh’ Government giving it a seal of approval through Clybiau Plant Cymru?

UPDATE 02.12.2016: I’m grateful to a source for directing me to this. The photo used is old, the kids are now adults, and they go nowhere near the ‘YMCA’. For those wondering what it’s all about, this is a scheme for Co-op customers to donate money to a favourite local charity (the wife and I give to our village hall).

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SWANSEA TROTS

For a few years recently Swansea council had a bad dose of the Trots, in the form of Anglo-Austrian duo Bob and Uta Clay. Both now departed to pastures new, and unknown. Though given his friendship with Comrade Corbyn it was assumed by many that they were going to work for the great man.

For those seeking more information on this fascinating duo who washed up in Swansea on one tide and were gone with the next, I suggest you type ‘Bob Clay’ into the search box, whereupon you will be presented with a cornucopia of reports of Swansea Labour Party intrigue and dirty doings.

Now I hear from the city of my dreams that in the post-Clay era the Trotskyite banner has been taken up by Louise Gibbard, a Dunvant councillor. It has been unkindly suggested that not only does Gibbard share the politics of the departed Uta but also her hairdresser. (What a cad you are!)

It is further rumoured that the Trots – i.e. Momentum – are building a power base through community councils, school governors’ boards, union branches and anything else they can use ahead of an assault on reactionary and bourgeois elements within the party.

A number of MPs, AMs and councillors in the Swansea area are said to be targeted, with pride of place on Gibbard’s saddle reserved for the head of Swansea West MP Geraint Davies.

The Clays were, if only briefly, councillors for the Llansamlet ward on the east side of the river, across from Morriston, not that they knew anything about the area, its history, or its people. One of those who replaced them in Llansamlet in the May elections was Mo Sykes. Yes, the same Mo Sykes we encountered in Llandovery! Small world, innit!

But never mind her ignorance of the area, all that matters is keeping Labour in power.

Never forget that.

HIRED BULLIES

Back in March 2015 the ‘Welsh’ Government passed one of its regular ‘Aren’t we wonderful’ pieces of legislation designed to please Guardian readers and assorted lobbies on the left, while doing little or nothing for Wales.

This particular legislation was called the Violence Against Women Bill. It received Royal Assent on 29 April 2015.

In the period leading up to the vote in the Cynulliad there were persistent rumours of pressure being applied by Labour Party loyalists on women’s groups that wanted changes to the legislation. It’s covered fairly well in this WalesOnline report.

An ad hoc grouping central to the allegations was the Wales Violence Against Women Action Group, made up of various charities and third sector bodies. Scroll down to the foot of the page I’ve linked to and you’ll see the organisations belonging to WVAWAG.

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Among them is, top left, Bawso (formerly, Black Association of Women Step Out). In the accounts for the year covering the run-up to the vote in the Assembly Bawso received close on £1.5m from the ‘Welsh’ Government, with further amounts from various Labour-controlled local authorities taking the figure close to two million pounds.

Total donations – including public funding – came to £2,765,954. Rental income was £429,710, with room hire and bank interest taking us up to a total income for the year of £3,211,182. As is always the case in the third sector, salaries and pensions accounted for over two-thirds of that with £2,113,106

Running Bawso we find Mutale Merrill, formerly Rose Mutale Nyoni a native of Zambia. Among other companies with which Nyoni-Merrill is involved are Bawso Training and Interpretive Services Ltd, the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel (another recipient of ‘Welsh’ Government funding), Welsh Women’s Aid (a major recipient of ‘Welsh’ Government funding), Icreatefilms Ltd and Abesu Ltd.

Her husband is Travers Merrill, and if the name sounds familiar, well, wouldn’t you know it! – he has also graced these pages before. Here he is in Welsh Poverty and ‘Welsh’ Labour’s Third Sector Money Pit, just scroll down until you come to his picture.

Travers’ claim to fame is his involvement with Rhondda Life. Though he’d rather people forgot about it.

By now you’re probably asking yourself, ‘Why is Jac giving us this history lesson?’ Well, let’s start with the fact that as a reward for silencing Labour’s critics over the Violence Against Women Bill Nyoni-Merrill was rewarded by being appointed chair of the Board of Community Health Councils in Wales.

A post in which she continued to stifle anything that might embarrass those who had been so generous to her and her hubby. Perhaps most obviously by stopping the chief executive of the Board giving interviews, on the instructions, it was alleged, of a ‘Welsh’ Government minister.

Mutale Nyoni-Merrill made the news again this week in similar circumstances, to wit, stifling criticism of the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government. Coincidence?

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I think not. In Rose Mutale Nyoni-Merrill OBE (yes, inevitably, she has received an ‘honour’) we have a third sector operator of the first order. She came to Wales and soon realised that there was a quick way to easy money – join the Labour Party, form some third sector organisations Wales doesn’t need, and then just keep applying for public funding.

Having sold her soul to the Labour Party she was their creature, to do the party’s bidding. This meant being elevated to posts for which she might not have been qualified or suited, but that didn’t matter, for she wasn’t given these posts to serve the public interest but to serve the Labour Party. A role we know she has fulfilled on many occasions.

The report I’ve linked to above about the Community Health Councils is dated November 26. The following day Mutale Nyoni-Merrill resigned from Welsh Women’s Aid. Or was she pushed? Is she finally becoming too much of an embarrassment?

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I think that from Labour’s perspective she is now damaged goods. It will be interesting to see which pasture is found for her retirement.

The irony will not be lost on readers that here we have a woman who has – for public consumption – been a staunch campaigner against bullying; and yet, that’s exactly what she is, a bully! Which is why she fits so perfectly into the culture of ‘Welsh’ Labour.

I recall being told about her back in 2012 by an employee, of how public funds given to Bawso were being spent on private purchases; and how husband, Travers, with no connection to Bawso, would avail himself of that outfit’s publicly-funded equipment and facilities for his own business.

There were even more serious allegations, and names, that I had better not mention . . . yet.

CONCLUSION

Wales is corrupt, we know that, and the source of the corruption is almost always the local branch of the UK Labour Party.

And it’s not just us that see it. Knowledge of the system has spread well beyond our borders. Just look at those I’ve dealt with here, all of them – McCosker, Tatman, Sykes, Mutale Nyoni, Travers Merrill – came to Wales because they heard there was easy money to be made.

Another example is provided by Llamau (currently receiving a splurge of free publicity in Llais y Sais). From 1999, once it was realised that a pliable and profligate ‘Welsh’ Labour government was in place, third sector shysters flocked to Wales, and among the first were those who took over the obscure John Rowley Trust in Barry and turned it into Llamau.

Llamau now has an annual income of more than ten million pounds, and of course, most of that goes on salaries.

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Where it has little political support Labour exercises influence through other agencies reliant on it for funding: higher education establishments, third sector bodies, housing associations (Wales & West being the most blatant), while in Plaid Cymru’s Gwynedd heartland Labour works through bodies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and funding agency Mantell Gwynedd.

And all done, not for the benefit of Wales, or local communities, but to extend and entrench the power of the Labour Party.

The Wales Council for Voluntary Action – which describes itself as the “portal” to the third sector – serves as a government department in all but name, but it belongs to a political party not the state, and is answerable – as we have seen with Mutale Nyoni-Merrill – to none but that party.

This is how a one-party state operates. And like all dictatorships the economy suffers.

Wales is now burdened with a class of parasites that can influence political decision-making. This means that the third sector dreams up an endless stream of ‘schemes’, ‘projects’ and ‘initiatives’, plus new organisations, that have only one purpose – to feather-bed useless fuckers we wouldn’t miss if they were all abducted tomorrow by aliens.

To keep this parasitical class in the style to which it has become accustomed so that it may serve the political interests of the Labour Party means draining the Welsh public purse.

Which results in them getting richer while Wales gets poorer. This presents another irony, for these bastards, with their countless competing and duplicating organisations are supposed to be alleviating poverty, but they are in fact making Wales poorer!

I leave you with this thought: A more prosperous Wales is possible, but not with an overblown third sector beholden to a political party that relies on poverty and deprivation for its political support.

Time to wake up!

♦ end ♦

Nov 122017
 

THE PUBLICLY-FUNDED THIRD SECTOR

HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS

In my previous post, Anti-Welsh Housing Associations, I told you about Wales & West Housing’s irresponsible behaviour in Lampeter, part of a more widespread problem of housing associations chasing the money by housing criminals, which is much more lucrative than putting roofs over the heads of locals.

Of course they argue that there’s a dreadful shortage of accommodation for ‘vulnerable’ people, and of course they’re right – England doesn’t have enough accommodation. Which is why Wales, through its housing associations and other third sector bodies, is currently taking in so many problems.

And yet, while housing associations and others receive premium payments from whoever supplied their new tenants, plus housing benefit and other goodies, there is an obvious downside.

I’m referring to the effect on formerly peaceful communities caused by the arrival of undesirables. But there’s also the extra work for the police and associated agencies. Though perhaps the biggest burden falls on the NHS and associated services, for most of those being moved to Wales by the route described will have ‘issues’ needing expensive treatment.

So while taking on these problems is good business for housing associations and others, the wider implications, and costs, for the country as a whole, more than outweigh the financial benefits accruing to the landlords. Which makes this behaviour selfish, short-sighted and socially irresponsible.

It can fairly be described as anti-social housing.

And of course it raises the question of why the ‘Welsh’ Government allows these bodies, all of which are in receipt of public funding, to behave in this manner.

But the problem isn’t confined to housing associations.

HOMELESSNESS

I have written many times about the overlapping, interweaving and competing homelessness organisations. I thought I knew most of them but someone just brought a new one to my attention. It’s called Emmaus UK and the business model centres on charity shops and workshops for the homeless.

Which means that the Emmaus model should be self-financing. Which is what Emmaus claims.

Its Welsh presence – at the moment, anyway – seems limited to Bridgend, where it appears to have started in 2011. The screen capture below is taken from the Charity Commission website, and it tells us that in 5 years the income has rocketed from £53,728 to £1,570,327. (Private companies would love to see growth like that!)

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When we look more closely at the accounts for the year ended 30 June 2016 we see that the biggest source of income is the ‘Welsh’ Government with a gift of £300,000, up from £200,000 the year before.

But why does a “self-supporting” organisation require any public funding? Especially as we can see it’s not needed, for despite having an income of £1,570,237 it only spent £886,832, which leaves a profit balance of £683,405.

Does Wales have no better use for that £500,000?

Apart from the Emmaus presence in Bridgend the Charity Commission website offers dozens of options for Emmaus operations in every corner of England. Curious to see how much funding these English operations get I checked out a few.

I looked at Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol and Tyneside, four major English cities/conurbations, where the problems of homelessness must be far greater than in Bridgend and Porthcawl. What I found surprised me. Emmaus in these areas operates with a third or less of the annual income of Emmaus in Bridgend – and there’s no public funding at all!

Moving north of the border, the income for Emmaus in Glasgow, where the charity has two shops, a workshop and a warehouse, was only £572,264 in 2016. So why does the Bridgend operation get so much money?

Another telling fact is that Emmaus spends twice as much per ‘companion’ in Bridgend as it does in England. Is Emmaus in Bridgend providing luxury accommodation? Or paying £25 an hour? Is the Welsh operation just inefficient? Or is public money so easy to come by in Wales that it’s being squandered?

Finally, the Emmaus UK housing unit in Bridgend was built on land provided by Valleys to Coast Housing Association. So not only is Emmaus UK receiving Welsh public funding, it also looks as if it was gifted publicly-owned land.

I began this section by saying that Emmaus was new to me, despite being familiar with many organisations claiming to be helping the homeless in Wales. As I don’t know how many there are I have submitted a FoI to the ‘Welsh’ Government. They must know how many homelessness organisations they’re funding . . . surely?

P.S. I know there are different criteria for assessing homelessness, and those ‘threatened with homelessness’, though I don’t like that second category because – rather like ‘jobs secured’ (as opposed to ‘jobs created’) – it’s open to misuse. Even so, I went the StatsWales website and checked the figures for rough sleepers.

You’ll see that the most recent figure for Bridgend tells us that the estimated number (right hand column) of rough sleepers is 10, with nary a single emergency bed. Whereas in Ceredigion there are no less than 30 emergency beds for an estimated 6 rough sleepers.

I suggest both figures tell us a lot about what really goes on in the ‘Welsh’ homelessness racket.

UPDATE 13.11.2017 – PARTNERSHIP?

It’s become clear to me over the years that there is some kind of co-operation between the ‘Welsh’ Government – or rather, the civil servants who operate in its name – and the various Lottery funds. Emmaus South Wales provides another example.

If we go to the Companies House entry we find under the ‘Charges’ tab two listings, both concern ‘Land and buildings at Nant Lais, Heol y Nant, Bridgend’. I should explain that Charges usually means mortgages, loans, or other forms of indebtedness. If you see too many marked ‘Outstanding’ it can be a cause for concern.

On the Emmaus entry we find one charge with the number 0718 8459 0001 for a mortgage entered into between The Welsh Ministers, as the ‘Mortgagee’ and Emmaus South Wales as the ‘Mortgagor’. This agreement is dated 7 August 2015.

The other Charge, number 0718 8459 0002, is between Emmaus, the ‘Grant Holder’ and the Big Lottery Fund as ‘The Fund’. This is not a mortgage but a grant of £425,000. (See below.) So why is it treated as something other than a straight gift? Because it comes with certain conditions; for example, if Emmaus turns the building into a massage parlour, or flogs it off to some Russians looking for indoor growing facilities, then the grant is forfeit. This agreement is also dated 7 August 2015.

In a sense, they complement or cancel each other.

From the Big Lottery Fund website. Click to enlarge

Here’s a scenario. The ‘Welsh’ Government wants to give this property to Emmaus but fears some malcontent finding out and kicking up a fuss, so they contact the Big Lottery Fund – ‘Oh, look, we’ve got this very worthy cause looking for money to buy something from us, so we’d like you to oblige with a grant’.

Maybe it’s done some other way, but I am in no doubt that there is a well-used system for the various Lottery funds to give money to projects recommended by the ‘Welsh’ Government. The ‘worthy cause’ gets what it wants, the ‘Welsh’ Government can appear prudent with public money, while from the Lottery’s standpoint, if things go tits up, they can say, ‘Ah! but the Welsh Government recommended these people’.

Everybody’s back is covered. Everybody’s a winner!

Except perhaps those communities, and those projects, that aren’t so well connected. Those worthy causes that spend months or years building up support, preparing their bid, only to be beaten by insider dealing such as I’m suggesting in Bridgend. Which of course, just happens to be Carwyn Jones’s constituency.

And if I’m right, then in their very short time in Wales Emmaus has received over one million pounds thanks to the ‘Welsh’ Government.

THE PUBLICLY-FUNDED PRIVATE SECTOR

Another net importer of criminals, paedophiles and others, plus many homeless, is of course the private rented sector – just think Rhyl! – where we find the same ugly combination of self-interest and lack of concern for the consequences of pursuing that self-interest.

A recent news item re-awakened my interest in events in Pembrokeshire. On the evening of November 7 there was a disturbance at a block of flats in Meyrick Street, Pembroke Dock, and it was reported that armed police officers had attended. The flats are in the former Coronation School.

I got to wondering who owns these flats, and so I went to the Land Registry website where I was presented with what appeared to be a long list of individual titles, and although I didn’t count them I assumed it was one for each flat.

I chose two at random, Flat 10 and Flat 31, which was unnecessary because they both have the same title number CYM402081. Why so many different entries for the same title number? Was the intention to sell off the flats individually?

Both title documents say the building was bought by Cathal Eamonn McCosker for £200,000 with money that seems to have been borrowed from Barclays Bank. But others now having a claim on the property are Alexander and Rose Russell of Swindon and Pembrokeshire County Council.

It would appear that in order to meet his obligations Mr McCosker has tried to sell the building. First, at auction on Thursday 27 April 2017 with a guide price of £1.3m. This obviously failed because it was marked “withdrawn by agent”, and then put up for auction again on 08 June 2017 with the guide price now reduced to £975,000. But as we know from the Land Registry, it is still owned by Mr McCosker and his creditors.

With Cathal Eamonn McCosker we have one of the more intriguing stories to emerge from Pembrokeshire in recent times. Despite the widespread assumption that he’s Irish, on the Companies House website he describes himself as British, and gives an address in Oxford.

So what’s the story?

Basically, McCosker stands accused of receiving funding for projects in Pembroke Dock for work that was never done. This scam may have been conducted with the connivance of senior council officials and even a councillor or two. If they weren’t in on the scam then they’re now trying to draw a veil over the whole affair in the hope of saving face.

A number of people have followed the case over the years, including two councillor-bloggers. A good start would be with Councillor Jacob Williams’ Trumped-up charges – Part 4. While another excellent source is Councillor Mike Stoddart, and his Strange business.

I believe I’m right in saying that the Woodward and Bernstein of the Kremlin on the Cleddau actually unearthed the McCosker scandal.

McCosker has appeared on this blog after he cropped up a couple of years ago in a newspaper story about the vast amounts of money being paid in housing benefit to private landlords. I wrote about it in To Those That Have Shall Be Given – Housing Benefit!

McCosker was quoted as receiving £236,834 in housing benefits for his Pembrokeshire properties, with a further £35,248 paid through his E-Lettings company, which he used for the Coronation School flats. A local journalist tells me that this money was being paid into a bank account in the Irish Republic, which raises questions about taxation.

The Coronation School seems to target young people leaving care, many from ‘away’; vulnerable, mainly uneducated young people, many of them with ‘issues’. Conditions in the old school building are said to be primitive, which if true will of course qualify the tenants for social housing.

CONCLUSION

In an earlier post I referred to a system of human trafficking in Wales, a system run by selfish and unscrupulous individuals and organisations that brings into our country people needing expensive help or simply criminals and undesirables that no one else wants.

Which would be bad enough in itself, but we are paying for this. The public money of a poor country is being spent on problems that should not be ours. We are effectively paying to make our communities, like Lampeter and Pembroke Dock, less happy, less safe, and all done in order that Wales & West Housing can expand, or Cathal Eamonn McCosker can get even richer.

This system of bringing another country’s problems into Wales exposes a number of issues.

First, it tells us that we have a third sector that has become bloated due to over-feeding, and because of its size it now wields a malevolent influence on the ‘Welsh’ Government and the civil servants who actually run Wales. This influence damages other sectors that we should be encouraging . . . you know, things like real businesses, that might create real jobs, and increase Wales’ wealth . . . without wrecking Welsh communities

‘Nah, we don’t want none of that nasty prosperity round by ‘ere’.

But then there’s the issue of corruption in Welsh public life, at all levels. Who in their right mind believes it’s a good idea to give hundreds of thousands of pounds to Emmaus, a supposedly self-sufficient organisation?

And why is the investigation into the corruption centred on Cathal Eamonn McCosker stalled? Is it because too many people at both Pembrokeshire County Council and the ‘Welsh’ Government are involved? For the money used to enrich McCosker was EU funding, administered by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO).

While writing this I’ve been drawn to three recent posts about Carmarthenshire. The first, was by Siân Caiach, then there was the latest from Jacqui Thompson, and finally, another gem from my favourite blogger, Y Cneifiwr. They all prompt the same question – what other democracy would allow Mark Vincent James (OBE) to ruin so many lives and run Carmarthenshire County Council like a medieval barony?

It doesn’t have to be like this. But everything you see around you is part of the problem, and so can never be part of the solution. Radical change is needed. Wales will soon be offered the hope of change. Be ready!

♦ end ♦

 

Nov 072017
 

TO RECAP . . .

I have written many times about social housing in Wales, and of the many problems created by the more irresponsible housing associations. Here are just a few of the problems:

  • Unlike in Scotland, social housing providers in Wales are tied into an Englandandwales system. This results in our housing associations having to give priority treatment to people with no Welsh connections.
  • Many of those being housed by these routes will be ‘problem families’, or young tearaways, they might be drug and alcohol abusers, or they’ll be recently released from prison. These issues will inevitably place a burden on our health service and other facilities while also affecting the quality of life in many Welsh communities.
  • Wales has an ageing population. In a decade or so Wales will be the ‘oldest’ country in western Europe. This also places a strain on our NHS and other services which results in money being taken from education and other budgets. Yet many housing associations, particularly in the north, are using public funding to build housing for the elderly and the infirm brought in from outside of Wales.
  • Despite the recommendations of the Notional Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee social housing providers are still diversifying through unaccountable subsidiaries. This results, for example, in the insane situation in Pembrokeshire where The Pembrokeshire Housing Association is passing public money to its subsidiary, Mill Bay Homes for MBH to build houses for sale on the open market!
  • Many Welsh housing associations lease or rent properties from companies based in tax havens. I explored this connection in Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd. Yet no one in the ‘Welsh’ Government seems to care that Welsh social housing tenants could be living in properties owned by the Mafia, or ISIS.
  • Housing associations form secretive and costly links with Third Sector and other bodies. Some of these links are of questionable legality, of dubious benefit to Wales, but always costly to the Welsh public purse.
  • And that, perhaps, is the biggest worry of all. That no one with responsibility for overseeing social housing bodies, no one who funds them with hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, seems to care how they operate. It’s left to self-evaluation and self-appraisal – box-ticking exercises which of course never find any problems. So everybody’s happy!

NEWS FROM THE NORTH

A taste for what follows may be obtained from the post Bits & Pieces of September 30th. Now here’s the latest:

Paul Diggory, the Chester-based former boss of ailing North Wales Housing, is now promoting himself – something he’s very good at – as a ‘housing and social enterprise freelance‘, which fits in nicely with his role as chair of the Chartered Institute of Housing in Wales.

Diggory gives us one of the two qualifications needed to run a Welsh housing association: either be English like him and the CEOs recently appointed to Valleys to Coast, Bron Afon and Hendre; or else have good links with the Labour Party, which accounts for the appointments of both Trivallis’ new £150,000 a year CEO and the new Board chair, Tracy Myhills, previously CEO at the Welsh Ambulance Trust. (How’d you like that on your CV!)

It should go without saying that if you’re English and a member or supporter of the Labour Party then you get to take your pick of which housing association you’d like to run. Being English but supporting some other party would be acceptable, but if you’re non-Labour Welsh, forget it.

This is how a one-party state operates.

Staying in the north for a minute . . . Not so long ago Labour’s most favoured housing association, Wales & West, built a big new office building in Ewloe, Flintshire, very close to the border.

Courtesy of Google, click to enlarge

Many thought at the time that a Cardiff-based housing association might be over-extending itself with this office block, but no, for since then W&W has not only swallowed up Cantref of Castell Newydd Emlyn, and branched out into Ceredigion, but is also hovering, vulture-like, over ailing HAs across the land.

One housing association viewed as sickly and about to fall is Pennaf. The Pennaf Group is based in Llanelwy (St Asaph) and includes the Clwyd Alyn housing association and Offa, a lettings and management service. A northern source tells me that a couple of factors may be contributing to make Pennaf look a tasty dish.

First, CEO Graham Worthington – also based in Chester! – has just announced his retirement; plus, it seems that Pennaf has been tardy in bringing its 4,500 properties up to Welsh Housing Quality Standard, something it should have done by 2012.

The reason for Pennaf finding itself in this parlous position is I’m told due to spending too much time and money building care and residential homes – i.e. using Welsh public funding to bring in more retirees, so as to put extra strain on the NHS and social services that will result in education and other budgets being raided.

Only in Wales!

WALES & WEST WAY OUT WEST AND WAY OUT OF LINE

I’ve just mentioned that Wales & West snaffled up Cantref of Castell Newydd Emlyn, which operated mainly in Ceredigion, but W&W is also branching out in other ways.

When the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government handed Cantref over to Wales and West part of the dowry was valuable land at Plas Morolwg in Aberystwyth, overlooking the marina and with nice views out to sea. That site is now earmarked for 60 extra care flats. It’s doubtful if Ceredigion needs this development, certainly, it’s suggested that if it goes ahead it will jeopardise Mid Wales Housing’s Cylch Caron project in Tregaron.

But things are never that simple in Ceredigion.

Ceredigion council’s leader, Ellen ap Gwynn of Plaid Cymru, is under intense pressure over the closure of the Bodlondeb care home in Aberystwyth. Motivated by nothing more than a deep and heartfelt concern for the old biddies therein Labour and Lib Dems have taken to protesting against the closure, even recruiting that one-boy rent-a-mob and self-promoting little shite, Owen Jones.

It is further suggested that certain council officials such as strategy officers and planners who – how can I put this? – whose first spoonful might not have been puréed laverbread, are bending over backwards to help an anti-Welsh organisation like Wales & West.

An unholy alliance of Plaid Cymru and Welsh-haters.

Let’s now turn our attention to Lampeter, where Wales and West is very active, and plans yet more expansion. What follows is information for which I offer thanks to someone obviously well-informed about council business.

To begin with, there are widespread concerns in Lampeter that Wales & West is failing to evict its drug-dealing tenants in Bryn Road and North Road. But things are almost certainly going to get worse, for W&W is said to be in the process of buying the old Ffynnonbedr school building in order to build yet more flats in an area of low need. So Lampeter can expect more drug addicts to arrive. Lucky Lampeter!

UPDATE 08.11.2017: A pre-planning consultation notice appeared on the door of the old Ffynnonbedr school today. The architect Geraint John of Cardiff is making the planning statement/application in the name of Hacer Developments of Swansea.

This document – at 5.5 and 5.6 – makes great play of an agreement between Ceredigion council and Cantref in the early part of 2016 and seems to suggest that Cantref is the client. But of course Cantref was taken over by Wales & West over a year ago, but I can find no mention of Wales & West. Understandable given the drug dealers and others W&W has already brought into the town.

As if that wasn’t worrying enough for the good people of Lambed, I hear from a former weekend soldier that the old Territorial Army building – also on Bryn Road – is up for sale, and word is that W&W want to buy this as well. But I bet you’d guessed that already!

I’ve mentioned that Wales & West refuses to evict its lucrative drug-dealing tenants in Lampeter, and for this it has been congratulated by fellow Labour Party members in Shelter Cymru. Mutual back-scratching among Labour-run Third Sector bodies is so prevalent and blatant that they even try to make a virtue of it.

click to enlarge

Elsewhere the tale of evictions is different. For back in Aberystwyth, mainly local 16- and 17-year-olds are being evicted from Wales & West’s Tŷ Curig hostel  . . . to make way for new ‘guests’. Most of these replacements will arrive burdened with ‘issues’, but it is these very ‘issues’ that will allow W&W to charge a hefty fee for housing them – leaving the rest of us to pick up the bill.

Before leaving Wales & West for a moment I should also point out that the new office building wasn’t restricted to Ewloe, for there’s also the new HQ in Cardiff. This too may be in anticipation of expansion, with one of the potential victims rumoured to be Cardiff Community Housing Association, where CEO Kevin Protheroe is about to retire.

WHY DO I SAY ‘ANTI-WELSH’?

I try to be careful in using the right word, and that’s why I have no hesitation in describing Wales & West Housing – and others I’ll soon mention – as anti-Welsh.

Non-Welsh or un-Welsh might imply someone or something having nothing to do with Wales; it might suggest ignorance of Wales’ distinctiveness, possibly ambivalence; but by using anti-Welsh I mean awareness of the Welsh language, and other things that make Wales different, but deliberately seeking to denigrate and undermine them. This certainly applies to Wales & West, which is why I describe W&W as anti-Welsh.

Let’s start with the W&W website – it’s in English only. As is the website of another Labour-run housing association I’ve mentioned, Trivallis (formerly RCT Homes). This is no accident, for when it comes to the Welsh language most Labour Party members and supporters agree with Neil Kinnock rather than with Carwyn Jones.

Other HAs – Bro Myrddin, for example – rely on Google Translate. The CEO at Bro Myrddin is Hilary Jones, said to be an ‘ally’ of W&W, who is rumoured to be taking an interest in Hafan Cymru, reported to be in serious trouble due to its over-reliance on the Supporting People programme and EU funding.

But the point is that all Registered Social Landlords are legally required to give equal status to both languages, and also to have a Welsh language scheme in place. But the Regulation Managers employed to enforce these requirements obviously aren’t up to the job (or maybe they too missed out on the puréed laverbread).

Or does the fault lie with those above them? I ask because this recent advertisement for a Regulation Manager bizarrely and confusingly talks of “capability to work in both English and Welsh” but then says that Welsh is “not necessary“!

click to enlarge

This seems to be a case of going through the motions: ‘Look, we’ve got to say this about the Welsh language . . . but in practice it doesn’t really mean anything‘.

A concrete example of Wales and West’s contempt for the Welsh language came recently with its advertisement for a Development Officer in Newcastle Emlyn, with the advertisement in English only and no requirement to speak Welsh in an area where Welsh is widely spoken. Welsh is certainly the majority language among the native Welsh.

This advertisement is not an oversight, nor is the absence of a Welsh website. This is flaunting power. This is a bunch of Labour bigots, with the ‘Welsh’ Government behind them saying, ‘Fuck you, and your language!

How will this attitude contribute to Carwyn Jones’ one million Welsh speakers by 2050?

IMAGE CONFLICTING WITH REALITY

We are encouraged to think of housing associations as streamlined, twenty-first century replacements for the old local authority housing departments, but doing a much better job. In fact, they have so little in common that any comparison is invalid.

To begin with, councils operate within defined geographical areas, whereas housing associations are spread all over the country competing with each other and duplicating each other’s work. Competition and duplication that places a wholly unnecessary burden on the public purse.

This has obviously been realised, and the problem is being addressed by encouraging those housing associations that are most ‘reliable’ from a Labour Party perspective – which also happen to be the least Welsh in staff and attitudes – to expand and take over the others. Which has two main results.

One, it increases Labour Party influence in areas of Wales where the party has no MPs or AMs. Two, it encourages instinctively anti-Welsh organisations to expand into areas where the Welsh language is strong. Good for the Labour Party but a disaster for the Welsh language and for Wales

Another difference is that local authority housing departments would never have struck deals with outside agencies to import someone else’s criminals, paedophiles, drug addicts, problem families, etc. The reason being that councils had that link with their patch, that commitment to their people, and of course councillors needed to be re-elected. With housing associations such considerations and restraints are absent.

For housing associations are distant bodies, answerable to nobody, and can do what they damn well like. And because there’s little profit to be made from housing decent, law-abiding locals, but lots of money available if they inflict problems on small Welsh towns like Lampeter, that’s the model they follow.

A good source of income for many ‘Welsh’ housing associations

And while there are healthy profits for Wales & West and others from importing undesirables, once here they place an inevitable burden on local health and other services, and police resources, while causing misery and disruption to Welsh communities. In a different category, but having a similar effect on the Welsh public purse, are the retirees being brought into Wales, and this is no longer confined to the Costa Geriatrica.

All of which results in the Welsh public purse, which funds W&W and the rest of them, losing out again, and again, and again. And we are the public purse, you and I. It is we who lose out in having to endure inferior facilities and strained resources.

But the model followed by Wales & West is profitable. And the profits made, coupled with ‘Welsh’ Labour backing, allow W&W to undermine and then swallow up their smaller and weaker brethren, which will include responsible social housing providers sticking to what should be the role of housing associations – providing rented housing for local people.

And some day in the not-too-distant future, when towns like Lampeter and Aberystwyth are awash with drug addicts and criminals from God knows where, and there are only a few housing associations left standing, the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party will control them all.

Allowing ‘Welsh’ Labour, through its housing associations and other Third Sector bodies, to exert a control over Wales denied it by the ballot box. We shall have arrived at the one-party state.

Endgame.

♦ end ♦

Oct 302017
 

THE DOGS BARK, BUT THE CARAVAN REMAINS STATIC!

The original meaning of caravan was of course a camel train, found in Asia, the Middle East or North Africa, carrying people and goods, often over deserts. The word comes from the Persian kārwān. Sometime in the 19th century it began to be applied in Britain to the horse-drawn homes of Romanies.

Today it means something towed along Welsh roads holding up traffic for mile after mile. The bigger ones, that never go anywhere except on the back of a low loader, are to be found now all over Wales, especially near our coasts, and it’s these I wish to deal with.

A caravanserai was a stopping place for a caravan. It might be an inn, possibly an oasis. I suppose I’m being a little whimsical in likening caravan sites in Wales to overnight stops on the Silk Road, but there you are.

‘Are we there yet?’

Those who’ve been following this blog will know that I had a Twitter exchange recently with a Tom Scarrott, we disagreed over whether or not there should be a tourism tax. It should have ended there, but Scarrott chose to pursue matters by inviting himself and a few ‘colleagues’ to the meeting planned for the Belle Vue Royal Hotel on November 4th to discuss the formation of a new political party. Read about it here.

Understandably, the hotel cancelled the booking. The meeting has now been rearranged for November 18th with an invited audience.

As often happens in these cases, the article prompted people to supply further information on the subject matter. Tom Scarrott is described as a man who likes to have his own way, something of a bully. Which anyone could have guessed from the tweets he sent me.

Though one source provided fascinating background information.

FAMILY

It seems that to fully understand the reach of the Scarrott family we need to appreciate its links with the Barkers.

According to my source, Thomas John Barker (DoB December 1931) ran the amusements at the Clarach Bay Holiday Park just north of Aberystwyth (when it may have been owned by Rank). I’m told he then bought the site in the early 1980s with Thomas Scarrott Snr as his right-hand man. By which time Scarrott may have married Barker’s daughter.

So it all started at Clarach Bay, and the Holiday Village, Clarach Bay, remains the correspondence address for the Scarrotts’ Vale Holiday Parks Ltd, and a number of other Scarrott companies; plus the Barkers’ Heatherdale Holidays (Clarach Bay) Ltd, and Barker’s Leisure Ltd.

The Barkers also own the Jolly Fryer Fish and Chip Shop Ltd, Sizzlers Restaurant Ltd, and a number of other companies based at Clarach Bay.

Between them the Barker-Scarrott clan own and run the following caravan sites in Ceredigion and beyond; 1 – 9 being Scarrott sites, 10 – 12 Barker sites:

  1. Cross Park, Kilgetty, Tenby, Pembrokeshire SA68 0RN
  2. Ocean Heights Leisure Park, Cross Inn, New Quay, Ceredigion SA45 9RL
  3. Woodland Vale, Ludchurch, nr Narberth, Pembrokeshire SA67 8JE
  4. Parc Farm, Graianrhyd Road, Llanarmon, Near Mold, CH7 4QW
  5. Grondre Holiday Park, Clunderwen, Pembrokeshire SA66 7HD
  6. The Village Holiday Park, Cross Inn, Ceredigion SA44 6LW [Formerly: Glynteg Caravan Park]
  7. The Old Vicarage Holiday Park, Red Roses, Whitland, Carmarthenshire SA34 0PE
  8. Liskey Hill Holiday Park, Perranporth, Cornwall TR6 0BB
  9. Penlon Caravan Park, Cross Inn, Ceredigion SA44 6JY
  10. Pilbach Holiday Park, Betws Ifan, Rhydlewis, Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion SA44 5RT.
  11. Wide Horizons Holiday Park, Cardigan Road, Aberaeron, Ceredigion SA46 0ET
  12. Aberdwylan Holiday Park, Abercych, Boncath, Pembrokeshire SA37 0LQ

You’ll see that I’ve typed three of them in red, so let me explain why. These three sites are all near Cross Inn on the A486, which runs down to New Quay from the main north-south A487. Important because I’m told the jewel in the crown for Tom Scarrott is the Ocean Heights Leisure Park.

AN UNACCEPTABLE MODEL

The Ocean Heights site is largely self-contained, in that it tries to offer those staying there as many as possible of the facilities they’ll need.

What’s more, those staying at the other two A486 sites are told, “guests are welcome to use the facilities on offer at this park including the Ocean Heights Country Club”.

Clearly, the Scarrott family hopes that those staying at their three Cross Inn sites will spend as much of their money as possible on the facilities provided at Ocean Heights. The flip side being that the Scarrotts want their ‘guests’ to spend as little money as possible in the wider community.

Bad enough, but let’s also remember that these are self-catering holidays. Which means that those staying in the caravans and chalets at Ocean Heights and elsewhere will bring as much as possible of what they need with them. They’ll even fill up with petrol or diesel before leaving home, and might return on the same tank.

The question then becomes – how does the wider community of Ceredigion benefit from tourism like this? And with this model being encouraged all over Wales by the ‘Welsh’ government and local authorities how does Wales benefit?

And as I pointed out in an earlier post, the Scarrotts like to take the money they’ve made out of Wales at the earliest opportunity, with their bankers being in Wiltshire and their accountants and auditors in Coventry. (And it’s the same arrangements for the Barker family.)

Then, when they’re asked to make a contribution to the community in which they operate, through council tax, Tom Scarrott protests that it will ‘devastate’ the local tourism industry. When a tourism tax is mooted, it too will cause ‘devastation’.

Let’s be clear about this. If tourism is an economic activity intended to bring money into a country, and to ensure that that money circulates within the host country bringing the widest possible benefits, then a business model such as that favoured by the Scarrotts should not be tolerated.

That it is tolerated, and worse, encouraged, goes a long way to explaining why tourism fails to deliver anything except clogged roads, tatty ‘attractions’, increased house prices and Anglicisation for our rural areas.

By all means encourage the Welsh family farm to diversify with a small caravan site, but Ocean Heights has more in common with a holiday camp, putting as little as possible into the local community. That’s why I believe large, self-contained caravan parks should be discouraged, and eventually phased out.

If this option is rejected then ways must be found for Ocean Heights and the rest to contribute to their local area, and the means are already available: increased council tax on static caravans that are obviously holiday homes, and a per head, per night, tourism tax.

PLAID CYMRU AND TOURISM

Despite the damage caused by tourism, Plaid Cymru is a big supporter.

Quite how we square Plaid’s commitment to the environment with support for mile after mile of coastal caravan sites,‘Ye Olde’ chippies and amusement arcades, the resultant rubbish, etc., is a mystery.

Equally mysterious is Plaid’s backing for an industry that through its activities and its inescapable corollary of settlement has devastated the bastions of the Welsh language.

I can only conclude that in some areas the tourism lobby is so well organised and vociferous, and Plaid Cymru’s position so weak, that the party has just caved in. Certainly the party opposes a tourism tax, with spokesman Steffan Lewis describing tourism as “the lifeblood of the economy”.

Listen, Steffan, if tourism really is the lifeblood of our economy then we’re as good as dead.

Simon Thomas, the regional AM for Mid and West Wales goes further, and wants to reduce the VAT for tourism. Arguing, “It has been estimated that cutting value added tax in tourism from 20 per cent to 5 per cent would bring £7.6 million to (the constituencies of) Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and £4.5 million to Preseli Pembrokeshire.”

As with so many of the ‘statistics’ produced by the tourism industry these figures are plucked out of thin air.

From studying various statements made by Plaid Cymru people it’s reasonable to conclude that the party has little to offer rural areas other than tourism. Another worrying revelation came in a Twitter exchange I had a couple of weeks back with Ywain Myfyr of Dolgellau which closed with the exchange below.

Ywain was a local headmaster and is a decent guy, heavily involved with the cultural life of the area, through  Sesiwn Fawr and Tŷ Siamas. Which makes his defeatism all the more worrying.

Plaid Cymru’s attitude is unfathomable. Tourism and its corollary will destroy the Fro Gymraeg and with it Plaid Cymru’s heartlands, so by encouraging tourism Plaid Cymru is effectively hastening its own demise!

‘WELSH’ TOURISM, SERVING ENGLAND BETTER THAN WALES

Before concluding, let me make my position clear. I believe there is a role for a tourism component in a broad and diversified economy. But to rely, or over-rely, on tourism is the economics of desperation, or worse.

I challenge anyone to name me one wealthy country that relies for its wealth on tourism.

Take London; tens of millions of tourists visit London (and spend a lot more per head than visitors to Wales) but London’s wealth isn’t generated by tourism. In the bigger picture tourism is just one element.

Or look at our near neighbour, Ireland. I’ve been visiting Ireland off and on for over 50 years, and for most of that time the economy relied to a considerable degree on the tourist pound, dollar, mark or yen, certainly in some of the more rural areas. But the ‘Celtic Tiger’ wasn’t nurtured on tourism.

We can see that tourism brings few benefits to Welsh people, and many problems to Wales, so why is it being promoted as if it was the answer to all our ills?

First, the UK economy is in trouble, and might dive further when Brexit hits. ‘Staycations’, which ensure money stays in the UK, are therefore being encouraged. (The exchange rate also helps.) That’s because most of the money generated by tourism in Wales will make its way to England in one form or another.

So when somebody in London wants more done to attract English tourists to Wales, the message is passed on by the London-controlled civil servants who double up as ‘advisors’ to Carwyn and his gang, and then the directive is repackaged as a “Welsh’ Government initiative”.

WalesOnline headline 8 March 2017

And the ‘Welsh’ Government is glad to do so, because they’ve got no ideas of their own. The same of course applies to Labour’s little helpers in Plaid Cymru. Equally bereft of ideas are our councillors.

This explains why rural and coastal Wales is now a recreation and retirement region for England. And it’s state policy. Because in addition to the economic benefits of staycations tourism has the extra advantage of Anglicising those areas most Welsh in speech and political outlook.

This process is under way from Conwy to Carmarthenshire. Little is done to bring in or encourage the growth of decent jobs, because to do so might make it less easy to fill the minimum wage jobs in tourism, care homes and the like.

Last week we learnt that Welsh workers have the lowest take home pay in the UK. So let’s remind ourselves one last time how Labour and Plaid Cymru plan to make things better – tourism! 

No invective, no hyperbole, no rant from me, could condemn these useless bastards better than they condemn themselves.

Now let’s get our new party started and begin putting things right in our country.

♦ end ♦

 

Oct 222017
 

HOTEL CANCELS BOOKING

The Belle Vue Royal Hotel in Aberystwyth, where I had planned to hold the meeting on November 4th, has cancelled the booking. Here’s an account of what happened, or what might have happened, because I’m not entirely sure.

After an exchange of e-mails with the Belle Vue, confirming that the room was available, I telephoned on Sunday the 15th and paid for it. We agreed an all-in price of £300 for the room and refreshments. That was it, everything was arranged.

Then on Thursday I had a couple of strange e-mails from the hotel suggesting that the payment hadn’t been made, or hadn’t ‘gone through’, and asking for the last four digits of my credit card. This struck me as being rather odd so I checked my bank statement. There was the payment, clear as day.

At almost exactly the same time I began to get tweets from @thomasscarrot. I knew the name because we’d exchanged a few tweets earlier over the possibility of a tourist tax. But this time he was tweeting about the meeting, and making thinly-veiled threats to turn up with some ‘colleagues’. He gave the impression that he planned to disrupt the meeting.

In these tweets he also claimed to know the owner of the Belle Vue Royal Hotel. Inevitably, perhaps, I put two and two together. Read part of the exchange here. The use of a Union Jack emoji I took to be an indication of a certain political outlook.

I made it clear to him more than once that he was not invited and that he should stay away, and that if he did turn up he would be asked to leave.

I e-mailed the Belle Vue again, gave the requested digits from my credit card, and told them about the exchange I was having with Scarrott. The response I received on Thursday you can read for yourself.

I like the wording, “I am aware of Mr Scarrott”. Makes him sound disreputable. But anyway, he doesn’t know the owner of the hotel as he claimed. That’s his first lie.

Later on Thursday I received the e-mail below, together with my receipt.

Then on Friday afternoon came the bombshell. No reason given, no name appended. (I have removed the names from the e-mails above.)

I am in no doubt that the intervention of Thomas Scarrott, whether directly or indirectly, caused the booking to be cancelled. Though I can’t blame the Belle Vue Royal for taking precautions.

To assist in his undermining of our venture Scarrott used the lies peddled by Phil Parry on The Eye. Even finding an old tweet of Parry’s to pass on to a slavering public.

For anyone fortunate enough not to know Phil Parry, he regards himself as a hot-shot investigative journalist who “exposed” my support for the FWA . . . 50 years too late, and after I’d put up photos of Cayo Evans and others on this blog. It’s only a matter of time before he tells us who was on the grassy knoll.

(No, it wasn’t me.)

If you go back to Parry’s woeful piece about me you’ll see a few comments – rare on Parry’s blog unless he writes about me – two being from a Garry W Gibbs. I don’t know Gibbs but it seems I’ve blocked him from this blog, so we must have fallen out over something.

Even so, in his other comment he makes it clear that he regards me as honest. Which I am. In the comment I’ve used below he asks Parry a very important question. Parry claimed in his piece that “some of his (my) victims have been given around-the-clock police protection”. Victims! He can only mean people I’ve written about. Which I suppose would make me a ‘victim’ of his.

Of course he can’t prove it. When he’s not publishing outright lies they’re the fantasies of swivel-eyed bigots like Jacques Protic. If Protic tells Parry there’s a SWAT team stationed around his house 24/7 because of something I’ve written, Parry will write it up. He won’t believe it, but he’ll still write it up because he wants others to believe it.

But enough of that slanderous little scumbag Phil Parry, I’m sure you’re all wondering about Thomas Scarrott. Or to give him his full name, Thomas Harry Shady Scarrott. Apparently Shady really is his name, not an epithet.

THOMAS H S SCARROTT

It looks as if he is now running the family business of Vale Holiday Parks Ltd, having taken over from his father, also Thomas Scarrott. Based at Clarach Bay near Aberystwyth the firm owns a number of sites down as far as Tenby, one in the north at Llanarmon yn Iâl, with another in Cornwall.

I say the firm ‘owns’ a number of sites, but of course they’re all being bought with mortgages. In fact, there is a total of fourteen outstanding mortgages against Vale Holiday Parks Ltd.

Eight of the mortgages cover the caravan sites listed on the company’s website.

There are also mortgages against two sites said to be in or near Llandysul which I can’t find on the internet, Penlon Caravan Park and Glynteg Caravan Park at Cross Inn. (Is there a Cross Inn nearer to Llandysul, or is it the one on the A486 to Cei Newydd?) If they don’t appear on the company website then it’s reasonable to assume that they don’t rent out caravans, so are the ‘vans privately owned, or are these sites used for other purposes?

There’s a mortgage on Red Roses filling station near Whitland, plus another on land near the filling station. Then there’s freehold land to the north of Pendre, Cross Inn, where we can no doubt expect to see yet another blot on the landscape in the very near future, and finally, there’s an all-encompassing debenture.

The company has expanded rapidly since being Incorporated as The Vale Holiday Parks Ltd 19 February 2003.

PANTS ON FIRE!

As the Twitter exchange continued others got involved and it took a number of turns. For example, on first visiting the Companies House website, and checking the latest accounts, I noticed that the company’s auditors are in Coventry and the bankers in Wiltshire.

When I suggested to Scarrott that this was an example of money made in Wales leaving Wales he came up with the most remarkable story. It ran . . . ‘We used to bank in “North Wales” but our manager, from Caernarfon, moved to Wiltshire and so we followed him. The bank manager now is from Cardiff’.

So I went back to the earliest available accounts, those for 2004. And there I saw that the company’s registered office was in Birmingham, the accountants in the same city, and the bankers in Bath. So it would appear that the Scarrotts’ Cofi banker left Wales ere the company was even formed!

By now I was sure that Thomas Scarrott Junior has problems with the truth, or perhaps he just finds it easy to lie.

Soon afterwards our boy came over all shy and blocked everyone. When he re-emerged in the Twittersphere it was clear that he had deleted those tweets he must have realised laid him open to ridicule or worse.

‘DEVASTATING’

The Scarrotts are yet another family that has moved into Wales to make money from tourism. For them, our homeland is just a tourist destination to be exploited. If we complain we get the traditional colonialists’ response: ‘Look at all the good we’re doing for your country!’

The good they’re doing themselves must never be mentioned, nor must the money leaving Wales, or the soaring property prices as tourists decide to settle, with the resultant Anglicisation . . .

You will not be surprised to learn that Thomas H S Scarrott wants his company to contribute as little as possible to the communities in which it operates.

Last year he railed against the heinous decision of Cyngor Ceredigion to raise the council tax on holiday homes. “Ceredigon’s tourism industry could be dealt a devastating blow” he insisted in what Caravan Times described as “a fiery tirade”. Now another dragon appears in the form of a possible tourist tax, and guess what – it too will have “devastating effects”.

I think somebody should tell him that if you over-use a word like devastating you run the risk of giving a number of impressions: 1/ That you have a limited vocabulary, 2/ That you are prone to exaggeration, even lying, 3/ That you’re a selfish bugger who doesn’t care that such taxes – if properly spent – could be of great benefit to the areas worst affected by tourism.

Possibly all three.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

As things stand, we don’t have a room. And to find one big enough for an open meeting on November 4th is going to be difficult at such short notice. Unless of course, someone knows of such a room in Aberystwyth?

Though Scarrott’s intervention and the resultant cancellation could be a blessing in disguise. I always had reservations about an unstructured public meeting. One worry was that we’d have a free-for-all with people talking across each other and everybody trying to promote their pet idea.

Another worry was that with people being able to walk in off the street some nutter would jump up and shout, ‘I knows where we can get guns’ . . . and there’d just happen to be a reporter in the room, or a microphone, or someone who would take the idiot’s message to the world.

Having had experience of agents provacateurs and police spies I know of what I speak, and I know how the bastards operate.

On top of which there are plenty who’d like to see the new party fail to take off, including the leadership of the party that held a conference in Caernarfon over the weekend. Which is why we must tread carefully and give no one the opportunity to damage the project.

The alternative I’m suggesting is a smaller meeting, of invited people, who just lay the foundations, maybe choose a working name, then we recruit members and leave the policy details to the first AGM which can be held early next year.

Doing it this way we’ll know who’s who at the first meeting, after which we advertise the launch, invite applications for membership, vet applications and issue memberships; then motions will be submitted for debate at the AGM, with no one attending the AGM unless they’re a member.

In other words, how other political parties operate.

That’s my thinking. If anyone has other thoughts, then let me know. I would also like to hear from anyone who definitely wants to be at the inaugural meeting, which may not now be in Aberystwyth, nor on November 4th.

But rest assured, the new party will be launched before the year is out.

♦ end ♦

Oct 042017
 

Guest post by: Gwilym ab Ioan

In the early Monday morning hours, the Catalan Government issued statements saying that about 2.3 million Catalans, (42.3% out of 5.3 million eligible voters), of those, 90% cast a ‘yes’ ballot for Independence. Without the violent interference of the ‘national’ Spanish police and civil guard, the Catalan Government estimated that at least 80% of all eligible voters would have cast their ballot.

Clearly, the Spanish Government’s demonstration of ruthless and brute force was, and is, a reminder that in Europa fascism is alive and well, that the spirit of Generalissimo Franco of Spain is not dead. Brussels, miserable, spineless puppets to the transatlantic empire and the European oligarchy, remained shamefully silent – arguing it was a Spanish internal affair, as if Spain, a full member of the EU isn’t a European Union’s ‘internal affair’.

At the end of the day of the Referendum on the first of October, President Rajoy had the audacity to declare literally that there was no referendum taking place in Cataluña. He congratulated and thanked the Spanish police for protecting law and order in Barcelona and elsewhere in Cataluña and their upholding of the Spanish Constitution. Yet snippets (mostly from the ‘alternative’ media) showed and reported all-day long violent police battles against peaceful voters. The forceful, riot-clad Spanish police smashed windows and broke into schools where voting booths were located, attempting to prevent voters from voting; they also removed and destroyed ballot boxes.

At the end of the day nearly 1,000 people – 844 officially – were injured by the ‘national’ police force, deploying extreme violence, by utterly harmful and potentially deadly rubber bullets and batons smashing indiscriminately into non-violent unarmed voters (the “lambs”), including elderly people, women and children. 

There were hundreds of thousands of people, whole families who came with their children to this historic event, some camping since Friday in the schools to make sure that their right to vote was protected.

Since the Catalan police decided a hands-off policy, not to interfere with the referendum, but rather to protect the voters from possible violence, the fascist Rajoy Government sent in police and the civil guard from other parts of Spain to prevent the vote from taking place. Their brutal and excessive violence against unarmed voters was shocking. They clearly had firm instructions to employ their brutality from their masters in Madrid – the very masters that later congratulated them for carrying out their duties. It was a horrible sight to see, especially from those of us who can sympathise with our fellow Celts (The Celtic response to the referendum in Catalonia on independence from Spain) who like us are struggling for their freedom from colonial rule.

President Rajoy lauding the violent police that left hundreds of inured, many seriously wounded, is yet another testimony that fascism and Fascist mentality of some states in Europe is alive and well, and seemingly increasing. Franco’s blood must be running in Rajoy’s veins. Brussels, the headquarters of the European Police state – of the growing European military regime – already today engulfing the bulk of the 28 EU member states, concurred with this violence by remaining disgracefully silent. How much of the true news about this deplorable event did you hear from the British Bullshit Corporation and other conforming ‘official’ puppet news outlets controlled by the governments?

Let’s look a bit closer at some of the reasons behind this horrendous crackdown on people who were merely intent on expressing their opinion – a full human right, according to the UN Charter.

Cataluña with a population of about 7.5 million (out of Spain’s 46 million) and a surface area of about 7% of Spain’s 506,000 km2 contributes about 20% to Spain’s economic output, produces 25% of Spain’s exports, receives 23.5% of Spain’s foreign tourist revenue, and 57% of Spain’s foreign investments. There is a lot to lose by Cataluña’s secession. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Re. North Sea oil, Welsh coal, water & steel, etc.

Cataluña today receives about 1,800 euros per capita in tax devolution from Madrid, but contributes at least double that amount to the Spanish Treasury. This imbalance has long been a sore thumb in the relations between Barcelona and Madrid. But Rajoy’s PP (Partido Popular) Government has always staunchly refused any dialogue for more autonomy and more financial justice. We in Cymru get Objective 1 handouts from Brussels, they go to Westminster, the money is raided and manipulated and what gets handed over to us does not reflect the amounts we are supposed to get. Add to that what’s then stolen by Charismatic Carwyn & Co. for pet projects and handouts to the third sector cronies and finally what’s jackaled by ‘consultants’ and it doesn’t take a lot of neuron power to realise why our impoverished areas continue in the same boat of abstract hopelessness.

Spain’s northern Basque Region fought for decades (1959-2011) for independence. The Spain-ETA armed political conflict, also known as the Basque National Liberation Movement, caused hundreds of violent deaths. When they finally reached disarmament and a peace agreement in 2011 with the central government in Madrid, they settled for a considerably fairer fiscal agreement with Madrid.

Looking at history, Cataluña became part of Spain in the 15th Century under King Felipe VI and Queen Isabella. In the 20th Century, under the Spanish Republic, Cataluña with, like us, her own culture and language, received full autonomy in 1932. It was abolished by Franco, when he came to power in 1938. After Franco’s death in 1975, Cataluña regained temporary autonomy which lapsed in 2006, when a Spanish High Court challenged the Statute of Autonomy and ruled some articles of the Statute ‘unconstitutional’. That was the time when the most recent Catalan Independence Movement began. Since then several mock referenda took place, including the latest in 2014, when 80% of those who voted (about 30% of eligible voters) opted for independence.

The 1st of October 2017 Referendum was the first serious attempt at secession since 2006. Though not conforming with the Spanish Constitution, the forceful and violent suppression of the people’s freedom of expression – was a grave human rights abuse. It will most likely backfire – badly. I hope it does.

This fierce oppression by Madrid, the unwillingness for dialogue, has definitely turned most Catalans against Madrid and for independence. A few weeks ago the polls in Cataluña indicated a close call with a slight edge for those who wanted to remain with Spain. After threats from Madrid for weeks and the violent police crackdown of this latest election, at least 80% of eligible Catalan voters now seek independence. A similar trend could be found within Spain. A couple of months ago, 10% to 20% of Spaniards were neutral or favoured independence for Cataluña. After this police fiasco, close to half of Spaniards are in solidarity with their Catalan neighbours and support Cataluña’s independence. Perhaps there’s a lesson there for those of us struggling to gain our own independence.

The fight is by no means over after Madrid’s violent attempted oppression of the vote. History’s course is often changed by just one event. What will be ours one wonders?

Addendum

Brychan’s comment below, with a link to a speech by Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy deserves more than just a link. Here’s a video clip of it directly embedded into this post:

Didn’t hear anything like that from the British Bullshit Ccorporation or any of the other ‘mainstream’ government (false) media outlets did you? Do you wonder why? Or are you still sleep-walking with your hands over your ears?

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 ♦

Sep 192017
 

TWENTY YEARS ON

We are currently celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the referendum that gave us devolution. Ron Davies described it at the time as “a process not an event”, but little if any progress has been made.

In yesterday’s Llais y Sais Ron Davies was allowed to explain why he thinks devolution has failed to deliver, why it has not improved the lives of Welsh people. This seems to have been a print version of what he said the day before on radio (06:00) and television (15:26).

Llais y Sais allowed Carwyn Jones to respond, and his response was pathetic; hiding behind the shade of Rhodri Morgan and talking of increased powers rather than addressing the point raised by Ron Davies, which was that Wales is worse off today – in terms of wealth, health, education and other indices – than she was 20 years ago ergo devolution has failed to deliver. Few outside the Bay Bubble would disagree with Ron Davies.

But lurking in the shadows I perceive another threat, an existential threat to the continuing existence of Wales. A threat made easier to carry out because devolution has failed and because so many people in certain parts of Wales feel that devolution has delivered nothing for their area.

FERRY ‘CROSS THE MERSEY . . . AND MOVING TO BANGOR

Unlike Ireland and Scotland Wales does not have geography or topography on her side, we have a long border with England  and all but one of England’s major population centres are within two hours travelling time of Wales.

This plan for a ‘North Wales Metro’ rather gives the game away (click to enlarge)

Which made it relatively easy for Roman, Norman and English invaders to detach the more fertile, lowland areas from our control, largely confining our ancestors to the uplands. That Welsh nationhood survived was largely due to the fact that Wales had little else invaders coveted.

This helped preserve Welsh identity until the arrival of industrialisation, which impacted on areas that were overwhelmingly Welsh in character, and while the new-found prosperity naturally attracted immigrants these were largely assimilated. But time, an English education system, the resultant decline of the Welsh language, colonisation, tourism, lack of national leadership and other factors have taken their toll, to the point where plans are now being drawn up to finally do away with Wales altogether by dismembering our country.

Of course, these plans will never be called by their true name, they will always be presented as being ‘beneficial to Wales’.

Let’s start in the north east. The decline started with the arrival of the railways, and with them mass tourism. The Rhyl station of the Chester & Holyhead Railway Co opened on 1 May 1848. In the more industrial areas closer to the border Anglicisation took a different form with the importation of English workers and the banning of the Welsh language. Perhaps the most notorious example were the events that provoked the Mold Riots of 1869.

Despite it all, the north east remained Welsh, but it was inevitable that the factors I’ve mentioned eventually took their toll. The Flintshire of Daniel Owen, David Lloyd and Emlyn Williams is gone, replaced by what can often be mistaken for semi-rural suburbs of Merseyside.

Rhyl, the once-bustling holiday resort, is now a dumping ground for English criminals, with the town’s streets haunted by drug-addicts and their dealers. (The only plus would appear to be that the gangsters are killing each other quite regularly.) The same fate has befallen smaller communities on the north coast. And as this chaos wreaks havoc on Welsh communities Welsh politicians have done nothing.

So we arrive at the point where someone asks, ‘Oh dear, what can we do to ‘revitalise’ this region? I know! we’ll have closer cross-border co-operation.’ This was certainly the recommendation of the ‘Welsh’ Government’s City Regions Task and Finish Group’s Final Report, the group chaired by Elizabeth Haywood.

Who is Elizabeth Haywood? You don’t remember voting for this woman who wants to dismember Wales? Of course you never voted for her, nobody did; she’s Mrs Peter Hain, or Lady Hain, I suppose, since the Orange Man was ennobled. (You really should get all silly ideas about democracy and accountability out of your head, they’ll only confuse you in one-party Wales.)

The Mersey Dee Alliance to which Lady Hain refers is a body that has been in existence for some time, though it seems to have a strange idea of Welsh geography, or to go by this map that appeared on the MDA website it doesn’t accept the existence of Wales at all.

The prospect of our north east (or the whole north) being swallowed up by north west England would be bad enough, but as I explained last month in Gwynedd LDP, and Wider Considerations, the threat is not restricted to the old unitary authority of Clwyd.

Nor is this encroachment, this gradual takeover, confined to the north. If anyone was in any doubt about that, then statements made over the past few days should have made the threat very clear.

ENGLAND’S LITTLE MOUTHPIECE

One of the great conundrums of Welsh politics concerns the role of Secretary of State for Wales, and boils down to the question: ‘Is the Secretary of State for Wales the voice of Wales in the cabinet or the voice of the cabinet in Wales?’

Different Secretaries of State have provided different answers, but the current incumbent of that post, Alun Cairns MP, is most definitely – and perhaps more emphatically than any predecessor – the voice of the cabinet in Wales. Little more than a mouthpiece, but because he is a mouthpiece, we can more easily tell the plans of those who put the words into his mouth.

The thinking in London towards Wales now seems to come in two parts – gradually undo devolution and then dismember Wales.

On the first element of that dual-thrust approach I call to the witness stand Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales. The heading gives a clue to the content in “Brexit: Carwyn Jones objects to ‘hijack of devolved powers'”,  or “Ministers in London are trying to get the power to rewrite laws made in Wales – Carwyn Jones”, and a host of similar articles to be found on the internet.

Just about everyone outside of the Conservative and Unionist Party believes that Brexit will provide the excuse for Westminster to a) withhold powers repatriated from the EU, and b) ‘retrieve’ powers already devolved. While those inside the party know it but won’t openly admit it.

Even so, the clues come thick and fast. Alun Cairns was given a lot of space in Llais y Sais – with David Williamson serving as his amanuensis – to promote the idea of Cardiff detaching itself from Wales and linking up with Bristol in a Severnside region. (For some reason I can’t find the piece on the WalesOnline site.)

To ram home the message Llais y Sais chipped in with an editorial, one that went beyond Bristol to “the string of cities along the M4” which of course take us to London.

click to enlarge

I was so vexed by what I read, and incensed by the lies spouted by Cairns, that I took the unusual step of putting out a short post on my Facebook page.

On Monday morning Cairns maintained his assault on honesty with the claim that too much power is centralised in Cardiff . . . and this, remember, is the voice of the Conservative and Unionist Party that wants to centralise even more power in London!

Some might be tempted to agree with him, until they remember there’s little real power in Cardiff because Wales lacks an effective form of devolution. Of course, most people would agree that Cardiff gets more than its fair share of investment and jobs, and it was this resentment that Cairns hoped to tap into.

But let’s take him at his word. He says he wants to devolve power to the regions, he even talks of elected mayors. So would Wil Pughe of Llanfair Caereinion, like his counterparts in London and Manchester, have power over policing? Would Wil – as he has long desired – have control over local PCSO Cerys Evans?

Having one day advocated a Severnside region Cairns pushes on with a back-of-a-fag-packet suggestion masking a deeper message – ‘Devolution isn’t working for most of Wales. In fact, devolution isn’t working at all – let’s get rid of it.’

“Give power to the regions” is something trotted our regularly by the Tories, but it displays no real concern for the regions at all, it’s just a method of doing away with devolution and undermining our sense of nationhood.

DIVIDED, DISMEMBERED, DESTROYED

What of the areas left outside the shining megalopolis of ManPool and the ‘string of cities’ from Cardiff to London?

The remainder of the northern coastal strip along the A55, or those areas not being used to house drug addicts and criminals from over the border, or serving as geriatric ghettoes, will become commuter communities, even over the bridge onto Ynys Môn, as I found out by accident.

For when trawling the internet I often turn up things I wasn’t looking for, such as the map below, produced by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners. They know that there are three Strategic Development Areas (or Strategic Planning Areas) for Wales, the two city regions and the A55 Corridor. I found a number of other references to the A55 Corridor: here’s one, here’s another.

All the sources tell us that these three SDAs/SPAs will be brought into existence by the Planning (Wales) Act 2015, which received Royal Assent on July 6.

click to enlarge

So why, two years on, are the chattering classes only talking of the two city regions? Is the A55 Corridor a dirty secret being proceeded with by stealth? Interestingly, one feature demanded by a SDA/SPA is joint Local Development Plans, which might explain why Gwynedd and Ynys Môn were recently required to produce one.

The area between the A55 Corridor and the urban south is to become one vast recreation and retirement area for England, offering everything from granny farms and zip wires to Cheshire-sur-Mer (Abersoch), the Birmingham Riviera (Cardigan Bay), and Bear Grylls parting suckers from their money with his ‘get-muddy-and-pretend-you’re-in-the-SAS!’ bollocks.

With assorted ‘Care’ bodies, probation companies and housing associations taking in England’s decrepit, dysfunction, delinquent and downright criminal. For housing ex-cons pays well.

The Valleys are to endure yet more managed decline, the Swansea region will be offered scraps from Cardiff’s table, while Cardiff itself expands and grows fat through exploiting its capital status but simultaneously playing the English provincial city, increasingly linked to Bristol and “the string of cities along the M4”.

Cardiff being a player in Severnside will be welcomed by those Cardiff politicians, such as Russell Goodway, who have always wanted Cardiff to enjoy all the benefits of being capital of Wales while looking down their noses at everything Welsh.

Result: Wales enfeebled, fragmented and exploited as never before. There can only be one outcome.

WHO CAN WE TRUST?

It should go without saying that we cannot trust an individual, or a political party, that has allowed this situation to develop.

Wales is being assaulted from all sides, yet Carwyn Jones may be motivated by loss of prestige rather than the loss of nationhood, or maybe it’s the thought of his party losing its vast network of patronage that moves him to stand alongside Nicola Sturgeon.

The Tories of course are driving this project and they’ll be supported by Ukip. As for the Lib Dems, well, who cares? Which leaves only Plaid Cymru.

Seeing as the destruction of Wales has little to do with Donald Trump, refugees, or trans-gender toilets, and is only tangentially connected with another of Plaid’s current obsessions, Brexit, it would be unrealistic to expect any opposition from Plaid Cymru.

In addition, Plaid Cymru is unsuited for the coming fight because, being a civic nationalist party that welcomes everyone (especially those with ‘ishoos’) – and by so doing supports the colonialist system that sees Wales exporting talent and importing problems – it is psychologically incapable of standing up in a struggle in which it will have to be said, ‘No, you’re not dumping any more of your problems in our country!’

And yet, one doesn’t even need to be a nationalist, or a believer in independence, to become involved in the forthcoming struggle. All that’s needed is the belief that Wales is a nation, with a defined and accepted territory, and that both must be respected.

But our enemies are gathering, they’ve laid their plans, they’ve even told us their plans, so we must resist.

Are you up for the coming fight?

♦ end ♦

Sep 112017
 

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

The latest mega-project to be promised to the Heads of the Valleys is the Merthyr Ski Slope. But the goodies don’t end with just a ski slope, no, sir! for according to WalesOnline and Siôn Barry:

“The proposals also include plans for:

  • The largest indoor water park in the UK alongside an indoor surf simulator
  • An indoor bike and skate park
  • An equestrian centre
  • A survivor adventure park, aimed at families and for corporate team bonding, as well as an air park and zipline
  • Log cabin and yurt accommodation
  • Two new hotels, with spa and conference facilities, as well as retail and restaurant units
  • An element of residential development”

Grizzled old men up on Dowlais Top have dreamed all their lives of just one of these coming to Merthyr, and now they all arrive together!

WHO’S BEHIND IT?

According to Siôn Barry, behind this realisation of so many dreams we find a company called Marvel Ltd, which has “signed an agreement with Snowsport Cymru Wales”. Marvel is represented by Leigh Large and Snowsport Cymru/Wales by Robin Kellen. So what do we know about these two?

Picture courtesy of WalesOnline. Does the body language tell us anything?

Let’s start with Kellen and Snowsport Cymru/Wales. Kellen lives in Cardiff and is the Secretary of this organisation that began life back in 1994 as The Ski Council of Wales. As far as I can see skiing has been his life, so it’s no surprise to see him involved.

Leigh Large of Marvel Ltd is less easy to figure, and although he’s Canadian I can’t find any evidence of him being involved in winter sports. Not only Canadian but a true son of the Commonwealth, for he has business interests in the British Virgin Islands, where I’m sure winter sports are less popular than back home.

According to Siôn Barry, “Utilising an existing mountain at the site, which Marvel acquired in 2013, it would be the longest indoor ski facility in the UK, eclipsing the 180-metre slope at Chill Factore in Manchester.”

After reading that I thought to myself, how did Marvel “acquire” the site in 2013, and from whom? Come to that, who or what is Marvel? All good questions, with answers in very short supply.

This is the only Marvel Ltd I could find on the Companies House website. But Large has no connection with this company. There are many dozens of companies with ‘Marvel’ appearing somewhere in the name but I didn’t have time to go through them all, so I took a different course.

LEIGH GERALD LARGE

Searching the Companies House website for Leigh Large I came up with Leigh Gerald Large. One company of which he’s a director is K10 Apprenticeships Ltd (formerly Reds 10 Trading Ltd). It was here I learnt he was Canadian, but I was surprised to read that he lived in Norway.

Maybe someone can wade through this Charge taken out with LGT Capital Invest (Ireland) Ltd and explain why a company with a net book value of £12,510 needed a global investment outfit like LGT?

The next company on the list is Spruce Fields Ltd. Large is the sole director and owner of the company. His country of residence is now given as Canada. The other two directors resigned 12 July 2017. One was Perry Johnson of Merthyr.

Next up is Crystalrock Ltd, involved in the buying and selling of real estate. Although the company’s address is in Essex, there are some Welsh connections. Among former directors are William Derek Snowdon of Llwyn y Brain Mawr Farm, Creigiau, Leighton Michael Davies of Aberdare, and Perry Johnson, again.

Large became a director on 27 August 2010, the day Snowdon and Davies resigned, with Johnson providing the continuity.

Snowdon, Davies and Johnson are also directors of Merthyr Tydfil Football Club Ltd, a company currently docked up Shit Creek.

Late development: Compulsory strike-off proceedings have begun against Crystalrock Ltd. Posted on Companies House website September 11, dated September 12.

The next company linked with Leigh Gerald Large is Pine Fields Private Ltd, also in real estate. Large was a director 24 August 2010 to 11 July 2017, and we also find Perry Johnson (24 August 2010 – 8 February 2013).

On the same day, July 5, that Large ceased to be “a person with significant control” the company was transferred to the ownership of Cherry Blossom Global Ltd . . . of the British Virgin Islands.

Pine Fields bought up two parcels of land which may now be part of the planned project. The first, in August 2011, was land at Heolgerrig for £450,000. Then, in October 2012, there was a purchase of land to the north of Upper Colliers Row (Land Registry title number CYM536607).

Though, confusingly, Crystalrock is said to have bought the same land at Heolgerrig in July 2010. Certainly the same title number is quoted, CYM457235. The figure given is £350,000.

I suspect it’s explained below. The land went from Merthyr Village Ltd (of which more below) to Crystalrock, and then on to Pine Fields.

The penultimate company we’ll look at is Impara Ltd, in the management consultancy business. Large and Johnson both joined the company 14 June 2011. Johnson left 23 April 2012 but Large stayed on until 11 July 2017. In April 2017 Impara also moved to the BVI.

From May 2012 Impara owes Cherry Blossom Global Ltd for land lying to the south of Miners Row, Aberdare, over the hill from the planned ski slope. Title numbers WA951436 and WA948019.

Finally – and something of a departure, this – we come to the Loughton Care Centre Ltd in Essex. Large was a director from 25 November 2011 to 8 September 2014. During his time there the company was owned by Pear Blossom Global Ltd, until it was transferred in December 2016 to Gibson Propco Ltd, a holding company.

You will have noticed that there are a lot of trees in these company names. I suppose spruce and pine might remind a Canadian of home, whereas cherry and pear might put him in mind of warmer climes, perhaps the British Virgin Islands?

But I could make no connection between Leigh Gerald Large and a company with ‘Marvel’ in the name.

LAND

Among the many companies with which William Derek Snowdon of Creigiau has been involved we find property company Merthyr Village Ltd which, despite the name, is now registered in Essex. Snowdon was a director from 10 August 2000 until 20 September 2012.

The company is now run by sole director Richard Frank Arnold of Essex . . . who at various times has also been a director of those other companies we’ve just looked at: Spruce Fields, Pine Fields, Impara and Crystalrock.

Others involved with Merthyr Village at various times were the Holloway clan, who were or still are also directors of Merthyr Tydfil Football Club.

Merthyr Village is in debt to the tune of almost two million pounds, and was briefly put in the hands of Receivers in September 2014. But while it might be cash poor it could be asset rich.

Some years ago, and only so as to make the land safe, you understand, Merthyr Village wanted to remove 1.2 million tonnes of coal. Ungrateful locals misinterpreted this as an open cast mining scheme by stealth.

So who owns Merthyr Village now? Here’s the latest list of shareholders available on the Companies House website, dated 24 June 2016. Let’s go through it and account for the 11,268 shares, but ignoring shareholders with 100 shares or less.

(Though one name that caught my eye among the smaller shareholders was Paul Sugrue.)

Here’s the breakdown: Victor Johnson 501 shares; Kaykem Fast Foods Ltd 309; Gary Charles Newell 1,047; Orange Blossom Global Ltd 3,245; Derek Saddler 252; William Derek Snowdon (T/A Commercial Legal Solutions) 4,944. With Snowdon owning a further 92 shares in his own name. So who are these shareholders?

Victor Johnson is Victor Herbert Johnson, with companies in Swansea and Llanelli. Kaykem Fast Foods is run by a Turkish family, and may at one time have owned part of the Rhydycar West land. Gary Charles Newell turned up nothing on Companies House, but this Canadian fits the bill. Orange Blossom Global Ltd is clearly another of the ‘tree’ companies based on the BVI, and is probably Leigh Gerald Large. Derek Saddler is unknown. William Derek Snowdon we’ve already met.

I’m still not absolutely clear which company now owns the land involved, certainly it’s not the company quoted by Siôn Barry, Marvel Ltd, unless this is a new entity or a name change yet to be registered with Companies House. But that may not matter so much, for we certainly know the principal players.

Let’s proceed on the assumption that the site is still owned by Merthyr Village Ltd. (Though ownership could have transferred to one of the BVI companies.)

HOW DOES IT FIT TOGETHER?

I believe the 538 acres of land at Rhydycar West was originally owned by Celtic Energy, but then passed to Merthyr Village Ltd, a reassuring name with strong connections to the area and the town’s football club.

So how and when did the Canadian Leigh Gerald Large get involved?

The earliest link I can find for Large with anyone based in Wales comes through Pine Fields Private Ltd, now of the British Virgin Islands. Incorporated 24 August 2010 with Large and Perry Johnson as founding directors. Johnson, as a director of Merthyr Tydfil Football Club Ltd, could have introduced Large to others who were both directors of the football club and Merthyr Village, which owned the Rhydycar West site.

On 30 October 2013 the last two football-connected directors of Merthyr Village left, and on the same day Richard Frank Arnold of Essex joined, and has been the sole director ever since.

A few days after Pine Fields was set up Large joined Crystalrock where Davies, Johnson and Snowdon had been directors since the early days back in 2004. Arnold became a director on the same day and left 28 March 2013. At various times Arnold has been a director of two other companies with which Large is or was involved; Impara and Spruce Fields.

Another name connected with a number of Large’s companies is William John Handley of East Sussex, an accountant and a director of 69 companies. One of those he owns is West Wales (Property Investment) Ltd, which seems to have been dormant since it was set up in 1987.

What might have started as a few well-connected locals dreaming of making big bucks from property deals seems now to have been taken over by outsiders with a partiality for the British Virgin Islands and other ways of doing business that are less than transparent.

The one person with a Welsh address who has any substantial holding – in fact, he’s the largest shareholder in Merthyr Village – is William Derek Snowdon of Llwyn y Brain Mawr farm, Creigiau, Cardiff. Snowdon, a solicitor, who was suspended by his professional body last year “for having no proper accounting system”.

This might explain why there was no public announcement of Snowdon’s involvement in the project. Then again, his company might simply be holding shares for someone else.

I suggest that because if we refer back to the list of Merthyr Village shareholders we see that Snowdon has 92 shares in his own name. These I believe are his. Whereas the much bigger holding of 4,944 shares are listed as “William Snowdon (T/A Commercial Legal Solutions)”. These could belong to someone else.

For example, if most of these Commercial Legal Solutions shares belong to Leigh Gerald Large then, together with his Orange Blossom Global Ltd holding of 3,245 shares, he is the majority shareholder.

Come to that, and given his travails with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, is Snowdon’s company Commercial Legal Solutions still in business and entitled to hold shares for anybody? If not, shouldn’t the information available on the Companies House website be updated?

Finally, I suspect that the other man in the picture above, Robin Kellen, of Snowsport Cymru/Wales, has been roped in because, well, if you want to promote a project built around a ski slope it helps to have somebody on board who knows something about skiing.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

The gushing piece by Siôn Barry told us that the company behind the Merthyr ski slope project is Marvel Ltd. But it’s not, so what company does Canadian Leigh Gerald Large represent?

The piece I’ve referred to made no mention of public funding for this project, but we can almost guarantee that public funding will be demanded – and lots of it! To avoid another Circuit of Wales I suggest that the ‘Welsh’ Government (and perhaps also Merthyr Borough Council) makes it clear from the outset that there will be no public funding for this project.

Circuit of Wales, a warning from the very recent past . . . and very close by

If the ‘Welsh’ Government has already promised funding then it needs to explain why it has got involved with so many iffy characters and tax-haven companies.

Someone might also like to do some digging into the roles played by Richard Frank Arnold and William John Handley.

JAC SAYS . . .

The Barry piece says of the project, “it would be the longest indoor ski facility in the UK, eclipsing the 180-metre slope at Chill Factore in Manchester”, without, apparently, understanding the difference.

In a conurbation like Greater Manchester there are a few hundred thousand people earning good money in a diversified economy. This gives these people and their families a considerable amount in disposable income, some of which they will spend on entertainment and leisure, such as that provided by the Chill Factore.

Leisure and entertainment in a city like Manchester is additional to, and dependent upon, a vibrant and diversified economy. But here in Wales the ‘Welsh’ Government wants to cut out the economy bit and go straight to the leisure part, using it as a substitute for an economy.

Or, to look at it in a wider context; the low wage – and often seasonal – jobs provided by leisure facilities will be in Wales while the jobs paying the good money, enabling people to enjoy those facilities, will be in England. This is using Wales as England’s playground.

This project suggested for Merthyr is simply the latest in a long line of major leisure developments hailed as the economic salvation of Wales. In the north we have Surf Snowdoniazip wires everywhere, even giant trampolines underground in Blaenau.

Planned for the south we have the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. (Which I’ve written about.) While someone else hopes to give us yet another outdoor pursuits centre, this one near Carmarthen.

And what do they all have in common? They’re all foreign owned, the top jobs always go to outsiders, leaving the shitty, low-paid jobs for the natives. Classic colonialism. Yet to the ‘Welsh’ Government this is an economy, this is the future.

To cap it all, the ‘Welsh’ Government is proposing to remove almost all restrictions on access to the countryside. In other words, ramblers, canoeists, anyone, can come to Wales and do what they damn well like. The proposal has been welcomed by a host of English organisations such as The Open Spaces Society and Cycling UK.

Once again the ‘Welsh’ Government is prepared to legislate not for Wales and the Welsh but for the benefit of the English who regard Wales as their playground. A Labour administration will do this because it cares nothing for the countryside and has no better ideas, while it will be supported by Plaid Cymru because Plaid always grovels to the English middle classes.

The consultation period runs until the end of September. Make your objection to Wales being destroyed in order that strangers can ‘enjoy’ our homeland. You might also tell those clowns down Cardiff docks to back off from the idiocy that’s proposed for Rhydycar, and those behind it.

This has been a very complicated piece to write, so if I’ve made a mistake, please let me know. And if anyone has further information, then just send it to editor@jacothenorth.net.

♦ end ♦

Sep 062017
 

‘I can hear the rumblin’ river as it rushes underground’

Those of you familiar with 60s folk music will know that the title of this piece is shared with a great song by Tom Paxton, a song in which he articulated the growing anger he sensed among disparate elements in the 1960s USA.

For the halcyon days of the 1950s were over, gone with their jobs for all. In the inner cities and the Deep South black people were being influenced by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jnr, and taking their destiny into their own hands. And as President Johnson sent more and more troops to south east Asia the anti-war movement grew in size and determination. America was in a ferment, from which it became impossible for anyone to insulate themselves, black or white, rich or poor, north, south, east or west.

Which probably explains why we saw an explosion of folk singers trying to articulate or capitalise on the zeitgeist. Though, musically, the 1960s was a difficult time for me; the golden era of early Rock was over, Buddy Holly was dead, and so was Eddie Cochran, while Little Richard seemed to alternate between searching for God and being searched for by the men in white coats. Fortunately, I had by then journeyed back to Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Country roots, with Folk providing another distraction from the horrors of the Beatles and the Beach Boys.

Though as I say, it wasn’t easy. For a start, I was in love with Joan Baez (and couldn’t figure out what she saw in that weird little git, ‘Dylan’). Then there was Judy Collins, and Joni Mitchell – it was great to be alive! The problem was of course that while I loved the music and the singers, I opposed the political sentiments expressed. For I supported the USA in Vietnam, Young Jac had bought into the Domino Theory.

But of all the folk singers of that era none had Tom Paxton’s range. People know his songs for children, such as Goin’ To The Zoo and The Marvellous Toy. Then there are his love songs, including the one everybody’s covered, Last Thing On My Mind, though my favourite remains My Lady’s A Wild Flying Dove.

Of course there are political songs, but even some of these are done with humour; Daily NewsWhat Did You Learn In School Today? Others songs are fun commentaries on life, a favourite of mine is Annie’s Going To Sing Her Song. It reminds me of the Swansea pubs of my youth, where there was always some old bird who’d insist on singing . . . whether anybody wanted to hear her or not. (Sophie Tucker renditions were particularly popular, I recall.)

Finally there are those Paxton songs about life, or death, that just make you think. Try I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound, and Jimmy Newman. The latter is a very strange song, but often held up as a musical companion to All Quiet on the Western Front.

‘I can hear a thousand voices making ready for a fight’

So why did I choose that particular Tom Paxton song? Because I sense a mood abroad, a growing belief that Wales is being screwed and we are being lied to. There seems to be an increasing realisation that politicians and their corrupt system – including devolution – have no answers, and may even be the cause of the problem. It almost goes without saying that we no longer trust the mainstream media or any representatives of traditional authority.

I have not known these sentiments to be so widely shared since the 1960s.

The one big difference today from the 1960s is of course that Plaid Cymru is not benefiting from this mood. Back then the national resurgence encouraged by Tryweryn, Aberfan and the Investiture resulted in an upsurge in support for Plaid Cymru, but this time around, after 50 years of Plaid Cymru failure, many have concluded that if not part of the problem, then Plaid certainly isn’t part of the solution either.

We are therefore in uncharted territory.

Another factor contributing to this strange combination of confusion and anger is that we are seeing attacks on the Welsh language from quarters that many had hitherto regarded as friendly, or certainly not hostile. From bastions of left-liberal orthodoxy such as the Guardian and Newsnight.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has proved to be another disappointment. He has certainly disappointed Welsh Remainers through his understanding that if Labour is not to become the unelectable party of the chattering classes and ethnic minorities it needs to reconnect with the English working class.

An English working class that is more aggressively and intolerantly English than at any time in living memory. A mood that has spilt over the border to encourage those among us of a BritNat or anti-Welsh mentality.

Wales needs a new voice, but where will that voice come from? And knowing that actions speak louder than words, how do we leave the enemies of Wales in no doubt about our refusal to accept the destruction of our country?

‘And I guess it’s up to me because we’ve given up on you’

The mood I’m describing runs from frustration in some to real anger in others. What unites them is a realisation that Wales is going nowhere with the current system, or with the existing political parties and politicians, except backwards.

Literally, for not only is the UK government trying to avoid devolving powers ‘repatriated’ from the EU but behind the scenes Englandandwales organisations are spreading their tentacles, making a mockery of devolution, and slowly but surely absorbing Wales into England.

Look around Wales today and everywhere our country is both less Welsh and poorer than it was when we voted for devolution 20 years ago. How did this happen, for devolution was supposed to serve the interests of the Welsh people?

It happened because the interests of the geographical area of Wales were allowed to become divorced from those of her people, to the point where politicians and other liars can argue that a policy or an initiative is ‘good for Wales’ yet closer examination reveals that it may indeed benefit somebody but that ‘somebody’ is rarely Welsh.

It’s called colonialism, and history is full of such examples. I bet that in the 1870s Indians on the Great Plains witnessing the destruction of their way of life were told, ‘But look at the money all these buffalo hides bring into the region . . . you ungrateful bastards’.

As I say, this outcome can only be achieved by divorcing a people from its territory, then insisting that the territory in question belongs to everybody, and that’s because it was terra incognita ere the arrival of the enlightened colonialist bringing ‘progress and prosperity’. (They invariably go together.)

In Wales this progress and prosperity will take many forms: managed decline, zip wires, new housing we can’t afford or don’t need, having England’s decrepit, dysfunctional and delinquent dumped on us, and seeing what were once Welsh universities engaged in a race to the bottom. All designed to increase the numbers of strangers in our country, make Wales less Welsh, and slowly assimilate Wales into England.

Any attempt to defend or promote Welshness against this ‘progress and prosperity’ will be decried as ‘racist’, even ‘backward-looking’. (Always amusing to hear this from the English Right and the London redtops.)

A slander made easier to lay by the position taken by Plaid Cymru. For the Party of Wales is more afraid of being labelled ‘racist’ by the Guardian than it is of its national executive being filmed in a drug-fuelled orgy with rent boys and under age girls in William Morgan’s old gaff.

And the rise of the Right across the Western world has made Plaid Cymru shy away even more from promoting Welsh interests. Which further emboldens our enemies.

So the system grinds on almost unchecked.

‘I’ve been listening to some people and one thing I understand’

Or it did until relatively recently.

But as I’ve suggested, there is a mood abroad; a mood that rejects much of what we have been asked to accept in devolved Wales. Not that there is anything anarchistic or nihilistic about this mood, it is simply a realisation and a rejection of the prevailing corruption.

A growing belief that Wales is dying before our eyes. Or, more truthfully, being killed off.

If you want to see this mood, then look at recent developments such YesCymru, consider the outcry against the Ring of Steel planned for Flint castle, and not just the responses to the recent attacks on the Welsh language from the GuardianNewsnight and elsewhere but where the responses came from.

The internet and social media are of course vital in encouraging this mood. I like to think that this blog plays its part. Fortunately I’m not alone, there are a number of good sites out there. One I’ve mentioned before is Nation.Cymru, which came up trumps again recently.

On the first of this month Dylan Iorwerth, a respected journalist, argued that immigration into Welsh-speaking areas must be halted. In other words he is calling for measures to stop English people moving into Wales. Of course this has been said before . . . and it has always provoked a violent reaction from within Wales and without.

Perhaps the most famous example would be the response to Gwynedd councillor Seimon Glyn’s call, back in 2001, to curb English immigration, for which he was pilloried in the English media. As a result, his party leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, was severely mauled over the issue on Question Time, by Glenys Kinnock.

Not long before, Plaid Cymru vice-president Gwilym ab Ioan was thrown off the party’s national executive for saying that Wales was being used as a dumping ground for England’s elderly, misfits and oddballs.

What I’ve found strange is that there has been no reaction from politicians or media to Dylan Iorwerth’s call to halt English immigration. Why might that be?

Could it be that it’s now generally accepted that there is massive and damaging immigration into the Fro Gymraeg? And if the phenomenon is undeniable then it’s best not to discuss it and stir things up further? Maybe others sense this mood I’m alluding to?

‘A great flood is a-rising fast and there’s a rumbling in the land’

If I’m right, then what’s the best way to capitalise on this mood?

For a start, I suggest that we stop fighting battles that have nothing to do with Wales, or else are beyond our power to influence. One example being those idiots who want President Trump to be impeached or removed by force. I call them idiots because achieving that objective would give the extreme Right the excuse to reject the democratic process altogether and take up arms. (And they have a hell of a lot more guns than their opponents.)

Such distractions are usually the result of ideology. Which is why there can be no place for ideology or dogma in the future struggle. Anyone trying to introduce ideology, or to promote issues external to Wales, must be dealt with, and dealt with ruthlessly. For such people are the enemies of Wales.

Equally dangerous are those who slink in the shadows, whispering, trying to get the more headstrong involved in violence. Also root them out and deal with them.

At this critical juncture Wales needs unity of purpose. As yet, we don’t need a new political party, but we do need a movement. This movement needs to coalesce from the disparate groups and individual voices found on social media and other forums.

We must promote what strengthens and advances Welsh identity, and combat everything that threatens it; all the while accepting that full independence is the only guarantee of the long term survival of Welsh national identity.

In the short term the agenda or strategy could be reduced to a simple Good / Bad list. That which is good for Wales is supported, that which is bad for Wales is opposed.

But if an issue is needed, where widespread support could surely be guaranteed, it would be a campaign to reform how housing operates in Wales. To take planning matters away from the Planning Inspectorate, to reduce the input from Wimpey, Redrow and the rest, to ensure local allocations in social housing, to demand local markets – such as operate on the Channel Islands – reserving most properties for locals.

Or to put it simply: a housing sector serving Welsh needs and interests.

If we cannot get together, sinking our various differences, to agree on a housing campaign such as that, then I’ve misjudged things completely, and there is no mood for radical change.

That’s my contribution. I now suggest that those reading this Think It Over (That’s Buddy Holly, not Tom Paxton.)

P.S. I am not putting myself forward for any role in any movement, my days of activism are long past.

♦ end ♦