Jan 132018
 

Llais y Sais (Voice of the English) is an alternative name for our much-reviled and laughingly self-styled ‘National Newspaper of Wales’. It’s readership has plummeted over the years and I think it’s now down to me and some old bird in Ponty.

Yes, I still read it, but then, I’m a masochist; I have to be to stay in Wales and witness the idiocy, duplicity and corruption at all levels of our national life. What’s more, as a blogger, I feel it’s my duty to read it so that you may be spared, with me bringing you the occasional report here or on Twitter. (God! the things I do for you.)

Today is your lucky day because I’m going to give you four stories from today’s issue. So relax, and enjoy.

BIGOT FODDER

First up is a strange little story about someone complaining that a Santa Claus couldn’t speak Welsh. Does this really merit half a page?

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As I suggest, this is a curious non-story designed to get the likes of Jacques Protic and Clements of Llangyfelach pounding their keyboards. It’s news value is zero, especially weeks after Christmas, which makes it nothing more than a ‘Welsh bastards!’ story designed to suggest intolerance or extremism on the part of Welsh speakers.

Which makes it entirely predictable that this ‘story’ originated with English Heritage West (aka Cadw) and ended up in Llais y Sais.

‘A BIGOT WRITES . . . ‘

It would be easy to dismiss this reader’s letter from today’s issue as more bigot fodder . . . but it comes from a bigot.

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If I’m reading this letter correctly, then Dennis Coughlin believes that ‘Welsh’ Labour’s undemocratic internal processes are there to keep in power “dominant quasi-nationalists whose raison d’etre is to placate those of a direct lineage to the sons of Owen Glendower”. He seems to hate things Welsh so much that he can’t even bring himself to write Owain Glyndŵr.

As if that wasn’t enough, in his final paragraph he goes on to accuse these ‘quasi-nationalists’ of racism, for there’s no other way to interpret his reference to skin colour.

And yet, this idiot does represent traditional Labour in Wales – the anti-Welsh Labour Party of George Thomas and Neil Kinnock. That party we’d hoped was behind us . . . but maybe it’s just been biding its time.

Is he a member of the Labour Party, and if so, will he be disciplined? And why did Llais y Sais publish such a disgraceful, anti-Welsh smear?

Out of curiosity I Googled ‘Dennis Coughlin’, and came up with this letter, published by Llais y Sais on January 8th. This man clearly has a problem with the Welsh language. Rather than pander to it maybe Llais y Sais should have a word with his family.

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And not publish any more bigoted garbage like the two letters it’s published this week from Dennis Coughlin.

TAX AND SPEND

A regular columnist in Llais y Sais is economist Dylan Jones-Evans. I read him with no great enthusiasm but it helps pass the time. In today’s piece he again attacked the possibility – no more at this stage – of the ‘Welsh’ Government introducing a tourism tax.

Some of what he’s written deserves comment.

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As you may know, I support a tourism tax because I would like to see the money raised spent on those areas suffering excessive levels of tourism. I live in such an area and I know that the great majority of local people see no benefit from tourism.

Worse, they are disadvantaged in a number of ways: tourism provides low skill, low pay and often seasonal employment; tourism results in people wanting to settle, which leads to higher house prices and, due to the age profile of these immigrants, increased strain on our NHS and other services; tourism also results in Anglicisation; then we have the issues of traffic congestion, environmental degradation, waste, etc.

So if we are to have a tourism tax then I would want to see the revenue collected used to alleviate some of these problems, perhaps by helping local young people get on the housing ladder.

But Dylan Jones-Evans questions if the revenue from a tourist tax, “will really go towards improving the tourism facilities as promised”. Promised by whom? What is the point of levying a tax on tourism only to put it straight back into tourism?

Any tourism tax in Wales must be compensatory or it’s not worth bothering.

Elsewhere he tells us that “the tourism industry generates nearly £9bn for the economy and supports around 242,000 jobs”. Which if nothing else, reminds us that when it comes to tourism figures can be plucked out of thin air, because there is no independent source for figures on tourism and no trustworthy verification.

To illustrate the problem, and even though Dylan Jones-Evans tells us that tourism “supports” 242,000 jobs, StatsWales gives a figure of just 131,300 jobs in “tourism-related industries”, for 2015, so your guess is as good as mine as to where his figure came from.

Perhaps it came from some body run by tourism operators, which looks at towns like Llandudno and Tenby, or areas like Snowdonia and Gower, and concludes that everyone working there must be involved in tourism. Deceitful and deliberately misleading.

And the same can be said for the figure of £9bn.

‘AS LONG AS HE’S FROM CARDIFF’

As you probably know, I’m a football fan. Obviously I support the Swans and Wales, but I also watch games involving other clubs and countries. In this year’s World Cup I shall again be supporting Argentina, though I had hoped to be swearing at the telly wearing red, but a combination of bad luck and cynical Irish tactics put paid to that prospect.

So football coverage is one reason I buy Llais y Sais, though even this is marred by the contributions of Paul Abbandonato, ‘Head of Sport’, no less. But I should be used to it because I remember when that shyster Sam Hammam took over Cardiff City Abbandonato went into overdrive using photos of the National Stadium and insisting that Cardiff City would soon need to play there because they’d be entertaining the likes of Barcelona.

Hammam it was who played his role in Swans-Bluebirds relations by insisting that Swans’ fans should switch their allegiance to Cardiff City. And Abbandonato lapped it up. Abbandonato is not just biased towards the football club, he’s something of a Cardiff nationalist, singing from the ‘Welsh’ media’s Cardiff über Alles song sheet.

Today’s contribution from Abbandonato was in keeping with all that has preceded it except that it wasn’t a report or a preview of a game, instead it was an attempt to influence a decision soon to be made by the Football Association of Wales.

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As far as Abbandonato is concerned the FAW’s decision is between Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy, there’s nobody else in the frame.

Though if you read the article there is – given its subject matter – one glaring lacuna, and that is that despite bigging up his favourites he has nothing to say about their experience. Because quite simply they have none. Which means that Abbandonato wants our national football team to be managed by a man with no experience and for no better reason than that he comes from Cardiff.

But there are other considerations, especially with Giggs. To begin with, I don’t think most fans would accept him due to his reluctance to turn out for the national team when selected (which he has blamed on his manager at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson).

But then there’s a question mark over what kind of a man he is. I’m referring now to his eight-year affair with his brother Rhodri’s wife, which seems to have taken its toll on his brother. Do we really want such a man in charge of our national football team, and impressionable young men?

I believe that following the performance of our national team in Euro 2016 the FAW could aim a bit higher and get a top coach, someone with experience. So I urge the FAW not to be swayed by Abbandonato and the Cardiff lobby and to cast the net wider, find an experienced coach and a man we can all respect.

UPDATE 16.01.2017: And lo! it came to pass as predicted that the selection committee empowered by the FAW did appoint the aforementioned Ryan Giggs as the new manager of our national football team. The media was forced to admit that the news was not welcomed by all Welsh fans but tried to play down the hostility.

Unfortunately for the BBC it ran a poll which showed that only a minority thought it was a good decision. And this, remember, was on the UK BBC website, which means that a lot of Manchester United fans would have voted ‘Yes’ for a club legend. Which tells us that most Welsh fans oppose the decision.

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So there you are, I’ve reminded you why you no longer read Llais y Sais – I bet you’re glad!

♦ end ♦

Dec 282017
 

LET NOT FIDO AND TIDDLES DIE IN VAIN

In the year just past, and indeed over many years, people have accused me of being negative, and challenging me to come up with solutions rather than just banging on about how awful the situation is in Wales.

Well, to begin with, I defy anyone to look around Wales today and be positive. Our country is in one hell of a mess. The only people I can think of who might try to put a gloss on the situation are apologists for ‘Welsh’ Labour down in Cardiff docks and apologists for the Tory regime in Westminster.

Not forgetting of course those parasites who see Welsh deprivation as an opportunity for them to milk the public purse in order to enrich and promote themselves by building up third sector businesses. More on them later.

And with so many politicians, civil servants and others claiming to be dedicated to making things better in Wales why look to poor old Jac to come up with the answers?

I have even been accused of nihilism! For those unsure what I’m talking about, nihilism is the belief that all existing political and social structures must be destroyed in order to build something better. At its most extreme it can be the belief that existence itself is pointless. A more moderate form might be extreme cynicism or scepticism, to which I would plead guilty

In 19th century Russia Nihilism took a political form, and on this blog I have confessed a sneaking regard for Sergey Gennadiyevich Nechayev but I myself have never preached nihilism. What I have argued is that others are taking us in a direction that might engender nihilistic thoughts and if so then we should be ready to exploit the opportunities this will offer.

By way of example, if Brexit leads to the disaster many are predicting, and we are reduced to eating our domestic pets then, rather than bemoaning our luck and damning those who voted for Brexit, those of us who prioritise the interests of Wales should be ready to view the demise of Fido and Tiddles as opportunities rather than tragedies.

Of course a decline in living standards resulting from Brexit will cause our two BritLeft parties to attack the Tories in a UK-focused debate, in which they will argue that they’re ‘doing it for Wales’.

Bollocks! they’ll just be engaging in a bit of Tory-bashing. What Welsh nationalists should do is exploit the confusion to argue that this latest debacle just reminds us that the Union and devolution do not serve Wales, therefore independence is the only sensible option.

That is what I have said, and what I believe; and while it argues for escaping the British system it does not advocate destroying it, therefore I don’t regard anything I’ve written as being nihilistic. It is nothing more or less than being prepared to take advantage of a dire situation that might arise.

A QUICK COMPARISON BETWEEN MONACO AND WALES

Whimsical? Have I been overdoing it on the Argie red? Possibly, but indulge me all the same.

One guaranteed objection will be that Monaco is not a ‘real country’, Well, it’s a principality, and hasn’t Lord Elis Thomas just reminded us that Wales too is a principality. But Monaco is a member of the UN, with many other powers and representations we associate with ‘real countries’, so while it may not have a national rugby team Monaco is in many ways much more of a country than Wales.

Here’s a helpful table I’ve drawn up to explain some of the differences.

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With eighty times Monaco’s population Wales’ Gross Domestic Product is just ten times that of Monaco. It will be argued that this too is not a valid comparison because Monaco is the playground of millionaires, a place of extravagant wealth and tax-avoiders, and as such a hell on earth to be reviled by those preferring to cherish and exploit poverty. (And God knows we have too many of those in Wales!)

And yet, being the contrarian I am, I shall make a few comparisons.

Over the years I have pointed out the insanity of encouraging elderly English people to move to Wales because of the obvious damage this influx causes to our NHS and associated services, and yet, we see that the percentage of the population over the age of 65 is much higher in Monaco than in Wales, but Monaco is infinitely more prosperous than Wales. So why is this?

Now we encounter two major differences between Wales and Monaco. First, I would bet my house that the elderly in Monaco are healthier than the elderly in Wales, for no better reason than rich people are always healthier than poor people. (And of course the climate also helps.)

Second, as this article from Pacific Prime tells us, “Foreign nationals immigrating to Monaco without employment must have full private health insurance. Proof of such cover will be needed to be granted a residency permit by the Monegasque authorities”. Monaco is not alone is demanding private health cover for elderly and sick people wanting to settle.

Rich people create jobs. Tens of thousands of people commute every day from France and Italy to jobs in Monaco. That’s in addition to the jobs done by native Monegasques (whose language is now being taught in schools).

Far from being a capitalist hell Monaco is a small principality made up of the comfortably off, the wealthy and the super-rich.

Tourism is another area in which it’s worth making a comparison. Monaco relies to a greater extent on tourism than Wales, but whereas in Monaco it’s Russian oligarchs or Saudi princes dropping a few million at roulette before roaring off in gold-plated Lambos, here it’s endless rows of ugly caravans stuffed with people determined to spend as little as possible in ‘Woiles’ before heading back to Brum in the people carrier.

But the real difference, which goes a long way to explaining why one is rich and the other is poor, is the mentality prevailing among those running these vastly different principalities.

Monaco (click to enlarge)

As we’ve seen, Monaco is welcoming, as long as you can afford the most expensive real estate on earth – where a one-bed apartment sells for $8.1m (but with much of the cheaper housing reserved for locals) – and as long as you also have private health care. Otherwise, it’s a case of, ‘Sling yer hook, matey!’ (or however that may be rendered in French or Monegasque).

By comparison, Wales is a poor country, with many of our own problems contributing to that poverty, and yet the ‘Welsh’ Government through its third sector is making Wales poorer by importing more of the problems that impoverish us.

Monaco attracts millionaires who make the place richer while Wales scours England for deadbeats to make us poorer.

The real worry is that there are too many who prefer to see Wales poor.

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR OUR POLITICIANS FOR 2018 AND BEYOND

First, realise that poverty is not a virtue to be celebrated and exploited. Poverty is a national insult to be done away with, and the surest way of doing that is by putting Welsh interests first and building a real economy.

Second, understand that a real economy is not built on a corrupt and overblown third sector, or a ‘tourism industry’ that is just a low skill, low pay, low value activity, overseen by a whoremonger ‘government’ selling us and our homeland off in some demeaning Dutch auction.

Wales needs a diversified and indigenous economy built on twenty-first century industries, as the response below to a recent tweet of mine tells us. (STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.) This is the only remedy to the poverty and deprivation we see in so many parts of our homeland.

While that should be the medium-term ambition, there are still measures that Carwyn (if he survives) and his assemblage of buffoons could be implementing in the short term.

There’s an old saying to encourage young entrepreneurs, ‘Nobody ever got rich working for somebody else’. The same applies to countries. So instead of managing Wales on behalf of England, why doesn’t the ‘Welsh’ Government try something different – like governing Wales for the benefit of us Welsh?

THINKS

1/ Thousands of cost-free jobs could be guaranteed by introducing local recruitment legislation. By which I mean insisting that local people fill the vacancies in their areas. At present, all manner of organisations import staff from outside Wales. This costs our people jobs, therefore it must end.

The excuse often used to justify this practice is that it’s ‘difficult to find local people with the training or expertise needed’. So let’s identify these skills shortages and give local people the skills needed. (Unless of course some other agenda is being served by such practices.)

2/ Next, why don’t we take the countless millions of pounds currently wasted on the third sector, which spends that money importing criminals, drug addicts, problem families, the homeless and others from England, and use that money to encourage indigenous SMEs.

3/ Our shambolic social housing system squanders tens of millions every year on housing that Wales doesn’t need because housing associations operate in an Englandandwales framework and are linked into chains that include probation companies and others. Introduce a five-year residency (in Wales) qualification for social housing and use the money saved on infrastructure projects.

4/ Instead of surrendering the northern part of our country to the Mersey Dee Alliance why not have a northern city region based on Wrecsam. Improve communications to the town and thereby ensure that more Welsh money stays in Wales.

5/ Why not a national planning presumption against properties that target retirees from England? Those being built by housing associations, with public money, could be stopped almost immediately.

The money saved here, and in our NHS, could be used to better educate our kids – as Ireland and other countries have done – because you can’t build a twenty-first century economy with a twentieth-century education system.

6/ Buy a tidy map and realise that Wales extends beyond Cardiff.

All the above ideas could be implemented quite easily and would be of immense benefit to Wales without disadvantaging or discriminating against anyone now living here. But there are too many who want to keep Wales poor.

These include those who can capitalise electorally on our poverty and deprivation (by blaming someone else), and those who can use them to build up third sector bodies providing publicly-funded jobs for them and their cronies.

Selfish and venal though they may be, those motivations are easy to understand because of that. More worrying are those – and Plaid Cymru seems to have rather too many of them – who wallow sentimentally in poverty as if it was part of our heritage. For others it brings some kind of spiritual uplift, as if poverty is the rock-strewn path to the moral high ground. (First left after the sunlit uplands of socialism.)

(Of course, when I say ‘wallow’, you have to understand that it’s always others who actually do the wallowing.)

So here’s a message for our people: Socialism is a doctrine that thrives on human misery, exploitation, oppression . . . but realises it’s better to exploit these ills than remedy them. Nowhere exemplifies this better than Wales, so wise up and stop voting for those with vested interests in keeping Wales poor.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

 

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!

~~~

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).

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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?’

UPDATE 02.01.2018: As I suspected, it was indeed our wonderful ‘Welsh’ Government that paid for this large building Bawso may not even need (for I’m told they’re certainly not using much of it). This capture is from the Accounts for year ending 31 March 2009.

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ♦

 

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 ♦

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 132017
 

To recap . . .

A plan has been unveiled to give Merthyr a ski slope and other goodies, including a much-need equestrian centre and yurt accommodation. Though I was unaware of any yurts in Merthyr needing accommodation; no doubt – as with social and other housing in Wales – these yurts will magically appear from beyond our borders.

This project at Rhydycar West is the brainchild – so Siôn Barry of WalesOnline told us – of Leigh Gerald Large, a Canadian representing a company by the name of Marvel Ltd, in cahoots with Robin Kellen of Snowsport Cymru/Wales. All this and more may be found in my earlier post Merthyr Ski Slope.

Courtesy of WalesOnline

We established that Mr Large is a man with a great interest in trees of all kinds, for he is involved with a number of companies that have trees in their names. Many of these ‘tree’ companies seek the conditions that only the British Virgin Islands can provide.

We further established that Large has enjoyed associations with some colourful characters, including a Cardiff solicitor suspended last year by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for allowing his one-man show to descend into a state of “financial chaos”.

But try as I might I was unable to find any information on Marvel Ltd. There is a company of that name registered with Companies House but it’s definitely not the company planning to house yurts in Merthyr. And as there cannot be two companies with the same name registered with Companies House it was reasonable to conclude that either Marvel Ltd didn’t exist, or else it existed in some other jurisdiction.

Now read on . . .

Thanks to information received I now know that Marvel Limited is registered in Guernsey. So I went to the Guernsey Registry for a few documents. First we have Marvel’s Memorandum of Incorporation dated 09.09.2013. There are two shares, one each held by CN Alpha Limited and CN Beta Limited, both of Guernsey. (And when searching you must type ‘Limited’, for ‘Ltd’ turns up nothing.)

click to enlarge

So I decided to dive in and get information on CN Alpha Limited. The first document I bought was a change of director dated 02.06.2014. The second was a change of director dated 30.09.2015. The third document was the Annual Validation dated 31.12.2016. This last document tells us that CN Alpha Limited has four directors with what look like genuine domestic addresses on the island.

Of course, we may be in the labyrinth of tax-haven registrations where locals can put their names to hundreds or even thousands of companies. Then again, these people might be genuine directors of the company that owns Marvel Limited. How do we know?

Blackwell and Hearse are also directors of a UK-registered property company. (As is Geoffrey Robert Le Page, a former CN Alpha director.) Though the shares in Thornhill Property Investments Ltd are owned by Thornhill Property Holdings Limited . . . of Guernsey. Round and round we go.

Turning back to Marvel Limited I learnt that CN Alpha Limited and CN Beta Limited had been joined as directors by Cavendish International Limited. Going to the Annual Validation for 2016 we see that CN Alpha Limited has now become CCD Alpha Limited, with a similar change for CN Beta Limited.

So who the hell are Cavendish International Limited? Well, that should read were, because the company was voluntarily struck-off on July 17.

Which obviously means that Cavendish International Limited can no longer be a director of Marvel Limited. But the last entry for Marvel on the Guernsey Register is dated January 17. Maybe they’re ducking and weaving so much that those behind Marvel can’t keep up with their own manoeuvrings.

And yet it could be that even if we could get to the bottom of what’s going on on Guernsey we’d find that the trail goes off to the British Virgin Islands. Marvel may have a presence on Guernsey for appearance’ sake only due to the Channel Islands being regarded as more acceptable than those tropical locations full of shifty foreigners.

One thing’s for sure, Leigh Gerald Large is not mentioned anywhere on the Guernsey documents. So perhaps he’s lurking behind the frangipani trees on the BVI. Which might suggest that he’s no more than a front man for somebody else.

Unless fresh information comes in I think I’ve gone as far as I can with this investigation. Which is why I’m passing it over to the ‘Welsh’ media and our politicians to get at the truth. (Don’t laugh!)

There must be journalists, politicians, Merthyr council and Welsh Assembly officials, who have contact details for Leigh Gerald Large. They should get in touch with him and demand that he tells them who owns Marvel Limited, and where it is ultimately registered.

Those behind this ski slope wonderland have gone to great lengths to hide their identity. Which is suspicious in itself. And worrying when we can predict with certainty that this scheme will demand large dollops of public funding.

We are entitled to know the truth.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 14.12.2017: Pine Fields Private Ltd now has a new director in James Douglas Shanks, and although the address given for him is in East Sussex, the company’s base, I suspect he himself might be located in Scotland.

Shanks was appointed on September 25th, two weeks after this piece appeared. On the same day William John Handley resigned from Pine Fields Private Ltd, leaving Shanks as the sole director.

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 ♦

Jul 232017
 

THE WOLF OF WHARF STREET

Back in April I wrote English Tourism in the Colony of Wales, which focused on Gavin Lee Woodhouse and ‘Bear’ Grylls, and their plans for the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. I wondered in that post why the ‘Welsh’ Government – even given its record of doing business with numerous crooks – was involved with an obvious spiv like Woodhouse.

Why is the ‘Welsh’ Government prepared to hand over a valuable piece of land in the Afan Valley to a man with a net worth of minus six million pounds? A man who starts and dissolves companies more often than some people change their socks. Over a hundred to date. And yet he seems to have been a late starter; for he’s 39 now but according to Company Check he didn’t start his first company until he was 34. What else do we know about him?

From Company Check

A company closely associated with Woodhouse is Properties of the World, run by Jean Ann Liggett, this company helps “property buyers make informed decisions on select UK properties, ensuring their purchases tick all the boxes”, as Liggett’s Linkedin profile tells us.

Ms Liggett is an American, whose family was involved in property back in Ohio. She herself has sold property in North Africa, and has worked for some interesting companies; among them Sunsplash Homes, which lasted for less than three years but “sold properties all over the world”.

Though the Linkedin profile tells us that since January 1985 she has also worked as a media planner for Ogilvy and Mather, a major US advertising agency, founded by Englishman David Mackenzie Ogilvy, regarded as the Father of Advertising. I say ‘English’, but Ogilvy and Mackenzie are of course Highland names, and that’s where his father came from.

During WWII Ogilvy worked for British Intelligence, hardly surprising because there’s no real difference between propaganda and advertising, both want you to buy their ‘product’. Which explains why, in the Britishness offensive we’re currently enduring, so many businesses – perhaps advised by companies like Ogilvy – cover their products in union jacks and other BritNat symbols.

In addition to helping Woodhouse make “informed decisions on select UK properties”, such as Plas Glynllifon, Liggett went into business with him, briefly. The company was MBI London NW8 Ltd, another of Woodhouse’s short-lived enterprises, lasting barely a year and doing nothing, or so it would appear.

But it’s Liggett’s other companies I want to concentrate on, because these throw up an interesting name. Let’s look first at Sunsplash Homes, the company selling property all over the world. If we look at the founding directors we see three names, among them, Barbara Z Kahan. Turning to Properties of the World, the only director other than Liggett was Barbara Kahan.

Kahan also cropped up when I recently delved into Carmarthenshire Council CEO Mark Vincent James’ property empire in Cardiff Bay. James is a director of Building and Estate Solutions Today Ltd and a co-director is Steven James Corner. Corner is also a director of Imaginative Property Group Ltd, and the other founding director was Barbara Kahan. So who is Barbara (Z) Kahan?

Kahan ‘lends’ her name to help form companies (and resigns the same day the company is Incorporated). Allegations have been made, in the Times and elsewhere, that she helps those who might have difficulty setting up a UK company – though God knows it’s easy enough! – form companies for nefarious purposes. In a nutshell, money laundering.

BEARING UP

My source suggests that the answer to why the ‘Welsh’ Government is involved with a chancer like Woodhouse at the Afan Valley Adventure Resort may lie with his partner, Grylls, who contributes the Bear Grylls Survival Academy to the package. He already has one such establishment on Llŷn.

click to enlarge

Grylls is a regular presence on the television screens of those who like to watch overpaid and well-connected self-publicists. Fortunately, I don’t watch any programmes on which he is likely to appear. But his background is interesting.

On his mother’s side, his roots are in Donaghadee in County Down, Northern Ireland, where he spent his early years. His maternal grandmother and maternal great-grandfather were both Ulster Unionist MPs. His father, Sir William Michael John Grylls MP, was caught up in the same cash-for-questions affair that netted our very own Neil Hamilton AM. (Christine Hamilton was Grylls’ secretary.)

Grylls Senior was very well connected, his father had been a brigadier in 15th/19th the King’s Royal Hussars, he himself served in the Royal Marines and belonged to the exclusive Royal Yacht Squadron. His son, Edward Michael ‘Bear’ Grylls, went to prep school and Eton, did a few years in the SAS, is now Chief Scout, a lieutenant commander in the Royal Naval Reserve, and holds the same honorary rank in the Royal Marines Reserve.

There can’t be many outside of the Sachsen-Coburg und Gothas who better represents the establishment and the Union. It can only be a matter of time before ‘Bear’ Grylls is knighted, ennobled, and finally made a saint. There’s no question that Grylls, with his ‘pull’, can get anything he wants out of the ‘Welsh’ Government.

AN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

It could be that Woodhouse has now served his purpose, or may have bitten off more than he can chew, for he appears to have been promoted sideways in favour of Peter Moore, former MD of Center Parcs. Moore coming on board suggests that Caerau Parc, the name that now seems to have been adopted for the venture, is a nod to his former employer rather than a show of respect for the Welsh language.

But whoever’s running the show, and whatever it’s called, this project will attract those looking to avoid taxes and other irritations by investing in UK property. These needn’t be tyrants from the -stans and their families, or Russian oligarchs, just well-to-do people, of the kind Liggett and Grylls have mixed with all their lives, seeking a little nest egg, as the Properties of the World website makes clear.

In addition, the Elite Investor Club website reminds potential investors that the lodges at Caerau Parc are free from stamp duty, and, “If you have a buy-to-let property that you are worried about after all the recent tax changes you may be able to part exchange it against a lodge at Afan Valley”. So it’s also seeking to attract the buy-to-let types?

click to enlarge

Though I’m not sure if those involved in this scam scheme realise that in April 2018 stamp duty will be replaced in Wales by the Land Transaction Tax, to be administered by the ‘Welsh’ Government. But then, they’ve probably had assurances from Cardiff Bay that nothing will change . . . it never does.

Because the term ‘holiday homes’ carries a lot of baggage in Wales this project had to be dressed up as something more than property investment, which is where ‘Bear’ Grylls comes into the picture.

We know that the London property market launders many billions of pounds, it’s only natural that those seeking a UK property investment, but who can’t afford London prices, will look elsewhere. With Ms Liggett’s contacts I’m sure we’ll see some interesting buyers turn up for the lodges at Caerau Parc.

In fact, the whole Caerau Parc project of 900 lodges could be a money-laundering operation in itself.

THE BIG LIE

Wales is under attack today as never before. Our country is slowly being dismembered and we Welsh replaced as its inhabitants. One of the principle engines of our destruction is tourism. Yet we are asked to welcome an ‘industry’ that ignores our identity, treats our homeland as a playground, and marginalises us by encouraging colonisation.

Caerau Parc is typical of ‘Welsh’ tourism. The land on which it stands is owned by the UK state and managed by its Cardiff branch office. Those seeking to make money from this venture – Woodhouse, Grylls, Moore – are all English, or in the case of Liggett, American. Those who’ll buy the lodge-investments will almost certainly come from outside of Wales. The top jobs, the permanent jobs, have already been allocated to English ex-military types and the well connected.

click to enlarge

So what will be left for us Welsh at Caerau Parc? Well, as usual, we’ll get the shitty jobs, the low paid jobs, the seasonal jobs; for this is how tourism in Wales operates. Wales in 2017 is treated little different to Africa or India a century ago. It seems that Wales exists for no other reason than to enrich our English masters.

Yet those apologists for colonialism in the so-called ‘Welsh Government’, jumped-up little shites like Ken Skates, tell us we should be ever so grateful for this! We should be thankful that rapacious bastards like Woodhouse and Grylls have come to gorge themselves on the carcass of Wales.

But then, we are lied to at every level, whether it’s the Westminster government, BBC Wales, Llais y Sais, or Carwyn Jones and his band of the hopeless. Welsh public life is thoroughly corrupt. The problems facing us are so entrenched, in both our national life and our collective psyche, that nothing will change by a different party running the Notional Assembly.

The current system is beyond tinkering with, it must be swept away entirely and a new Wales created in its place. Let’s start that revolution by rejecting Caerau Parc and all other forms of colonialist tourism. Let’s make it clear that we shall no longer accept it, nor shall we celebrate our subjection.

Woodhouse’s Northern Powerhouse website tells us, “Proposals will be available to view from 20th – 28th July at Cymmer Afan Community Library, Station Road, Cymmer, Port Talbot, NPT, SA13 3HR during normal opening hours”.

Why not pop along and tell them what you think of this project. There’s no need to be rude; ‘Fuck off, you exploitive, colonialist bastards!’ should suffice.

♦ end ♦

Jul 032017
 

RESPECT WANTED

Tourism is a subject I’ve written about more than once, and so I think my views are pretty well known. But in case anyone’s failed to get the message . . . tourism in Wales is exploitive, tasteless, disruptive, damaging to Welsh identity and culture, destructive of our physical environment, and far too little of the wealth it generates reaches Welsh people. Tourism in Wales is one of the more obvious manifestations of colonialism.

Which is why I was encouraged to read this morning about Eryri in future being treated with “respect”. Remarkably, this is the very word I have used in my previous criticisms of the damage being done to the area by crude and exploitive tourism.

The word was used by Helen Pye, the Snowdonia National Park’s former head warden for Snowdon who is now manager of the Snowdon Partnership, a group representing various interests that has produced a draft plan for the area which invites comments. It’s a fascinating document and I urge you all to read it, and to submit your comments before Friday’s deadline.

The document tells us, for example, that Snowdon is a “national asset” . . . without stating which nation is being referred to. But as it goes on to say, ” . . . the most visited mountain in the UK.” it’s reasonable to assume that we are here discussing the mythic UKish nation.

A remarkable, and worrying, statistic may be found on page 20, which tells us that between 2013 and 2015 the percentage of first-time hill walkers attempting Yr Wyddfa doubled from 10% to 20%. Which no doubt contributes to some of the more alarming statistics found elsewhere in the report.

Page 43 bears out my criticism of tourism providing low-wage and seasonal employment, and contributing little to the overall economy of an area, with: “Tourism to Yr Wyddfa is estimated to contribute £69m of economic benefit per annum. There are low rates of full-time employment and low median wages in the Park”.

Though my spirits were briefly raised when I read, on page 48,“Invasive species are being controlled”, under the “Where do we want to be by 2030?” heading . . . only to realise that the draft was not referring to tourists.

All in all, it’s a very disappointing and unambitious document, with ‘compromise’ written through it like ‘Tenby’ through a stick of rock. Hardly surprising when we look at some of the ‘partners’: Visit Betws-y-Coed, The Outdoor Partnership, The National Trust, Beddgelert Tourism Association, Snowdonia-Active, Visit Wales, Snowdon Mountain Railway.

All of which can be grouped under the ‘Playground Wales’ umbrella. Organisations which insist that attracting unsustainable numbers of tourists, and encouraging many to settle, has no damaging consequences for Welsh identity, social cohesion, and the natural environment.

Not a lot different to tobacco companies back in the ’60s and ’70s arguing that cigarettes were not harmful to health. If you have a vested interested in denying what it is becoming clear to everyone else then that’s what you do . . . and just hope you get away with it.

TREN BACH YR WYDDFA

After writing the name I got to wondering a bit more about the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which not only owns the train to the summit but also runs the cafe close by the summit.

Reading the website one of the first things that struck me about the early days of the railway was the almost total absence of Welsh involvement. This was all happening in spite of us, or over our heads. But then, that’s colonialism; a whole nation treated as if it has learning difficulties, unable to do anything for itself.

The section below is taken from the website’s History section.

From ‘History of the Snowdon Mountain Railway’

The initial excursion in 1896 of No 1 Ladas, owned by the Snowdon Mountain Tramroad and Hotels Company Ltd, was not a great success, for the train left the track. Fortunately there was just one fatality, Ellis Griffith Roberts of Llanberis.

This episode is so wonderfully emblematic of ‘Welsh’ tourism. Not only were those making the money English, even the driver of the derailed train, William Pickles, was brought in from Yorkshire (with his nephew to serve as fireman). And as is the case 120 years later, it’s the Welsh who suffer.

The company number quoted on the website is 00042476 which, when typed into the Companies House site, takes us here. We can see that this company is based in Liverpool, and has been dormant for many years. Not only that, but since 2001 the company has got by without auditors. (You’ll note that this decision was taken at a meeting in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Perhaps in deference to Will Pickles and his nephew.)

Which means that one of Wales’ major tourism enterprises is run by an unaudited, dormant company. So who owns this outfit? Well, the answer seems to be, according to this document, that the shares – all 1,803,690 (10p shares) – are owned by Heritage Great Britain PLC of the same Liverpool address.

Heritage Great Britain plc is a holding company and we are also told that, “The Group undertakes the operation of various landmark and other day visitor attractions situated in the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, North Wales, and holiday accommodation in Scotland through a joint venture”.

So who owns Heritage Great Britain plc? According to this document, as at 5 April 2016 all 5,213,371 £1 shares are held by Cherberry Ltd. Which is where the trail almost goes dead. Because if you type ‘Cherberry Ltd’ into the Companies House website you draw a blank . . . for Cherberry was registered in May 1996 in Jersey.

Naturally – you know me, nosey bastard! – I went to the website of the Jersey Financial Services Commission to see what I could learn about Cherberry Ltd . . . which was not a lot. Other than the fact that the trail goes on to Dukla Ltd of Gibraltar, as set out in this document. The Dukla Articles of Association are dated August 2015. Having paid out £4 for the Jersey documents I was in no mood to splash out more than thirty quid a time for the Gibraltar docs.

And even if I’d bought some Gibraltar documents then I might have found that they led on to the Caymans or the British Virgin Islands. Which raises a few questions.

Hafod Eryri. All the architectural charm of a public urinal from communist East Germany

First, the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd leases the cafe at the summit, Hafod Eryri, from the Snowdonia National Park. This ‘visitor centre’ opened 12 June 2009 and was built at considerable cost. Given who owns it it’s safe to assume that a great deal of public funding was involved. How do those funders – probably using your money and mine – feel about this publicly-funded asset now being leased to a company based God knows where?

Second, the Snowdonia Mountain Railway ferries a few hundred thousand people between Llanberis and the summit every year. In the event of an accident, how easy would it be to hold to account a company we’ve traced to Gibraltar, a company that through yet more changes of name and ownership may ultimately be located even further afield?

Are Cyngor Gwynedd and the ‘Welsh’ Government satisfied that adequate insurance is in place to cover all eventualities? Satisfied that culpability can be apportioned and justice satisfied when the guilty party or parties may be beyond UK jurisdiction?

~~~

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

The principal characters in the Snowdon Mountain Railway, in the forms of the three current directors are, Gary Johnson, Allan James Stuart Leech and Peter Miles Johnson-Treherne; the last of whom can be founded listed on other documents as Peter Treherne or Peter Johnson-Treherne.

The same three crop up running the Snowdon Mountain Tramroad and Hotels Company Ltd (where Gary Johnson now becomes Gary Andrew Johnson). You’ll remember that this is the name of the company for which the luckless William Pickles and his nephew worked back in 1896. (Though of course they were lucky compared to poor Ellis Griffith Roberts.) So what does this company do?

In a word, nothing, for it became dormant almost from the date of its Incorporation on 22 May 2013. And as we read in the Annual Report and Accounts dated 31 January 2014, “The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Heritage Great Britain plc which is registered in England and Wales. The ultimate parent company, Cherberry Ltd, is registered in Jersey . . . “. 

Something that puzzled me was, given the ages of the three I’ve named, and their relatively late entrances, who was running the show before they got involved? Part of the answer came from the former directors of the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd, for among them I found the information below.

Kevin Ronald Leech (born August 1943) is probably the father of current director Allan James Stuart Leech (born October 1972). Leech Senior’s Jersey address is the same address given for Cherberry Ltd.

UPDATE 04.07.2017: I am indebted to Simon Hillman for providing (in a comment below) more information on Kevin Leech. I suggest you read this Telegraph article from October 2002 and this Guardian piece from January 2014. This is the man who might still own the Snowdon Mountain Railway through a network of offshore companies, and the man to whom the Snowdonia National Park has leased Hafod Eryri. Cause for concern.

RESPECT HAS TO BE EARNED

The fundamental problem exposed here is one we find in other parts of Wales, and indeed, around the world. To wit: A beautiful area attracts tourists, the more tourists that come, the more degraded and less beautiful that area becomes. This combination of tourism and degradation is unavoidable.

Among those refusing to concede this universal truth we may find some denying that there is a limit to how many tourists an area can accommodate, especially when they don’t live in the area and run their businesses through offshore companies.

If Ms Pye and her Snowdon Partnership are serious about showing respect for Yr Wyddfa then the answer is simple: rather than searching for the alchemist’s stone of attracting a limitless number of tourists and expecting them to cause no harm, accept that the problem is too many tourists and start limiting the numbers.

By all means encourage responsible walkers to ascend the mountain, but for God’s sake don’t make it easy for every lazy bastard to get there on a bloody railway – and then encourage them to fill their fat faces in the cafe at the top!

So make a start by demolishing the pissoir at the peak, after all, this is owned by the Snowdonia National Park Authority and was paid for from the Welsh public purse. With the visitor centre gone there’ll be less incentive for the obese and the idle to get the train to the summit.

If money was found for the carbuncle now desecrating the skyline then money can be found to buy out the Snowdon Mountain Railway, by compulsory purchase if necessary. Once bought, the rolling stock can be flogged off and the tracks torn up to restore Yr Wyddfa to something approaching its natural state.

Anything less is simply tinkering with the problem; so if that’s what’s happening then don’t build people’s hopes up by using words like ‘respect’. Use the word that I fear already describes the Snowdon Partnership and its draft plan – fudge.

♦ end ♦

 

Apr 272017
 

Bear Grylls: ‘It’s not for me, you understand . . . ‘

I’ve written about Bear Grylls, the television personality, survival expert and tourism operator a couple of times recently. Now I find myself writing about him again.

My first mention of Grylls was an almost light-hearted look at his ‘survival camp’ on Llŷn, done only because I’d picked up a leaflet for this nonsense on a visit to Porthmadog. So demanding and dangerous is this camp that it caters for drunks on stag and hen parties. (Scroll down in this post.)

I next wrote about him was in more serious vein, after learning of his involvement with wide boy Gavin Lee Woodhouse – of ‘Wynnborn’ fame – and their joint attempt to take over another piece of Wales and re-name it the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. Read English Tourism in the Colony of Wales.

I have been in contact recently with a Gwynedd councillor who had more to tell me about Bear Grylls, and although this tale takes us back to July 2014 I think it deserves an airing, so I’m reproducing in full an e-mail exchange that took place between Bear Grylls and Councillor Craig ab Iago. (You can either click on the image on the right to enlarge it, or read it in pdf format by clicking here.)

At the time of this exchange Grylls was applying for planning permission to build a new stone jetty on St Tudwal’s Island (which he owns) off the coast of Llŷn. As a follow-up to the official planning application he wrote to all members of the planning committee.

I’m unsure about the propriety, or the legality, of seeking to influence elected representatives in this way. Maybe an Old Etonian who is now a ‘celeb’ regularly uses back channels in order to get what he wants. Of course, what works in London doesn’t always translate to Gwynedd.

First off, let’s remember that this is a planning application by a businessman to make one of his assets more profitable. That’s all there is to it, really, it’s about Bear Grylls seeking to make more money.

But he can’t say that, so he has to try a different tack; he starts off by mentioning his “young family”, which might influence an application to build an extra bedroom but is totally irrelevant in this context.

Then he presents himself as the benefactor to the local community “in and around Abersoch” (i.e. the Cheshire set), and the partner of Trinity House, which maintains St Tudwal’s Island lighthouse.

At which point you might, like me, be wondering: if Trinity House needs a new jetty why couldn’t they apply for it themselves? Come to that, does a body like Trinity House even need to apply for planning permission?

This appeal by Bear Grylls is nothing but simpering, self-serving bollocks; just a cut above, ‘think of all the drowning kiddies, sob! sob!’ I don’t want to dwell on this stomach-churning bullshit any longer.

Thankfully, Craig ab Iago was able to answer Grylls, and he did so with dignity and passion. It is a response worth reading for its honesty, and how it contrasts to Grylls’ artifice and dissimulation. I urge you to read Craig’s cri de coeur and ensure that it has the widest possible audience.

Tourism and the colonisation it encourages is the surest way of destroying our rural way of life. That’s why Wales is being offered little other than tourism. 

 ~ ♦ ~

Redrow Homes, Goetre Uchaf

One of Wales’ great success stories, so the media would have us believe, is Redrow Homes. A company formed by Steve Morgan, with headquarters in Ewloe, Flintshire, and quoted on the FTSE 250. The truth is that Redrow being in Wales is just an accident of geography, there is no commitment to Wales or things Welsh whatsoever.

Proven by the twee names Redrow gives to its developments and the names of its house types – The Ludlow, The Warwick, The Cambridge, The Windsor, The Shaftesbury, etc. But occasionally Redrow gives the appearance of recognising it’s in Wales by using a Welsh name for one of its developments. An example would be Goetre Uchaf in Bangor.

Unfortunately, the ‘commitment’ is just skin deep. Because of course, like so many companies operating in the building trade and property development – and especially in the north – Redrow targets English buyers. So it is with Goetre Uchaf, as this advertisement proves with, ‘Move to North Wales with Redrow Homes’.

If you want further proof, then listen to the start of this video and hear the mangling of Goetre Uchaf. And if these houses are not needed in Bangor – and seeking buyers over the border suggests they’re not – then why was planning permission granted?

~ ♦ ~

Pole Polling

I am indebted to another source for making me realise that, with two elections coming up, ‘Welsh’ Labour will again target the Polish vote in Llanelli (and perhaps elsewhere). For Labour has worked assiduously over the years to exploit forge links with the Polish community in the town.

The starting point would appear to be 2004 when, according to this WalesOnline article from May 2014, a desperate Pole went into the office of the SaveEasy Credit Union in downtown Llanelli, where manager Jeff Hopkins was eventually able to find a Polish speaker to help him.

From this encounter grew the Welsh Polish Mutual Association which opened in 2006 to help Polish migrants arriving in the town. The chairman of the Association is the aforementioned Jeff Hopkins. In an earlier incarnation he had been the agent for Denzil Davies, the town’s Labour MP from 1970 until 2005.

A SaveEasy Credit Union employee involved with the new Association was Halina Ashley, Polish herself. It should go without saying that Mrs Ashley is also a member of the Labour Party. I suppose it’s reasonable to assume that Mrs Ashley was the Polish speaker Jeff Hopkins was able to find on that Sunday morning back in 2004.

The official opening took place in September 2006, conducted by Edwina Hart. From its outset the Association was funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government, partly through the ill-starred Communities First programme, which was finally put out of its misery in February.

Though the Polish-Welsh Association was not registered as a company until 27 February 2013. On the Companies House website you’ll see that the only director other than Hopkins is Janice Williams, a Labour county councillor. Williams has also been a director of the local Citizens Advice Bureau, that body taken over by the Labour Party years ago.

To this day, I understand, the ‘Welsh’ Government funds the Welsh Polish Mutual Association centre in Llanelli, and pays for the ‘Welcome’ packs for arriving Poles, with the SaveEasy Credit Union paying the overheads for the building.

Though I must confess to being appalled to read my source suggesting, “It would not be a surprise to discover that the packs contain postal voting forms . . . I am led to believe that Llanelli Labour have form regarding this”.

I had just put away the smelling salts after reading that when I found myself scrabbling for them again on reading that Hopkins and Ashley have access to confidential data that could be of great use to the Labour Party in targeting the Polish vote.

As I said to myself, ‘But they would never do anything like that, because to do so would contravene the Data Protection Act 1998.’ That said, there is some evidence . . .

The leaflet below, for example, from last year’s Assembly election, is obviously for the benefit of Polish voters; and seeing Mrs Halina Ashley, a woman they know, in the company of the Labour candidate, clearly carries the message, ‘Vote Labour!’.

click to enlarge (no, it wasn’t me what ripped it.)

The Polish vote in Llanelli may not be as large as in some English towns, but it still makes up five or six per cent in the wards where Poles tend to congregate. The percentage is higher in the Tŷ Isha ward where not so long ago the Safer Community Action Group was set up to counter the allegedly anti-social behaviour of gangs of drunken young Polish males.

The group was supported by thirsty Labour councillor and recipient of someone else’s liver, Keri Thomas, on the grounds that the Polish influx “put a burden on services, on the GPs and the hospitals and the schools”. (You couldn’t make this up, could you?) Like most Labour politicians, Thomas is talking rubbish.

The Polish migrants are overwhelmingly healthy young men, consequently they are unlikely to be a burden on the health service. If Keri Thomas and others are so concerned about people moving to Wales and putting a strain on our services why do they say nothing about retirees, or the substance-abusing riff-raff and others with ‘issues’ who get priority treatment from housing associations and other agencies?

Knowing ‘Welsh’ Labour as we do, and with the evidence from last year’s election to guide us, it is entirely reasonable to assume that ‘inside information’, unavailable to other parties, is being used to target the Polish vote in Llanelli for both the council elections and the UK general election

Footnote: Councillor Janice Williams is standing down next month in the Lliedi ward, where one of the Tory candidates is a Stefan Ryszewski. Woe! Woe! Even the Fates mock Labour!

~ ♦ ~

Pond Life in Ebbw Vale 

A Gwent source tells me of an interesting sale taking place at 5pm today, in the Park Inn Hotel at Llanedeyrn in Cardiff. (If you hurry, you might still make it!) His interest was aroused by one particular lot of three former feeder ponds for the local steelworks and the land around them.

The catalogue makes interesting reading, for it contains all manner of properties but a majority seem to be small terraced houses of the kind that often make the news when a London ‘paper reports, ‘Englishman buys whole Welsh street for £37.50, ha! ha!’

Which says something about many things, such as the ‘Welsh’ Government’s neglect of the Valleys, and our relationship with England. Consider also that many of these humble dwellings being auctioned are repossessions, each one representing someone’s dashed hope of owning a home. But the Daily Mail don’t give a fuck about that.

In March 2009 the Newport-based South Wales Argus reported that the ‘Welsh’ Government had given £150,000 to transform the site in question, the Argus even saying that work had started. Yet to look at the site now it appears that little if anything was ever done.

click to enlarge

So the questions are:

  • What happened to the £150,000?
  • Why wasn’t the area improved as promised?
  • What’s been happening for the past 8 years?
  • Who owns this land today?
  • Why is it being sold?

Maybe the ‘Welsh’ Government is hoping that Bear Grylls and ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse come galloping over the Beacons, bugles blowing and flags fluttering, to unveil their plan for the Waun-y-Pound Aquatic Adventure Resort, replete with crocodiles and piranhas – let the good times roll!

~ ♦ end ♦ ~

Apr 182017
 

THIS PIECE BEGAN LIFE AS JUST ANOTHER ITEM IN ONE OF MY REGULAR NEWS ROUND-UPS, BUT AS IT GOT MORE INTERESTING I THOUGHT IT MERITED A POST TO ITSELF. SO HERE IT IS

About a week or so ago WalesOnline, one of Trinity Mirror’s Labour Party mouthpieces, told us of an exciting new development in Cwm Afan, behind Port Talbot. The article generated some interesting comments, here are a couple, but I urge you to read them all.

click to enlarge

As the comments tell us, this development is fronted by television ‘personality’ Edward Michael Bear Grylls, though it seems to be the brainchild of a Gavin Lee Woodhouse of Yorkshire, through his Northern Powerhouse Developments. There are a number of companies – all new – sharing that name.

You can have, in chronological order: Northern Powerhouse Developments LtdNorthern Powerhouse Developments Adventure Resorts LtdNorthern Powerhouse Developments Adventure Resorts Management LtdNorthern Powerhouse Developments (Holdings) Ltd and Northern Powerhouse Developments Hotels Ltd.

In addition to being new companies these five also share a single director – Woodhouse – have just a few quid in share capital and are yet to submit any accounts or returns.

Alternatively, another company that might fit the bill for Cwm Afan is Active Resorts UK Ltd, which, again, was set up last year. Or perhaps Afan Valley Ltd (formerly Caerau Parc Ltd). In fact, Gavin Lee Woodhouse has been involved in a surprising number of companies for a man of 39 years. As many as 78, many of which seem to change their name soon after starting up, often the address as well.

And yet, I cannot find him shown as a director of any company before the latter part of 2014, so what was he doing up until then, and why so many companies since? If we go back to his Linkedin profile it doesn’t really help. For it tells us that he founded the MBi Group of Companies in November 2011 with nothing before that except, under ‘Education’, “Norwich City, Law 1995 – 1997”. Which means what – did he do night classes while playing for Norwich City Football Club?

The Company Check website (below) confirms a sudden irruption into the world of business some three-and-a-half years ago but does nothing to explain what he was up to between 1997 and 2013. Also note that according to this source Woodhouse is a director of 58 extant companies, and has been involved with 45 dissolved companies. All in the space of less than four years!

What we can be sure of is that since he decided to take the business world by storm he’s become familiar with the exploitation of Wales. For among his other companies we find the Carmarthen Bay Hotel Ltd, which may refer to the Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby, which was probably bought last year. Another of his companies, the Wyncliffe House Hotel Ltd, may own the Fishguard Bay Hotel.

In the north, among Woodhouse’s companies, we find the Caer Rhun Hall Hotel Ltd which runs the establishment of that name in Conwy (and serves as the address for many of his other companies). There’s the MBI Newborough Hall LtdQueen’s Hotel (Llandudno) Ltd, Llandudno Bay Hotel & Spa Ltd and, also in Llandudno, there’s the Belmont Hotel Ltd.

Just one more company might be worth mentioning. Again, this is a company set up very recently, on 10 November 2016, and once again Gavin Lee Woodhouse is the sole director. Though what the purpose of Woodhouse Family Overseas Ltd is I do not know, but the name does make one think.

At this point you’re probably shouting, ‘No more bloody companies!’, so let’s continue in my coruscating – yet informative! – narrative style.

Looking at those companies in the north you might think – as I did – that Newborough Hall is somewhere near the village of that name on Ynys Môn, but no, Newborough Hall was a name used to market Plas Glynllifon, near Caernarfon. A short time later, in what became something of a minor cause célèbre, the former mansion of Lord Newborough was marketed as Wynnborn.

Plas Glynllifon

The Daily Post article I’ve linked to tells us that late in 2015 Plas Glynllifon was bought from receivers by “MBI Hotels, part of the MBI Consulting group”. MBI Hotels was a relatively new company Incorporated with Companies House on 13 May 2015. The two founding directors were Robin Scott Forster and Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

Following the furore over ‘Wynnborn’, Forster and Woodhouse resigned as directors on 11 November 2015 and were replaced by what a cynic might regard as stooges. To further cover their tracks the company name was changed on 1 February 2016 to Giant Hospitality Ltd, under which name you can find the information I’ve just given. Woodhouse re-instated himself as a director of Giant Hospitality Ltd on March 30 2017.

Despite all the ducking and weaving, it appears that MBI’s purchase of Plas Glynllifon fell through, for the Daily Post reported in April 2016 that the pile had now been bought by a “mystery buyer”. The mystery buyer turned out to be a couple named Paul and Rowena Williams who, despite the name, are not Welsh.

The couple have promised to keep the name Plas Glynllifon and that seems to have satisfied Plaid Cymru. For superficial displays of outrage while ignoring the underlying colonialism is Plaid Cymru’s trademark.

The couple have also ‘purchased’ the Seiont Manor in nearby Llanrug through their company Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd aka Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Both companies were Incorporated on 1 August 2016. There are four Charges (loans or mortgages) against Plas Glynllifon Ltd. The lender is Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheshire, and the solicitor used was Lanyon Bowlder of Shrewsbury.

Putting it all together there seems to be no Welsh involvement at all . . . oh, wait, I’m forgetting, the Daily Post report told us that Paul and Rowena Williams are “in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support”. So Welsh involvement might be limited to paying for another piece of Wales to pass into English hands!

this is how you ‘buy’ something without any money

I suppose the Charges Companies House lists against Plas Glynllifon Ltd could be bridging loans until the ‘Welsh’ Government grants come through.

Let’s get back to Cwm Afan. I don’t know how well Grylls and Woodhouse know each other, where or when they met, but their relationship makes sense for the following reason.

Woodhouse is a property developer in the tourist accommodation sector, who also has stakes in student accommodation and care homes. Which fits, because, fundamentally, this new development is about 900 lodges in the £149,000 to £249,000 price range. Let’s split the difference: 900 x £200,000 = £180,000,000. There’s also a 5 star hotel, spa, and other facilities. We’re talking big bucks here.

To disguise the fact that this is just an upmarket caravan site (which is all that ‘lodges’ are) Bear Grylls is brought on board to give it that, je ne sais quoi, that, ‘outdoory’ appeal. Bingo! now we have the Afan Valley Adventure Resort, pulling in overweight suburbanites then getting them wet and dirty so they can fantasise about doing special forces training. Much as Grylls has done since inflicting himself on Llŷn. (Which I wrote about quite recently, scroll down in this post.)

click to enlarge

Wales’ past prosperity may have been built on agriculture, coal, steel and other heavy industry, but the ‘Welsh’ Government now believes that any prosperity we might enjoy in the years ahead depends almost solely on zip wires and the like; the more the merrier, zip wires everywhere. ‘Wales – the country with the zip wire economy!’

As one of the comments to WalesOnline (above) suggest, there is already quite a lot in the Cwm Afan area for the public to enjoy, almost all of it paid for by the public purse. I’ll let Brychan, a regular visitor to this blog, take over:

“There are leisure facilities already present in the valley, most notable a mountain bike centre which has had substantial council investment from the taxpayers of Neath Port Talbot, and of course a building up at Glyncorrwg which has a café, which was funded by Communities First.

The ‘ponds’ at Glyncorrwg are a series of reclaimed colliery reservoirs stocked with fish. The cycle paths, which taxpayers paid millions into, are the ones which run along the trackbed of the old Rhondda to Swansea railway line from Blaengwynfi (Rhondda tunnel) down to Port Talbot, and its spur up to Glyncorrwg.

The forest plantation came into the possession of Natural Resources Wales (Forestry Commission). The old coal tips were reclaimed at public expense, the land having been gifted to the council from the National Coal Board.”

So we see that a large amount of public money was spent healing the scars of previous exploitation . . . only for these public assets to be handed over to twenty-first century exploiters in the forms of Gavin Lee Woodhouse and Edward Michael Bear Grylls. Two men with nothing but contempt for what makes Wales Welsh.

For I’ve already told you about Gavin Woodhouse’ attempts to market Plas Glynllifon as Wynnborn. (What the hell is ‘Wynnborn’ supposed to mean, anyway?) Grylls’ record is no better, maybe worse. First there was his tasteless ‘slide’ on St Tudwal’s Island (which he owns), then his attempt to put beach huts at Llanbedrog. In the second of those ventures he was in partnership with the Llanbedrog Headland Company Ltd, of Cheshire.

Who are these bloody people that own so much of our country!

We are dealing here with people who see easy money to be made turning Wales into a recreation and retirement destination for England. They don’t even need money, for they can borrow it on the value of the asset being acquired, or get it from suckers investors, while also relying on the ‘Welsh’ Government chipping in with grants and gifts of public assets. It’s a no-lose situation, for them.

There’s nothing surprising about this, it’s how British business operates. The UK state itself is floating on an ocean of debt, disguised by accountancy practises that have got some people banged up. What should disappoint anyone reading this is that the ‘Welsh’ Government is so ready to be part of this. But then, when you’ve got no ideas of your own on how to generate wealth or create employment you’re going to welcome with open arms any shyster who comes along with a ‘project’.

And as I asked earlier, what do we know about Woodhouse’s background? Well, for a start, he seems to have been convicted for driving while disqualified in June 2009. (Ban extended.) I also learnt that, Prior to founding MBi in 2011 he (Woodhouse) was a director of several other companies”.

The same source tells us that Woodhouse has – according to his lawyer – also suffered the misfortune of holding “short-lived directorships of two businesses that left debts when they were wound up. He was appointed without his knowledge and/or not removed when he should have been”.

The same Bureau of Investigative Journalism report found that MBi’s chief commercial officer was a struck-off solicitor named Alan Cockburn, who “had acted for the buyer, seller and lender in the same transaction and caused the Yorkshire Bank to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

The report also informs us that “Companies House lists Woodhouse as director from late October 2012 until May 2013 of Harjen Limited, which held a sexual entertainment licence for the Leeds strip club, Wildcats, throughout that time. Woodhouse’s lawyer said his client had not been involved with the management of the strip club and that the dates of his directorship listed at Companies House were incorrect. The lawyer said Woodhouse had “immediately resigned” when he found out about the business.”

This is terrible! Some unscrupulous bastards keep making Gavin Lee Woodhouse a director of dodgy companies without his knowledge. Should the ‘Welsh’ Government be doing business with such an unlucky man? Come to that, how did the ‘Welsh’ Government get involved with him in the first place, didn’t they do background checks?

Still, this explains the gaps on his Linkedin profile. Now if I was Bear Grylls I’d use my SAS training to melt into the shadows and then put as much distance as possible between me and Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the Wolf of Wharf Street.

All joking aside, the examples of Plas Glynllifon and Cwm Afan are all too representative of ‘Welsh’ tourism – no Welsh involvement, no Welsh benefits yet, somehow, we end up paying for it! I often think that if Venice was in Wales then the gondoliers and everybody else making the money would be English. That’s because Wales is ruled by England, in the interests of England.

It’s called colonialism; it’s been around since the dawn of time, and although it’s fallen from favour elsewhere in recent decades, here in Wales our elected representatives still prefer supporting colonialism to standing up for Welsh interests.

Unless we start calling time on this variety of tourism we shall increasingly find ourselves strangers in our own country, for the trend is already established along the north coast and elsewhere – where tourism takes hold Welsh people lose out and Welsh identity becomes weakened, trivialised, and eventually destroyed.

♦ end ♦