Aug 282017
 

PEMBROKESHIRE CARE AND CYMDEITHAS GOFAL

Human trafficking is a term we’ve become increasingly familiar with in recent years, it’s a clandestine and largely illegal activity that reduces human beings to transferable commodities, to be moved around and exploited for the financial benefit of some third party.

Many people will be surprised therefore to learn that this practice is widespread here in Wales – and it’s funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government.

In January 2016 I wrote The ‘Care’ Racket in Wales, and earlier this month, Care in the South West (or the lack thereof); in both I looked at Pembrokeshire Care and Cymdeithas Gofal / the Care Society which operates in Ceredigion. Both help the homeless, and those with ‘issues’, such as drug addicts and those recently released from prison. (Or, to lapse into the jargon, ‘the secure estate’).

The England flag being larger is a simple mistake to make, as is the misspelling of Agorwch

Though in the more recent post I’d neglected to mention that the Care Society is itself a landlord with three properties in Aberystwyth. Which made me wonder – seeing as it administers the ‘Welsh’ Government’s tenant bond scheme – if it pays itself a bond for those it houses in its own properties?

Both societies also operate as lettings agencies. In Pembrokeshire we have Pathway Lettings and in Ceredigion Cymdeithas Gofal has its Estates and Lettings agency. Letting agencies always charge a commission.

From the Pathway Lettings website it looks like a £50 up-front administrative charge for tenants, the landlords pay £50 for an Introductory Service’, a ‘Let Only’ service costs £150, then there’s another £150 for the ‘Managed Property Service Charge’, plus ‘10% (negotiable) of monthly rental income’. And there are further charges! (read them all here).

Cymdeithas Gofal’s Estates and Lettings is more coy in that it doesn’t give the figures on its website, but there’s no reason to suspect that it operates a lot different to its Pembrokeshire counterpart.

So we have two letting agencies with a ready supply of customers thanks to their parent bodies, which also administer the ‘Welsh’ Government’s tenant bond scheme (to themselves?), and act as unfair competition to private letting agencies and estate agencies that don’t have access to the public purse.

Cymdeithas Gofal also hopes to be soon offering mortgage and insurance services!

Which sums up the ‘Welsh’ Government’s attitude to what it likes to pretend is business. In truth, it’s the anti-business attitude of ‘Welsh’ Labour and Plaid Cymru.

In case anyone thinks I’m making a big deal out of nothing here, let me conclude this section by telling you that the amount received by Pembrokeshire Care under the tenant bond scheme totalled £575,922.16 for the three financial years ending 31.03.2016.

And that is just part of its income; an income that allows it to sit on reserves of £756,542, with that hoard made up almost entirely of “cash at bank and in hand” most of it “unrestricted funds”, which means it was not given for a specific purpose and so can be used for just about anything. All figures available here in the latest accounts.

With a further £120,000 set aside for “Senior Management Succession Planning”. Isn’t that comforting?

ENTER GRWP GWALIA AND THE MONEYBAGS WALLICH

Anyway, the reason I’m returning to this subject is that both Pembrokeshire Care and Cymdeithas Gofal have competition, particularly the Ceredigion outfit. It began when someone referred me to a poster on the board in the Quarry Cafe in Machynlleth.

Now this is not an establishment I frequent when I’m in our ancient capital, due to its connection with the Centre for Alternative Technology in Corris, but last week the wife wanted to visit the town’s weekly street market and that’s how I found myself pushing past hippies, knocking over skinny lattes, and ignoring the ‘ . . . last time I was in Kathmandu’ conversations, to take the photo you see below.

click to enlarge

It looks innocent enough, until you know a little more about the two bodies involved. Grwp Gwalia is a housing association based in Swansea and is now part of the Pobl Group.

If the name rings a bell it might be because this is the housing association that was happy to take on the gang of Satanic paedophiles from London and inflict them on Kidwelly.

Though nowadays, it seems that Grwp Gwalia is concentrating on students! But should a publicly-funded housing association be in this neck of the property jungle?

Anyway, moving on.

I hadn’t realised until a short while ago that Grwp Gwalia has an office in Newtown, which is where Mid Wales Housing is based. So for a minute I wondered if the move into Powys was the first stage in a takeover bid for MWH? Well, perhaps not, because this page on the Gwalia website suggests that it has found a ‘niche’ to exploit, primarily homelessness and mental health.

Grwp Gwalia’s Newtown operation

So where does ‘The Wallich’ fit into the picture? I suppose many of you may even be wondering, ‘What is “The Wallich”?’ The Wallich is an all-Wales agency, and the trading name of the Wallich Clifford Community, which caters for the homeless and those with other – often associated – ‘issues’.

As I say, The Wallich operates across Wales, with a major presence in Swansea and Cardiff, but is also busy in Wrecsam and Rhyl (I bet that mention of Rhyl surprised you!). A quick perusal of the latest accounts (up to 31.03.2016) tells us that The Wallich is a multi-million-pound operation.

In year ending 31.03.2016 The Wallich had a total income of more than ten million pounds, six and a half million of which came from the ‘Welsh’ Government and assorted local authorities, with a further three and a half million coming from “rent and service charges”. Which contributed towards total assets of nine and a half million pounds, most of it in “tangible fixed assets” i.e. property; these figures include over one million pounds invested and £2.8 million in “cash at bank and in hand”.

The Wallich is clearly awash with cash and assets despite two-thirds of its income going on salaries and pensions. There is a strong case to be made for saving the public purse a few million pound every year by cutting back on The Wallich’s funding.

THE WALLICH IN ABERYSTWYTH

And now Grwp Gwalia and the Wallich are spreading their wings in Machynlleth. From their perspective I suppose it makes sense in that it gives them a footprint in a new area, though how much call there is in Machynlleth for the ‘services’ they provide is another matter.

As I did my checking on The Wallich I began to suspect that the operation planned for Machynlleth might be no more than an outlier for The Wallich’s operations in Aberystwyth, just 18 miles away.

For there, in Aber’, and nearby Borth, we find that The Wallich has no less than four properties:

  1. First, in 9 Corporation Street, catering for for “individuals with a range of complex support needs including needs around offending behaviour, being a prison leaver, mental health issues, substance misuse issues, physical health needs, housing needs or a mixture of these”.
  2. A few doors away, No 13 provides “temporary accommodation for single homeless people who need low level support, or for individuals ready to move-on from projects where they have received a higher level of support and wish to increase their independence.” Perhaps people move from No 9 to No 13.
  3. On No 14 Queens Road we have ‘Tŷ Nesaf’, “The project aims to work with the residents to support them to reduce the various harms they have in their lives e.g. homelessness, substance misuse issues, mental health issues and repeat offending. The project also aims to reduce the level of negative impact these individuals may have on the community in general.”
  4. Finally, just out of town, in Borth, we have the ‘Families Temporary Accommodation Project’, and the blurb tells us: “We support residents to increase their control, understanding and involvement around the issues they have identified as needing assistance with, in order to prevent further homelessness.”

COMPETITION OR CO-OPERATION?

So now we know that Aberystwyth, the Queen of Cardigan Bay (or is that Aberteifi?) is blessed with not only Cymdeithas Gofal, providing accommodation for the homeless, those recently released from ‘the secure estate’, alcohol and substance abusers, and others, but that the town is doubly blessed in having The Wallich in the same line of business.

Together they provide many dozens of rooms for their clients, who are then passed on to private landlords and social housing providers with the tenant bond supplied by the ‘Welsh’ Government. A conveyor belt of problems.

from the Cymdeithas Gofal website

Realising how well supplied Aberystwyth is with facilities for those experiencing difficulties (invariably of their own making) some of you may be saying to yourself, ‘I didn’t realise Aberystwyth was so big’. Well, it’s not. It’s roughly the same size as Tredegar.

Yet despite being a post-industrial town, and among the poorest in Europe, Tredegar seems to suffer little from homelessness, certainly it doesn’t have the veritable industry we find in Aberystwyth. So why does relatively prosperous Aberystwyth – apparently – have such a homelessness crisis?

The answer is obvious – the ‘homelessness problem’ in Ceredigion (and Pembrokeshire) is largely imported from over the border. But who cares, everybody’s dipping their beak – from the 262 staff of The Wallich to the private landlords of Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. Plus the ‘Welsh’ Government can tick a few more boxes to claim it’s doing a wonderful job.

(The influence of private landlords, coupled with the proliferation of houses of multiple occupation – and the scarcity of both in Valleys towns – may go a long way to explaining the thriving ‘homelessness’ business in Aberystwyth.)

To answer the heading of this section, I found no evidence of co-operation. Typing ‘Cymdeithas Gofal’ or ‘Care Society’ into the Gwalia Search box turns up nothing. Type ‘Wallich’ into the Cymdeithas Gofal Search box and it comes up as one of many external links.

Which means that greedy Third Sector bodies are now in competition to import England’s problems into a small Welsh town – and you pay for it. You contribute to making Wales perhaps the only county on Earth with a state-funded system of human trafficking.

If the ‘Welsh’ Government has decided that Wales is to become the dumping ground for England’s decrepit, dysfunctional and delinquent – and to judge by the funding provided, this must be the case – then let Carwyn and his gang have the honesty to say so.

♦ end ♦

  43 Responses to “Human Trafficking”

  1.  

    Not only a bigger flag but a misspelling yn y Gymraeg, par for the course for bilingual organisations (in name or heading only)

  2.  

    Excellent work, a can of worms that needs exposing, dealt with and terminated, this is exploitation of the state on an industrial scale, ie robbing our money to pay for and perpetuating the rehousing of trash in Wales. We have plenty of our own to “help”. Why is nobody dealing with this enforced slumming of our communities on a local and national level? Rhetorical question obviously.

    •  

      It would be bad enough if organisations like The Wallich used private donations, but the fact that they are funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government, with our money, makes it completely unacceptable.

  3.  

    I see Stuart Ropke (Community Housing Cymru) has been whinging about Brexit meaning that his members will lose “funding from the European Investment Bank”. Firstly, there is no “funding” from the EIB. They are loans. Capital borrowing to entities who only partly also act as social landlords. Secondly, these loans are not spent on ‘low cost housing’. House building projects are initiated as commercial ventures and low cost housing is usually only a small fraction of any given development. A commercial venture then applies for an EIB loan. This equity is used to underwrite the whole project. The proportion of ‘low cost housing’ is wholly dependent on the planning process.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-41056849

    Perhaps if the ‘Welsh Government’ had actually set up a structure where EIB loans could have been directed towards social provision (like in Scotland), rather than artificially inflating the market for commercial new-builds, which are holiday homes in touristy areas and executive apartments in Cardiff, then the ‘just about managing’ may not have voted in favour of Brexit. I shed no tears for Stuart Ropke and his band of housing executive gravy gulpers. Perhaps he’ll ditch his phone number salary and find a proper job. No more plush lunches with Lee Waters. Let local authorities build council housing instead.

    •  

      There is a Day of Reckoning coming for housing associations. Either they will be made public bodies, and open to closer scrutiny by the public; or they will be regarded as private companies, and hopefully cut off from public funding; or else they will be done away with altogether and the role of social housing provision returned to local authorities, perhaps after the next round of local government reorganisation, which can’t come soon enough.

      Almost everyone on the outside looking in realises that the current model is wasteful and unsustainable.

      •  

        I try to keep an eye on things housing association related, and I don’t have a very positive view of them at all. The most recent moves in Wales seem to be to the effect of reversing the ONS reclassification of HAs to the public sector.

        The claim of Community Housing Cymru is that being classified as being in the public sector reduces the amount they can borrow, thus limiting the number of houses they can build. To me this appears as something of a smoke-screen, that isn’t really about the number of houses that can be built, (there are other ways of producing genuinely affordable housing at a fraction of what is euphemistically called ‘affordable’ housing) but of transparency. I used to be on a committee of management of a housing association, and I was quite amazed over the obsession over confidentiality which had nothing to do with protecting the privacy of individuals, or the vulnerable, but a huge amount to do with avoiding scrutiny, and even proper informed democratic process.

        There is a lot to be said for the retention of HAs in the public sector, with close public scrutiny, ditto with returning the provision of social housing to local authorities, but I personally would like to see direct tenant control and ownership as a feature of social housing provision. There aren’t many tenants who are happy with CEOs on huge salaries, or with the general condescending attitudes of HA staff. Many tenants know they are being ripped off with rocketing rents and service charges, but at present are more or less powerless to change anything.

        •  

          The argument that putting housing associations in the public sector would reduce their ability to borrow is – what we economists call – pure bollocks. They borrow very little on a commercial basis, the one example I’ve come across is the Housing Finance Grant which, yes, sees housing associations borrow money – which is then repaid by the ‘Welsh’ Government. In other words, thee and me, lad!

          The real fear is that by becoming public bodies they will fall under the Freedom of Information legislation, for as Industrial and Provident Societies registered with the FCA they are exempt. Though you have to ask yourself how it is that bodies receiving such vast sums of public funding, whose only assets – the housing stock – was built with public money, can NOT be regarded as public bodies.

          Housing associations must either become fully public or fully private, no more Twilight Zone existence. And if it’s the latter, then they fund themselves as commercial entities.

      •  

        Should have added to my previous post that is likely that HAs will get what they want from a compliant Welsh Labour government, and be returned to being regarded as private sector, and also retain their public funding. It’s not in the interests of the general public, or the tenants of social housing that HAs are in the private sector.

  4.  

    Thank you for highlighting this Jac, very few people understand the connection between ‘services’ for ‘looked after’ children, people with mental health and/or drug problems, the homeless and human trafficking. The people ‘using’ these services, again and again, find themselves being coerced into prostitution. The quality of ‘support’ for them on offer is frequently dreadful, the ‘managers’ of the ‘support services’ are often nurses or social workers who have been removed from previous jobs under a cloud and are in no way suitable to be working with vulnerable people. As for the ‘support workers’ – a lot of idealistic people do apply for those jobs, but they very soon leave when they realise that the people whom they are paid to ‘support’ are not being cared for properly and that they are constantly short-changed as a result of ‘mistakes’ in their wages.

    This problem has it’s origins in the old psychiatric institutions – sexual exploitation of female psychiatric patients (and young male patients) was rife – institutional corruption in psychiatry and social work has existed for decades (hence the constant scandals of children in care being abused and trafficked) and it has not gone away. Patients in the old asylums were invisible – they were locked in, so nurses/doctors/social workers could abuse them and no-one knew. But the ‘clients’ of the new Third sector organisations are just as invisible – they are scattered around places like rural Wales, no-one quite knows who they are, where they have come from, where exactly they are living. Because they have social problems people are wary of them and the result is that NO-ONE knows what is happening to them.

    I found out about this at first hand when I worked as a support worker for an organisation called Prestwood Homes in north Wales about 15 yrs ago. It was undoubtedly a people-trafficking organisation, where female psychiatric patients were being sent into prostitution and male patients were being sent up to remote places like Scotland to work free of charge in labouring jobs. The patients were being abused and brutalised within the homes to prepare them for what was coming next. Any support worker daring to raise concerns at what was going on soon found themselves out of a job. I walked out after one month and reported Prestwood to the Social Services Inspection Unit in Conwy – I was directly threatened. I tried going to Gwynedd County Council – no response from them either. I then found out that Prestwood had a home on Anglesey that wasn’t even registered. I went to the authorities and was told that I was wrong, no such home existed. well I had a friend who was employed in it!

    I investigated and discovered that the social services, local psychiatrists and GPs knew all about Prestwood – as did the police. Everyone stood by and watched – despite patients running away INJURED. The police returned the patients to the ‘homes’ without asking them why they’d run away or how they had sustained their injuries.

    There was at least one rape at Prestwood that was never reported to the authorities.

    One of the support workers at Prestwood later went on to train as a social worker himself. He later told me that social work was a totally corrupt profession, that everyone knew about Prestwood and that there was collusion with what was going on at the highest levels. Whilst he was training as a social worker he was sent ‘on placement’ to a ‘mental health unit for young people’ which was every bit as bad as Prestwood. He raised concerns with his tutors – nothing was done. Those tutors knew about Prestwood as well – because I had told one of them! I then found out that a number of people had told this tutor about Prestwood, because like me, they had asked him who they needed to report the matter to. That tutor is now Director of Vale of Clwyd MIND. But then MIND knew all about Prestwood as well! So a MIND rep told the nurse manager of the Hergest
    Unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd – only to find out that he knew too! EVERYONE knew. Not one of them – apart from a few green support workers like me – tried to stop it. We were all threatened.

    That is how people trafficking was taking place along the north Wales coast for ten years until about 2012 in pull public view. I suspect that the people who owned Prestwood are now operating under a different name. A friend told me last year that Prestwood was even worse than I knew – he said that it was part of a massive organised crime network with links to gangsters and money laundering. It was certainly profitable – social services in Liverpool were paying Prestwood £2000/week to ‘look after’ the clients (nearly all of the clients were from Liverpool).

    I note that Gaynor has referred to the clients as ‘trash’. The real trash are the people running those operations and the spineless, craven local doctors, social services, Councils and politicians who know what is going on but are not saying a word. As for the clients – some of them are very difficult. But it’s amazing how many of them aren’t – but nearly all the young women at Prestwood had been sent into mental health ‘care’ because they had been raped or sexually assaulted. So they were sent to Prestwood where they were groped and groomed for prostitution – all in the name of ‘therapy’. They young women who objected to being intrusively touched or refused to find themselves a ‘boyfriend’ were told that they were the ones with the problem. By the way, the ‘therapy’ involved discussing sex and watching porn films. The ‘therapist’ delivering all this is now dead thank God but was a ‘trained psychologist’ from Bangor University.

    It is a disgrace Jac, an absolute disgrace. A squad of undercover police officers need to disguise themselves as students and start enrolling on social work courses or getting jobs as support workers, it is that serious.

    •  

      I must confess that I’d never heard of this Prestwood place on Anglesey – where was it, exactly? – but I think we’re talking about different things. You’re alleging the involvement of gangsters, the systematic abuse of inmates, and official denial at all levels.

      What I’m discussing is the importation of people, some just released from prison, some with drug and alcohol problems, others homeless, so that certain organisations can pull down lots of public funding for looking after them. And then, seeing as the racket is so rife in Aberystwyth, I suspect that local landlords, people with houses of multiple occupation, are also benefiting.

      I say that because about six or seven years ago there was a claimed shortage of student accommodation in the town, so many locals with a bit of spare cash bought the big houses, of which Aberystwyth has so many, looking forward to a big pay day. Some borrowed money. But it never came; a) because Aber’ began to get bad reports which resulted in falling applications, and b) the university itself built a whole new village up on top of Bronglais.

      I wrote about it here in December 2015.

      The money being given to organisations like The Wallich and Cymdeithas Gofal runs to millions every year, and there are other organisations operating in the same field. Which means that the Welsh public purse is being used to fund the importation of problematic people that Welsh communities would not want living in them – if they were informed, and if they had the choice.

      I believe that these problematic people should have been left where they were and the funding better used.

      •  

        The two syndromes are connected Jac – the clients of places like Prestwood, once they are deemed to have been ‘rehabilitated’ then become the clients of social housing, either in Wales or elsewhere. Prestwood was a chain of ‘nursing homes’, which homes in Llandudno, Felinheli and Anglesey. You make the point that you would rather the people with social problems were left where they were and I can understand that – Liverpool City Council undoubtedly was delighted to send it’s difficult expensive citizens to Wales. But among the difficult drug users and violent offenders are people with learning disabilities and mental health problems who are not violent sexual offenders – many of them have been the victim of crimes themselves. But they are all been fed into the same corrupt machine.

        Furthermore, in the way that the folk living at Prestwood were transported to Wales, I know young people from Gwynedd who were sent to England on similar ‘placements’. The people involved are transported across the UK to ensure that no-one who is concerned about them witnesses what is going on. Don’t be fooled – this is not only happening to drug addicts and nasties, this is happening to vulnerable young people per se.

        It is a major problem in Wales because the scumbags running these rackets can buy cheap property in Wales to set up in business and of course house their ‘clients’ in isolated locations.

        Yes, public money is being used to fund it all. If you look at the wording of the grant applications, it is all couched in terms of supporting the disabled, the homeless, people with mental health problems and the dipsticks sitting on the relevant committees are either too stupid to see what is happening or they are in on the racket themselves. Carwyn needs to admit what is going on and put a stop to it.

        •  

          I think Carwyn should do the honourable thing and “spend more time with the family” and let Jac set up a shadow administration in Wales before it is to late. We need a fire-breathing Welsh dragon to incinerate these third sector bodies that find it so easy to extract public funds from a Welsh Government in hibernation mode. Rant over !

  5.  

    Excellent bit of investigative journalism again Jac. I agree with Gaynor: a can of worms has been opened. I think the time has come to involve Welsh Government Internal Audit Unit and possibly the European Commission. This is driven by European Social Fund {ESF}. It is now time for auditors to investigate whether correct monitoring and evaluation processes have been followed. I am examining in detail the public funding provided to third sector organisations operating in Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire and what monitoring and evaluation has been undertaken by funding authorities: this being a condition of European grant funding. Correspondence is continuing. These third sector organisations are not accountable for their actions to the local electorate and not subject to scrutiny from elected Councillors. Ceredigion County Council’s Housing Department appear to have a “management agreement” with The Care Society. I shall be writing to their new CEO shortly to establish whether {through that agreement} the Housing Department has delegated its duty to cooperate with the Responsible Authority {Police, Probation and Prison service} to provide temporary / permanent housing for MAPPA-eligible offenders. The MAPPA process requires robust risk assessments to be undertaken when housing convicted serious offenders {including sex offenders}. We now need to establish whether The Care Society is qualified to undertake those risk assessments to ensure public safety is not compromised. It is the Council {not The Care Society} that has a duty to cooperate with the police but it appears to have delegated that role to a body that is not accountable to the local electorate. Based on the evidence you have provided Jac, do you think an investigation by National Assembly Public Accounts Committee should be requested, similar to the one recently completed into regulatory oversight of Housing Associations. I’m sure we could both provide interesting evidence to the Committee.

    •  

      The Public Accounts Committee is an avenue I hadn’t considered (perhaps due to having little faith in anyone in the Bay Bubble) but now you mention it . . .

    •  

      Wynne – there’s articles in the London-based broadsheets today concerning the huge numbers of prisoners who HAVE been convicted of violent and sexual offences who are about to be released early and ‘accommodation’ is being sought for them as we discuss this. I wonder how soon it will be before ‘accommodation’ in Wales is offered?

      You and Jac know an awful lot more about the policies and legislation in this area than I do – I suspect that much of it is being flouted.

      •  

        The issue of the use of public funds to privately exploit vulnerable people is a scandal that more and more people are talking about and starting to expose.

        The difficulty in Wales is that democracy is the route for resolving disagreements through discussion and debate. My particular difficulty is that your AM or mine is not rigorously interrogating these matters, there is little discussion or debate about this in the Senedd.

        Jac you describe yourself as a reactionary and a conservative, which is fine.

        You might not want to enter the doors or be associated with the Quarry Cafe in Machynlleth but to blame it on “the wife” who wanted to visit the town’s street market is not very gallant! The question in my head was why couldn’t “the wife” take herself off to the street market on her own. You would not then have been exposed to the “iniquities” of the Quarry Cafe.

        The key issue is that these organisations are so self confident in marketing their services to the cafe customers because they do not feel the need to be accountable to justify the detail of what they do and how the public funds are used.

        When we do engage with the full diversity of Wales, even west Wales we become aware of the really harsh realities of life for many of our fellow citizens. I find listening to some of their stories of daily living is like revisiting aspects of a Dickens novel, though the reality of these contemporary real lives are often even more chilling?

        AMs must be aware of some of this reality why are they not instigating a thorough investigation?

        •  

          Unlike Jac I am able to cope with places like the Quarry Café and when I was still living in Gwynedd I used to sometimes drop into the Quarry Café. I am well-acquainted with the clientele of such places. They have no idea at all of what is going on – they will simply believe that the organisations that we are discussing are helping out people having a hard time. Yes, sometimes they or their friends will land a job as a support worker and notice that the care and quality of accommodation is shite, but to work out just how bad it is, you need to know what signs to look for at the level of the managers. The managers are past masters are getting rid of support workers who look like they might realise that something is wrong and talk about it. These organisations are very good at spotting which staff will be complicit with abuse and it is they who will become ‘senior support workers’ or get promotion within the organisation.

          The hippies who hang out at the Quarry Café are a slightly different breed – they too need grant money for their various activities, but their activities are small scale, often not very successful and don’t involve a trade in vulnerable people. Trading in people is big business and you need links to corrupt medical and welfare professionals and local authorities. Knowing a few bent coppers helps as well, so even if the clients do try to run away or report abuse nothing will be followed up.

          By the way, one member of the Public Accounts Committee is Neil Hamilton. That wasn’t a very good idea…

          Wynne – just read your comment re MAPPA – yes they are clouded in secrecy. And some MAPP teams have some very inappropriate members. One member of the MAPP team in Gwynedd was an alcoholic abusive social worker who had on at least one occasion fabricated evidence against a patient in an attempt to secure a conviction against him after the patient made a complaint about the dreadful standards of ‘care’ dished out by the Arfon Community Mental Health Team. The rest of the MAPP team thought that the alcoholic social worker was appalling – I’d be interested to know who makes the appointments to those teams.

      •  

        MAPPA {Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements} is a very secretive process. I’m coming up against a brick wall when making enquiries, even when using the FOI Act.

        •  

          What that tells us is that these people are not used to answering questions, and that’s because no one asks any. It’s a hell of a system; billions are dished out every year and once it’s gone the ‘Welsh’ Government loses all interest.

  6.  

    Not directly linked to this topic but all contributing to the stench of rotten corruption, Ceri Edwards’ tweet in your column strikes a note. The Flint Ring is still being debated/discussed on IMJ’s NationCymru, generating more heat than light. Couldn’t get the point across to other commentors that the excessive concern with Tourism benefits of Longshanks’ castles is in itself destructive. You get the feeling with some of these people that as long as tourism paid a decent hourly rate they would put up with all the rest of the crap that comes with it, even chuck the occasional Welshie off a tower to add realism. At least one guy came up with the idea that new ventures getting government backing should be native owned, ideally with worker participation. Bear Grylls will love that !

    •  

      I don’t think its destructive. The ring was… yes, because it was commemorating our defeat… but the castles… quite a few of them have some importance to our history… Conwy which the Tudors snuck into for example… Harlech – supposedly a great feat of engineering, supplied by sea (which its current predicament makes it all the more amusing) and the fact that Owain Glyndwr took it so easily (Yes Jac, Welshmen need to pay to enter the castle) all builds up to the folly of England ever thinking we could truly be conquered.

      But they all also sit in ruin – that is worthy of commemoration.

      •  

        A common theme for me from these pages is how we build a majority, forge strong relationships and alliances.

        I was listening to a retired professional Welsh woman who felt strongly about sustaining her language, identity and culture. She had signed the petition against “The Ring” and was as appalled as I was with the crassness of the decision.

        I said one thing I worried about having observed Native, indigenous and First Nation people across the world is how they sometimes sustain their identity, culture and language but end up living in ghettos, reservations, closed communities and are shut off from other citizens. I mentioned some of the First Nation communities in Canada or the Native Americans in USA.

        She acknowledged this and said in her opinion this was already happening in small pockets in Wales. She reported on a ghetto in a small area of Caernarfon, she gave it a name in Welsh that I did not pick up on. She said it was close knit everyone spoke Welsh and strongly identified with their culture but there were major issues of mental health needs, addictions, criminality, low educational attainment and one or two parents there were desperate for their children and young people to break out and form relationships with others not connected to this small community. There were definite strengths in this community but felt they were becoming more and more isolated from what was going on elsewhere in Wales or wider a field.

        It made me think about how you would go about tackling such concerns or maybe this is not a concern others observe or feel. I raise it as much in hope of being told that it will never develop further in Wales.

        •  

          Do you want to give the fourth paragraph a bit more thought? I recommend it.

          •  

            Reflecting on your recommendation, yes very difficult to write because was not direct observation of mine, (I have no detailed personal knowledge of Caernarfon) I was not aware of this “apparent reality”but the lady I listened too was genuinely concerned for the well being of the young people. Without knowing the specific details it is worrying to hear such a description.

            That was why I was hoping for a strong comeback saying I was naive or just offensive for even recording it.

            The correct challenge is obviously to go and look at the hard data at individual ward level. Those in the know will be able to produce the hard evidence to challenge this anecdotal suggestion of difficulties.

            If I am totally wrong and out of order your respondents will provide the evidence and tell me in no uncertain terms. I want to build bridges not tear them down.

            If my thought and reflection is completely wayward people will provide the feedback required. Writing uncomfortable things is what this blog does.

            •  

              Jac – I hope you’ll feel able to post this message of mine up in response to Paul. I suspect that the area of Caernarfon that he is referring to is Sgubor Goch – the lady whom Paul spoke to described it pretty much as it was always described to me. There were problems of the sort that the lady described there, but the handling of those problems by the ‘authorities’ was so ham-fisted it was beyond belief. The North Wales Police served a ‘crasbo’ on some of the residents – the crasbo in question being a ‘criminal asbo’, the first of it’s kind in the UK. The crasbo was an ASBO served on a group of people. They were all residents of Caernarfon, all born and brought up there, who used to congregate outside one of the groups houses regularly and basically get pissed. They were not violent – although they were a bit of an eye sore – but they LIVED in the houses from which they were banned!

              I knew two members of that group quite well – their main problem was that they were alcoholics, no more, no less. They needed drying out, not criminalising for getting drunk in their own front gardens. There was no treatment for alcoholics available at the Hergest Unit, Ysbyty Gwynedd. People seeking help for that are told to leave. If they do not leave, the Hergest Unit/A & E will call the police and throw them out. If they go to see their GP they will be put on the waiting list for CAIS, a Third sector organisation that is dismally failing to cope with the drink and drugs problem in north Wales, despite being given millions by the Welsh Gov’t. I was told that the waiting list for CAIS is about a year.

              That is why the alcoholics were getting drunk out the front of their houses…

              •  

                Sally, you are remarkably well informed about events in the far north, I shall have to draw on your knowledge from time to time.

                •  

                  Sally thank you for this information. I think if readers Google Sgubor Goch they will be able to read other reporting on this, they can reach their own conclusions.

                  It is certainly a little scary raising some of these issues, getting all the publicly available evidence is not easy.

                  •  

                    Unfortunately Paul, that is because the evidence is not publicly available. The Daily Post, BBC News Wales etc did not report what was actually going on, because they relied on the North Wales Police and Ysbyty Gwynedd for their information. I knew exactly what was going on throughout the 80s, 90s and up until about 5 yrs ago. I was, variously, a student, a patient, a carer, a support worker and an academic with a research interest in the sociology of health/social care.
                    Vulnerable people were being abused and mistreated on a massive scale by the very people who were being paid to help them. I witnessed it repeatedly over decades.

                    The people doing the abusing were running every organisation that the media went to for ‘comment’. No wonder the truth never emerged. Of course, anyone with a brain could have worked out that something was very wrong – north west Wales had the second highest suicide rate in the whole of England and Wales, the health outcomes for just about every condition were terrible in north Wales and towns and villages in rural north west Wales had high rates of crime and drug/alcohol abuse. No-one was prepared to ask the right questions because those in power knew that the answer was institutional corruption… And the politicians were drawn from those social groups who were doing the abusing.

                    What can one do when two Ministers of Health – Jane Hutt and Mark Drakeford – were former social workers, in regions where the social services had been infiltrated by paedophiles? Where another Health Minister – Lesley Griffiths – was a former secretary in one of the hospitals mistreating people and was a former Councillor from a Local Authority which ignored the biggest paedophile ring in the UK (Wrexham)? When another Health Minister – Brian Gibbons – was a GP working with doctors abusing their positions? And when the leaders of Gwynedd County Council during the years when it concealed the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal – Ioan Bowen Rees and Huw Vaughan Thomas – advised on the establishment of the National Assembly? Huw Vaughan Thomas is now the National Auditor for Wales, he’s in the news today in relation to the man named on Jac’s blog who is involved with social housing (Stuart someone, sorry but I’ve forgotten how to spell his surname).

                    We have a terrible problem in Wales – it is a country of small tightly knit communities where everybody knows each other, which is brilliant if the honest people are in dominant positions. But if it’s the crooks in charge it’s a total nightmare.

  7.  

    That exchange of yesterday between Paul,Jac and DrSally shows up the weakness of a devolved regime that concerns itself with Cardiff and its immediate environs with minimalist attention to the delivery of real services in other parts of Wales. It has focussed almost exclusively on building bureaucracy and a”facade” of action yet it’s failing abysmally to produce services and solutions that match the resources (mis)spent.

    •  

      People naturally existing in a place or country rather than arriving from another place have issues of living different from other citizens but in part also the same issues of living.

      As the pages and pages of this blog record the challenges to citizens determined to maintain identity, language and culture are great, the working through of those consequences can impinge on physical and mental health. Particularly where oppressive powers are used that cause deep seated injustices.

      In my own local authority, Conwy County Borough Council the needs of citizens with mental health needs, learning difficulties and physical disability are often addressed in a haphazard way which causes great distress. Often their interaction with the state further harms their well being. The legal structures are sometimes ignored or are described by some officers as not “fit for purpose”.The lengthy Council reports do not do justice to the reality on the ground, scrutiny in my judgement is perfunctory.

      Take the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. Many vulnerable people have their liberty deprived, it then it takes many months beyond the legal limits for this deprivation to be assessed, people’s basic human rights are abused. If you live on Ynys Mon you can guarantee you will wait for more than a year, it is an absolute scandal the Health and Social Care Inspectorate and Welsh Government know about it but are wilfully blind and determined to take no action.

      I have encouraged and exhorted the Daily Post to report on the detail of these matters they determinedly refuse.

      The biggest issue is the ineffectiveness of the political parties in opposition at both Welsh Government and Local Authority level.

      Until we can persuade enough people to raise these issues, they will remain largely hidden. People are fearful of raising the issues because they often experience real hostility from the paid staff who are meant to provide a high quality service. The service appears captured by the self interests of the providers rather than to enhance the individual users well being.

      I know journalists read this blog, I was only speaking to a BBC journalist the other day who acknowledged the significant issues it raises, of course that does not mean Editors encourage further investigation of the hard detail!

      We must however continue to talk and write about it.

    •  

      Whilst I would not agree with many of the comments about the voluntary housing provision, and this is from the point of view that the previous provision was non existent especially for single homeless people,and the experience of Councils managing specialist housing eg for people with learning difficulties, Women’s Refuges was dire, there are undoubtedly problems about placing vulnerable children and adults in provision in rural Wales. Examples include:
      1. Independent fostering agencies (IFAs)where young people from all over England and South Wales are placed in isolated placements. Their lack of cultural fit with the area and their call on very scarce resources eg Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service is a real problem. Whilst aware of the problem for many years, the Welsh Assembly has not tackled it. I believe it has been addressed in Scotland. There are also problems in getting access to suitable educational provision and seeing families regularly. IFAs are mainly owned by private equity companies – an example of LAs being bled white by the private sector.
      2. Specialist schools and children’s homes often in isolated settings run by … private equity companies. Similar problems to (1) above except they often buy in the specialists and then charge the LEA/LA. Huge fees. The only advantage for the local community is that they provide significant numbers of jobs.
      3. Very small specialist private units for adults, again huge fees, but do provide some jobs.
      Having a rather pedantic interest in the history of social welfare, there is nothing new and rural areas in the C19th were the home of numerous charitable and private facilities as well as early poor law inspectors commenting on whole communities subsisting on ‘boarding out’ allowances. Moving forward to the C20th, there are plenty of examples of this with TB sanatoria, added to which the redeeming power of the countryside has always had its supporters. Then there is the mixed history of the evacuation of children and the aftermath in Wales.

      The difference now is that WAG could legislate to stop some of this provision on the very simple basis that if an area cannot meet its own health and education needs for its own population and it is very difficult to recruit Consultants in rural Wales, then what is the sense of bringing in another group often with serious problems to make it even less likely that a service is provided to local people. County Councils through the WLGA could make far more noise and ask much more searching questions if planning is sought.

  8.  

    Llais y Sais is very vague about that Christopher Wood. I suspect that he based himself at Tregaron while working in Solihull, lodging for a few nights in the week. Like many Sais he probably thought Tregaron was right out in the wilds and he could bring kids there for hanky panky on weekends, half term etc. Amazing that all these pervs think Wales is a good place to set up shop.

    •  

      He could just as easily have been moved by a probation company. Or maybe his parents have retired there.

      But you’re right about some people over there – and here – thinking that Wales is just perfect for English paedophiles and others they want to get rid off.

      •  

        ‘Wales is just perfect for…others they want to get rid of’

        Between 1989-91 I worked as a biomedical researcher in St George’s Hospital Medical School, London. It was made very clear that I was nothing but a Welsh sheepshagger, but then the whole institution was shot through with dreadful snobbery and racism, as well as serious corruption. The bunch of pompous self-styled Top Doctors that I worked with openly joked about sending the really bad doctors to Wales. At first I thought that these comments were yet another dig at me for daring to be a graduate of a Welsh university. I then realised that they were deadly serious and I even watched the process in action.

        They had a gynaecologist working there who was incredibly difficult and who was endlessly sexually harassing the female staff – quite serious sexual harassment as well, cornering young overseas cleaners and groping them etc. This man’s high point was having sex with a colleague of mine in one of the research laboratories during work hours (or should I say the high point that I actually knew about). He fell out with everyone and failed his professional exams. They did indeed send him to Wales. He was frozen out of the London circle and he now works as a Consultant in Cardiff and Vale Health Board. He has a private practice at Cardiff Spire Hospital and is a leading light in Cardiff Bay Yacht Club. His patients have no idea at all of his past. I doubt that he has changed in nature and I dread to think of the misconduct on his part that is probably being concealed by Cardiff and Vale.

        When I lived in north Wales, again and again I heard friends and neighbours comment on the poor quality of some doctors in Ysbyty Gwynedd and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. I knew the histories of some of these doctors – like the man whom I knew at St Georges, they had been frozen out of other regions as a result of very bad behaviour and ‘sent to Wales’. There are doctors who would like to come and practice in Wales, but they are being deterred because they know how poor some of their colleagues that they will be obliged to work with are. Good doctors don’t want to work with unsafe colleagues who abuse patients and have been kicked out of other places.

        Wales is being used as a dumping ground by the medical establishment. What really pissed me off at St Georges was that although they knew this, they would then point a finger at Wales and tell me how crap it all was there. Furthermore, things weren’t that brilliant at St Georges – I witnessed some very serious wrongdoing which was concealed. Just before I went to work there, their Professor of Paediatrics was jailed for child porn offences. The London hospitals get away with shocking behaviour as a result of their celebrity patients, often with media connections, so their reputations remain intact. When I was at St Georges one private patient of the Prof of our dept was one of the most high profile BBC stars of light entertainment, a really famous name. She had no idea of the malpractice happening in the dept run by her doctor, but I have no doubt that this lady’s influence in the media and her open praising of the Prof in newspaper interviews helped St Georges maintain a reputation that it did not deserve.

        Another very big name on the BBC also knew about the sexually harassing gynaecologist who was dumped in Cardiff. That was Lord Robert Winston, the media friendly doc with the moustache, star of TV series like Child In Time, the ethical face of fertility treatment. The sexual harasser worked for Winston at Hammersmith before he worked at St Georges. Winston will have known what he was like and as ever in medicine, he didn’t deal with him, he just passed him on to someone else. Who then passed him on to Wales. Winston was a Westminster Gov’t health advisor.

        Is it surprising that there are problems in the Welsh NHS?

        By the way Jac, Dafis and all the regular correspondents – have you noticed how keen the Westminster Gov’t are on locating new prisons in Wales? The biggest prison in Europe came to Wrexham and now there’s talk of another one at Port Talbot. Would the residents of Richmond-Upon-Thames accept a Titan prison on their doorsteps? Research from the US showed that socio-economically politically powerless regions accepted prisons on the grounds that they’d ‘provide jobs’ and ‘boost the economy’. They don’t – no-one wants to live near a prison and businesses move away as well. In the US there are towns where there is bugger all but a massive prison that has killed of whatever was there previously. Wrexham was conned into believing that prison would help revive their town – MPs like David Hanson lied to the constituents. I note that Port Talbot is fighting back – for their sake I hope they win. If the Westminster Gov’t want to embark on a massive prison building programme to incarcerate people who are chaotic, can’t cope and have mental health problems and drug problems rather than treating them, someone needs to ensure that those prisons are built in the constituencies of Tory Ministers.

  9.  

    I disagree with your tweet re. research into use of elephant grass as a raw material for building products. This type of application could be a contributor to improvements, one of many, certainly NOT a major part as the stuff would need to be grown in large quantities fairly close to market. I would suggest that Aber Uni should partner with an organisation that might be interested in promoting a range of practical solutions rather than a self-centred preachy outfit like C.A.T

    •  

      It’s all very well talking about elephant grass, but where are the elephants going to come from, and who’s going to look after them?

      •  

        Don’t be too worried about that. If the Sais succeed in turning large swathes of Wales into “outdoor activity zones” then some bright spark will promote the idea of introducing elephants to add to the “diversity offering” with some exotic environmental theory to justify it. Enough to make you reach for that gun.

        •  

          I was thinking of the apocryphal tale of the Welsh Labour council debating buying a couple of gondolas for the local lake. Pipes up Dai Sledge at the back, ‘Tidy, mun, but who’s gonna feed ’em’?’

          •  

            No problem for a Labour Council- they’d employ 2 party members or their spouses/offspring for those nonjobs or sub it out to a 3rd sector organisation “specialising” in that kind of “work”.

  10.  

    Labour’s disunity is still there despite their protests that all is well. On SKY news :

    Politicians on the “floppy left” are too scared to confront the facts on sex grooming gangs because they fear being branded racist, a Labour MP has said.

    Sarah Champion, who resigned last month as Labour’s shadow women and equalities minister, also accused many London-based colleagues of misunderstanding towns in northern England……

    What took her so long to figure out that London centred politicos can’t see and don’t care about the remoter “provinces”. Smells just like the Fall of the Roman Empire. Bring it on.

  11.  

    that KindaVillage “community” has rural colonist written all over it. 80 acres of 1st class farmland now turned over to some good lifers with a stack of money. Make no mistake you need serious money to buy that kind of place these days, that’s why local people can’t get into farming on a decent scale – priced out by incoming Anglos who’ve cashed up in the pricier parts of England or have access to capital beyond natives’ reach .

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