Jul 202014
 
No insult intended to any reptiles reading this.

NO INSULT INTENDED TO ANY SNAKES OR REPTILES READING THIS ARTICLE.

Wales is a small country, and once you start delving into the darker recesses of public life you uncover organisations of which you’ve never heard, you discover avenues of questionable funding, and you see names cropping up over and over again. This interconnectedness is not healthy; especially when so many of the shadowy groups and individuals influencing political decisions in Wales have minimal knowledge of our country and serve agendas that are dismissive of or hostile towards the best interests of the Welsh nation.

Everywhere you look in the public life of Wales you find English-run organisations of limited or negligible benefit to Welsh people yet enjoying wholly disproportionate political influence and seemingly unlimited funding. In fact, the more I study how Wales is run, the clearer it becomes how badly the interests of the indigenous Welsh are served. Seventeen years on, those who voted devolution into existence are a forgotten and neglected people.

Here are some examples that should help explain what I’m condemning.

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In my previous post I dealt with the bright young things of the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre. Though as questions remained unanswered about the structure of the group I sent an e-mail to the parent body, the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (an object lesson in short, snappy names, these people). The reply, from Diana Clark, Executive Officer, began, ‘Dear Roy, I hope you are keeping well’. I don’t know the woman, so the unwarranted familiarity was mildly offensive. Recovering my composure I perused the information Ms Clark supplied. On WTSWW managementthe left you will see the management team, though I have no idea why this can’t be made available on the website. Maybe some of these names will register with readers. The chief executive seems to be yet another fairly recent arrival in our country, who also serves on PONT . . .

I know, you’ve never heard of PONT, and neither had I. The acronym stands for Pori, Natur a Threftadaeth (Grazing, Nature and Heritage), here’s a link to their website. It appears to be yet another publicly-funded environmentalist group with a fig leaf Welsh presence to disguise its real intention, which seems to be curbing ‘over-grazing’, perhaps a euphemism for farming (though Georges Monbiot’s name is not on the website). I assume PONT is still in existence, for I see ‘Copyright 2014’ at the foot of the page, but no Annual Report after 2010. If PONT is still in existence, and still receiving funding from the ‘Welsh’ Government (as shown on other Annual Reports), there should be a more recent Annual Report available.

Maybe PONT had a hand in persuading Alun Davies, recently sacked Minister for Environment and Food in the ‘Welsh’ Government to reduce funding to our farmers and transfer it to “rural development projects” back in January. In other words, to Greens, hippies and other invaders who don’t give a toss about us Welsh. Note how the department name even avoids using the words ‘agriculture’ or ‘farming’. More on Alun Davies later.

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Returning to the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, the over-familiar Ms Clark also provided me with the company structure of her organisation (click on panel to enlarge). All fairly straightforward, and easy enough to understand, even for those who don’t like flowcharts. I was however drawn to the mention of Autumn Peaks down towards the bottom, and described as a ‘dormant trading company’, so I did a little investigating.WTSWW structure

The first thing I discovered was that the name given is incorrect. According to Companies House the correct name is Autumn Peak Ltd., based at ‘The Nature Centre, Fountain Road, Tondu, Bridgend’, and that it is still active with the next Returns due on November 8th this year. (The company number is 03262690.) Yet it is described in the 2013 WTSWW Accounts thus: “It (the WTSWW charity) also wholly owns a dormant subsidiary, Autumn Peaks Ltd which also operates two charities as inactive companies, Glamorgan Wildlife Trust Ltd and Wildlife Trust West Wales Ltd”.

Turning to DueDil I learned that the very forward Ms Clark became Autumn Peak’s Company Secretary on February 11th, 2008. The only other directors being Dr. Ruth Watkins and Mr Peter Gerald Hunter. There have been thirteen directors since the company was formed in 1996, by the Glamorgan Wildlife Trust Ltd, all of them now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, apart from the aforementioned Ms Clark who, at 55, is a mere slip of a gel, which may account for her flibbertigibbet attitude in dealing with business correspondence.

Of more interest were the figures provided on Autumn Peak by DueDil, which suggest that as a ‘trading company’ it was not a great success. By December 2000 it was well up Shit Creek with total liabilities of £170,000. How did a nature reserve run up debts like this? Did this ruinous adventure pave the way for the merger in April, 2002 with Wildlife Trust, West Wales Ltd? Was public funding used to resolve the situation?

DueDil WTSWW

In the flowchart you will see another company mentioned, this one still active, DWT Ltd. It was not straightforward to track down because, again, the company name is given wrongly; it is in fact DWT (Enterprises) Ltd, company number 02702793. Registered at the same Bridgend address as Autumn Peak Ltd, and incorporated on April 4th, 1992, over four years before the ill-fated Autumn Peak.

This subsidiary is described thus in the 2013 Accounts: “The Charity (the WTSWW) owns the whole of the issued ordinary share capital of DWT (Enterprises) Ltd, a company registered in Wales (Company No: 2702793). This subsidiary is used for non-primary purpose trading activities – namely the provision of holiday accommodation on nature reserves,
catering for visitors and the retailing of bought-in goods to visitors”. The company secretary is Gillian Clark.

The chart for DWT (Enterprises) Ltd suggests that it took on the debts of Autumn Peak and has limped along ever since. While not as far up Shit Creek as Autumn Peak managed to get it has definitely turned into that side stream with liabilities in excess of assets for the past four years.

DueDil WTSWW 2

The third company listed in the flowchart is ‘WTSWW Ltd’, a name that, again, will get you nowhere unless you have the full name, which is of course, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales Ltd. The company number is 04398959, and it’s a private company limited by guarantee and listed as a non-trading company in the business of “Botanical and zoological gardens and nature reserves activities”.

The chart for WTSWW Ltd looks pretty healthy; cash in the bank of £910,936 and net worth of over £2.5m. Though this may be a little misleading as Companies House makes reference to nine outstanding mortgages, which almost certainly accounts for the bulk of the assets. The company secretary is, again, Ms Diana Gillian Clark. In fact she is listed as company secretary for five companies; in addition to the three mentioned here, we can add The Wildlife Trust (West Wales) Ltd and The Glamorgan Wildlife Trust Ltd. She took on all five posts in January and February 2008.

DueDil WTSWW 3

The WTSWW is also a registered charity, number 1091562. And it’s there you can find the most recent set of accounts. The accounts confirm, under ‘Tangible Fixed Assets’ just under £1.5m in ‘Freehold Nature Reserves’ Among a multiplicity of other fascinating facts contained therein my eye was drawn again to the name DWT (Enterprises) Ltd (the still active trading arm), where I learnt that this company returned a trading loss of £5,035 yet spent £137,205 on staff costs! I shall repeat that for the hard of reading: This company spent over 137 grand employing staff who obviously possess as much commercial nous as your average Labour politician or, for that matter, Third Sector scrounger. In total – salaries, wages, social security and pension costs – the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales spent £546,899 on staff. So where did it come from . . . cos it sure as hell didn’t come from the ‘trading arms’!

Donations and Gifts amounted to £106,685; Legacies came to £266,444; Fundraising brought in 72,197; and Grants £970,712. Of the latter figure (p25) the greater part comes, by one route or another, from the ‘Welsh’ Government. One grant I would like more information on is the one listed simply as ‘S106’ for exactly £100,000. Update 21.07.14: It seems that S106 refers to a community infrastructure levy paid by developers to local authorities. So which local authority gave the WTSWW £100,000? This levy is supposed to be used for community benefits – how does that apply in this case? There may be a good reason why the Trust is so vague about the details. (Diolch i AK.)

The way the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales operates could be described thus. It persuades old dears not to leave all their money to cats homes; it begs from anyone else with money, including the ‘Welsh’ Government; but the WTSWW raises very little itself of the cash it spends on buying up parcels of Wales in order to provide further employment and recreation for its friends. Now this might be acceptable if the work done was beneficial to the Welsh people, but it’s not. Though if the ‘Welsh’ Government does deem this work to be important then, rather than throwing money at people who clearly couldn’t run a whelk stall, why don’t they do it themselves and provide employment for the people they claim to represent?

If the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales was a private company it would have gone bankrupt long ago. But it’s not a private company, and it has a great advantage over private companies in an unending supply of funding from external sources. Which means that these hectoring and manipulative poseurs can be nonchalant with how they spend that money, which leads to trading arms that run up massive debts, or subsidising the beach bums of the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre and other holiday camps for the English middle class.

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Many of you will have missed the news that Nick Bennett is the new Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. ‘Who the hell is he?’ I hear you shout. Well, for some years prior to taking on his new job he was, from July 2006, chief executive of Nick BennettCommunity Housing Cymru, the umbrella organisation for housing associations. Reading of Mr Bennett’s new appointment made me remember my only contact with him.

It came in a rather strange way, just before Christmas 2010. I had sent a letter for publication to the Wasting Mule. In it I asked Nick Bennett why Welsh housing associations were taking in criminals and other undesirables from England. The letter was not published but instead I received a remarkable e-mail from Pat English, the Mule‘s Letters Editor, which began: “Mr Jones, here are the detailed answers to your points, from Nick Bennett …”

In over forty years of writing to newspapers and other publications I have never received a response in that manner. In his lengthy reply that followed Pat English’s intro one phrase Bennett used confirmed for me that Welsh housing associations are linked to and co-operating with their English counterparts. For in among the denials and unconvincing excuses was this revelatory gem: “There are over two million people on waiting lists for social housing . . . “ ‘Over two million’ – in Wales! For this, remember, was written by the chief executive of Community Housing Cymru.

So what else do we know about Nick Bennett? Well, from November 2000 to October 2002 he was a special adviser (spad) to Mike German, one-time leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Notional Assembly. Then (on his Linkedin front page) there is a gap until April 2004, when he becomes a director of Cwmni Cyfathrebu Bute Communications Ltd, company numbeJohn Lastr 05076125. The other directors were Professor John Last and a Mr Alun Davies. The professor, originally from Liverpool, and a retired academic, is still a busy man, serving on the St. Asaph Diocesan Board of Finance and the Bodelwyddan Castle Trust. The panel (right) is taken from the Glyndŵr University website, for Professor Last is a former governor. A perfect exemplar for those who populate the upper reaches of ‘Welsh’ public life. The other director is of course, Alun Davies AM, the recently sacked Minister for Environment and Food.

Bute 2Let’s look at recent Welsh political history to see if it can offer any clues to Nick Bennett’s career. From 2000 to 2003 there was a Labour-Lib Dem coalition down Cardiff docks, in which his boss Mike German was Deputy First Minister. This would have allowed spad Bennett to put himself about, to ‘network’ and ‘touch base’ with those who mattered, especially in the Labour Party. This probably accounts for him going into business with Alun Davies. From 2003 to 2007 Labour had an overall majority, so we can be certain that his friendship with rising star Davies didn’t do him any harm when he applied for the job of Group Chief Executive at Community Housing Cymru. Coming up to date, Bennett was appointed to the post of Public Services Ombudsman in March 2014, when Alun Davies, his former business partner, was still a popular and influential minister in the ‘Welsh’ Government. Naught but coincidences, of course.

Having mentioned Bennett’s earlier business venture with Alun Davies, Bute Communications, it seems only right and fair to mention another; one that looks suspiciously like another ‘trading arm’ of a publicly-funded Third Sector body. It is called – for it still exists – ‘Community Housing Cymru – Policy and Research Ltd’. The graph suggests another great example of Third Sector ‘enterprise’. Current liabilities exactly match current assets, with net assets (i.e. book value) of £1, and a turnover of considerably less than your average whelk stall.

Community Housing Cymru 1

And now Nick Bennett is the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales. Within his jurisdiction will be all his old friends in the housing associations, who can be guaranteed to generate many complaints. Those bodies that he assured me do not import criminals, ‘problem families’ and other riff-raff from England (though he was unwilling to put it in writing in the Wasting Mule). His years spent smooching politicos will probably ensure that no one with good political connections will ever feel the wrath of his office. Welcome to the nest of vipers that is public life in Wales!

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This is a truly amazing system, one I have written about over many years. A sphere of Welsh life run by, and for the sole benefit of, those with little business acumen and weak links to Wales (but often strong connections to the Labour Party).

Politicians – Labour, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrat – see nothing wrong in showering these incompetents with billions of pounds of public funding to do what could be done cheaper, more efficiently, and with more accountability, by either the private or the public sector. As an example of the amounts involved, since 1999 over one billion pounds has been given, from a single funding stream (Social Housing Grant), to housing associations.

Whereas in healthily functioning democracies commercial interests spend money lobbying politicians and trying to influence legislation for their own financial gain, this being Wales – where private enterprise and commercial activity is regarded with the greatest suspicion – the government actually funds Left wing and Green pressure groups to produce ideas to be turned into legislation that then results in further support and funding for those very same groups!

When the inevitable corruption, incompetence and financial disasters occur, the ‘Welsh’ Government’s natural reaction is to hush it up and / or pour in more money. Made easier by the absence of a national media capable of anything more demanding than regurgitating press releases, and self-justifying Third Sector reports, as ‘News’.

This is the road to national destitution, and explains why Wales is getting poorer, year on year, compared to just about every other part of Europe. Also less democratic. This system must be dismantled if Wales and the Welsh people are to prosper.

  24 Responses to “Nest of Vipers: Third Sector Tales”

  1.  

    Who are the ultimate baddies behind all this? Three simple top down suggestions:

    1. At the top is the UN’s green, communist like Agenda 21 which is implemented through cult like mantras such as Sustainable Development, Smart Growth etc (for example, farming is not considered sustainable. Streets and vehicles are not sustainable. Private land ownership and personal dwellings are not considered sustainable. The families (referred to as family units) that reside in these dwellings also are labeled unsustainable. Public services like electricity (such as for air-conditioners) are not sustainable. Finally, higher education and higher incomes are not considered sustainable.

    2. The European Union: Westminster is a pussycat compared to the European Union where 50-80% of laws affecting us are made. Fabian socialism and fascism in nice clean modern European offices and institutions.

    3. Non governmental organisations and third sector including the horrible, grubby Common Purpose: for the brainwashing and training of the Welsh population, cultural changers and nudging and indoctrination of Wales’ youth to be obedient globalists and sustainable developers – all mostly under the pretext of green things. Political correctness ensures dissent is managed and contained.

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      It’s difficult not to see an attack on Western values underlying much of the Left-Green nonsense being spouted by these people. Its effects are more pernicious in Wales because of our colonial relationship with England. But when these buggers, acting through – equally alien – civil servants can get a Welsh politician to mouth the nonsense Alun Davies spoke about taking money from Welsh farmers and handing it over to the very people these pressure groups represent, then everyone should realise that we have a major problem.

  2.  

    You can see where the public money goes by following the cycle path that follows the railway line from Tondu to Pyle. You’ll soon come across a very well appointed property with new signage and a gravel courtyard. It’s the Parc Slip Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre, run by Glamorgan Wildlife Trust Ltd. It’s a most notable stretch of the cycle path which was recently diverted to the Visitor Centre. Being constructed of ‘timber decking on stilts’ it takes you through an area of ‘ancient woodland’. Take a slight diversion to the old path, however, and you will discover the memorial cairn to the Parc Slip Colliery disaster of 1899, with much dilapidated signage. It’s a memorial to the death of the 112 Welsh men and boys. While the colliery disaster signage is so dilapidated it’s unreadable, the Wildlife Trust signage will tell you about woodpeckers is so nice and new. The ancient woodland claim, of course, is a sham. It’s a ‘regenerated’ coal tip. Those familiar with the area will know the Garw and Ogwr valleys and now closed mineral lines which lead up from the area. It’s bedevilled with the invasive spices of ‘Japanese Knotweed’ blighting the houses of abutting villages. Many of these houses of the native population have become practically worthless. But not matter, the ‘Wildlife Trust’ is organising a ‘Bash Balsam’ weekend starting on Saturday. This Balsam is another invasive species, a small flower, which is apparently upsetting the native eco-system of their precious nature reserve. They takes the cash and sets the priorities.

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      Great metaphor. Sideline and neglect that which is Welsh, that which belongs here; promote and fund the intrusive and the alien.

  3.  

    We live in confusing times. You have people who call themselves as Welsh nationalists but would run a mile at any suggestion that Welsh sovreignity might be exercised on behalf of Welsh people.

    Look at how the Welsh-speaking middle-class has been bought-off by a small investment in Welsh-language institutions. Give them enough to cover their mortgage and any idea of real change goes out the window.

    The largely English third sector should be seen in the same way. Give these middle-class idealists cash to pursue their hobby-horses and you buy them off.

    A lot of Welsh people call themselves socialists, yet they support the American Democratic Party, the British Labour Party, the EU, the IMF all who are backers of globalisation and the disappearence of the nation state.

    For the one percent the nation is a problem. That is why they despise it – fancy a Welsh or any other national government pursuing policies that put the interests of ordinary citizens first.

    Jac talks of Western values under attack from the Left and I think this is a fundamental mistake. Western values – which I would say are free speech, equality before of the law, democracy, private ownership etc – are under attack from looter capitalists, Wall Street against Main Street.

    The present day concerns of the left – sexual politics, the environment, political correctness, open borders – none of this threatens the one percent. They can throw a few dollars at such issues and keep activists happy and employed.

    Meanwhile the mass of the ordinary people are turned off – a majority don’t bother to vote, newspaper sales plummet, right-wing outsider parties that actually address populist issues prosper.

    The way ahead? Talk to everybody, read viewpoints you disagree with, identify the wheat from the chaff. At the moment we’re a long-way from getting a grip on things, although Jac’s researches certainly help.

    •  

      Thought-provoking stuff. Though I’ve been saying that about the Welsh-speaking middle class for decades. Looking back, It was observable in the ’60s for those that wanted to see: a new class of university-educated Welsh speakers had arisen and wanted its place in the sun. Comparable to what was happening among Catholics in the Six Counties, Blacks in the USA, French in Canada, etc. They lined up behind the sincere and selfless minority, then left once the State made enough concessions. That explains a couple of early decades of ‘language activism’ and three subsequent decades of inactivity. Now the State is well into its final assault on the language, the destruction of the Fro Gymraeg, the downgrading of Welsh language broadcasting, and all that’s left is a pathetic rump of CyIG doing silly little stunts that nobody would know about without social media.

      I may not agree with you entirely about the ‘one per cent’ and globalisation – you’re in Bilderberg / Trilateral territory now – but I certainly agree with you about running a country in the interests of the people of that country. That’s why I’m a nationalist, not a socialist. When I was growing up socialists were everywhere, banging on about the ‘Workers’ who, for too many of them, were just pawns in the service of some twisted ideology. I saw those same people as workers, yes, but also Welsh, and I concluded that the best way of improving this country, for them, was through independence.

      That said, your analysis of the modern Left is spot-on and well observed. It is reduced to peripheral issues. Which makes me wonder how strong socialism ever really was – did it ever put down roots? Or did it simply channel and capitalise on disaffection with industrial exploitation and a pre-existing sense of fair play into a non-revolutionary political movement that was bound to peter out with rising levels of prosperity and consumerism that helped disengage many from the political process. In evidence, just look at the Ukip vote in the Valleys in May.

      But to return to what I said earlier, class, and perceptions of class are transient and subject to change, within families, generations, even individuals. By comparison, nationality is something more lasting. Though of course, we can’t overlook the fact that, given the relationship between Wales and England, a Welsh person climbing the greasy pole invariably, and often without realising it, undergoes a process of self-anglicisation. Which reminds me of a big sign above the South Dublin Union in 1916 (can’t remember the exact words) which proclaimed that the working class was the only class never to have betrayed Ireland.

  4.  

    If you believe the SWWWT is not fulfilling its primary task, perhaps you should tell the umbrella organisation: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/ I don’t know about the South Wales Trust, but I am impressed by the Montgomeryshire organisation in connection with the Dyfi ospreys. http://www.montwt.co.uk/

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      The WTSWW may indeed be fulfilling its primary task, I question whether it’s needed, whether we should be pouring in so much money, and who keeps tabs to see that the money is wisely spent. I certainly wouldn’t waste time contacting the umbrella organisation as they’re all in it together. And as for the Montgomeryshire lot, well, in fairness, they are sitting on a goldmine with the Ospreys. Though if they have as much business acumen as their counterparts in the south then they’ll probably screw up.

  5.  

    Much of the problem is Welsh Government sponsored bodies like NRW are more than happy to hand over to the third sector responsibility for carrying out duties they themselves have a statutory obligation to undertake .

    The unelected, unaccountable Wye and Usk Foundation based in Builth for instance has a wage bill of £550,000 p.a. and has received in total more than £12m from public funds to do remedial and conservation work (much of it unnecessary and with no scientific justification) that NRW should be funding and carrying out as part of their remit .
    http://www.wyeuskfoundation.org/

    The WUF started out in the early 1990’s as a voluntary group of local anglers, gillies, and landowners with the sole purpose of reviving the Wyes’ declining population of salmon, but somewhere along the way they were hijacked by people led by a retired dentist who saw an opportunity for themselves.
    Locals who were in at the beginning that had lived and worked on the river their entire lives and had a vast wealth of accumulated knowledge were no longer required. In their place came bright young things with science degrees.

    Salmon numbers meanwhile have continued to decline on both the Wye and Usk not that anyone connected to WUF care, they now profit from selling day tickets for coarse fishing (on beats that once offered the finest salmon fishing south of Scotland), mainly to catch barbel, an invasive species that is non native to Wales and was introduced to the Wye illegally.
    The well oiled WUF propaganda machine would have you believe they are doing a fantastic job – despite salmon numbers on the Wye after 17 years and 12 million quid being still only 25% of what they once were, and now are also in serious decline on the Usk.
    They regularly issue self-congratulatory press releases like this one to tell the world just how wonderful they are.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-20486105

    Anglers who have dared criticise WUF both in print and online have been intimidated and threatened, It was hinted to one serving policeman who ran an angling forum in his spare time that his career was at stake if he refused to take down an entire thread that WUF deemed to be ‘malicious and attacking’.
    The editor of the UK’s biggest selling game angling magazine was put under pressure to sack his River Wye correspondent, who in the eyes of WUF was ‘negative and talked the river down’ and was the reason for poor salmon ticket sales. They suggested he should be replaced with one of their own trustees.
    Thankfully the editor did not bow to their threats.
    There are also other critics that have been threatened with legal action in an attempt to silence them.

    After 17 years WUF are beginning to run out of habitat to ‘improve’ on the Wye and Usk and funding is in danger of drying up, so now they’re looking to add to their empire and have the Twyi, Teifi and the Taff firmly in their sights.

    •  

      Fascinating. Absolutely bloody fascinating! Here’s another group I’ve never heard of, and you say the buggers have had £12m thrown at them for 17 years of failure. Some nosey bastard should make more enquiries.

      •  

        Being a nosey bastard myself, I have just investigated the press release claims on Salmon by WUF. Figures which are used to obtain cash funding from the Welsh public purse. I found that, actually, their claims are indeed false. Scottish wild salmon fisheries show how it is correctly measured. The ‘health of a river’ can only be measured over a five year average due to annual variances. There was a 2012 minor peak due to stocking. Strangely, WUF, as is required on their NRW remit are required to publish the correct statistic. It is here, on their own website…

        http://www.wyeuskfoundation.org/images/salmon_catches.png

        There has in fact been a halving of the salmon take in the Wye since 2010, and it’s a fraction of that of the 1970s and 1980s. More detailed analysis of data can be seen here, and shows the effect of a stocking scheme by WUF funded by the Welsh Government.

        https://onedrive.live.com/embed?cid=FF816E75C9D6E510&resid=FF816E75C9D6E510!214&authkey=AOIjHgt3CcITuAA&em=2&wdAllowInteractivity=False&ActiveCell=%27CatchbyBeat%27!A1&wdHideGridlines=True&wdHideHeaders=True&wdDownloadButton=True

        The effect has been an increase in the salmon in the lower reaches providing commercial gain for landowners on the English borders section of the Wye, those that run commercial ‘wealthy playboy’ fishing but a massive fall in salmon in the upper reaches of the river, wholly within Wales. WUF have also restricted access to these ‘Welsh’ sections of the river.

        Why is a Labour Minister dishing out cash to a third sector organisation to evict Welsh fishermen from a Welsh river in order to boost the lower reaches posh mans playground in England?

      •  

        There does appear to be a miss-match between the population of salmon and trout and the theories peddled by the Wye Usk Foundation.

        So I decided to do some digging to see if there was any reason or correlation. One of the WUF projects that the Wye Habitat Improvement Project (WHIP). The theory was that because the Welsh natives no longer coppice trees on the river bank, they got over-grown and river gets too much shade, thus diminishing the populations of trout and salmon. I then decided to tickle a few old trout and dive a bit deeper…..

        —————-

        The WHIP project in total obtained the following cash funding…

        £355,830 European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund
        £150,000 Welsh Office Regional Development Fund
        £120,000 Game Conservancy Trust
        £99,110 The Wye Foundation
        £60,000 Environment Agency Wales
        £55,015 Countryside Council for Wales
        £5,000 Severn Trent Water

        with invoices directly paid by third parties of…

        £68,634 Cardiff University
        £53,454 The Wye Foundation
        £20,151 Environment Agency Wales
        £17,648 Countryside Council for Wales
        £11,126 Radnorshire Wildlife Trust
        £0.00 Farmers Union of Wales (a strangely itemised amount in the accounts).

        This appears a vast amount of cash for cutting down overhanging trees, installing ‘water-gates’ and remedial work on some feeder streams in the form of bank willowing. They boast that the scientific justification was based monitoring and a PhD thesis by a Mr Robert Luxton of Cardiff University. The project ended in 2002, but I can find no scientific paper published on the matter. I do however, discover, that a Robert Luxton has re-appeared (publicity does not show a doctorate) as a ‘Ways of Willow’ promoter making hanging baskets, biodegradable coffins and other crafts as the ‘Glasu’ project at the “Llysdinam Field Centre”, starting in 2008. The Llysdinam site at Newbridge-on-Wye, has a land management deal with Cardiff University, but is owned by a charitable trust based in Swansea.

        Can anyone find any scientific reports on the WHIP project run by WUF ?

        The only scientific references I find about removing riverbank trees are from the Met Office and the Environment Agency (England) who blamed the removal of such trees and natural containments from the banks of rivers in mid Wales as a cause of disastrous recent flooding to the towns in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire that have occurred since.

        •  

          Ever more imaginative ways to rip off the public purse. And the tabloids can only see ‘benefit scroungers’.

          Leave trees untouched and it harms fish stocks, cut down trees and it results in flooding. And either way, it’s our fault . . . but the English get the money to fix things.

  6.  

    Brychan.

    There has indeed been a small increase in the 5 year average catch on the Wye, this was almost certainly down to the fact that the high-seas netting of salmon off the coast of Greenland (where salmon feed) and Ireland (en route) has ceased as a European wide conservation measure.
    Though WUF would have you believe the small increase is all to do with their efforts.

    It is thought the upper river suffers a lack of salmon because of over abstraction by Herefordshire farmers who take water from the river to irrigate their potato crops leaving little in the river, which makes salmon reluctant to leave the tidal reaches below Monmouth unless there is plenty of rain.

    It’s a long time since the Wye was a considered a ‘rich mans playground’
    Day tickets are now available to fish stretches that were once was a case of ‘dead mans shoes’ and are more likely to be bought buy a car worker from the midlands wanting to catch barbel than a London lawyer wanting to cast a fly for salmon.

    •  

      As I understand it, the biggest threat to salmon stocks in rivers is ‘salmon fluke’ a small parasite usually spread from river to river by canoeists. Strange as it may seem, WUF got funding from the Welsh Government for signage (English only) erected on the banks of the Usk denoting ‘launch points’ for canoeists. A pastime actively promoted by the National Park Authority. This led to a bit of a revolt in the village of Talybont-on-Usk when local residents blocked the road and held a demonstration to prevent trailers containing canoes and 4*4s blocking access to the village.

  7.  

    Another excellent expose, Jac! I like to think of myself as a bit of a political geek generally abreast of Welsh affairs but I had no idea the third sector was so big and insidious. Around five years ago, as a Plaid town councillor, I visited what I would now call a ‘third sector conference’ held in a church hall just off Caereithin Cross – It was not what I was expecting – there was no crusading talk about combatting poverty or improving people’s lives. The main presentation paid lip service to these real problems but informally these delegates were getting together to discuss accessing grant aid – One delegate blatantly said “Well I’ve got ones who can’t use a knife and fork” – The fact is – Our people are mere commodities and their difficulties are opportunities for the third sector. I didn’t fully realise what was going on at the time but your investigations have proved to be the final piece of jigsaw that complete a picture of the racket which is Welsh public life after devolution.

    With reference to Community Housing Cymru, The council housing situation in Swansea really riled them up because the tenants of 14,000 Swansea Council houses rejected transfer to a community housing mutual called Tawe Housing (more jobs for the boys and girls) Despite a video distributed to all tenants fronted by Lucy Owen and featuring a galaxy of English accents from the Shadow Housing Board of Tawe Housing offering the tenants new front doors and landscaping if they voted for transfer. They reason they cited was The Welsh Quality Housing Standard which I regard as basically a charter for privatisation of council houses – The Nick Bennetts of this world are not as Left as you think!

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      Do you mean Fforesfach Cross, or the junction at Caerethin where the old bus garage used to be? (Ah! such memories.) The thing to remember about the Welsh Quality Housing Standard is that not only is it designed to increase the control of semi-secret housing associations over social housing but was dreamt up by these shysters as yet another means of screwing money out of the ‘Welsh’ Government.

      But as you say, the bottom line in the Third Sector is coming up with ever more imaginative ways of conning public money to do things that either don’t need doing at all, or else could be done better and cheaper by both the public and the private sector. Wales now has such a reputation for loose checks on public funding that we are attracting some really weird people and out-and-out con men, and women. Almost inevitable after 15 years of Labour rule and lip-service socialism.

  8.  

    Nick Bennett originally worked for Anglesey Council ,then he went to Brussels for a time as a European officer not sure if it was for WAG as was or still Anglesey or it may have been for Mike German.

  9.  

    You should be aware that a Dr Andrew David Quentin Agnew was a director of the Wildlife Trust (West Wales) Limited, and Autumn Peak Ltd. He now has a new venture with a Mr Roy Bamford in The Iron Room (Eglwysfach) Ltd. Bamford is a regular contributor to the letters pages of the Cambrian News, and most of his contributions are slagging off local farmers. His latest outburst on, 9th July, relates to predators attacking on ground nesting birds. He takes issue with Dafydd Jones, a local farmer, who claimed that the crow and fox population contributes to mortality of chicks of ground nesting birds, while Bamford “sheep can be a significant problem” blames Welsh farmers for allowing their sheep to graze on upland pastures. Are their ferocious sheep on the loose in Machynlleth?

    http://companycheck.co.uk/director/905585178/DR-ANDREW-DAVID-QUENTIN-AGNEW

    Also of note, is that the The Iron Room is a former church hall on a 25 year lease from the Church in Wales at a peppercorn rent and has been in receipt of substantial funding from Community Facility Activity Programme (Welsh Government), CAVO, Ceredigion County Council. They use the logo of the European Agricultural Fund but this was actually refused. They had £113k of public funds in 2013. As a community hall (it’s registered purpose), they had a mere £1020 income in that year. It’s just spivs sponging public funds for professional good-lifers who slag off and hate the native population who are genuinely trying to scrap a living off the land.

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      It’s a hell of a system that’s now in place, effectively funding these buggers to take over.

  10.  

    I have evidence to show he’s not objective,fair and transparent. He does not keep to his word. I have shown a solicitor and he was shocked that I had it. Once, I have sorted out my problem I will be happy to e-mail it all to you. Citizen Smith you will see how corrupt he is!

  11.  

    Some of the £12 million was probably spent on these -https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6226/6214838624_7ed9f5f89b_b.jpg
    A great number of them were sited along the banks of the River Wye. No doubt they were produced at great expense out of our pockets. Just to intimidate canoeists on a public navigation. They didn’t last long because they had not gained permission from the “apparent” sponsors.

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