Mar 152016
 

Back in October 2012, on my old Google blog, in the post Wales: Sicily Of The North, I touched on the emerging story of publicly-owned land being sold off rather cheaply by the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales. Sold to the mysterious, Guernsey-based company, South Wales Land Developments.

Information on the deal was sparse in 2012 beyond the fact that the public face of South Wales Land Developments was one Langley John Davies. As I said back in 2012, “a busy boy, our Langley”, who’d been involved with many companies, but of course information on SWLD was sparse because it’s based in Guernsey.

Some information on SWLD has since filtered into the public domain, this tells us that there are only two directors, Langley Davies and Jane Pocock. Davies has some background in property, but most of his companies seem to have been in finance and loans, perhaps for vehicle purchase.

Pocock’s background as a director was exclusively in vehicles – vans by the look of it – until she joined Davies in another Guernsey-registered company, Imperial House Investments Ltd (Incorporated 30.11.2013), and then South Wales Land Developments.

Lisvane

You’ll note that nothing has ever been filed for either Imperial House Investments Ltd or South Wales Land Developments. And while the role of SWLD will be explained below, I can’t begin to guess at the purpose of IHI. (All suggestions welcome.)

Clearly, Davies and Pocock were unlikely buyers of parcels of land in various parts of Wales, and probably didn’t have the £21m needed to complete the purchase. And although the report from September 2012 tells us that the land has already been transferred to South Wales Land Developments, SWLD wasn’t incorporated in Guernsey until the first of February 2014.

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This was all rather confusing until we learnt last year that the initial offer for the land came from GST Investments, also of Guernsey, and that GST stands for (Sir) Gilbert Stanley Thomas, brother to Peter Thomas OBE; scions of the House of Pies founded by their father Thomas Stanley Thomas, who died last year aged 98.

The quid pro quo for Davies and Pocock distracting attention from Sir Stan might have been him becoming a director of their company Vans Direct Ltd, Company Number 06971144, in September 2013 . . . and no doubt investing ‘a little something’ in repayment for services rendered.

So here are two, linked, questions:

  • Seeing as the original purchaser in March 2012 was Stan Thomas, why has the ‘Welsh’ media avoided mentioning his name, and that of his company, GST Investments?
  • Why have we been repeatedly told that these parcels of land were sold, in March 2012, to a company, South Wales Land Developments, that didn’t officially exist until February 1st, 2014?

We know now that Langley Davies and Jane Pocock were fronting for Stan Thomas, and were no doubt paid well to hide his involvement in the purchase, but why would Thomas have felt the need for this subterfuge?

Part of the answer might lie in the fact that around the same time as the land sales were being ‘arranged’ he and brother Peter were benefiting from another lucrative deal at the expense of the Welsh public purse. This was the sale of Cardiff airport to the ‘Welsh’ Government for £52m.

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The airport had been owned by Glamorgan Country Council and then its successor councils of Mid, West and South Glamorgan until another round of local government reorganisation saw the facility privatised and sold to TBI plc in April 1995. So what do we know about TBI?

A 2004 BBC article tells us, “Stanley Thomas, now 62, started TBI with developer Paul Bailey in the early 1990s, and the firm became a fully listed company on the Stock Exchange in 1994”. True . . . up to a point. The original company, Incorporated on August 8th 1972, was called Markheath Plc, Company Number 01064763

Markheath changed its name to Thomas Bailey Investments Plc in March 1994 and to TBI Ltd in 2009. Clearly using the surnames of Paul Bailey and Gilbert Stanley Thomas to give us TBI. Though Paul Bailey only served as a director of TBI from 28.03.1994 to 28.02.1996, while Thomas became a director on the same date but stayed on until 04.01.2005.

And yet, another curiosity is that TBI seems to have been in existence before Bailey and Thomas became directors. As of September 5th 1992 – eighteen months before they joined – we find five directors, named Springer, Haines, Creber, Rendle and Westcott. While another who became a director at the same time as Bailey and Thomas was a Paul Meyrick Guy. Check out the full list of directors here.

The influx of Iberian names post January 2005 can be attributed to the fact that in 2004 TBI became a subsidiary of (90% owned by) the multinational, Barcelona-based Abertis Infraestructuras SA.

TBI figures

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Before proceeding maybe we should establish who Paul Meyrick Guy is. He lives on Rudry Road in Cardiff or, to be more exact, in the suburb of Lisvane. Rudry Road meanders out into open country, under the M4 and on towards the Rhymni river, through the kind of green fields so coveted by ‘developers’. And wouldn’t you know it – he’s a neighbour to Peter Thomas!

Paul Meyrick Guy has held many directorships . . . many, many directorships. In his 61 years among us Guy has held no less than 111 directorships. Is this a record?

Having mentioned Peter Thomas it struck me as strange that he was never a director of TBI like his brother. Though in the BBC report I linked to earlier, headed ‘Brothers go from pies to planes‘, it says, “The brothers, from Merthyr Tydfil, own almost a fifth of TBI’s shares“. In the graphic above we see that in 2012 TBI’s net worth was £408,634,000, so work it out for yourself.

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It became known in the early part of 2013 that Cardiff Airport had been sold to the ‘Welsh’ Government. And although sold for £52m the site was independently valued in the £20m – £30m bracket, suggesting that the ‘Welsh’ Government paid well over the odds.

According to the article I’ve just linked to, “Ministers bought Cardiff Airport from its Spanish owners Abertis for £52m”. Note that in this report – and other reports at the time – the Thomas brothers’ company, TBI, has now vanished from the picture. But as I explained above, TBI still owned Cardiff Airport, but TBI was now owned by Abertis.

Thomas Brothers

To put the price paid for Cardiff Airport into perspective, consider this: Also in 2013, the Scottish Government bought Prestwick Airport for £1, and Prestwick is a ‘real’ airport, with transatlantic flights.

Also owned by TBI-Abertis was Belfast International Airport, enjoying passenger numbers over four times higher than Cardiff. It too was sold in 2013, to a US company, as part of a package that also included Stockholm Skavsta Airport, terminals at Orlando Sanford in Florida, and an airport management business in the USA. The package price was just £244m.

If Cardiff, with less than one million passengers a year, and airlines abandoning the facility like the proverbial rats, was worth £52m then Belfast must have made up almost all of the package price in the other sale with Stockholm, Orlando, etc., thrown in for good luck!

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The latest news in the land sale scandal is that the ‘Welsh’ Government plans to begin legal proceedings against Lambert Smith Hampton, the company that advised the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales with the valuation of the land. But is LSH the right target? And even if it is, should it be the only target?

There is an obvious and understandable desire on the part of Carwyn and his gang to deny political opponents ammunition, to look ‘strong’ (don’t laugh!), especially with elections coming up in May, but it’s all pointless window dressing.

I say that because the problem exposed by the sales of Cardiff airport and the prime development land reaches deep into the Welsh body politic, and exposes associated weaknesses in the media and elsewhere.

I have always argued that Wales is Europe’s Third World. The greater part of the country is ignored and allowed to decline while investment is poured into the capital at the behest of – and for the benefit of – business interests that don’t give a damn about Wales or the Welsh people. Devolution has only made things worse.

The warnings were there at the very outset, when Lord Crickhowell – formerly Nicholas Edwards MP – and his gang at Associated British Ports, manoeuvred the newly created Assembly into taking out a punitive lease on Crickhowell House, owned of course by ABP, and then to build the new Assembly building on land owned by ABP rather than take over Cardiff City Hall, or Swansea Guildhall which had clearly won Ron Davies’ ‘competition’.

And let’s remember that this crew had already made a killing with the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, using public money to redevelop land owned by ABP. Where was the ‘Welsh’ media when this scandal needed to be exposed?

The ‘Welsh’ media is the Cardiff media, and will support anything it believes is in Cardiff’s interests, even when done at the expense of the rest of Wales. (The city region project and the ‘improvements’ demanded for the M4 being ongoing examples.) And when it comes to powerful individuals like Nick Edwards and the Thomas brothers then men like these are beyond scrutiny and above criticism.

Which explains why few if any Welsh people are aware that the Thomas brothers made a killing out of the sale of Cardiff Airport – because according to the ‘Welsh’ media the vendor was a totally unconnected Spanish company!

Equally, in the land deal, Stan Thomas has not been mentioned in the mainstream media, we’ve only been told of his mouthpiece, Langley Davies, and South Wales Land Developments, a company that exists in name only.

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Let’s be blunt. We are dealing here with corruption. Corruption and incompetence at the very highest levels within a devolved system. Facilitated by a ‘Welsh’ Labour Party that knows nothing about business and can be given the runaround by any shyster spinning a line.cash dispenser

The aforementioned ‘Welsh’ Labour Party then deludes itself into  believing that it creates a ‘balance’ by investing in the Third Sector. But here, again, it is given the runaround by parasites in it for no one but themselves. Here’s a very recent example.

And what benefits do we, the Welsh people, see from the enrichment of Cardiff businessmen, or the billions poured into the Third Sector? We see nothing – this is the cause of our deprivation.

This is Wales in the twenty-first century; the perfect storm of a devolved administration that is little more than a cash dispenser being run by people who understand nothing of the world beyond political debate and who are preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals and interests.

No matter who you vote for in May, nothing will change. This system cannot be tinkered with, or improved from within, it must be swept away. Wales needs a revolution, and a fresh start. Independence, and a new capital far from Cardiff and its malign influences, is the only answer.

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30 Comments on "Pies, Planes & Property Development"

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Marconatrix
Guest

Basically, I agree, although revolutions are always risky. But who has the vision and determination, and indeed the honesty (in so far as that’s possble in a politician), to lead and drive forward your much-needed revolution? Scotland has shown that a very different direction is possible, but why is Scotland so different, not just from London dominated England, but especially from Wales?

I would ask you to listen to Nicola’s conference speech from the other day, but I wouldn’t want to rub salt into your wounds …

dafis
Guest

I accept totally your comment regarding the energy and enthusiasm of the Scottish movement, and how that compares with our Welsh party ( left out the word Nationalist deliberately ! ) . I am more sceptical about the “economic case” as presented by Ms Sturgeon and colleagues. It has holes which have enlarged as the price of oil goes southward, and there are mixed reviews of the long term sustainability of commitments on the social/welfare front. Now there are remedies for the latter, but that damn oil price will be an obstacle to restoring economic resilience.

Leadership characteristics are far more evident in Ms Sturgeon and her “top team” while ours are as grey a bunch as you could ever muster. That enables them to keep matters stoked up even when certain factors militate against them.

Marconatrix
Guest

In fact as I understand it, the drop in oil prices has given a boost to industry in general which has largely made up for the lost revenues. But the economic argument is red herring in any case. Many small nations are doing just fine with far less human and natural resources than Scotland. Meantime the SNP are doing their level best to fight all the Tory meanness coming from England, fight it with one hand tied behind their backs.

Who is going to defend the vulnerable people in Wales? Hardly UKIP I think. All very sad, tragic in fact.

Wynne
Guest

Welsh Government need to comply with the rules set by the Treasury for managing public funds. The rules require policies, programmes and projects to be subjected to benefit v cost analysis. The failure to comply results in the misuse of public funds. Your latest blog post is a good example of misuse of public funds. The Treasury “Green Book” is the bible when it comes to managing public funds. All departments in Welsh Government need to receive a copy.

Big Gee
Admin

Perhaps it would be a good idea for you to download a copy & send it – via e-mail – to all the ‘mighty movers and shakers of Cardiff’?! If nothing else, it should remind them that there are some outside the ivory tower that know of the existence of this publication for the public.

Here’s the link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/220541/green_book_complete.pdf

The Earthshaker
Guest

Good read and glad you’ve connected the dots and exposed this because it stinks to high heaven and I hope this is read far and wide.

Yet I find myself asking if you can do this so easily why does the entire English language welsh media continually ignore facts like this? Could it be down to Labour connections, Stan and Peter are Labour men and I’d bet a few of the acolytes involved in the various companies who did the deals are as well. Alan Edmonds the Fail’s Editor and his Chief Puppet Shipton are Labour mouthpieces, as are a majority of BBC Wales’s journalists. The likes of Ollie Hides and Jason Mohammed are openly hostile to anything Welsh nationalist, the language included and ITV Wales used to employ Lee Waters and Jo Kiernan on its political programmes both Labour Party members and advisors to Labour Welsh Secretary and First Minister’s.

That’s just off the top of my head and when you spell it out like that; we shouldn’t be surprised at the bias/slanted reporting. I’ve heard it said the best thing Plaid Cymru could do to advance the Welsh national cause is invest in an English language newspaper.

Brychan
Guest

You provided an example of RCT Homes advertising a new chief executive at £150,000.

The one that resigned was Andrew Lycett. The Wasting Mule tells us that Andrew Lycett left RCT Homes for reasons that were unexplained on the grounds of “confidentiality”. A more typical corporate response to that question is that he “has found career opportunities elsewhere” which led me to investigate.

Lycett submitted his resignation from RCT Homes at the same time as Cllr Keiron Montague (Labour) announced he would step down and not seek re-election. He is Cabinet Member for Tackling Poverty, Engagement & Housing . He also sat on the RCT Homes board, on behalf of RCT council.

Lycett has actually taken up the role of Finance Director with the Jehu Group, an real estate development company, who beside being a major player at the SA1 development in Swansea, but also has expanded to the west, opening a new office in Haverfordwest, under their subsidiary Waterstone Estates.

Montague, meanwhile, has now taken up a role with Cynon Taf Housing Association, who unlike RCT Homes has a substantial holding of vacant development land.

On your previous post you correctly pointed out the outsourcing of estates administration by a number of local authorities to PwC. A partner of PwC, Lynn Pamment, also sat on the board of RCT Homes, alongside Lycett and Montague. She will, of course, be very conversant with the issues which PwC has been required to ‘assist with’, that of, balancing the budget for Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion councils.This includes selling off land for development..

This, of course, is the very footprint that Waterstone Estates has opened an office for in Haverfordwest for. Waterstone Estates is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Jehu Group, which Lycett is now director.

treforus
Guest

This whole saga has left me incandescent with rage. Years ago I worked for a then nationalised industry and dealt in part with asset disposals. Similarly I have dealt with acquisitions from local and central government. Every rule has been broken- no advertising, no open tendering and (it beggars belief) no overage clauses for a disposal of land north of Cardiff which is south of the M4. I would have expected a bad hour from the boss followed by summary dismissal. But it wouldn’t have happened anyway. Someone in one of the departments would have said “Steady on, should we be doing this ?” I suspect no Council in Wales would have allowed this to happen to them either.

Why then is the Assembly so criminally inept ? I know that one should never impute malice when incompetence will suffice but I’m sure we all have our private thoughts. It saddens me to think that the rule of the Governors General (Peter Walker etc-even Redwood) now seem in retrospect to be periods of enlightened and competent administration.

Brychan
Guest

You asked what for what reason Imperial House Investments Ltd was created. The most likely suspect is it being an abortive investment vehicle or a deal not yet finalised on a triangular chunk of land between the proposed ‘black route M4 relief road’ and the exiting M4, south east of Tredegar House, Newport. It’s currently called Imperial Park. The land in question is sandwiched between an existing Home Office building and an existing Welsh Government building. The value of this land would be significantly enhanced by the ‘black route’ as it will be on a new junction of the M4. Insider info on the black route would be required to make a killing on this one but Imperial Park is already designated as having Tier 2 status for grant aid.

Stan
Guest

I’ve read Jac’s exposes (sorry – can’t work out how to do “accute” accent) for a couple of years now and they should be made compulsory study for anyone in Wales who wants to cast a vote. This latest story reveals once again a cancer at the heart of our Welsh politics, one that the enlightened can clearly see thanks to Jac and his ilk, whilst others stumble around seemingly in denial yet continue to place their cross against anything with “Labour” against it. What can be done about it? I wish I had the answer. Surely the other political parties in Wales, who have the benefit of far greater resources than Jac, were aware of much of what Jac has written for us? But do they rock the boat? Do they f***. It’s left for an individual like Jac to stick his neck out and like the kid who called out the naked Emperor, show us all the bleedin’ obvious. All I can say, Jac, if only a fraction of what you have brought to my attention over the years was lies or bollocks – you wouldn’t be writing now, because the rich and famous and well-connected would have had you sorted by now, one means or another.

I tend to agree with an earlier comment by the author himself – this isn’t necessarily about Labour per se. The likes of Stan Thomas would have attached themselves to whosoever held the power (and pursestrings) in Wales. So much of what we find out has nothing to do with ideology, Left or Right, Unionist or Nationalist, Republican or Monarchist, Third Sector/Public or Private Sector. Jac hits the nail on the head in that it’s all about filthy lucre. These bloodsuckers would attach themselves to any side – all they are interested in is what they can get out of it themselves. But the Donkey Sanctuary in Cardiff Bay, led by a bunch of prize Asses, certainly provides fertile ground for these parasites to thrive.

Enough from me – keep up the good work!

PS – though I write under the name Stan, I am most definitely not the Pieman himself, though I am partial to a good Steak and Kidney.

jim
Guest

Re labour cronies, the new Chair of Wales Arts COuncil is Phil George, sidekick to Dai Smith, both having had important jobs in the BBC and both faithful Labour party supporters. Dai’s son done well – Owen Smith MP. Anyway Phil is one of the bosses of Greenbay TV who seem to get an awful lot of work from S4C and have also recieved public sector funding to develop programmes many years ago
http://www.green-bay.tv/news/2004/04/12/official-opening/
Like many other Cardiff centric or Enlish owned production companies I bet they get another grant when they decide to move west to Carmarthen, to the empire of Trinty St Davids Swansea Graig Pibwrlwyd Townhill University of Wales .. have you been looking at that “business” Jac? …but i digress

Greenbay recently produced the diabolically mad or bad DNA Cymru – talk about flawed science and conflict of interest, see
http://cruwys.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/more-on-s4c-dna-cymru-controversy-and.html
but never mind it proved that Dafydd Iwan was truly y Mab Darogan. What a load of bollocks that was
And guess what this totally flawed series has been nominated for tv & Film awards, along with the other Welsh nominations surley a reflection of the state of the Welsh media – John & Alun, Casualty, faulty science series and a grumpy policeman in mid Wales.. I mean Casulaty FFS? How some of these progs can claim to be ” Celtic” beats me, bit like the dodgy DNA.

Sorry went completely off the point there mun

Aled
Guest

Don’t know if you’ve read this letter from the Auditor general regarding the RIFW/LSH/SWLD scandal:

http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/documents/s44654/Letter%20from%20the%20Auditor%20General%20for%20Wales%206%20October%202015.pdf

Also, there’s little dispute that at least 60 acres of the Lisvane land is “developable” (is that a word?)

Anyway, the value of land with planning permission for residential in Cardiff is around £2million an acre, and in Lisvane – the part of Wales with the most expensive houses – it is probably even more.

Sorry to link to WalesOnline but they have some figures from a while back

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business/commercial-property/encouraging-signs-value-building-land-6229496

That means that the Lisvane land alone is worth around £100-£200 million, in my opinion.

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