Bawso

Dec 122017
 

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

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

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NEIGHBOURS

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

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

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

click to enlarge, below

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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GARDEN PATHS

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued . . .

FARAWAY PLACES

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

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Overseas Equities!!

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

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

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

A LITTLE PLACE IN THE WEST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued . . .

THOMAS HARRY SHADY SCARROTT – SURELY NOT!

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

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

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

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

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

RESORTING WITH UNDESIRABLES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then, that sums up tourism in Wales.

To be continued . . .

♦ end ♦

 

Dec 082017
 

PROPERTY EMPIRES

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

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

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

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

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

1. click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. courtesy of Google, click to enlarge

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

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

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

3. courtesy of Google, click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

And Wrecsam is just one corner of their national networks.

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

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

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

FOREIGN AID

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, to the funders . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what of Hub Cymru Africa?

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

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

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

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

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

Bastards!

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An oversight, I’m sure.

♦ end ♦

 

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

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

Here’s what the WCBC website gave me.

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

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

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

 

 

Nov 272017
 

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

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THE ‘BEDSIT BARON’ OF PEMBROKE DOCK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

courtesy of ‘Old Grumpy’ click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LLANDOVERY YMCA

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

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

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

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

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

courtesy of ‘Third Sector’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SWANSEA TROTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never forget that.

HIRED BULLIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to wake up!

♦ end ♦

Jul 262015
 
CARDIGAN CASTLE

I don’t want anyone to think I’m picking on the women running and wrecking the Cardigan Castle project (nor would I want anyone to think I plan on ignoring them!) but I couldn’t write this post without a mention of developments since my previous post. Here’s a selection.

Someone informed me that at one meeting Jonathan ‘Joff’ Timms opined that Rhys ap Gruffydd and his sons were “nothing but savages”. Which again raises the question: Who the hell is Jonathan Timms and who invited a man living in Kent, England, to get involved?

Another informant sent me a copy of a letter sent to the Carmarthen Journal about three or four years ago, which served to revive an earlier suspicion that the Castle project may be disguising an even more self-serving undertaking involving property grabbing, and that this explains the two trusts. (I would appreciate a good photograph of the Green Street properties.) Elin Jones’ remarks are worth noting.

I am indebted to a third informant for this link which suggests that the Facilities Officer vacancy – the post now filled by Sue “ENGLISH” Lewis – was advertised from December 23rd 2014 to midday on January 2nd 2015. In other words, from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day. How the hell were they allowed to get away with this?

Rumours persist that non-Gang of Four trustees are ready to jump ship, leaving mesdames Tucker, Lewis, Davies and Jones even more exposed. Moves are also afoot to call an Emergency General Meeting.

Pembrokeshire Herald

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Equinox, the Cardiff PR firm working for the Gang of Four, has requested an urgent meeting with local critics. This panic move may have been instigated by the project’s funders becoming worried by the amount of shit now hitting the fan.

Gareth Gregory, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s man on the case, is known to be in the pockets of the Gang of Four. Or should that be ‘handbags’? Or would that be sexist? Who cares?

Here’s the ‘Rhys ap Gruffydd’ Proclamation read out at 7pm on Saturday outside the Castle main entrance, which I understand will also be read out at the Meifod Eisteddfod.

Elsewhere, the Pembrokeshire Herald and its Carmarthenshire sister-paper ran full-page pieces using much of the information I’d supplied on my blog. I only have a photo of the article as I couldn’t get a copy of the newspaper to scan for you, but I was sent a transcript, which you can read here.

Saturday night saw the Bellowhead concert at the Castle. To judge by the photograph I was sent the audience was in the age group 55 – telegram from Beti.

However successful the Gang of Four may want us to believe the Bellowhead concert was I can’t help thinking that a performance of Wagner would have been more appropriate given the situation they’re in, for Götterdämmerung is surely approaching. I’d just love to see the lot of them in horned helmets, wielding spears and shrieking, as a local mob storms the castle. Well, laff!

STOP PRESS: I am now told that during the interval, and at her insistence, Vicky Moller, Plaid Cymru list candidate in Mid and West Wales, was led to the mic by compère, Brychan Llyr (Dic Jones’ son, of Jess fame). She gave a rousing speech, saying that without the diligence and hard work of Cris Tomos (now given the elbow) the renovation would not have been possible. Brychan expressed similar sentiments. Then the control freak Gang of Four tried to prevent Brychan from introducing Bellowhead, but after much heated discussion he did, before leaving the castle grounds.

Finally, the Aberporth connection has been strengthened with information about the bizarre, oversized ‘bardic’ chair to be found at the Castle. Here’s a photo I took on my visit a couple of weeks ago of my wife sitting in it. (No, she hasn’t got a round, flat, black head,) This chair is said to have cost £12,000 but no one seems to recall any tendering process. The artist responsible is a Paul Clarke of . . . Aberporth! He has done work in Aberporth, paid for by the community council, on which body we of course find Jann Tucker. I suggest you read the comments by ‘Rhodri’ to my previous post. He also suggests that the escutcheons and armorials employed are not authentic, having little or nothing to do with Rhys ap Gruffydd, The Lord Rhys.

THIS WEEK’S COMPETITION: Find someone living in Aberporth – or just having a holiday home there – who has not gained financially from the largesse of Lady Tucker of Cardigan Castle.

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ORGAN ‘HARVESTING’

Not a subject I’d normally write about but friends of mine in Llanelli got to thinking about the ‘Welsh’ Government’s proposal to assume that if you don’t expressly say No then you agree to have your organs whipped out and re-used ASAP after your encounter with the Grim Reaper. The leaflet they were reading gave a phone number, and this took them to a call centre in Bristol, and a helpful young Bristolian. This, remember, was for enquiries into a ‘Welsh’ Government initiative.

The big question they asked was, ‘If I agree to donate my organs, or don’t opt out of any new scheme of assumed donation, will my organs stay in Wales (cos they’ll only get homesick otherwise)?’ ‘Er, no, they can end up anywhere in Englandandwales’. ‘Hang on, you’re saying there’ll be an opt-out system in Wales running parallel with an opt-in system in England?’ ‘Um, yes’. ‘Which will mean that the vast majority of the organs taken from Welsh stiffs will end up giving new life to our English neighbours?’ ‘Yup, that’s about the size of it’.

At this point my friends thought they’d be clever and demand the Welsh language service, as the leaflet said they could. ‘I’ll get someone to ring you back’, said the HYB. After half an hour or so the call came, again from Bristol. The Welshman they spoke with said he enjoyed working in Bristol because he and the other Welsh speakers get paid more than their English colleagues because they also answer calls in English. (Which must do wonders for workplace harmony and Welsh-English relationships!)

Welsh Organ

So there you are, if you agree to donate your organs, or don’t opt out of presumed consent, your kidneys could end up keeping alive a frothing-at-the-mouth Kipper, your liver in some Daily Mail journo. This is the kind of insane situation that can only arise when certain powers are devolved within an overarching Englandandwales framework. This is the sham devolution we have in Wales, and in this instance it appears that Wales is being used by England for organ harvesting – with the co-operation of the ‘Welsh’ Government!

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OVERSEAS AID PROGRAMME

I bet that heading surprised you! It certainly surprised me when I discovered that the poorest part of Europe, a country that has received billions in EU aid, is sending money to Africa. Let me explain.

On June 18th I posted ‘Welsh Poverty and “Welsh” Labour’s Third Sector Money Pit‘ and in that post I looked at the careers of husband and wife team Travers Merrill and Rose Mutale Nyoni Merrill. Travers was at the helm when the good ship Rhondda Life hit the rocks, while Rose’s Third Sector racket is BAWSO. Together they also run a private endeavour called ABESU, which, to quote the company’s website, is “a UK charity working in partnership with the ABESU Women’s Housing Co-operative in Zambia to self-build houses and establish sustainable livelihoods”. Nothing surprising there, seeing as Mrs Merrill is from Zambia.

Curiosity drove me to flick through the ABESU accounts, where I found that in the year ended March 31st 2014 ABESU had received £2,000 from the ‘Welsh’ Government. Not a great amount, but why is our puppet regime down Cardiff docks giving anything to an organisation that doesn’t even operate in Wales? As is my wont, I submitted an FoI on June 22nd. On July 1st I received an acknowledgement that promised an answer by July 16th. When that hadn’t arrived by July 23rd I wrote again, and my answer came the following day. You can read that letter by clicking here.

I asked the ‘Welsh’ Government to:

1. Confirm or deny that the Welsh Government gave Abesu £2,000.

2. If confirmed, please explain the reason for the Welsh Government giving £2,000 to Abesu, and from which funding ‘pot’ the money came.

3. Confirm or deny that the Welsh Government gives funding to other organisations that do not operate in Wales.

4. If confirmed, please supply a list of such organisations together with the amounts given, and from which ‘pots’ the funding is secured.

The response I got, from ‘the Office of the First Minister and Cabinet Office’ (‘Cabinet Office’ FFS!) said:

“I can confirm that a grant of £2000 was given to Abesu. This was by way of a grant from the Wales Africa Community Links project which was run by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and funded by the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme.

I can confirm the Welsh Government does provide funding to other organisations that do not operate in Wales. However, with regard to the list of organisations and the amounts given, I have estimated that it will cost more than the appropriate limit established in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 to consider your request and because of this the regulations allow me to refuse to deal with it.”

The letter went on to explain why I would not have a full response, ‘over the £600 limit’, etc. A couple of sentences in this explanation caught my eye, and you may also find them interesting. They said: “The Welsh Government’s finance system contains over 14,500 companies and organisations whose address is outside of Wales. During financial year 2014/15 there was (sic) 2,331 transactions made against these companies”. Suggesting that far too much of the money spent by the ‘Welsh’ Government is leaving Wales.

Wales for Africa

Anyway, returning to the ‘Welsh’ Government’s Wales for Africa programme. With the best will in the world, it’s difficult not to see this as yet another excuse to give money to Labour’s cronies in the Third Sector. This time by sending them on African jollies to “enhance their leadership skills” and have their photographs taken with ever-so-grateful Africans. For more information just follow the link I’ve supplied, and use the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the page.

This kind of lunacy is almost bound to happen in the system of sham devolution we know in Wales. We have a bunch of pseudo socialists (many just pseuds) behaving as if they’re running a real government. And of course, the civil servants who really run Wales, and their masters in London, are more than happy to let these self-deluding buffoons waste our money.

Message to Carwyn and the gang: Stop playing stupid games; you are not a real government, Wales is poor, so we do not have money to spare for Polly and Dominic to go showboating in Africa.

*

HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS

When it comes to events and functions, weddings and conferences Cardigan Castle may not be seeing many paying customers, but one organisation that has been there a couple of times is Cantref, the housing association and white trash importer. A comment to my post The Colonisation of Wales: Help Needed tells us that things got a bit out of hand at Cantref’s AGM when, for some reason, the tenants were bused in for a hog roast and all the booze they could drink! Read the comment for yourself.

Cantref

This munificence is surprising given that Cantref may be entering Shit Creek. (Regularly laying out a few grand on hog roasts and piss-ups don’t help!) For the comment tells us that some of the commitments Cantref has taken on, such as the student accommodation in Aberystwyth, may not be turning out as planned. Hardly surprising when we see Aberystwyth Uni slipping down the league table faster than Cardiff City. Boom! boom! (Couldn’t resist it!)

‘Insider’ also tells us that, “There is something else going on but the sleepy local rags haven’t got a clue yet . . . more news on that later as it’s too dangerous to mention that yet – no wonder three top directors left all of a sudden before year end accounts, local housing consultant David Hedges of Cyngor Da being one of them”. David Hedges is the son of the former Glamorgan cricketer Bernard Hedges, who died in February 2014. (Many is the time I saw Bernard Hedges play at St. Helen’s.) His website, particularly the bullet point ”Cyngor Da’s approach’ is unmitigated Third Sector bollocks-speak. And although the stars favoured him with a Swansea birth Dai seems to have headed into the sunset and relocated to Cardigan.

David Hedges Cyngor Da

Naturally I tried to make enquiries into Cantref’s financial health, but unless you’re prepared to pay through the nose for them there’s no way of getting the figures. The problem is the status of housing associations. If they were charities then it would be a simple matter to visit the Charity Commission website and get the latest accounts gratis. If they were companies then it would be easy to get a financial picture from any number of sites, and pay for specific documents. These would also be available – and usually cheaper – on the Companies House website.

But because housing associations are Industrial and Provident Societies, registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies and Credit Unions Act 1965 it means they are registered with, but not regulated by, the Financial Services Authority, which then means you have to apply for any document you want and the cost becomes prohibitive.

No doubt defenders of housing associations will tell us that there is usually an annual report available on their websites. Rubbish, just look at the Cantref Annual Report, it’s just flim-flam and photographs, no better than propaganda, and nothing like the audited accounts available for charities and private companies. And if that wasn’t bad enough, housing associations are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act, unlike your local council’s housing department . . . assuming your local council’s housing stock hasn’t been taken over by a secretive and acquisitive housing association.

I don’t believe that housing associations should be regarded as anything other than the private companies they are. Put quite simply, housing associations do not meet the criterion used by the FSA for Industrial & Provident Societies: “An industrial and provident society is an organisation conducting an industry, business or trade, either as a co-operative or for the benefit of the community.

It is now anomalous that they are treated the same as community organisations and private members clubs. They are – in all but name – private companies, consequently there should be no more funding from the public purse.

 *

LABOUR LEADERSHIP CONTEST

Another subject you may be surprised to find me writing about. And while I can’t deny deriving a great deal of pleasure from seeing the bruvvers and sissters poking each other in the eyes this is, I assure you, an attempt to make a more profound observation.

Last Wednesday I watched a debate on Newsnight between three Labour MPs, Mary Creagh, Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott. It seems that Creagh and Thornberry nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership, but had no intention of voting for him, and were now worried that this ‘oppositional’ candidate might win! Abbott was there, presumably, to speak up for Corbyn.

We were also treated to a film of an increasingly wild-eyed and delusional Tony Blair telling his party’s members that if their heart said Corbyn then they should get a transplant! His former ‘advisor’, John McTernan, called those MPs who nominated Corbyn “morons”. It’s worth reminding ourselves that the most recent entry on McTernan’s CV is Chief of Staff to Jim Murphy, leader of ‘Scottish’ Labour in May. The political equivalent of being Custer’s chief scout at the Little Big Horn.

Anyway, the issue seems to be that the great majority of Labour MPs think Corbyn is too Left wing, but at the time of the Newsnight broadcast polls had him as the most popular choice, certainly with trade unionists and ordinary branch members. Which has left Creagh, Thornberry, Margaret Beckett (who’s admitted to being a ‘moron’!) and others suffering from Dr Frankenstein syndrome. It was one of the most enjoyable Newsnights I’ve seen for some time.

To justify rejecting Corbyn Creagh and Thornberry used the argument that Labour would be unelectable with Corbyn in charge, and unless the party wins the next election then Labour will be unable to help the people. Persuasive . . . until they expanded on that and you realised that for them winning elections is an end in itself, and this, they believe, can only be achieved through Labour being indistinguishable from the Conservatives.

The name Emily Thornberry rang a bell with me, but I had to check before I realised that she it was who had insulted the flag of England and those who proudly wave it. She was condemned as a snob for that episode, and watching her on Newsnight I could see why. It was an almost unique experience: she spoke well, her arguments were well marshalled, and yet . . . rarely have I heard anyone be simultaneously eloquent and repulsive.

She is clearly arrogant, to the extent that she kept cutting across Kirsty Wark! (Isn’t that a hanging offence?) But it was her patronising and condescending attitude towards Diane Abbott that really clinched it. She was, and in a way one rarely sees outside of the theatre or television, looking down her nose at the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

Thornberry Abbott

The Labour Party has a massive problem on its hands with this election, for it has exposed the chasm between the unworldly professional politicians in the Westminster bubble and those ordinary party members who oppose starving the poor, who believe in pursuing tax dodgers, and who are clearly unhappy with a Labour Party that is little more than the Conservative Party by another name.

Lubbly jubbly! Vote Corbyn! A las barricadas!

Jun 182015
 

A report just produced by the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government, Inquiry into Poverty in Wales: Poverty and Inequality tells us, among other things, that 23% of the population still lives in relative poverty, and while the situation is improving in England and Scotland there is no sign of improvement in Wales. In response, the ‘Welsh’ Government protests that it has “committed £323m to tackling poverty this year alone”. I shall return to this ‘commitment’ anon.

This latest report merely reinforces other reports, and evidence from a host of sources, telling us that our land is poor and becoming – relative to Scotland and England – poorer. For example, earlier this year the Wales TUC produced a report on the Living Wage, with its findings published on a constituency basis. It found that in Cardiff North just 11.4% of jobs pay less than the Living Wage, but in Gower the figure rises to 45%, while Dwyfor Meirionnydd gives the worst figure, at 51%. In both of these areas tourism undoubtedly plays a role in depressing wage levels.

The statistics already dealt with tie in with other findings that tell us Wales has the lowest levels of working-age employment and the highest rates of economic inactivity to be found on this island. But what can you expect? In my previous post I dealt with a non-working, benefit-dependent population being deliberately brought in to Dyffryn Teifi – and the same thing is happening all over Wales. Housing associations and others are importing from England white trash that England is more than happy to be rid of. While in the post before that I dealt with the unsustainable numbers of elderly people moving into Wales, and the inevitable effect this is having on the NHS and other services.

*

Another piece that caught my eye today concerned Rhondda Life Ltd. Plaid Cymru – for once doing something right – finally got hold of a report from December 2012 that the party claimed the ‘Welsh’ Government had refused to release. (Though much of the information was already in the public domain by 2012, soon after the funding plug was pulled.) The report made it clear that RLL was yet another disaster of the kind we have become so familiar with in Wales: Labour Party hacks and hangers-on receiving obscene amounts of public money for doomed projects in desperate efforts to be seen to be doing something, and failing miserably to achieve anything other than secure tidy salaries and good pensions for themselves.

Running the Rhondda Life show in Ferndale was Travers Merrill. An optimist, our Travers, for while RLL was hurtling, out of control towards the buffers he reassured passengers that it was merely keeping to schedule. For just three months before an auditors’ financial review found Travers Merrillliabilities of £106,555 Merrill was insisting, “RLL is solvent for the following reasons. It has detailed cash flow forecasts; robust internal accounting procedures; detailed financial records; budgetary and corporate plans; no continuing loss-making activities; excess assets over liabilities; no loan or interest defaults on payments; rigid and regular financial activity monitoring; no unpaid tax liabilities; strong governance and management.” Nice try, Trav.

Travers Merrill is married to Rose Mutale Nyoni Merrill OBE (or combinations thereof) who is CEO of BAWSO, a well-funded Third Sector outfit catering for Mrs Merrill and her friends ethnic minority women in need of help. In addition, she was involved with MEWN, another ethnic minority women’s charity based in Swansea, which has also breathed its last. Though before it took ill and expired I – impetuous fool that I am! – suggested that MEWN might reasonably be viewed as a replacement for AWEMA – as if anyone could replace Naz Malik! How much Argie plonk had I drunk when I wrote that?!

Mr and Mrs Travers Merrill are known to have strong – if almost covert – Labour connections, but what is perhaps more interesting about them is that they also have a private company. This is ABESU, which, to quote the company’s website, is “a UK charity working in partnership with the ABESU Women’s Housing Co-operative in Zambia to self-build houses and establish sustainable livelihoods”. Zambia is of course Mrs Merrill’s homeland. The latest accounts lodged with the Charity Commission, or rather, the ‘Unaudited Financial Statements’, tell us that the charity “employs no staff in the UK and the administration is provided pro bono (by whom?) with minimal office expenses”. Which is one way of putting it.

Though a few years ago I was approached by a BAWSO insider telling me that much of ABESU’s administrative and secretarial work was being done in the BAWSO office, using equipment and facilities provided for BAWSO out of public funds. Clearly not right. Though of course this explains why ABESU’s “administration is provided pro bono with minimal office expenses” – it’s because it’s provided by us, via the ‘Welsh’ Government and its funding agencies.

AWEMA Charity Commission

Click to Enlarge

But ‘Welsh’ Labour’s generosity doesn’t end there. For the Unaudited Financial Statement for the period ending March 31st 2014 tells us that the ‘Welsh’ Government gave ABESU £2,000 in that year. (Page 12 of accounts.) Confronting us with the obvious question, why is the ‘Welsh’ Government giving £2,000 to an organisation that, by its own admission. employs no staff in the UK? This has echoes of AWEMA operating, with Welsh public funding, in Kenya and Pakistan. And me, cynic that I am, I can’t help wondering – as I do with all charities – how much of the money donated ever reaches those it was given to help.

Whatever the answer, and however you look at it, the Merrills are the perfect Labour-Third Sector family; neither of them Welsh but happily spending millions of pounds of Welsh public funding on others, most of whom are not Welsh either. And with the curious and suspect overlap with a private company that may also be benefiting from our generosity. Well, we know it’s getting at least £2,000. And for those tempted to say, ‘Oh, two thousand pounds isn’t a lot’, how many other organisations are receiving Welsh public funding for projects outside of Wales?

*

Wales is a poor, post-industrial country that has never replaced the heavy industry it lost. With the inevitable result that ours is now a country with unacceptable levels of poverty, suffering a flight of the bright and an ageing population. Yet the ‘Welsh’ Government funds housing associations and others to import more poverty, while also encouraging elderly people to move to Wales! Then, due to the emasculating Left-Green mindset that has reduced Plaid Cymru to an object of ridicule, the party that should be exposing and attacking this truly wondrous strategy that both colonises and impoverishes Wales, actually applauds it! Believing, in its pathetic, socialistic distortions of reality, that Wales is somehow acting as a ‘beacon’ in ‘helping those in need’ . . . bring on the fairies!

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the money that is given to the ‘Welsh’ Government by the EU and the UK government to alleviate that deprivation is wasted on a Third Sector that is nothing more than the Labour Party funding careers for its otherwise unemployable supporters, and guaranteeing their loyalty; supporters who will then shout down opponents and commission surveys that always conclude – the ‘Welsh’ Government should give them more money! This is where the £323 million pounds will be spent this year, not on “tackling poverty” as the ‘Welsh’ Government claims, but on its Third Sector cronies, and on projects and schemes that no Welsh community would miss if they ceased tomorrow.

As I was finishing off this piece, and thinking it couldn’t get any worse, I noticed a tweet from @johnsouthwales telling of a ‘community embankment‘ built in Ammanford as part of the Communities First programme. Tell me this is not real. Tell me I’ll wake up tomorrow and realise that this country I think I live in is really just a bad dream.

May 042015
 

We should all be indebted to the Daily Mirror for the work put in to gather a breakdown of the housing benefit being paid to private landlords by every local authority on this septic isle. The figures are for “last year”, though it’s unclear whether this means the calendar year or the financial year ending on March 31st. Either way, we are only interested in the figures for the Welsh councils, but gluttons for statistics can find the full piece here. The table I have produced below gives the bare bones of this scam essential funding  You will see that the bottom line (how nice to use that term literally) gives two totals for two of the columns, this is due to the figures calculated in different ways not agreeing. Any statistician out there is welcome to explain this apparent anomaly.

Let’s start by looking at the national picture I’ve tried to explain in the table. It tells us that, as a general rule, urban authorities pay a lower percentage of their housing benefit to private landlords than more rural authorities, with Torfaen paying just 18.2%. (Though the Vale of Glamorgan, with 49.7% needs some explaining. Unfortunately the VoG council declined to release detailed figures.) The two exceptions to this rule, the two rural authorities paying the lowest percentages, lower than many urban areas, are Monmouthshire (28.6%) and Gwynedd (32.2%). Monmouthshire’s low figure can be accounted for partly by its prosperity, while the figures for both councils are also influenced by a refusal to patronise many of the Labour-allied shysters dealt with below.

The two authorities paying the very highest percentages to private landlords are – and I bet you’d never have guessed! – on the north coast. Conwy pays out 50.8% and Denbighshire 53.2%. (Though not far behind is Ceredigion with 48.2%.) Many unfamiliar with this area will think of these as rural councils but they are overwhelmingly urban, containing Llandudno, Conwy, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay, and of course – Rhyl! Much of the housing benefit paid here will be going to slum landlords and third sector parasites that have shipped in ‘clients’ from Liverpool and Manchester, then demanded that Wales pays to look after their charges, while also providing said parasites with salaries and pension packages . . . for to demur would be ‘racist’. One such organisation in Conwy, the biggest grossing private landlord, is dealt with below, but Denbighshire came over all coy and named just four out of the top twenty earners on its patch.

Housing benefit tax table

For more detailed results, you’ll see that I have screen captured from the Daily Mirror interactive to make the gallery below. (In order to avoid confusion I have kept to the names – some obviously English – used on the DM website, so it starts with ‘Anglesey’.) Keep your cursor off the image and each of our 22 local authorities will appear for 8 seconds. If you want to study the details for any particular council then leave your cursor on the image or its black surround. If you don’t like the gallery then just click on the name of the council in the details section below to bring up the information. (God! I spoil you!)

A number of councils refused to give out information beyond the total amount paid to private landlords, these shy, retiring types are, Anglesey, Ceredigion, Flintshire, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham. A mixed bag in terms of the rural / urban divide, culture and language, and also political control. Other councils released only partial information, in that they named some of the private landlords trousering the loot, but not all. Though if I was one of the private landlords named I’d want to know why others were granted anonymity. These councils were Denbighshire, Monmouthshire and Torfaen. So that’s ten of Wales’ twenty-two local authorities withholding information. Not a great start.

 

So let us look a little more closely at the twelve local authorities that made full disclosure, and let’s do it alphabetically.

BLAENAU GWENT: The individuals named mean nothing to me, and this is why I suggest that local knowledge will be needed to identify these people. The same will apply in other areas. The one name I do recognise is Wallich Clifford Ltd, the charity for the ‘homeless’, which received £56,728. Is there that much homelessness in Blaenau Gwent? Not always easy to keep track of Wallich Clifford aka The Wallich and operating under various guises as both a charity and a business. Though top of the list in Blaenau Gwent, by some way, with £263,159, is Ronald Herbert Lawrence. So who is he, one of the Herbert clan?

BRIDGEND: The biggest recipient of housing benefit in Bridgend is . . . well, Bridgend. The council paid itself £685.595, which I don’t quite understand seeing as the council housing stock appears to have been taken over by Valleys to Coast Housing. I suppose it depends when the transfer took place. Someone down that neck of the woods will have the answer. Next in the queue for the easy money vital funding is A1 Lettings of Maesteg, coining no less than £391,410. Wallich Clifford appears again – this time as ‘The Wallich’ – for £139,216.

CAERPHILLY: Again, many of the individuals listed will be known to those familiar with the area. Though the biggest earner by a mile is the Shaw Healthcare Group Ltd of Cardiff which, as the name suggests, specialises in care homes rather than rented accommodation. Shaw scooped £482,792. Second on the list, with a paltry £83,739, is the Care Management Group, an English company with a Welsh branch operation. Are there really that many care homes in Caerphilly? If so, why? And does the absence of The Wallich / Wallich Clifford suggest that there is no homelessness in the borough? Maybe the homeless are all in the care homes!

CARDIFF: The first thing to say about Cardiff is that the amounts paid are surprisingly low given the total figure of over 53 million pounds paid to private landlords, with the top landlord getting just £192,822. So it’s reasonable to assume that there are a great many small- to medium-sized enterprises in the city. Unless I’m missing something? Whatever the answer to that, one of the major earners in Cardiff, with £138,908, is the Reside Housing Association Ltd, a company based in Kingston-upon-Thames. But if there is a local need for the service provided by Reside why doesn’t Cardiff council find a Welsh company to provide that service rather than sending money out of Wales? And despite Cardiff having the largest population of any Welsh council, and despite The Wallich / Wallich Clifford being headquartered in Cardiff, it does not appear on the list of the top private landlords. Why? In fact, the most striking feature of the Cardiff figures is the total absence of the big third sector recipients found elsewhere, found especially in Swansea.

CARMARTHENSHIRE: Always ‘interesting’, Carmarthenshire doesn’t let us down by throwing up a major query. The biggest private landlord, with £455,893, is listed as ‘Social Lettings Agency’, which turns out to be an umbrella for a number of local housing associations, Coastal Group, Gwalia, Cantref and others (though, confusingly, Coastal also appears on its own, lower down the list, with a figure of £62,134). Suggesting that the council ruled over by the litigious and overbearing Mark James regards housing associations as private landlords, which I would argue is correct. Carmarthenshire pays 36.8% of its housing benefit to private landlords, compared to Cardiff’s 35.8%. But why don’t housing associations appear in the Cardiff list, and the lists for most of the other authorities?

CONWY: Touchstones 12 is the biggest recipient of housing benefit here with £167,485, and as already stated it makes its money by bringing into northern Wales alcoholics and drug addicts from north west England. Another big earner is Sanctuary Trust, an English charity also dealing with the homeless, alcoholics and drug addicts. Just read the link I’ve provided and see how grateful these parasites are for ‘Welsh’ Government help. And you wonder why Wales is poor! Again, no housing associations listed.

GWYNEDD: Few surprises here. The main recipient being Agorfa / Cefni Lettings. Though it’s not easy to find information about this outfit, certainly I can’t find the website, only ‘company check’ references and a Facebook page. As far as I’m concerned the jury is still out on Agorfa / Cefni, it receives a lot of money but I’d like to know more about the organisations it deals with. The same applies to number two on the list, GISDA. Things are much clearer with another body, one that received £59,027 last year, though I’m surprised to see Nacro Cymru, the organisation for offenders and ex-cons, so active in largely law-abiding Gwynedd.

MERTHYR TYDFIL: Being the smallest of our local authorities in terms of population, and one of the poorest, there’s not a lot of housing benefit to be distributed in Merthyr. The biggest payout was £43,104 to a ‘Mr Evans’, no forename or even an initial. As for the rest, they’re mainly individuals and a few small companies.

NEATH PORT TALBOT: More individuals interspersed with small companies are to be found in NPT, but with six exceptions who all received over £100,000 last year. These are, Tony John & Co (£498,113); Port Talbot YMCA (£240,398), “No local connection required”; Pennaf Sales and Lettings Ltd (£123,753); Parker Estates of Skewen (£118,263); Mr David Breach (£116,330); and I E S Davies Property Rentals (£103,959), which seems to be based in Ceredigion, though of course we can’t check how much business it does on its home patch because Ceredigion won’t release any detailed figures.

NEWPORT: Top of the pops in our third city is ‘Mrs M Payne’, with £181,558, but a quick check on Google turned up nothing. So who is she? We can only assume that Newport City Council knows, if only to send the cheques to the correct address. Second on the list with £148,051 is Newport Mind. Now we all know that Mind is the charity helping those with mental health problems, but why is it a major recipient of housing benefit in Newport but not in other local authority areas? Third on the list with £135,311 is the Libra Investment Property Group, another of those agencies that acts on behalf of landlords and those who’ve taken advantage of ‘Buy to Let’ mortgages. It has offices in Newport and Wolverhampton.

PEMBROKESHIRE: If Carmarthenshire’s dysfunctional council has provided much entertainment over recent years then the same can also be said of Pembrokeshire with the Bryn Parry-Jones saga. Though it doesn’t end with the great man. A case currently being investigated by a number of agencies is that of grants awarded in Pembroke Dock for renovation work that, it is alleged, was never carried out, or certainly did not cost anything like the amount charged. The developer at the centre of the confusion is one Cathal Yell E-Lettings reviewMcCosker, who also trades as E-Lettings of Pembroke Dock. The panel (click to enlarge) shows a review from the Yell E-Lettings page. Anyway, who do you think comes top of the Pembrokeshire list for private landlords in receipt of housing benefit? Yup, leading the pack with £236,834 is Mr Cathal Eamonn McCosker . . . and lower down the list, with a mere £35,248, we find E-Lettings. Compared to McCosker the rest are small fry, though I was taken by the name Graham Perfect.

SWANSEA: Ah! the city of my dreams. At the top of the list, receiving no less than £1,632,262 in 2014 is “Community Lives Consortium” which “provides support for adults with learning disabilities working in partnership with Social Services and Health Agencies” in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. (Though it seems to receive no housing benefit from NPT!) Now I’m sure this body does good work, but knowing my home town’s reputation for third sector spivery there is bound to be a strong element here of ‘Invent an “ishoo”‘ and then milk the system for all you can get!’.

Second on the list with a whopping £727,426 is Walsingham, yet another outfit providing support for those who cannot look after themselves. Walsingham is an English company, with English partners and suppliers, so this is another dollop of Welsh money leaving the country. Also on the Swansea list we find, inevitably, The Wallich (£588,342) and a host of third sector grant-grabbers such as Cyrenians Cymru (£207,651), Swansea Womens Aid (£190,463), Haven Trust Supporting People Ltd (£135,994), S.Y.S.H.P. (Drws Agored) (£130,161), Cymdeithas Caer Las (£118,801), S.Y.S.H.P. (again!) (£103,525), Black Association of Women Step Out Ltd (BAWSO) (£98,323), Cymdeithas Caer Las (Carmarthen Road Project) (£77,355).

It grieves me to say it, but Swansea is a magnet for third sector shysters. If I’m wrong, then explain to me how other local authorities can manage without all these agencies. If I’m wrong, then explain why organisations such as The Wallich, BAWSO and others, with their headquarters in Cardiff, seem to do all their work in Swansea. Is it – as I have been told, and as the Cardiff figures suggest – that neither Cardiff council nor the ‘Welsh’ Government wants the capital’s streets despoiled with dossers, disabled people and others who might give important visitors the wrong impression? Whatever the answer, it is clear that to justify the grants, the housing benefit and all the other goodies that keep so many in unnecessary jobs the groups operating in Swansea must be importing many of their ‘clients’ because there’s no way Swansea, or the wider conurbation, could provide enough.

*

Some of you reading this will dismiss me as a callous, hard-hearted bastard, but I’m not. This article is prompted by the knowledge that the housing benefit system is a racket that attracts the wrong sort of people to rented housing and the third sector. It is a system that is taken advantage of in so many ways, especially in Wales. For example, in dealing with Swansea I mentioned Walsingham, which received from Swansea council last year £727,426. The Walsingham website tells us that this company operates across WalsinghamEnglandandwales. Yet according to the Daily Mirror article that supplied the figures, this £727,426 from Swansea was Walsingham’s total income from housing benefit. (Click on panel to enlarge.) So why doesn’t Walsingham receive housing benefit for any of its many operations in England?

I genuinely want to believe that housing benefit is being well spent and that people are being helped without those providing the funding – and this means all of us – being taken advantage of. But this is not the case. We have a corrupted housing benefit system in urgent need of reform. And given the colonial relationship between Wales and England Wales will always lose out.

UPDATE 05.05.2015: I should of course have mentioned this in the main article, but it needs to be said. In the table I’ve used subtract the amount paid to private landlords from the total housing benefit and it gives us a figure of £634m. The bulk of this will be going to housing associations. Add this to the amounts paid in Social Housing Grant – and remembering that housing associations also have yet other funding streams! – and we get an idea of how much money is paid to the third sector, which is then promoted as if it was a real economy. It is not, and never will be. An over-large third sector is a sure indicator of poverty. And because it cannot generate wealth it guarantees that the poverty persists. And when one country is prepared to take in another country’s ‘problems’ then the problem will be exacerbated.

Dec 122013
 
I am grateful to Gruffydd Meredith of Cymru Sofren / Sovereign Wales
for providing the inspiration for this post.

 

The title of this post is obviously taken from the great baseball movie Field of Dreams. And even though the subject matter of this post is the ‘Welsh’ Government’s housebuilding programme to 2033, similar reasoning underpins both the storyline of the movie and the programme, as you’ll soon realise.

By now, anyone who takes an interest in Welsh affairs will be aware that someone, somewhere, has decided that between 2008 and 2033 the number of households in Wales will increase by 323,009. This figure, according to Carl Sargeant, ‘Welsh’ Government Minister for Housing and Regeneration, in a letter dated November 12th, 2013, is ” . . . based on a Welsh specific methodology which is separate to the methodology used in England”.

This projected increase accounts for the Local Development Plans (LDPs) that in recent years have been imposed on our local authorities; forcing them into planning for thousands of new houses they know are not needed by local people. Schemes adopted only because our councillors know in advance they’ll lose any appeal and will also be burdened with punitive legal costs. So do these projections stand up to scrutiny?

The first question to ask is, fairAv Household size by yearly obviously, what is the size of a ‘household’? According to the ‘Welsh’ Government – and available here on the StatsWales website (or click on panel left) – it currently stands at 2.20 persons, but it is predicted to drop steadily until it reaches 2.02 persons per household in 2033.

The figure of 323,009 over 25 years averages out at 12,920 new households per year. So multiplying the annual average of 12,920 new households by 2.2 gives us an increase in population for 2013 of 28,424, falling gradually until we reach 26,098 in 2033. Yet between the censuses of 2001 and 2011 Wales saw an average annual increase of just 15,300. Another curiosity is that according to these household projection figures, Wales should have seen an increase in population between 2008 and 2012 of roughly 114,000. Yet elsewhere on the StatsWales website we learn that the estimated population increase in that pPop leveeriod was only 48,200. (Click on panel right to enlarge.) Clearly, the figures for the projected increase in the number of households in Wales is, what statisticians call, a load of old bollocks.

So what is the justification in planning for an annual household / population increase of almost double that we have seen in the decade up to 2011, and more than double what we are experiencing today? Is Wales to enjoy an economic upsurge? Not with Labour running things. Are we to suddenly revert to having large numbers of children? Unlikely. And even if we were, this wouldn’t impact on the household figures until after 2033. Are we to become a nation of misogynist loners? We are already. The only explanation is that Wales is to see an influx of people from outside the country. And given that this is being planned for now, it will be an engineered influx.

These massive and unprecedented increases in population and household numbers can not come into play until the imposed LDPs are in operation. This explains why the household number projection from 2008 to the present is so woefully out of sync with the statistical realities. This also means that Wales is being told to build hundreds of thousands of new houses when those giving these instructions know in advance that the bulk of these new homes are designed solely to encourage English colonisation.

In areas of the north tens of thousands of new houses will be built for commuters moving out of Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire, further weakening Welsh identity. In Carmarthenshire, so pivotal in recent political history, the Welsh language is to be reduced to curio status and the Welsh born marginalised. Powys is to become Outer Green Belt for the English West Midlands. For what we’re discussing here is not really about households and statistics, it’s about nationhood; our nationhood, and the continuing attempts to destroy it, and, by so doing, remove a political threat. This genocidal strategy is being implemented by the Planning Inspectorate, an English body – or, if you prefer, an Englandandwales body – that pretends it is in some way answerable to the ‘Welsh’ Government. It is not.

Sargeant BawsoThe role of the English Planning Inspectorate has become ever clearer in recent years and this, inevitably, has resulted in growing criticism. Presumably in an attempt to prove its independence, the ‘Welsh’ Government has recently produced a Housing Bill, dealing mainly with social housing and private rented accommodation. This Bill is the social housing partner to the LDPs, for it confirms that when it comes to social housing in Wales everyone has priority over the Welsh. For example, in 85 pages it makes no mention of the Welsh language, yet contains half a dozen pages on ‘Gypsies and Travellers’. While I can’t directly blame them for this Bill, it certainly carries the fingerprints of another group of English civil servants pursuing an anti-Welsh agenda, this time the secretive Housing Directorate which, like the Planning Inspectorate, claims to be answerable to the ‘Welsh’ Government. A claim that is equally spurious.

By one of those coincidences that brings a wee shaft of brightness to these short days I yesterday received the latest Planning Inspectorate newsletter. Scroll down and you’ll see a piece headed, ‘Planning Reform in Wales’. (Note also that it mentions ‘Carl Sargeant the Welsh Minister . . . ‘ but neglects to give his portfolio!) Click on the link to the article or read below). I don’t know about you, but I find some of this chilling. “Joint planning boards would produce ‘sub regional’ type plans in those areas of the county (i.e. Wales) that require a more strategic approach than currently exists. Local Devolopment plans would remain but would be subject to refinement. (My italics.) Which can only mean that the plans currently being forced on our local authorities can be changed. It goes on: “It is evident that further casework would be likely to come to the Planning Inspectorate, both in terms of dealing with applications for developments of national significance and other major developments”. Mmm. So here we are, discussing ‘Welsh’ legislation, yet it will result in more work for an English agency! Then we come to the final paragraphs, which I have reproduced in full. (Again, my italics.)

“In terms of appeals, many of the proposed reforms resonate with those introduced in England. e.g. submission of full statements of case with no opportunity thereafter to introduce argument/evidence.

The right to appear before an Inspector would be removed with the Inspectorate taking a more pro-active, case managing role in determining the appropriate format for appeals.  Reflecting the Scottish system, appeals would be started as written representations with the Inspectorate escalating the format type as deemed necessary.  This would include a hybrid format, similar to that used in Local Development Plan examinations, where the Inspector decides that most aspects could be dealt with via written representations, but certain aspects would require a hearing or inquiry format.

Again reflecting change in England, Inspectors would be able to inPlanning Reform in Walesitiate cost awards against parties and to recover the costs in dealing with the appeal.

Third party rights of appeal have been ruled out following the evidence considered by the Independent Advisory Group and their recommendations.

Major changes are afoot.”

So, what have we learnt from this? First, that there people out there trying to destroy Welsh identity. Second, they don’t all live in England. Third, Wales, despite the posturing of Welsh politicians, with their silly gimmicks, is really controlled by shadowy civil servants answerable to even more shadowy agencies in London. Fourth, Wales is more closely integrated with England today than she was before ‘devolution’. Fifth, ‘devolution’ is an insulting sham.

But just in case I’m wrong I’ll give Sergeant a chance. You claim that the household projections for Wales up to 2033 are “based on a Welsh specific methodology which is separate to the methodology used in England”. The Planning Inspectorate suggests otherwise, welcoming the increasing uniformity of the planning systems operating in Wales and England. But just in case you’re right; it’s clear from the figures I’ve provided – or, rather, that the Office for National Statistics has provided – that those who supplied your figures for the increase in household numbers have made a mistake.

The population of Wales increased by an average of 15,300 a year between 2001 and 2011, and just 12,050 a year between 2008 and 2012, so how do you – or your ‘Welsh’ statisticians – explain a projected annual increase in population of almost 28,000 a year from now to 2033? If you cannot satisfactorily explain this projection, then you, and the Planning Inspectorate, have no alternative but to scrap Local Development Plans forced on Welsh local authorities to meet this unprecedented and unjustifiable increase.

P.S. Hope you enjoyed yourself at the Labour Christmas bash in Mischiefs Bar last night. (Heard you were DJ!) Also hope you were all spending your own money.