John Charles Bayliss

Jan 292017
 

THE DRUGS RACKET

Once upon a time, in a city far, far away, a clergyman came up with the idea of a charity to help those addicted to drugs. This charity has – like so many others! – recently moved to Wales, it now gets lots and lots of funding, and is quickly taking over the Welsh ‘rehabilitation’ racket.

The Kaleidoscope Project is a company and a charity that began life in 1968 in Kingston-upon-Thames, London. In 2013 it relocated to Newport, Gwent, to share premises at Integra House with The South Wales Association For Prevention Of Addiction Ltd. This outfit, usually known as Drugaid, is also a company and a charity and wouldn’t you know it – I wrote about Drugaid in November 2015, read it here.

Even though Drugaid now has a partner to share the load its funding has increased. For if we look at the most recent accounts, for y/e 31.03.2016, we see that income for the year was £6,200,222, against just £2,698,651 for the previous year (page 11). And of that £6m+ total no less than £3,102,866 went on salaries (page 22), with a further £950,363 going on “partner charge salaries” (page 20). Does this refer to Kaleidoscope? Throw in all the other charges and expenses and you have to wonder just how much goes on treating the ‘clients’.

Turning to the 2016 accounts for Kaleidoscope, we find a similar picture. Total income for this Englandandwales operation was £6,855,603 against £4,973,281 for 2015 (page 9). Yet salaries totalled £5,018,767 against £3,561,817 for 2015 (page 17).

As with so many Third Sector bodies we see that seventy or eighty per cent of the income is spent on salaries, wages, pensions, expenses and other staff costs that appear to have little to do with treating drug addiction or alcohol dependency.

Something else you will have noticed is that by adding the figures for Drugaid and Kaleidoscope we see that their combined income almost doubled in a year, going from £7,671,932 in 2015 to £13,055,825 in 2016. Has there been a massive increase in drug addiction or alcohol dependency? I don’t think so. So how do we explain this increase?

One way of explaining it might be through expansion, into GwentDyfedPowys, the Central Valleys, and The North where Kaleidoscope is working with CAIS, an organisation exhibiting the same pattern of an expanding budget most of which goes on staff costs.

And even though the Kaleidoscope website doesn’t say so, I hear that Kaleidoscope now has an interest in 39 St Mary Street in Cardigan. The mortgage on this property had been held by Cyswllt Contact of Aberystwyth, which finally went belly-up last November (though the mortgage may have been inherited by Drugaid before the final collapse). The link for the Cyswllt website now takes us to this other English outfit.

So since moving to Newport in 2013 Kaleidoscope has been able to pull down many millions in grants and loans from the ‘Welsh’ Government’s civil servants and also from local authorities. It has spread like a rash across the country apart from Swansea and Cardiff. Significantly, Drugaid has no presence in these cities, either.

Somebody’s taking the piss here (and it’s not for urine testing!). An English-based, English staffed, cross-border agency is rapidly expanding in the addiction-dependency-homeless racket, raking in millions in Welsh public funding every year – most of which goes on salaries – yet there appear to be no safeguards in place to ensure that Welsh funding isn’t used in England or that English drug addicts aren’t being imported!

Kaleidoscope’s move into Wales is yet another example of Welsh-based bodies being replaced by English counterparts. Which of course further integrates Wales with England, and further exposes the sham of devolution, and ‘Welsh solutions for Welsh problems’.

Though let me make it clear that I do not believe that our politicians are directly culpable. The problem is at the level of senior civil servant/local government officer and Third Sector management. The former taking their orders from London and the latter believing they must operate in an Englandandwales framework.

Our politicians are guilty for not stepping in to put a stop to these squalid shenanigans.

SWANSEA LABOUR PARTY (always good for a laugh!)

Until May 2012 Swansea council was run by a coalition led by the Liberal Democrats whose leader was Chris Holley. In a campaign of dirty tricks waged by the local bruvvers one tactic was particularly naughty – even for Labour.

It was alleged that secret talks had taken place between the Lib Dem-led coalition and the Tories, with promises of increased spending in Conservative-held wards if an ‘understanding’ could be agreed. The matter was referred to the police, the CPS and the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales. The three councillors named were Holley, his Independent deputy John Hague and Conservative councillor Paxton Hood-Williams.

Nothing came of the inquiries. Read a report here from BBC Wales, and note the curious fact that the original story of October 2011 attributed the referral to the council’s chief executive and that it took four and a half years before the correction was made!

We shall never know how much public money and police time was wasted investigating this spurious allegation, but what the hell, this is how Labour does politics, the cost is irrelevant when pursuing a vendetta.

Now it appears that Labour is doing something very similar to what it falsely accused Holley et al of doing, in that it’s buying votes. I’m told that Labour councillors were instructed some time ago to improve their chances of re-election in May by giving money they’d been allocated for environmental improvements to high-profile local groups. Among the recipients are said to be the street markets in Uplands and Morriston. Should this be investigated?

peas from the same pod

The deeply divided Swansea Labour Party – which now insists that ward branches report back each and every thought and deed – is also demanding that all candidates in May adhere strictly to Comrade Corbyn’s Ten-Point agenda for Britain and that all new candidates be loyal to Momentum.

Absent from the glittering array to be presented to Swansea’s electors will be John Charles ‘John Boy’ Bayliss. Although he quit the ugly lovely town some time ago John Boy has managed to hang on as an Uplands councillor.

Now he plans to stand in Cardiff and I look forward to reporting on his defeat, after which he might slink back over the border and never trouble us again.

UPDATE 02.02.2017: More information reaches me insisting that a deal was done, a deal that included the coalition offering to support Paxton Hood-Williams’ nomination to chair the council’s Child and Family Overview and Scrutiny Board.

Also, I have received a copy of an e-mail from chief executive Jack Straw to René Kinzett, leader of the Conservative council group at the time, in which Straw clearly says that he is referring the matter to the Ombudsman. We must assume that’s what he did, so why did the BBC make the ‘correction’? Read the e-mail for yourself.

For those wondering about ‘Rocking’ René, this post from April 2013 might help. Thankfully, Kinzett is now long gone from Swansea. Here-today-gone-tomorrow councillors are clearly not the sole preserve of the Labour Party.

LLANDOVERY YMCA

This is another subject about which I’ve written a number of times. If you want to catch up, start with The Impoverishment of Wales (scroll down) and then Ancestral Turf.

It’s a familiar tale. Middle class English people move to a small rural town and wonder how the locals managed without them. They then set about ‘improving’ things and providing ‘services’. Of course, this impulse to serve the inhabitants of one’s adopted home is not unconnected with the ready availability of moolah, and the salaries and pension pots it provides.

While the YMCA seems to be a focal point for these activities there have been other ventures. One worth mentioning would be the bunkhouse, launched in 2013 and bust by 2016. But what the hell, it’s only money, and with the system we have in Wales there’s plenty more where that came from.

But now I hear of something more worrying than just ripping off the public purse.

As you might guess, the YMCA caters for children and young people. Which explains the concerns many involved there have over the husband of one of the leading lights. A man who is said to spend a lot of time ‘hanging about’ the place. For I’m told that this man is currently on police bail accused of sexual offences against children, with his wife away from work on the pretext that he’s unwell and she’s looking after him.

She wants to return, but, for obvious reasons, this is being opposed. To complicate matters, there is a Big Lottery People and Places grant of £500,000 waiting in the wings.

My position is this: there can be no further investment in Llandovery YMCA of any kind and from any quarter while the wife of the alleged paedophile is still involved. There should also be a thorough investigation by those agencies that have hitherto given such unquestioning support: the ‘Welsh’ Government, Mark James Carmarthenshire County Council, and of course the Big Lottery Fund. One question might be, ‘given that he likes hanging about the building has the man in question ever had a DBS check?’

The unacceptable option would be to ignore what’s happening in Llandovery to save embarrassing certain people in positions of authority.

PUBLIC SERVICES OMBUDSMAN WALES

A curious tale has reached me about the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

To cut a long story short, a dispute between neighbours was taken to Cardiff council, and then one of those involved, unhappy with the way the case had been handled by the council, took the matter up with the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales. At which point things took a strange turn.

When he later asked to see the documentation that had passed between the council and the Ombudsman the complainant was informed that this correspondence was “exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act or DPA” (Data Protection Act). Explicitly mentioned in justification for not providing the information requested was Section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (reproduced below).

If we look at part (1), then if (a) or (b) applied it would be easy for the Ombudsman’s office to quote the relevant ‘enactment’ or ‘obligation’. They chose not to. As for (c), there was no court case so I fail to see how contempt of court can be applicable. Which leaves (2), on which you can make up your own minds.

The Ombudsman’s office eventually relented, to the extent that they were prepared to release a single document – but only if the recipient signed a gagging order! Which makes you wonder what secrets could possibly be contained in correspondence between Cardiff council and the Public Services Ombudsman discussing a relatively minor dispute.

My understanding is that information provided under the FoI Act is considered to be in the public domain. It’s reasonable to assume that this does not apply with the Data Protection Act, and that this explains why the correspondence was released under the DPA rather than the FoI Act.

This case raises more questions than answers. Not least, is Nick Bennett the PSO for Wales a law unto himself, above and beyond the control of those who appointed him? Or, given that he was appointed by a Labour government, and Cardiff is a Labour-run council, is this a bit of quid pro quo?

Has anyone reading this had a similar experience? Can anyone offer suggestions on how to challenge this decision?

MAKING USE OF THE FOI ACT 2000 (by ‘Big Gee’)

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides public access to information held by public authorities. More information HERE.

It does this in two ways:

•   public authorities are obliged to publish certain information about their activities; and

•   members of the public are entitled to request information from public authorities.

The Act covers any recorded information that is held by a public authority in Cymru (Wales), England and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. Information held by Scottish public authorities is covered by Scotland’s own Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Public authorities include government departments, local authorities, the NHS, state schools and police forces. However, the Act (unfortunately) does not necessarily cover every organisation that receives public money. For example, it does not cover some charities that receive grants and certain private sector organisations that perform public functions.

Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings.

Why is this of interest to us?

Obviously, by our very nature, as a blogging site that deals specifically with political and politically associated subject matter in Cymru, we often have a need to prise information from the sources referred to above, who do not necessarily publish or release information that is often of public interest or benefit. Information is power, public bodies retain power by holding on to information, the public gain power by accessing information. The process also holds authorities in check and makes them accountable.

How do we presently make FoI requests?

At present, any individual or body can make a direct request for information by letter or e-mail to the public body they require information from. Alternatively there is a web-site run by a voluntary group called ‘What Do They Know’. That site covers all of the UK, it is only one of it’s kind in the British Isles. This excellent web-site does all the donkey work for anyone who wishes to use it. It has a database that covers thousands of public bodies. Anyone wishing to use it can simply choose the organisation they want information from. The site then allows them to post their request on-line. The request is automatically forwarded to the selected authority. All replies are sent back to the site and are automatically displayed for public viewing. The requester is notified of the reply and is given the opportunity to proceed as they see fit with the request. The site also sets deadlines for replies and offers the opportunity for the requesters to ask for an internal inquiry within the authority they made their request to. The site also allows the requester to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, if the situation requires that action.

The only drawback with the ‘What Do They Know’ site is that it has to deal with requests on various levels, throughout the UK. By virtue of the sheer numbers involved, it does not bore down to all parish/ community levels, especially in Cymru. Although many of those small ‘parish’ authorities do not have e-mail contacts that can be used, so they are generally overlooked. We could help rectify that.

How can we improve on this service In Cymru?

The software that powers the ‘What Do They Know’ site is readily available from Alaveteli. Whilst it takes a considerable amount of technical know-how to set up a FoI site, the ones involved with the Jac o’ the North blog site have that technical expertise.

What we would like to explore is the viability of setting up a ‘sister’ site to the Jac o’ the North blog site. It will hopefully provide a FoI service to the citizens of Cymru. It’s database will contain contact information for FoI departments within authorities and the public bodies that serve Cymru, from Y Senedd (the Welsh Assembly) down to local parish/ community councils, where possible. This will fill the gap not provided by the current ‘What Do They Know’ web-site.

The initial work is the heaviest, which entails not only setting up and customising the proposed site, but the harvesting of information for it’s database. In order to achieve this we need a ‘team’ put together to achieve that very important primary step in the process. When the site is up and running it will require minimal supervision, maintenance and moderation.

All those interested in being involved in this project can either contact the Jac o’ the North’s web-master, or contact Jac directly. We will keep you posted of our progress.

A FoI web-site specifically customised for use within our own country would be a huge boost to the availability of information to the ordinary man and woman across our communities.

♦ end ♦

Apr 112016
 

THE TRAVAILS OF CANTREF

Over the years I have written exhaustively on housing associations, I’ve explained the funding they receive, their staffing levels, and the fact that at a time when politicians argue our 22 local authorities must be cut to 8 or 9 those same politicians are quite content to see Wales lumbered with 50 or so housing associations, often with three or four operating in the same area, duplicating each other’s work and sometimes competing for clients and funding.

The contradiction in the differing attitudes to local authorities and housing associations is obvious, with the result that it has become increasingly difficult to defend the generosity extended to so many housing associations. But rather than openly admit that the social housing system is a very expensive shambles, it now appears that our masters have chosen to make changes to the social housing system by subterfuge.

Cantref logo

One housing association I have written about more than once is Cantref (formerly Tai Cantref), based in Newcastle Emlyn and operating mainly in Ceredigion, plus north Carmarthenshire and north Pembrokeshire, with an outpost in the Machynlleth area of north west Powys.

I haven’t been the only one training a beady eye on Cantref, others are the ever-watchful Wynne Jones, even the ‘Welsh’ Government! Though given the way the ‘Welsh’ Government cossets housing associations things must have been really bad for that lot to step in. But we aren’t allowed to know what ailed Cantref because the report will not be made public and FoI requests have been refused.

To fill in the background . . . It was known by July 2015 that Cantref was being investigated, the Cantref Board received their copy of the report in December, and early in the new year the chief executive, Lynne Sacale, and others, left. Cantref is now looking for a merger.

As is the way with such things, and just before it was publicly known that Cantref was being investigated, I received a revealing comment to this post alleging Bacchanalian excesses at Cantref’s expense in the grounds of Chateau Tucker. Read it for yourself.

Cantref piss-up

As the writer states, one reason for Cantref’s woes was undoubtedly that it had invested in student accommodation in Aberystwyth at the very time Aber’ Uni began sliding down the various league tables, with the predictable consequence of student numbers dropping.

Though it has to be asked who funded this student accommodation. Presumably the funding originated with the ‘Welsh’ Government, which then raises the question: Should money allocated to social housing have been used for student accommodation? Perhaps not, so maybe the report is being withheld to save the blushes of Carwyn and his gang.

The good ship Cantref now appears to have at its helm a Hilary Jones, of the Bro Myrddin housing association. Ms Jones’ husband (sub fill in name) is said to be a former finance director at Grwp Gwalia HA. And according to ‘Dai the Post’ in a recent comment she, ” . . . has been trying to self promote herself by persuading Wales and West HA from Cardiff to bail out Cantref and give her a bigger job as head of their western poorer Welsh speaking colony.”

You’ll note from the Gwalia website that it has recently merged with the Seren Group of Newport to form Pobl. And this site seems to tells that Charter Housing is also part of Pobl. So mergers, or takeovers, whether voluntary or enforced, are obviously in vogue.

Another change in personnel that may be relevant to recent events at Cantref was the appointment in July 2014 of Kevin Taylor to the management board, where he now serves as interim chair. It may simply be a coincidence of timing, but the problems for Sacale and the others seem to have started soon after Taylor arrived on the scene. So who is he?

According to his Linkedin profile Taylor was employed by Forte Hotels between 1977 and 1987, then, from 1987 until 2013, he worked in Bermuda. More recently, from January 2013, he has been a ‘Hotel Financial Consultant’ for Taylor Accountants, a company for which I can find no record. (I do hope it’s not registered offshore!)

An interesting employment record that raises a number of questions:

  1. Does he have any knowledge or experience of social housing?
  2. Is he familiar with the social patterns and housing issues of rural Wales?
  3. Assuming the answers to 1 and 2 are No, who appointed him, and why?

As I say, Cantref is now looking for a partner, and referring again to the comment from ‘Dai the Post’, there are said to be five suitors. One is Millbay Homes, the ‘Welsh’ Government-funded ‘subsidiary’ of Pembrokeshire Housing that builds homes for sale to ‘investors’. Another is Carmarthenshire County Council, though whether the executive board knows anything about this is open to question, and we can guarantee that the common herd of councillors is completely in the dark.

Elsewhere in his comment ‘Dai the Post’ tells us that someone answering to Robin Staines, Head of Public Protection and Housing at CCC, has been parachuted in to Cantref, possibly to prepare the ground for a takeover. ‘Dai’ further suggests that this aggressive move is viewed within Cantref as a bit of empire building ahead of local government reorganisation. I think the suspicion is correct, and we could see more such moves, all done in the shadows with the connivance of a ‘Welsh’ Government committed to ‘openness’!

pobl

Despite not having seen the WG’s report into Cantref the executive board of Carmarthenshire County Council will, on April 19th, be expected to approve in principle the council taking over Cantref. Not for the first time, chief executive Mark James will present councillors with a fait accompli. Ain’t democracy wonderful!

Another source tells me that despite what are alleged to be its failings Cantref is the largest employer in Newcastle Emlyn, it employs locals and conducts most of its business in Welsh. The fear is that if the takeover goes through then the HQ will move to Llanelli and, given the recent recruitment record of the council, it will swiftly lose its Welsh character.

The James Gang

Thinking about Carmarthenshire County Council and the record of Mark James raises the obvious question – why is he still there? After using council money to fight a private libel case, after wasting council money to fund Christian fundamentalists in building a church and a bowling alley (yes, a bowling alley!), and after turning Sir Gâr into the Welsh equivalent of North Korea, why the hell hasn’t the ‘Welsh’ Government stepped in to remove him?

Let me answer that by taking a little detour. When inexplicable things happen there is very often a simple explanation, but one that the media and our political class would rather not touch. I have recently written about the land deals conducted by the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales that might eventually lose the public purse as much as £200m. Let’s stop beating about the bush – this is corruption, pure and simple.

Many times we see things happen in public life that are difficult to explain; contracts given without a tendering process; people being promoted above their ability; wrongdoers escaping justice. In such cases Freemasonry or other secretive groups can often be behind such corruption. Then there are the instances where outright and obvious criminals are ignored by the police. Such persons may be police informers, or relocated witnesses.

I’m not suggesting that Mark James owes his survival to any of these explanations, but I believe he does have a ‘guardian angel’. It may have been pressure from this celestial quarter that persuaded him to carry on after ‘standing down’ in 2014 rather than the council panicking when they realised the size of his severance package.

Mark James may have been put in place as chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, and has been maintained in that position, to oversee the anglicisation of the county.

Let me explain.

If you listen to Labour Party historians they will talk about towns or areas that are ‘iconic’ in the party’s history and development, Merthyr and the Rhondda come to mind. For those of a more patriotic bent, Carmarthenshire fills this role through Gwynfor’s 1966 by-election victory and the county delivering the votes that won the 1997 devolution referendum.

In addition, Carmarthenshire is the geographical ‘bridge’ between the rural heartland (or former heartland) of Plaid Cymru and the urban south. Add to that the fact that Carmarthenshire’s seats at Westminster and Assembly level are either held by or are vulnerable to Plaid Cymru, and the county becomes a prime target for the kind of attention I’m suggesting.

Carmarthenshire LDP

Part of this ‘attention’ is the insane and unneeded housing developments being imposed on the county . . . yet welcomed by Mark James and his circle of senior officers, almost all imported from England. Despite being born in Merthyr, Mark James has no feelings for Wales or her identity whatsoever, and is actively working to see Carmarthenshire anglicised.

That may be the reason he was directed to Wales, and why he has been allowed to keep his job when anyone else would have been forced out years ago.

But of course this does not explain the woeful impotence of Plaid Cymru in Carmarthenshire.

*

NATHAN GILL MEP

News reaches me from an anonymous source concerning our much beloved UKIP MEP Nathan Gill of Hull and Menai Bridge. You may recall that I have written of Mr Gill more than once – about a dozen times in fact – so you may care to refresh your knowledge of the great man by starting here then working back from the links provided.

In particular, I would draw your attention to this post, Nathan Gill: It Just Gets Worse, because the information I have received concerns an incident mentioned in this particular post. Mr Gill owned a church in Hull that he was hoping to develop in some way, but on November 5th 2001 it caught fire, Mr Gill was quoted in the Hull Daily Mail as saying that ” . . . some residents had seen youngsters aiming fireworks at the church”.

Though a source I had in Hull a while back described the fire as “suspicious”, and insisted that Nathan Gill’s application for planning permission had been refused.

Gill church

The information I received a couple of days ago says, “Before the fire in the grade 2 listed Hull church Gill had all the Oak paneling and benches stripped out, Brian Quilter sanded and reused them to Oak panel Lledr House and make window shutters.”.

Brian Quilter is one of Gill’s US Mormon brothers-in-law, married to Gill’s sister Melanie, and the couple lives in Lledr House, Dolwyddelan. Maybe the panelling referred to can be seen in this photo from TripAdvisor. Read more about Brian Quilter in Nathan Gill, Family Man.

Now there’s nothing wrong in what is described. Obviously Gill bought the church, planned to do whatever he planned to do, and in preparation for that – though perhaps in advance of receiving planning permission – stripped the building and let his brother-in-law have the panelling and the benches. All perfectly innocent.

Though less generous souls than what I am might suggest the possibility of foreknowledge.

*

JOHN BOY BAYLISS

I know you’ve been asking what our wandering boy has been up to lately, and the answer is, well, a bit more wandering. You will recall that last October I wrote The Case of the Disappearing Councillor in which I expressed deep concern for the whereabouts and welfare of Councillor John Boy Bayliss of the Uplands ward in Swansea. (In fact I have written quite regularly about John Boy and his friends, most of whom have now deserted him. Sob!)

At the time of writing the post just referred to, John Boy was giving his address as a property in Cambrian Place, in the city centre, a row of fine old town houses near the marina. In fact, where his friend and fellow-councillor Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Theaker had lived ere his departure to Araby. But now, I’m informed, he has moved again.

My concern for John Boy’s whereabouts last year was two-fold. After learning that he had taken a job in Bristol I was worried that the daily travelling between Swansea and Bristol might tire the poor boy. So I was almost relieved to hear that he was in fact living in Bristol, and merely using the Cambrian Place address as a letter-box. But then I thought, ‘Hang on, if he’s living in Bristol how can he remain a Labour councillor in Swansea?’

A message over the weekend directed me to updated information on John Boy’s council website bio (see below) which now has him living in Llangyfelach, still not in his Uplands ward, and as far from it as Cambrian Place.

Bayliss address

‘But still’, I generously and paternalistically thought (well you know me), ‘it might not be in his ward, but at least he’s got a place of his own now’, but then I read the message I’d received again, and it suggested that this address is in fact the residence of one David Collins. So who is David Collins? Here’s his Linkedin profile.

Collins is clearly a Labour professional who appears never to have done a real job, having studied History and Politics at Brunel from 1992 until 1997 and then starting work in January 2000 as a Researcher and Political Assistant to Ann Jones, the former Labour AM for the Vale of Clwyd. (Leaving two and a half years unaccounted for on his Linkedin profile.) He now works as a Political Assistant to the Labour group on Swansea council.

So is John Boy shacked up with Collins, or is he engaged in a nightly tussle with the cat for the rug in front of the fire? I think we should be told!

David Collins

Put both images from your mind, because further reading of the revised bio tells us that his correspondence address is “c/o Members Support Unit, Guildhall, Swansea SA1 4PE”, which suggests to me that he might not be living in Llangyfelach at all, and that this address doesn’t even serve as a letter-box.

The PR outfit John Boy works for recruited him because he is a councillor, and for no other reason. That being so they will of course give him time off to attend the important council and planning meetings, which in turn helps the Labour group on Swansea council maintain the fiction that their boy is still living in Swansea. Everybody’s a winner . . . except the people John Boy is supposed to represent.

This ‘Now you see him, now you don’t’ could be interpreted as a conspiracy on the part of the Labour Party in general, and certain individuals in particular, to maintain the deception that John Charles Bayliss still lives in Swansea and daily represents the interests of the people in the Uplands ward. If so, then perhaps the Local Government Ombudsman might be interested.

We know Councillor John Charles Bayliss does not live in Swansea. So my advice to the Labour Party in Swansea would be: Come clean, make John Boy Bayliss resign, and call a by-election in the Uplands ward.

P.S. I almost forgot to mention that John Boy is standing for the Assembly next month, he’s third on the list for Mid and West Wales, a region he knows intimately. His chances of being elected are slim, but of course Cardiff is nearer than Swansea to Bristol, so it would easier for Bayliss to commute from Bristol and turn his back on Swansea for good.

UPDATE 23:00: I am informed that David Collins no longer works for the Swansea Labour group, he has, I’m told, “been released” . . . into the wild? If so, will he be able to fend for himself, cut adrift from the Labour Party, all he’s ever known? I await reports that he has been spotted at night, scavenging in the back streets of Morriston.

 

Nov 082015
 

HOOKED ON FUNDING

Drugs is big business, as this recent case reminded us, and drugs generates lots of money for people other than drug dealers. Even the UK government has acknowledged that drug dealers buy cars, houses, boats, bling, foreign holidays, etc., etc. On top of that, the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ keeps cops, lawyers and prisons in business. And as if that wasn’t enough, we then have all those who’ve found jobs ‘helping’ drug addicts.

There must now be thousands of agencies, large and small, operating locally, at Wales level, UK level, which often overlap and duplicate each other’s work and, in total, receive billions of pounds in funding from various sources. The only losers in this situation are of course the drug addicts – but ‘it’s their own fault anyway’. A strange attitude to take towards those who keep this ship afloat.

Of course, the only other blot on this landscape of economic win-win is that those involved in manufacturing, importing and distributing drugs tend to keep their assets offshore, or under granny’s mattress, and therefore pay no tax. But since when have such practices ever troubled UK politicians, of any party?

If you wanted to be utterly cynical, you could argue that there are now so many people dependent on the drugs trade that if the ‘War on Drugs’ was, by some fluke, won, then it might have a seriously detrimental effect on the UK economy.

Drugaid

I am indebted to Brychan for reminding us that among the big players in Wales in the ‘helping drug addicts’ racket is The South Wales Association For Prevention Of Addiction Ltd (Charity No 265008), more usually known as Drugaid. Its four trustees are Professor Neil Frude, Miss Sylvia Diana Scarf, Mr William George David Smith and Mrs Linda Hodgson. As well Prof Frudeas being trustees of the charity these four are also the only directors of the cash-rich Newport-based company of the same name (No 01073381).

Professor Frude appears to be a somewhat unorthodox psychologist and one-time stand-up comedian, who runs the Happiness Consultancy in Berkshire. He is also an external professor at the University of South Wales and has some connection with Cardiff University. Though his main income is said to be from his work for BUPA, which no doubt contributes greatly to Frude’s personal happiness.

Miss Sylvia Diana Scarf is a retired lady of 79, who may live in Newport, or she may live in Oxford. I’m told that she recently got an OBE for her work with the Girl Guides. (When I tried to ‘work’ with Girl Guides during my Sea Scouts days all I ever got was ‘Get lost, you dirty sod’!) Miss Scarf is also said to be ‘big’ in the Anglican Church. When I read that it made me think of John Major’s old ladies cycling to Evensong after a skinfull of warm beer. Ah!

William George David Smith seems to be a chartered accountant in Cardiff and Linda Hodgson may, or may not, live in Porth, in the Rhondda. The contact and director for Drugaid is a Caroline Phipps from God knows where but currently domiciled in Caerffili. All in all, a typical ‘Welsh’ Third Sector outfit, made up of willing locals and those who can sniff out easy money from 500 miles away.

Drugaid first saw the light of day in Cardiff, in 1972, brought into this cruel world by the Reverend Peter Keward, and christened South Wales Action to Prevent Addiction (SWAPA). Since when it seems to have moved to Newport and concentrated its activities in the central and eastern Valleys, even into prosperous Monmouthshire. And despite what the outdated ‘About Us’ page says, Drugaid is also spreading west, yea unto Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. In fact, the organisation now covers the whole of the south, from the border to the Irish Sea . . . apart from Cardiff and Swansea Bay, perhaps having been warned off the two main cities.

In figures submitted to the Charity Commission Drugaid had income for the year ended March 30, 2014 of £2,727,668 and expenditure of £2,789,439. It had 78 employees and 30 volunteers, so we are dealing here with a sizeable operation, and it’s still growing, currently advertising to fill 8 vacancies. (Here in screen capture.)

What does Drugaid actually do?

This is the tricky bit. Drugaid seems to work with ‘partner’ bodies, these include GPs, health services, various other Third Sector bodies, and the ‘National’ Probation Service (for Englandandwales). The latest available accounts show that these ‘partners’ (excluding local health boards and councils) put £1.74m into the Drugaid pot y/e 31.03.2014, with a further £606,397 coming from our wonderful ‘Welsh’ Government. So where does it go?

Drugaid income

Well, £1.83m went on wages and salaries, then there was ‘Hire of equipment and services’ (£211,870), ‘Motor and mileage costs’ (£88,151), ‘Light and heat’ (£80,287), ‘Telephone’ (£42,249), ‘Other operating leases’ (£162,854), ‘Sundries’ (£160,807), ‘Depreciation’ (£91,902), etc., etc. Apart from ‘Needles’ (£31,949), it’s difficult to identify any direct spending on those the charity is supposed to be helping, but let’s remember, this is a major employer, pushing towards 100 employees. (The two columns show y/e 31.03.2014 on the left, 2013 on the right.)

Drugaid spending

If one wished to be unkind it would easy to dismiss Drugaid as yet another charity where almost all the funding goes on salaries and administrative costs. A grotesquely bloated organisation, currently expanding beyond its ability to cope with this expansion and, as a result, not achieving a lot. Hardly surprising perhaps for a charity overseen by a stand-up comic.

I say that because in searching the Drugaid website I could find nothing boasting of ‘outcomes’, that word so beloved of Third Sector organisations, used in describing successes, numbers of ‘clients’ helped. Then my hopes soared as I saw ‘Drugaid Annual Review‘ . . . but the last one was posted in 2011! How is anyone – funders, for example – supposed to know whether Drugaid is actually doing any good? Or is Drugaid just part of some Third Sector merry-go-round where ‘cases’ get moved on from one agency to another with each agency taking its cut?

Drugaid gobbledegook

Another indicator that all may not be well is something else I found on the website, an invitation to tender, worded thus: “Drugaid is currently reviewing the provision of Supervision to our employees.  Following feedback from staff, a review of our Supervision Policy and research into best practice in Supervision, Drugaid has decided to redefine the supervision that is offered to all staff to provide a more inclusive, productive and efficient means of providing this vital support to all who work for us.”

Oh sorry, the closing date for that tender was 20th of February 2013!!! This is getting worrying. If the website is anything to go by, Drugaid is in one hell of a mess – but remember, this is an organisation that’s still expanding! Here’s a screen capture of the 2013 invitation to tender, because I guarantee it won’t be on the website much longer.

What else do we know?

I’ve already mentioned that in addition to the charity there is also a private company, limited by guarantee, with the same directors as are trustees of the charity. The company has a net worth of £1.1m, and £1.2m in cash.

Having also mentioned the situations currently vacant, it may be worthwhile focusing on one of these, the job in Merthyr catering for veterans. This caught Brychan’s eye due to a difference in legislation between Wales and England. Here in Wales, the Homeless Persons (Priority Need) (Wales) Order 2001 specifies that anyone who finds himself / herself homeless after leaving the armed forces is categorised as a priority for social housing. The Homelessness Act 2002, which applies to England only, allows local authorities there to reject applicants on the grounds of ‘no local connection’.

Given what we already know about the operations of the Third Sector and social housing bodies, and how lax legislation allows – even encourages – the importation of ‘clients’ from England, it demands no great leap of the imagination to envision Drugaid bringing in English ex-service personnel with drugs problems. Does this go some way to account for the recent expansion, both in personnel numbers and geographical reach?

Whatever Drugaid is doing, or supposed to be doing, it doesn’t seem to do it well. Nowhere does it give figures for those it has helped, as a result there seems to be no way whatsoever of gauging its success.  The percentage of its income spent on salaries and administrative charges is ludicrous, and should be unacceptable to its funders. The website, Drugaid’s window to the world, is an absolute shambles, full of gibberish and out-of-date pages. There has been no Yearly Review posted since that for 2011. How the hell can an organisation in such a state be allowed, even encouraged, to expand?

Finally, and being guided by the latest accounts, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Drugaid is no more than a glorified needle exchange. As such, it does not deserve the excessive funding it receives. It is surely time for partners and funders to review their support for Drugaid.

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NEIL WOOLLARD, ANOTHER UPLANDS COUNCILLOR GONE MISSING?

Following on the recent news of the departure from Swansea of Uplands councillor John Charles ‘John Boy’ Bayliss, which itself followed on the departure last year of his friend Pearleen Sangha, I now hear that another Labour councillor from that ward may have disappeared.Phil Tanner

The name I’m hearing is Neil Woollard, an interesting character, Woollard, for in addition to his day job, and his council work, Neil and some friends are the Rag Foundation, a popular folk ensemble. The group’s repertoire draws heavily on the songs of Gower folk singer Phil Tanner (1862 – 1950), a man whose life covered the ending of south Gower’s ‘island’ status, those centuries when it had more in common with Somerset than with north Gower. I’ve even read somewhere that Woollard is Tanner’s grandson, but to my knowledge Tanner had no children, certainly none are recorded.

What I’m hearing is that Woollard is employed by ‘a company involved with the Swansea tidal lagoon’, yet for some reason this means that he now lives in the Cardiff area. Though this might not be as odd as it sounds, for the company behind the lagoon is based in Gloucester, so maybe he’s chosen to live somewhere roughly half way between Swansea and Gloucester. But I’m only guessing. My source is however adamant that Woollard now lives somewhere in the Cardiff area.

While Woollard’s attendance record at council meetings has not taken the dramatic turn for the worse we saw with Bayliss (and why should it, for Bayliss is further away, in Bristol), there has still been a marked decline. In the period 14.05.2015 – 06.11.2015 his attendance record was 30%, but for the six-month period before that it was 60%.

So the question on Woollard is roughly the same as I asked for Bayliss.Is he still able to properly discharge his duties as councillor for the Uplands ward in Swansea? If not, then there must be a by-election, not another lengthy period – as we saw with Sangha – of the Labour Party staying schtum or, when pressed, maintaining that he’s still, ‘livin’ down by ‘ere, mun’ and that nothing has changed.

Dylan Thomas’s old neighbourhood is now an area of flats and houses of multiple occupation, with a largely transient population of students and drifters, but that is no reason for this transient and footloose lifestyle to extend to the Labour councillors elected to represent the ward.

UPDATE 19:25: I am now informed by one of my alert readers that Woollard is actually working on the proposed Cardiff tidal lagoon, as Head of Local Engagement. The Cardiff Tidal Lagoon bio blurb makes it clear why Woollard was recruited – his contacts within the Labour Party.

Neil Woollard Tidal Lagoon

Strangely, or perhaps not, there is no mention that Woollard is a Swansea councillor. What do the rules say about elected councillors canvassing other councillors, AMs and ministers on behalf of a private company? And how should people back in Swansea feel about one of their councillors working on what could be viewed as a rival project to the Swansea tidal lagoon? Serious questions here for Woollard and Labour.

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SOPHIE HOWE, MORE LABOUR CRONYISM

Earlier this year I wrote about Sophie Howe, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales. Well now her Labour cronies have given her another well-paid job, this time as Future Generations Commissioner, a flim-flam post created, it would appear, for no better reason than to pander to the Green lobby . . . and of course to create another cushy number for one of the insiderest of Labour insiders.

Howe is the daughter of a Labour councillor, who herself became a councillor at 22, she also worked as a Research / Casework Assistant for both Julie Morgan MP and Sue Essex AM, before moving up to do similar work for Julie Morgan’s husband and First Minister Rhodri Morgan, and then his successor in that post Carwyn Jones, before most recently becoming No 2 to former Labour MP Alun Michael in February 2013, after he became the PCC. She was hoping to find a safe seat for the May General Election, but failed, so this post could be viewed as a consolation prize. But I have no doubt that a safe seat will be found for her before 2020, so no one should expect her to see out the ‘seven-year term’ of this job.

Her father, Peter Howe, followed her into the office of Julie Morgan to, eventually, become office manager. A correspondent insists that Howe was a bully, a failing overlooked by his adoring daughter who was otherwise so interested in protecting women from male bullying. Though in this instance the suggested ‘trigger’ might have been jealousy, as the woman being bullied had been selected to stand for Cardiff City Council . . . whereas Peter Howe had been overlooked.

Sophie Howe

Reactions to the appointment varied. Tory leader Andrew R T Davies did his ‘Confused but Mildly Outraged of Cowbridge’ act while others were less charitable. Among them a rising star within Plaid Cymru, councillor Neil McEvoy. On a lighter note, Llanelli Plaid Cymru councillor Ruth Price made a Sharon Stone comment which unfortunately allowed Howe’s defenders to focus on this merry quip rather than on the appointment itself.

Howe’s boss, PCC Alun Michael, went into full feigned outrage mode and was quoted as saying, ‘There is no place for comments of this sort in a civilised society and it is particularly unacceptable in Wales.” What utter bollocks. A civilised society is judged by far, far more important things than an off-the-cuff remark like this. Among them, openness in public appointments. You sanctimonious little prick!

For her pains Ruth Price also took stick from her own party, including a Twitter DM from Llanelli Assembly candidate Helen Mary Jones. In fact, among Plaid’s big-wigs there seemed to be considerably more support for Sophie Howe than opposition. It even seemed to be decided by an individual’s attitudes to a Plaid coalition with Labour next year. Here’s what Plaid Cymru regional AM Jocelyn Davies tweeted almost as soon as the announcement was made public.

Jocelyn Davies tweet

Well, well, there was me thinking that this Sophie Howe appointment was about Labour cronyism corrupting the public and political life of Wales, a reminder that Wales is a one-party state, but no! – it’s a wimmin issue. And everything’s OK cos our Sophie is “a strong woman”. Is Jocelyn Davies standing again next year?

Using this rationale, perhaps it would have been acceptable for a misogynist communist to have sent Hitler a telegram in 1933, saying, ‘Good to see a strong man in charge, Mein Fuhrer‘ . . . before he was dragged off to the concentration camp.

It’s said that Sophie Howe is a lawyer, if so, she’s never used that training for anything other than political purposes. Every job she’s ever done has either been working directly for the Labour Party, or else was gained through her Labour Party connections. Consequently, there is no way of gauging this woman’s real ability because there has never been any politically impartial assessment. She should never have been appointed Future Generations Commissioner.

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SAM WARBURTON, CAPTAIN CARDIFF

The Rugby World Cup circus has departed, the ball has gone from the castle wall, and despite all the hype and expectation, we didn’t win the bloody thing, again. Yes, I know, we had lots of injuries, and biased refs (no, sorry, that was Scotland), but what struck me was that even when it was all over the ‘Welsh’ media couldn’t stop being . . . well, the Cardiff media.

Soon after the Final final whistle two of Wales’ great rugby pundits weighed in in the Wasting Mule to tell us that Sam Warburton, the Wales captain, is the best player we’ve got, and the only one who’d make it into the World XV to take on the tourists from Mars. First, on October 29th, it was former Wales captain Gwyn Jones, and a few days later, on November 1st, it was the turn of rugby correspondent Andy Howell.

Don’t get me wrong, Sam Warburton is a fine player, it’s just that the Cardiff media is besotted with him. Sometimes it’s possible to pick up the Llais y Sais and find him on the front page, a few of the sports pages, and a couple of inside pages. It’s bizarre, because it’s quite obvious that on the field of play – and I suspect in training and elsewhere – the national team is actually led by Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar. Whereas Warburton, on the field, is almost silent, and certainly no captain. So is it a ceremonial role?

This adoration of Sam Warburton does not extend beyond Wales, or perhaps beyond Cardiff. Shown by another report I picked up around the same time, sandwiched between the two I’ve quoted, this being the six-player shortlist for the Rugby World Player of the Year. Who do we see on the shortlist – Sam Warburton, surely? No, the only Welshman there is Alun Wyn Jones. Suggesting that people outside of Wales have a better perspective on Welsh rugby than many inside Wales.Dan Biggar

This corrupted view of various players’ qualities is due to the fact that the Wasting Mule, and to a lesser degree the BBC and ITV, see a great part of their role in being to promote the city of Cardiff, and anyone or anything that can in turn be used to promote Cardiff. This can not be done with Biggar or Jones because both come from Swansea, which is the worst of all possible alternatives. So it has to be wall-to-wall Warburton.

Of course it was the Welsh Rugby Union not the media that made Warburton captain, and there’s little doubt in my mind that Warburton regarding himself as British rather than Welsh makes him the perfect captain for hard-line Unionists like WRU Chairman David Pickering, for whom Wales flickers into life only on the rugby field. A kind of sporting Brigadoon.

Why Wales coach Warren Gatland falls into line with this nonsense is no great mystery. He knows Alun Wyn will sing the anthem lustily enough for both himself and Warburton, and put himself about for the full 80 minutes; he also knows that Biggar will cajole and inspire his team-mates for as long as he’s left on, so if it keeps the WRU suits and the Cardiff media happy why not play along with the charade of a figurehead captain?

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WHERE WOULD THEY BE WITHOUT US?

Lying in bed the other morning, picking my nose and flicking bogies around the yet-dark room, I got to thinking about devolution, as you do when engaged in activity so conducive to deep, analytical thought.

It occurred to me that devolution, coupled with EU poverty funding, higher education, local government and other fields, have created in Wales tens of thousands of jobs in management roles for English administrators and others of moderate or even dubious ability who would struggle to land jobs offering anything like the same salaries and pension benefits in the private sector.

I’m thinking here of civil servants attached to the ‘Welsh’ Government and its various agencies, so many of the officers in our twenty-two local authorities, those innumerable managers in our seven health boards (plus the hospitals, clinics, centres, etc), housing associations beyond counting, third-rate academics in a higher education sector that ceased serving Welsh needs almost half a century ago, third sector organisations and other bodies too numerous to mention that have either come into existence since devolution or else have set up a ‘Welsh’ presence by transferring in staff.

Looking at it this way, devolution has been of more benefit to perhaps 30,000 members of England’s middle class than it has to 2.5 million Welsh. And most of this generosity is paid for out the Welsh public purse. But hey! that’s how colonialism operates.

Oct 272015
 

THEN THERE WAS ONE

In my previous post I mentioned that concerns are growing for the whereabouts and reputation of Labour councillor John Charles Bayliss of Swansea. Well, I’m afraid that fresh information only confirms that those fears were well founded.

To recap: John Charles Bayliss came to Swansea as a student, possibly in 2009. He and other students were recruited, in advance of the May 2012 council elections, to support the man who went on to become council leader after Labour won those elections, David ‘Il Duce‘ Phillips (of whom I have written more than once). This recruiting was perhaps done through Phillips’ wife Sybil Crouch, also a councillor, who works at Swansea university.

Among others recruited in this manner were Pearleen Sangha and Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Theaker. Another former student in this coterie of juvenile councillors was Nick Bradley. Phillips and Crouch are from Liverpool, Sangha from California, Bayliss is from Sussex, Bradley from the West Midlands, and Theaker may actually be from somewhere in Wales, though not Swansea. (Read more about them here.) So all were perfectly qualified to run a city they know sod all about. But that’s the state of the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party today, it just cannot find enough local candidates.

Phillips

After two disastrous years in charge Phillips was overthrown in a palace coup. (Here’s an example of how his clique operated.) While mooching around waiting for the job offers to pour in the former council boss tried his hand at fly-tipping before sinking into the obscurity he so richly deserved. Their leader and inspiration thrown down Phillips’ young acolytes started moving out of Swansea, leaving only John Charles Bayliss. Now fears grow that Bayliss has also departed . . . but may be trying to shield the citizenry from the welcome truth sad news.

THE BOY DONE GOOD . . .

Some unkind souls were wont to think that John Boy was nigh-on unemployable, and quite happy to subsist on his council allowances (with perhaps help from his parents) while pursuing his real passions of LGBT causes and enjoying himself. (Though, curiously, all references to his previous enthusiasm for Gay issues have been scrubbed from his Twitter account and other records. How very strange!)

But then, seemingly out of the blue, he found himself a position with flim-flam merchants a PR company called the Remarkable Group. According to the Swansea council website this new position was declared on April 30th this year and officially added to the Register of Members’ Interests on May 6th. Bayliss is now employed as an ‘Account Executive’, but we are not told which account(s) he has responsibility for.

Bayliss Remarkable

Though as I stated in my previous post, I have no doubt that Bayliss was recruited by Remarkable because he is a councillor in Swansea, and in order to ease through the currently stalled Mynydd y Gwair wind farm project for Remarkable’s client RWE Innogy.

 . . . BUT NOT IN SWANSEA

Not long after this appointment Bayliss changed his address from a flat in a house of multiple occupation in Cwmdonkin Terrace, in the Uplands ward he represents, to Cambrian Place in the Maritime Quarter (see picture below); in fact, the very pad where his friend and former council colleague, Mitch Theaker, had lived, vacated when Theaker went to work in the Gulf. But does he really live there? Because it could well be – as was suggested in an e-mail I received on Sunday – that Bayliss works in Bristol during the week and comes back to Swansea after finishing work on Friday. Then again, he might have moved to Bristol altogether and is simply using the Cambrian Place address to deceive people into thinking he still lives in Swansea.

Either way, for a fit and healthy young man with no obvious calls on his time, such as children or elderly parents, and living just a skip and a jump from the civic centre, John Charles Bayliss’s attendance record is appalling . . . or certainly it has become appalling since he got the job in Bristol working on the Mynydd y Gwair wind farm project.

A comment to the previous post by ‘Jobovitch’ tells us that, prior to his taking up employment in Bristol, Bayliss had an attendance record of close on 96%. So I checked, and he’s right. Between 09.11.2014 and 04.05.2016 John Bayliss had an attendance record of 96%, present at 24 out of 25 meetings he was expected to attend. And in the period before that it was 94%. And we find it was also 94% if we go back another six months.

Yet during the most recent six months, the period 04.05.2015 to 27.10.2015, his attendance record plummeted to 27%, to the point where his record was the worst bar just one. (Set out in this document supplied by a reader.)

Cambrian Place

This dramatic change in the attendance record of councillor John Charles Bayliss can be attributed to only one thing: his job with the Remarkable Group, that requires him to live in Bristol.

And yet, at a meeting on May 19th Bayliss was elected vice-chair of the Economy & Investment Cabinet Advisory Committee . . . even though he wasn’t there! He missed further meetings of this committee on June 17th (‘Apologies received’); July 15th (‘Absent’); August 19th (‘Absent’); but he did turn up for the Glyndŵr Day meeting, of what had now been renamed the Development Cabinet Advisory Committee, perhaps because the very first item on the agenda was that, ‘ . . . Councillor J C Bayliss be elected (again?) Vice Chair for the remainder of the Municipal Year’ (’til May 2016). As might be expected, he missed the most recent meeting on October 21st (‘Apologies received’).

Why the hell would the Labour Party in Swansea be so keen to install as vice-chair of an important committee a councillor they must know no longer lives in the city and is not going to turn up for meetings? Does the clue lie with his new employer?

CALCULATIONS

At this point some reading this might be asking, ‘Hang on, if the decision to block the Mynydd y Gwair wind farm was taken at Assembly level, where’s the advantage to the developers in recruiting a Swansea councillor?’ Well, if you read the reasons for turning down the application you’ll see that it hinged on the land lost by the commoners being replaced with acceptable grazing land. This is still being worked on, and the application will almost certainly be re-submitted.

In addition, Bayliss’s great friend and former councillor in the Uplands ward, Pearleen Sangha, is now living and working in Cardiff – for the Labour Party. We can be sure that Bayliss and Sangha, both wind energy fanatics, are in regular contact . . . and who’s to say she isn’t pushing Mynydd y Gwair to persons in or close to the ‘Welsh’ Government? Additionally, Swansea council passed the Mynydd y Gwair application in February 2013 by just three votes. Among those who voted for the application were Bayliss’s friends, Mitchell Theaker, Pearleen Sangha and Nick Bradley . . . all of whom have departed. Council leader at the time David Phillips was also a big supporter, but he’s no longer in a position to threaten, cajole or bribe Labour councillors.

It could well be that if Mynydd y Gwair came before Swansea council tomorrow it would be rejected. That would be a disaster for the developers, because in dealing with the ‘Welsh’ Government one of its strong cards is, ‘Swansea council is in favour’. But things have changed, and that’s why RWE Innogy and Remarkable need a Swansea councillor to tell them who’s for and, more importantly, who’s against – in other words, who they need to work on. This explains why Remarkable recruited John Bayliss.

Though you have to wonder why so many self-declared socialists in the Labour Party in Swansea are keen to cover bleak but lovely Mynydd y Gwair with wind turbines for the benefit of the Beaufort Estate (Prop. Duke of Beaufort). Why is that? Could it be partly personal?

Mynydd y Gwair

I ask because Mynydd y Gwair lies within Mawr, the most rural and sparsely-populated of Swansea’s wards, represented for almost thirty years by Ioan Richard of Craigcefnparc, once a Plaid Cymru councillor (on the old Lliw Valley District Council), like so many genuine nationalists Ioan gave up on Plaid Cymru long ago and has, since local government reorganization in 1996, sat as an Independent on the new City and County of Swansea council.

It would be fair to say that the Labour Party in Swansea doesn’t much like Ioan, he’s been a thorn in their flesh for years. They’ve repaid him in various ways, not least by blocking him from becoming Lord Mayor when his turn came up about a decade ago, a move supported – cheered on, even – by the four councillors Plaid Cymru then had on Swansea council, all of whom have now, thankfully, fallen by the wayside. A procedural change from party political voting to elevation on a simple calculation of seniority finally allowed Ioan to wear the chain in 2011. Ironically, perhaps, the year after next should see David ‘Il Duce‘ Phillips become Lord Mayor, but as a notorious and convicted fly-tipper he is now thankfully disqualified.

Another way Labour displayed its feelings for the councillor from Mawr was in preventing him from voting on the 2013 Mynydd y Gwair debate – an application in his own ward! It was judged that Ioan had ‘pre-determined’ the case by his opposition to the scheme and was therefore not allowed to vote. The student-councillors like Sangha and Bayliss, who had been tweeting their support for the project for months, and who were in contact with Gwenllian Elias, the PR woman for Mynydd y Gwair, were deemed to be approaching the debate with open minds and were allowed to vote!

TIME TO ACT

The situation we find today with John Bayliss is remarkably similar to the one we saw last year with Pearleen Sangha. She too took a job away from Swansea but tried to carry on as if nothing had happened. This was obviously done with the knowledge of the Labour Party – because she was working for the party! Eventually she had to admit the truth and stand down, but had it not been for external pressure then she and the Labour Party would have just carried on, to avoid a ‘messy’ by-election, which Labour lost.

But you mustn’t think that this behaviour is confined to Swansea, as a comment to the previous post from ‘Keri Tyisha’ reminded us. He told us of the 90-year-old councillor in Carmarthenshire suffering from dementia but kept on the council by repeated leaves of absence issued by the chief executive and ruler of the council, Mark James. Again, far better to maintain the pretence that a councillor is doing his or her job than risk a by-election.

Chubby Johhny

In conclusion, Swansea council’s website shows that the attendance record for Councillor John Charles Bayliss has deteriorated alarmingly, from 96% to 27%, and that this deterioration links with his recruitment by the Remarkable Group in Bristol. It is therefore reasonable to assume that Bayliss is living and working in Bristol. That being so, he cannot serve the residents of the Uplands ward in Swansea. He must therefore stand down and a by-election must be held to elect a councillor who can properly serve the ward.

For the longer term, the next reorganisation of local government must be about more than just re-drawing boundaries. It must introduce mechanisms to ensure that the narrow and selfish interests of political parties or chief executives can not be served by deceiving the public into believing that councillors who’ve died, emigrated, been banged up, or are no longer compos mentis, are still serving their community.

Swansea deserves better. Wales deserves better.Swansea your councillors

UPDATE 22:35: Shortly after posting this article, I noticed that the links I’d provided to Swansea council’s website were no longer working. (They were working this morning, that’s how I got the information.) I checked the website and found that everything was working except the section for ‘Your councillors’. I tweeted about it, and got a reply in mid afternoon, but the problem still hasn’t been fixed. Now if I was the suspicious kind . . .

UPDATE 10.11.2015: I have learnt that John C Bayliss is seeking election to the Notional Assembly via the regional list.

Oct 222015
 

In the previous post I wrote about Faerdre Fach farm near Llandysul, the reason for my interest being that the owner, Kate Clamp, had re-named it Happy Donkey Hill, a reference to the donkeys and other animals housed there. That, really, was about all I wanted to say, but comments made by Mrs Clamp persuaded me to persist with this story.

As I pointed out in that earlier post, Mrs Clamp had run a similar enterprise in north east England before delighting us with her presence. This was the Ramshaw Rescue Centre at Low Garth Farm near Bishop Auckland. The report I’ve linked to, from October 2008, says that, Happy%20Donkey%20Hilldue to a neck injury, Mrs Clamp was selling Low Garth Farm, with an asking price of £895,000.

The next reference I found to the Ramshaw Rescue Centre was in this report from December 2010. In it, the Centre’s former kennel manager talks of raising money to buy and re-open the Centre, and is quoted as saying, “The rescue centre, when it was open, was good, but not brilliant – and I want to bring it back and restore and improve its image”. The implication is clear: when run by Mrs Clamp the Ramshaw Rescue Centre did not enjoy a good image.

Whatever the truth of that, we know that in late 2008 she was telling the Northern Echo that a neck injury was forcing her to give up the animal rescue centre at Low Garth Farm. Yet within months we find her in Wales, running exactly the same kind of operation, almost certainly with the same animals. We can safely conclude that her ‘injury’ was imaginary, and so there must have been another reason or reasons for her leaving Low Garth Farm.

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To my surprise, Kate Clamp made a few comments to my earlier post. You can of course read them for yourself, but I think some of her bon mots are worth extracting to use here.

In her first comment she tells us that she has now bought an “adjoining 31 acres” and, presumably, expects to be commended. Though as I point out, all this means is that yet more of Wales is in foreign ownership. In her next comment she says that my response was, “A very insular and very Welsh response . . . funny how all the successful businesses locally are run by non-Welsh, we spent in excess of £250,000 developing a derelict farm steading and mostly due to unreliable contractors locally used English workmen”.

Kate Clamp comment 2

I asked her to explain how my response was “insular” and “Welsh”, but she did not answer. Just as well perhaps, for she obviously has a very low opinion of us Welsh, and is not shy to express that opinion – we are no good at business, we are lazy workers . . . yet Wales is beautiful and we should be glad to live here (but leave the business of running the country to people like her). This is about as close as you’ll get to hearing someone actually say: ‘Wales is a lovely country . . . pity about the Welsh’.

In her final remarks directed at me (see comments to previous post), and after informing us that, “we” still own Low Garth Farm, she writes, “I am very proud of what we have achieved both in Wales and in England, I have created 2 remarkable businesses from nothing, what is your contribution?”

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Then, late last night, whilst sipping my Ovaltine, I received a Twitter DM. A curious message, but from a reliable source, telling me that Kate Clamp is the daughter of billionaire Michael Gooley, who made his money with off-the-beaten-track holiday company Trailfinders. Gooley is an important supporter of the Conservative Party and according to this BBC report gave the party £500,000 in the final quarter of last year, in the run-up to the General Election.

I’m not sure how my source stumbled upon this link but she was able to offer support with the tweet below, clearly from Kate Clamp to her brother Tristan Gooley, author of The Natural Navigator. (Obviously a chip off the old block.)

Tristan Gooley tweet

My source was able to direct me towards other supporting evidence, such as this forum discussing Happy Donkey Hill being featured in the Channel Four programme Four in a Bed. There I found a fascinating and revealing comment from ‘Batmanrobin’, which you can read below. (Click to enlarge.) Whoever posted this comment seems to know Kate Clamp, and makes a number of serious allegations. The reference to “Bishop” for Bishop Auckland tells me that ‘Batmanrobin’ is local to that area.

batmanandrobin

One allegation in particular caught my eye, “Donations for the (Ramshaw Rescue) centre was used for cruises and holidays”. I found this interesting because, on the one hand animal rescue centres invariably rely on grants, bequests, donations and other gifts, and are often registered charities, yet I can find nothing on the Charity Commission website for either the Ramshaw Rescue Centre or Faerdre Fach / Happy Donkey Hill. Nor could I find a registered company. Nor anything – charity or company – in the name of Kate Clamp. So how were these ventures organised, what form did they take, and how was the income accounted for and declared?

Then – as is so often the case – a comment from ‘Brychan’ pointed the way. He was able to tell us that the Ramshaw Rescue Centre is still open, and that until very recently the banking was done by a Kate Price. And it seems that at one time she was also known as Kate Wilson. After checking this myself, I’m persuaded that assorted animals are still housed at Low Garth Farm, but I’m not sure if it’s still called Ramshaw Rescue Centre. It may now be run as boarding kennels called 4 Paws Farm. Possibly both rescue centre and boarding kennels.

So now we have four surnames by which the proprietrix of Faerdre Fach has been known: Gooley, Wilson, Price and now Clamp. Are there others? No wonder it’s proving difficult to unearth any information on her. And is ‘Kate’ really her full given name, or is it Catherine / Katherine, Kathleen . . . ?

*

We’ve learnt from Kate Clamp herself that although Low Garth Farm was up for sale in late 2008 it was not sold. As she reprimanded me: “Another grossly misinformed remark about my farm in the North East of England as we still own it!! You really need to research facts before you try to belittle me dear.” So I took her advice and did some research.

First, I wondered who exactly owns Faerdre Fach, and so I went to the Land Registry website. The document I paid £3 for and downloaded told me that the farm had been bought, on February 26th 2009, for £365,000, by Michael William David Gooley CBE.

Faerdre Fach title extract

Next – you’ve guessed it! – I wondered who owned Low Garth Farm. The Land Registry document told me that this property is also registered in the name of Michael William David Gooley CBE. This goes some way to explaining why Kate Cramp didn’t sell Low Garth Farm after all – it was never hers to sell!

*

I think we know enough about Kate Gooley / Wilson / Price / Clamp to make the following assessment.

Despite her claim to be hard-working and successful, what she has was paid for by Tory-funding Daddy. Though that said, he is a real businessman, you can tell that by the fact that he keeps ownership of the properties in which she lives, and where she is allowed to play out her fantasy of being a businesswoman. The fantasies may not end there.

Lady Kate Clamp Facebook

Allegations have been made that donations made to the Ramshaw Rescue Centre were misappropriated. I have no way of knowing whether these serious allegations are true or not, but it’s strange that I can find nothing to tell me how the RRC was constituted. If it was receiving donations then it would need to be registered with the Charity Commission or some other body.

The Clamps departure from Low Garth Farm may have been somewhat hurried, and we know that the excuse given does not ring true because Kate Clamp merely transferred her activities – and perhaps her animals – to Llandysul. So what was the real reason for them moving from the north east of England to the south west of Wales in late 2008 / early 2009? Especially as her new husband Andy Clamp is local to the north east of England.

And yet, as the daughter of a very wealthy man, surely she could, had she so chosen, live the life of a retiring country lady, busying herself with ‘good works’ around the parish. But it looks as if Kate Clamp is, to put it kindly, ‘outgoing’, and loves to be the centre of attention.

Kate Clamp belongs to a restless but well-heeled segment of English society that until relatively recently could enjoy the escape of empire, and lording it over ‘darkies’. Many of them now move to France, and pride themselves on not learning a word of the ‘lingo’; or else they choose Spain, where they shout at waiters – all of whom are, conveniently, named ‘Pedro’. But too many of them end up in Wales, and with the same attitudes.

How much longer do we put up with being treated as some inferior race?

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IN THE PIPELINE . . .

There are two subjects I’m working on for possible future posts, and I’d appreciate any information.

The first concerns the long-running plan by the Beaufort Estate to erect wind turbines on common grazing land at Mynydd y Gwair, on the northern outskirts of Swansea. Having recently been turned down the developers are appealing, and now mysterious little groups have been haunting central Swansea collecting signatures on vague petitions supporting wind energy.

The approach to passers-by seems to be, ‘Do you want your children / grandchildren to be roasted alive due to global warming? Of course you don’t – so sign our petition!’ No specific mention is made of Mynydd y Gwair but it is strongly believed that the Green extremists collecting these signatures are in the pay of the developers and that these petitions will be presented as ‘evidence’ of public support for the Mynydd y Gwair project. Any information on those who have been deviously collecting signatures in this way would be welcome. Greenpeace and Yes2Wind have been mentioned as being involved. Read here how they operate.

One of the companies involved with the developers, RWE Innogy UK, is the Remarkable Group. As we know, companies such as these like to have someone on the inside, and this explains why Remarkable recently hired Labour councillor John Charles Bayliss. Bayliss is the last of the students recruited a few years ago by a desperate Swansea Labour Party led by David ‘Il Duce’ Phillips to fill gaps in the ranks. I have written of the dear boy many times before.

Bayliss Remarkable

Bayliss is a councillor for the Uplands ward on the west side of the city, but has recently changed his address to one down in the Maritime Quarter which, by a remarkable coincidence, is the very address where his friend and fellow student-councillor Mitchell Theaker dwelt, ere he departed for sunnier climes. But some mutter that Bayliss has himself moved, to Bristol, to be nearer his work with Remarkable. So is John Charles Bayliss still living in Swansea? And if not, why does the Labour Party maintain the pretence that he does?

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I am also seeking information on Valleys Kids. This is yet another Third Sector outfit run by Labour Party members into which the ‘Welsh’ Government has pumped millions and millions of pounds of EU funding with no discernible benefit for the communities being ‘served’.

From what I can see Valleys Kids is just a glorified but very, very well funded youth club, owning among other properties a nice place on Gower. But Valleys Kids may also have friends in high places, for rumours persist that when the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) did a random check, and threatened to pull the funding plug, all was smoothed over by a phone call to Tony Blair!

Information on Valleys Kids please to editor@jacothenorth.net.

Sep 222015
 

CARDIGAN CASTLE

Not a lot to report from the Gang of Five and I probably won’t do another post until I get something important to report. But if I am silent then you mustn’t think I’m ignoring Timms and the gels; no, siree, it’s because I’ve decided to approach the problem from a different angle.

Though one thing that does merit mention, something now obvious beyond any doubt, is the disturbing fact that those who have been sacked, forced out, or ‘encouraged to leave’, such as Director Cris Tomos, Eduction Officer Rhian Medi, and others, are all local and Welsh. Those taken on in this period, from Facilities Officer Sue Lewis to the caretaker and the gardener, are all English. The pattern in the employment policy of the Castle is now unmistakable – Welsh out, English in.

Of all the things going wrong at Castell Aberteifi this might be the ugliest and most reprehensible. And yet, local politicians will stay schtum, and the only criticism we’re likely to hear will be levelled against anyone complaining against this discrimination, as the Cambrian News cranks up the ‘outrage’ to direct its venom at the ‘racists’ asking for Welsh people to be treated fairly.

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EQUINOX

On a lighter note, while visiting the website of Equinox, the Castle’s PR outfit, I was surprised to see a photo containing David Phillips, the man overthrown last year from his position of leader of Swansea council. The Equinox picture is of one of the company’s clients, the Swansea Bay City region project, though it’s at least a year old (see below), as Phillips was also given the heave-ho from the board of the city region outfit. (He’s the one in the centre, under the England flag.)

Equinox Phillips

Predictably, the board has among its members the leaders of the four local authorities involved, but strangely, in the case of Carmarthenshire, and only Carmarthenshire, we find a second representative. And who might that be? Meryl Gravell of course. Can anyone offer a suggestion as to why Carmarthenshire, but not Swansea (with its greater population) or any of the other councils, should have two representatives?

Ere his downfall I regularly chronicled Phillips’ deeds and utterances on this blog (just use the Search box atop the sidebar); indeed, I even gave him a nickname. In fact, I’m almost missing him, for he provided the citizenry of Swansea with hours of harmless fun. Such as going out in public, in daylight, in a red duffle coat? I repeat, a red duffle coat. Not even the Celtic scarf could save him from the fashion police.

In the duffle coat picture I’ve linked to, and on the extreme right, we can see acolyte and protégé Councillor John Charles Bayliss, one of the students Labour had to recruit to compensate for the party’s failure to find local candidates who could write their own name without biting off the tip of their tongue. After a few years of being a professional councillor Bayliss has at last found gainful employment, as an ‘account executive’ with PR outfit the Remarkable Group.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no objection to councillors earning an honest crust away from the council chamber. Indeed, it can be viewed as a good thing, otherwise we’d be lumbered with councils made up of the retired, the unemployable and the permanently sick (as has often been the case with Labour groups). No, the problem arises over the kind of work they do, and whether they might have been employed in the hope they can swing decisions to the advantage of their employers’ clients.

Not that I am for one minute suggesting that this is why the Remarkable Group recruited Councillor Bayliss – heaven forfend! – but I cannot help noticing that among his new employer’s clients we find many companies raking in the loot from wind farms, solar complexes and other activities that usually face local opposition and often struggle to gain planning consent. And as it says on John Boy’s Linkedin profile, his employer provides, “communications support for clients across England and Wales navigating the complex planning application process”.

Bayliss Remarkable

Which is a load of old bollocks. Because the big companies that are Remarkable’s clients employ lawyers and planning experts who understand planning law better than most councillors; what they’re really looking for is an extra advantage from having ‘someone on the inside’. So, without downplaying his undoubted abilities, I think it’s reasonable to assume that John Charles Bayliss would never have landed the job with the Remarkable Group had he not been a member of the party controlling Swansea council. Moving on, but not far, in any sense . . .

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GARETH LODWIG WARDELL

To save you scratching your head, or Googling, he was the Labour MP for the Swansea constituency of Gower from 1982 until 1997.

Wardell is the son of legendary Gwendraeth barber Jack Wardell, but he himself resisted the temptation to offer customers ‘Something for the weekend’ and took himself off to the London School of Economics before getting a gullible electorate to vote for him. Curiously, I could only find four photographs of Wardell online, and all are marked ‘Copyright Victor Patterson’, a Belfast photographer! So that’s why you’re not getting a mugshot. (Though you’re not missing much!) In fact, there’s little information of any kind about Wardell on the internet, unless you’re prepared to dig. Which I enjoy!

So what is he doing nowadays? Well, here’s an example. Swansea council’s planning committee recently considered an application for 14,970 solar panels in the Cockett Valley. The application had been made in the name of Renewable Developments (Wales) Ltd, run by one Huw Davies, a former fixer for the late Bryn Llewellyn, of Abergelli Farm, Felindre, on the outskirts of Swansea, who was a self-made multi-millionaire in haulage and small coal mines.

(Having mentioned Abergelli Farm, it’s probably worth adding that Davies is planning a 299Mw gas-fired power station there that will – it’s argued – complement the Swansea tidal lagoon. This is being promoted by Abergelli Power, which seems to be acting in concert with Millbrook Power, which is in turn a subsidiary of Watt Power Ltd of Edinburgh.)

As you might expect, the local residents objected to the solar scam scheme, partly because the Cockett Valley is a ‘green wedge’ in an increasingly built up area. Their councillor, Ann Cook, who sat on the planning committee, conscientiously represented the wishes of her constituents by objecting to the planning application. In fact, at the July 14th planning committee meeting most Labour councillors on the planning committee voted against the application.

But by the time the planning application was reconsidered on August 11th the situation had changed dramatically. The Labour councillors trooped into the meeting holding each other’s hands and all bar one voted for the solar rip-off, while Ann Cook, the local councillor, was allowed / instructed to feign sickness rather than turn up and risk losing her (and Labour’s) seat by voting in favour of something her ward was vehemently against.

At this second meeting applicant Huw Davies was allowed to address the committee. Sitting alongside him, glaring at the assembled councillors, was Gareth Wardell, even though he had no obvious connection with the application. He certainly doesn’t seem to be on the company’s books.

I’ve already mentioned the lack of photographs of Wardell, and then there’s his Wikipedia entry, which is skeletal. Though a little digging did put flesh on the bones. For example, I found this on a Bloomberg page, which lists Wardell as “Energy Advisor – Planning” to an outfit called the Camborne Energy Group Ltd. When I checked Camborne Energy on Company Check I was confronted with about a dozen companies of that name, at the same Cardiff address, and all marked “dissolved”. Though there is a company in Bridgend called Camborne Energy Investments (10) Ltd, described as “active”, but does no trading! Who starts up so many companies, to do nothing? And why?

Another company with which Wardell is, or was, linked is 3C Energy. Now this may or may not be an Irish company, it certainly had an address in Dublin. The panel below (click to enlarge) is taken from a cached version of the site because all links to 3C websites are broken. Note again, Wardell’s usefulness is made clear – his ability to get planning permission.

Wardell Advisor

As with Camborne Energy Investments Ltd, we find multiple identities for 3C Energy. The only one of which that appears to be trading, 3C Renewable Energy Investments Ltd, is based in Cardiff and has a net worth of £-86,195. At 11 Oaklands Road, Bridgend, the same address as one of the Camborne companies, we find 3C Energy Developments (1) Ltd. And you will not be surprised to learn that we find the same man mentioned as director of both, Jonathan David Townend. But since June 26th, we also find Wardell as a director. The companies Townend has been involved with deserve a post on their own, but who is he?

I have argued for many years that the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party is corrupt to its core. It’s members as venal and selfish as those of any party the bruvvers and sissters condemn. What you have just read is, perhaps, another example of that venality.

Without wishing to unduly excite his lawyers it’s pretty clear that Gareth Wardell advertises himself as a kind of gun for hire. A man who, for a price, will use his influence within the Labour Party to get planning permission for the rogues inhabiting the renewables sector, parasites feeding off the public purse who, in truth, have no more concern for the environment than I have for the well-being of the Labour Party.

What Wardell does may be legal, then again it may not. Perhaps it depends where the line is drawn between lobbying and exerting undue pressure in order to influence planning and other decisions for the material gain of those exerting the pressure. Where Wardell appears to be clever is in having few if any direct involvements with the projects for which he’s lobbying. Take the Cockett Valley solar farm, he seems to have no official or registered connection with the applicant, so why was he ‘phoning and in other ways applying pressure on Labour councillors, especially the ward councillor?

Wardell’s influence can obviously swing things in Swansea, but how far does that influence reach? Can he affect decisions made by the Notional Assembly and the ‘Welsh’ Government? Whatever the answers, this little tale, this potted biography, is an indictment of the planning system, the political system, and the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party.

*

TERRY MATTHEWS

When the unlamented David Phillips was overthrown in Swansea he also lost his role as chairman of the Swansea Bay City Region consortium, though at the time he seemed to think he could carry on with the city region role. Others clearly had different ideas. He was replaced by Sir Terry Matthews, usually described as ‘Wales’ richest man’ or ‘Wales’ most successful entrepreneur’. (‘Entrepreneur’, a word for which there is no Welsh equivalent, by the way.)

I’ve never been too sure who exactly appointed Matthews, was it the members of the consortium, or the ‘Welsh’ Government? Recent statements by Matthews only add to my confusion.

Speaking last week at a question and answer session held at Trinity St. David University’s Carmarthen campus Matthews declared that he is “in favour of Carmarthenshire branding itself as region of Cardiff to boost the area’s economy”! Carmarthenshire, remember, is to the west of Swansea, and at the nearest point is over 50 miles from Cardiff, the county council is a member of the Swansea Bay city region, yet Matthews is telling Carmarthenshire to link itself with Cardiff! Then, when asked by a student how Carmarthenshire could compete with big cities, Matthews’ response was “You can cheat”!

Terry Matthews

And Matthews has form when it comes to advising people to lie, and be “shifty”. Around the same time he told business leaders in Gwent to tell people they’re based in Cardiff. Here’s a response to that suggestion in the form of a letter published in the South Wales Guardian.

Matthews is supposed to be heading the Swansea Bay City Region project, yet seems more concerned with promoting Cardiff, which makes me even more suspicious of his appointment. For I have regularly argued that the Swansea Bay City Region was added as an afterthought in order to disguise the fact that the Cardiff City region was all that really mattered to the ‘Welsh’ Government. Which makes me suspect that it was the ‘Welsh’ Government that appointed Matthews, perhaps to ensure that the Swansea Bay City Region isn’t too successful, and doesn’t interfere with Cardiff’s ambitions. Certainly, that’s the only interpretation to draw from the man’s bizarre statements.

But, for a minute, let’s listen to Matthews, let’s take his advice ad absurdum. If what he advises for Carmarthenshire, Swansea and the Valleys is credible, then why doesn’t he suggest that Cardiff brand itself as part of Bristol, after all, Bristol is a much more attractive and famous city? Why stop there – why shouldn’t every city from Plymouth to Inverness pretend to be part of London? ‘But wait!’ I hear you cry, Cardiff’s on the up, getting a lot of positive publicity from major sporting events being held in the city, such as the 2017 Champions League final.

OK . . . let’s consider that for a minute. It is generally agreed that the greatest final of all time was in 1960, when the great Real Madrid team of Puskas, di Stefano, Ghento and the rest beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7 – 3 before 127,621 fans. That game was played at Hampden Park, Glasgow. How much did Glasgow really benefit from that in hard, economic terms? The same could be asked of more recent venues, cities such as Athens (1983), Seville (1986), Istanbul (2005), Lisbon (2014). Like Glasgow, all great cities, but I think someone’s over-egging it to suggest that a few hours of television exposure will have investors rushing, and ‘swarms’ of people wanting to settle in any city hosting a major sporting event.

Matthews gravell

Though if there is some truth in this, then Swansea is obviously getting more regular and wholly positive global exposure from the Swans playing in the Premier League. All Swans’ games are televised around the world, with massive audiences when they play one of the ‘big’ clubs. And what’s more, the name ‘Swansea’ is inescapable, it’s visible from the score to the players’ shirts. By comparison, when people view the 2017 Champions League final they’ll only be interested in the two teams, not that it’s taking place in Cardiff.

Clearly, a lot of nonsense is spouted by the Cardiff propaganda machine (otherwise known as the ‘Welsh media’) which tries to justify the disproportionate investment and expenditure in Cardiff. Yet this, as the letter-writer to the South Wales Guardian pointed out, is the real problem. It is a dangerous and anti-national strategy that risks alienating other parts of the country, and poses the very real danger that large parts, especially in the north, will identify even more strongly with coterminous areas of England.

Devolution should mean nation building, not favouring one city over all other parts of the country. It’s about time those clowns down Cardiff docks, and the civil servants who manipulate them, realised that the strategies pursued since 1999 are dividing not uniting us. (Though from the perspective of the civil servants, answering to London, maybe this is the strategy.) The areas that were poor in 1999 are relatively poorer today, compared with Cardiff, and almost all other parts of Europe.

Wales needs a strategy to bring us together; the south east, the north, the Green Desert, and of course the Swansea Bay area, where those involved in the city region project might start asking themselves whether Terry “region of Cardiff” Matthews is the right man for the job.

Jan 262015
 

Despite having spent most of my adult life away from Swansea my dreams still tend to be set there, sometimes they’re about people, and in places, the waking me has all but forgotten. A contributing factor must be that I take a keen interest in my home town, and in recent years I have despaired at the Labour-controlled council, with its – now deposed – leader and his wife, the refugee English and Austrian Trots, and of course the students recruited to the council straight from the grant-processing plant down on the Mumbles Road. (For other posts on this subject just type ‘Swansea Council’ or ‘Swansea Labour Party’ into the Search box atop the sidebar.)

The erstwhile leader, David Phillips, now sulks like Napoleon on St. Helena, cursing those who toppled him (also rueing the massive drop in household income since him and the missus were given the old heave-ho). Let’s hope this gruesome twosome fade from politics and leave Swansea altogether. The Trotskyists, Bob and Uta Clay, are hanging on in there, still dreaming of writing Swansea’s name in the annals of glorious revolution, but as relevant to contemporary politics as Plaid Cymru is to the cause of Welsh independence. But it’s the students I want to discuss here; those bright young things who brought their joie de vivre (or something) to the drab world of Swansea council life.

     *

First, Pearleen Sangha, Californian councillor for the Uplands ward. It was known for almost a year that Cllr. Sangha was not attending council meetings and perhaps not even living in SPearleen Sangha party girlwansea, but that was OK because she was in Cardiff working for the Labour Party. Obviously, rumours circulated and her position became untenable when, towards the end of September last year, even the Labour-supporting Evening Post began to ask awkward questions. (Click here and scroll down.) She seemed to panic, saying she’d told “the leadership” back in July that she was resigning as a councillor, and assuring us that she had not received her councillor’s allowance since then. Which might have been more convincing if her Twitter account in late September didn’t still describe her as a councillor, or if her council e-mail account wasn’t still open; or if she wasn’t still shown on the council’s own website Pearleen Sangha Californiaas a Labour councillor for the Uplands ward.

When she wasn’t in Cardiff she was back home in California, or campaigning for a No vote in the Scottish referendum, or just gadding about having a good time. I recall voicing my concerns about a US citizen of Indian ancestry and English birth having the temerity to go to Scotland – a country of which she knows nothing – and tell the Scots how to vote. But it didn’t end there, because the other tweet I’vSangha tweete used suggests that her sister Chenisha, presumably also from California, was helping in the Ynys Môn Assembly by-election of August 2013. She knows even less about Ynys Môn than her sister does about Scotland! Ignorance and arrogance aside, whatever else she was doing Pearleen Sangha was not serving as a councillor for the Uplands ward, and while she may not have claimed her allowance after July 2014 she went missing a long time before that.

Chenisha SanghaHaving mentioned Chenisha Sangha, it should come as no surprise to learn that she also tweets. Though I have no idea who Salt Water Taffy is, I can only assume that he is a seafaring gent from one of our coastal districts. Nor do I have any idea as to why she should have thought him disgusting, but I’m glad he won her over. Picture the scene: an invitation to board his lugger, a few jars of grog by candlelight, maybe a softly crooned shanty then, before you know it, she realises that his barque is worse than his bight and starts taking an interest in his tackle. I wish them well.

*

More recently, two more of Swansea Labour’s student councillors have departed . . . or at least, announced their departure. First, was Mitchell Theaker, of Cockett ward, who is moving to Dubai where he’ll recruit rich Arab students for Sheffield University. Although he announced his resignation the week before last it doesn’t officially take effect Theaker tweet Dubai, Jan 2015until March 20th – even though he’s already left Swansea to take up his new job in the Gulf! Surely he won’t be claiming anything from Swansea council between the date of leaving and the official resignation date?

Theaker’s card was probably marked last August following the overthrow of his patron, when he unwisely tweeted: “Lots of people devastated to hear David Phillips has stepped down as leader of Swansea Council. A principled and distinguished giant of a man.” Mmm. And although he was councillor for Cockett (which lies between Sketty and Fforestach), he never actually lived in the ward. He was last reported to be living with his boyfriend down the Maritime Quarter.

Another who has announced he’s going but, again, not officially until March 20th, is Nick Bradley, of Townhill ward. He too is off to foreign climes. According to the Evening Post he’s taking up a job in “the US and middle east”. Bradley, a lifelong supporter of West Bromwich Albion, was on the board running Swansea’s Liberty Stadium. The by-elections to replace Theaker and Bradley will both be held on May 7, the day of the UK General Election. The reason for this, according to Bradley, is that it “will save time, money and effort at a point when all focus has to be on the budget and the future of our city”. Which is absolute bollocks.

Uplands by-electionThe reason these by-elections are being held on the same day as the General Election is because Labour’s donkey vote will be out in force and it’s hoped they’ll unthinkingly vote Labour in the council by-elections too. An important consideration when we remember the result in the by-election held in November to replace Pearleen Sangha. (Click to enlarge.) This was won by Independent Peter May, who had formerly held the seat, and lost it, as a Lib Dem. In 2010 he had even been the Lib Dem candidate for Swansea West (which contains the Uplands ward), and came within 504 votes of the winning Labour candidate. With its hold on Swansea West weakening it’s understandable that Labour is taking no chances with its council seats.

*

With Sangha, Bradley and Theaker gone, it seems the only ex-student know-nothing (of Swansea) councillor left is John Charles Bayliss, who also represents the Uplands ward. John Boy must be feeling lonely right now, and perhaps vulnerable. Though one rumour I’ve heard Bayliss Twitter picsuggests that he has chanced his arm by asking to be given the council role vacated by Theaker on a Cabinet Advisory Committee, which if true, suggests that he’s counting on his party being desperate to avoid another Uplands by-election after May 7th.

Or maybe it’s a ‘What the hell have I got to lose?’ gambit due to John Boy planning to follow Theaker and Bradley to the Gulf, because before Christmas he was in Dubai with them. His Twitter bio shows them together (Bradley left). Shouldn’t Gays boycott countries where homosexuality is illegal, or go there to protest? They also drink, quite a lot, something else disapproved of by the bearded ones. These three – and Sangha – also bang on about the environment, they all supported further enriching the Duke of Beaufort with wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair, but they don’t give a toss about their own carbon footprint when they’re jetting off here and there. There is something very superficial and hypocritical about these people. Their ‘principles’ are for flaunting, not for defending, certainly not if such defence might interfere with their own hedonistic lifestyles.

Thankfully, they’re slowly disappearing from the scene, yet it could have been a lot worse. To become leader of the council after the May 2012 elections David Phillips needed the support of these students and others because he was never sure of Labour’s local stalwarts. Fortunately, his wife, Sybil Crouch, fellow councillor and (inevitably) cabinet member, worked in the university, and so must have been helpful in finding potential candidates. Just think, If Phillips hadn’t been removed when he was he and his missus could have recruited from the university and eventually made his position impregnable.

*

This episode in the history of the Swansea Labour Party is symptomatic of a wider malaise within ‘Welsh’ Labour. Basically, the party can no longer find local recruits of a high enough calibre to be candidates, even at council level. Which results in it falling prey to drifters, chancers, entryists, arrivistes, parachutists, and single-issue obsessives such as Bayliss, for whom Gay issues are more important than anything that could improve the lives of my fellow Jacks. Leading to the Labour vote SI Exifbeing very ‘brittle’ in many parts of Wales, as we saw in the Euro elections last May. (Click here for results.)

Yet around the Bay, the bruvvers in Aberavon have had imposed on them the scion of the House of Kinnock. Contrary to what most people reading this may think, if the people of Port Talbot elect Stephen Kinnock in May it will be a splendid result for Labour, for it will confirm that the ‘donkey’ vote is holding firm. But it should also remind us that the priorities of the Labour Party and the best interests of Wales are diverging fast. Wales is currently lumbered with a dominant party devoid of ideas and reduced to what can only be described as dog in a manger politics.

So where are the alternatives? The Ukip surge of last May will not be replicated in a ‘serious’ election such as the UK General Election this coming May, though unless the party implodes before then (entirely possible) Ukip will gain seats in the 2016 Assembly elections. The Lib Dems struggle on and will do well to hold Brecon and Radnor in May. The Green Party of Englandandwales can be written off in most regards other than its potential to take student and other votes in marginals. Plaid Cymru failed to capitalise on Labour’s weaknesses last May and will fail to do so again this May; it’s one hope may be Ukip taking enough Labour votes to let it sneak in, Llanelli comes to mind. Which leaves the Conservatives, amazingly, the party most likely to gain in the medium term from the unconscionably slow death of ‘Welsh’ Labour.

I’m glad I was able to write this post, glad to be able to report that three of those who had somehow found their way onto Swansea council, but had nothing to contribute to the wellbeing of my belovéd city, have now left. This episode could be interpreted as locals retaking control from a gang of ‘We-know-best’ interlopers, something we should encourage all over Wales. It would be nice to think that this would be the end of the story; but given the zombie-like nature of ‘Welsh’ Labour it’s almost guaranteed to happen again, if not in Swansea, then somewhere else. Maybe it’ll be your local council . . . unless it’s already happening.

UPDATE: I have just received this telling me that Councillor John Boy Bayliss has been reported to the council, again. Among his many blind spots is the belief that any shyster who can spin a line containing the words ‘eco’, ‘green’, ‘organic’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ (or any combination thereof) must be given planning permission. Preferably carte blanche to save the poor fellowBayliss fracking having to go through the tiresome planning procedure all over again. Worse, anyone who expresses contrary views must be barred from voting on the matter . . . yet he and his (thankfully departing) friends can be quite open about their predetermination and still be allowed to vote! The panel is an example of what I’m talking about. I’ve already used the word ‘hypocrite’ to describe these buggers, and I have no hesitation in using it again.

Feb 252013
 

Following on from the previous post I have now written to the Welsh Government asking that the Mynydd y Gwair project be ‘called in’ due to the many irregularities attaching to the February 7th vote and other, linked issues.

For if the Council’s legal officers strongly advised Councillor Ioan Richard (of the affected ward) to absent himself from the debate then there were a number on the other side as obviously predetermined to vote in favour as Councillor Richard was to vote against, so were they given the same advice? And if so, why were they allowed to ignore that advice? All explained in the letter here. A further copy, with a covering letter, has been sent to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Looking at the wider picture, the Mynydd y Gwair case, and what I’ve learnt about the state of the Swansea Labour Party in the past couple of weeks, it fits in with a wider picture of the Labour Party in Wales. It is a party increasingly reliant upon a regular influx of non-Welsh candidates in order to keep up the appearance of strength. What’s interesting, is how it achieves and maintains that influx.

I began this series of posts with a fit of nostalgia by recalling the Labour Party I knew back in Swansea when I was growing up there in the 1950s and 1960s. Few of our local councillors and activists impressed me in a positive way, but at least I knew them. I knew who they were. Or if I didn’t, then the chances were that my father knew them, or worked with one of the Brother’s brothers. Most Labour councillors of that era started their political careers in the trade unions, blue collar trade unions catering for the working classes.

Despite their many shortcomings no one could argue that our local councillors did not know their patch, and did not want the best for Swansea. Looking back to those days, the Labour Party I knew back then was, through the trade unions and other activities, part and parcel of the lives and experiences of those who supported the party. Not so today.

THE ‘PAINTED SHELL’ PARTY

I have chosen this metaphor because the more I think of today’s Labour Party the more I see an empty but cleverly decorated shell where once there had been something less attractively adorned but with more content. A party today still able to rely on the ‘donkey’ vote, but with the problem that ‘donkey’ voters rarely join the party, let alone become candidates. Thus leaving Labour dependent on other avenues for many of its representatives.

One route for that supply, obvious when we consider Swansea, is higher education. With two universities and a few other colleges the higher education sector is a valuable source of council candidates for Labour in Swansea. This applies elsewhere in Wales and may go some way to explaining why the ‘Welsh’ Government is so keen on giving Wales a higher education sector grotesquely and damagingly in excess of what a small country needs.

Then, when we look at another route, the Third Sector, and strip away all the political correctness and touchy-feely nonsense, what we see is naked politics. An overlarge Third Sector such as we suffer in Wales attracts a steady inflow of individuals to take advantage of sinecures, jobs and funding handed out by the party they belong to or support.

Making the Third Sector a system of political patronage, plain and simple. Nothing more than a party in power with money to disburse rewarding its friends and supporters. This kind of mild corruption is found all over the world, but it’s rare to find it practised so blatantly in Protestant Europe. In return for this largesse the Labour Party has a ready supply of candidates.

Which means that since the first round of EU Objective One funding in 2000 the Welsh economy and the welfare of our people have taken a back seat to the Labour Party’s ‘patronage-results-in-candidates’ system. That’s bad enough, but understandable in a selfish kind of way. What’s unforgivable is that both the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru have supported this corruption . . . and being the unprincipled chancers or deluded ‘socialists’ they are, would do so again, tomorrow, given the opportunity.

Something else that struck me as I trawled through the available information on Swansea’s new intake of Labour councillors was how many of them belonged to trade unions. Or rather, a single trade union, Unite. And how many are members of the Co-operative party. Which provides another stark contrast with the days of my youth.

For I recall horny-handed sons of toil (unless of course they were shop stewards) who belonged to the TGWU or the NUR, and who drank in the Dockers Club. But today’s skinny latte Labour Party, to maintain the pretence of a link with the hoi-polloi, has union representation from a white collar union that has as members people who’ve never done what most people would regard as work! Somehow I can’t see their names being stitched onto the union banner by candlelight prior to the dawn assault on the bastions of capitalist oppression.

This final observation (no, not the candlelight stitching) brings me to the ugly reality of professional politicians; which is where academe, Third Sector and white collar unions inexorably takes us. To the realisation that we now have a class of people – especially within the Labour Party – who got involved in student politics then, on leaving university became an ‘adviser’ to an MP or AM, or worked for a trade union or a grant-guzzling Third Sector body and, then, without venturing into the ‘real world’ inhabited by un-networked mortals like thee and me, go on to ‘represent’ us in our local authority, or else in Cardiff, London or Brussels.

Throw in the loose canon or crank who nevertheless knows how to play the selection process and you can understand how the Labour Party on Swansea City Council is what it is today: a repulsive collection of carpetbaggers, trendies, oddballs and single-issue obsessives exploiting the indigenous ‘donkey’ vote in order to serve constituencies such as the GLBT community.

I leave you all to consider this. Due to the assorted machinations listed above it could be that the Conservative Party is today, for the first time ever, more representative of the Welsh nation than the Labour Party.

 

UPDATE 27.02.2013: More information has come to light that has resulted in me making another complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. To explain.

Just before Christmas all Swansea’s councillors received a copy of a book, The Wind Farm Scam, by Dr. John Etherington. The book was sent by the organisation leading the resistance to the Mynydd y Gwair wind turbines, SOCME (Save Our Common Mountain Environment).

One councillor, young John Charles Bayliss (who has cropped up here quite often of late!) was mightily unimpressed with this Yuletide gift. So unimpressed that he was moved to tweet. My interpretation of this tweet is as follows. The Bayliss, coalreference to “coal” I take to mean that the book should be burned. “#Scientificallyilliterate” is probably his opinion of those who sent the book, or possibly Dr. Etherington. While “#BuggerOff” can only be his response to those who kindly sent him the book. Such ingratitude! (The picture referred to in the tweet is simply the front cover of the book with the SOCME complimentary slip.)

This tweet for me is proof positive that as early as December 11th (and almost certainly long before) Bayliss was predetermined to vote in favour of wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair. That being so, John Charles Bayliss is another councillor who should not have voted on February 7th.