Mitchell Theaker

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.

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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.

 

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.

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.

Dec 192013
 

Woe! Woe! and thrice woe! Tales come from all quarters telling, variously, of Labourites turning on each other like ferrets in a sack; of Il Duce chewing the carpet in impotent rage at the behaviour of a Californian councillor; of a callow yoof in Jamesonia accumulating more ‘jobs’ than a retired government minister; and a prince of Denmark willing to exchange the bracing Baltic air of Copenhagen for the, um, intriguing aromas of Port Talbot-sur-Mer. To begin, with the aforementioned ‘ferrets’ . . .

News broke today of one bruvver in Caerffili referring to other bruvvers as ‘a joke’. The accuser was Councillor Nigel Dix, of Welsh-hating True Wales, who, in one of those hilarious cc e-mail episodes, described local AM Gwyn Price as a joke. Not content with that, he then Nigel Dixextended the description to Comrade Councillor Gez Kirby, who has himself featured on this blog.

Dix is clearly a bit of a preener, who likes to be photographed in what he probably imagines are flat caps and mufflers suitable for twenty-first century socialists. He also plays in a blues band (Rhymni delta blues) and owns a Fender Stratocaster. But the real humour here is that all this name-calling is taking place in Caerffili, one of the most dysfunctional councils in Wales which, by happy chance, also made the news today.

One question must be, will Dix’ indiscretion result in him doing something drastic. Well, if blues man Dix wants to end it all with a midnight tryst at a crossroads, then I’m sure I can borrow a car and play Satan . . . though I ain’t interested in his soul.

UPDATE 27.08.2015: Yes, I know, it’s a bit late . . . but anyway, I am indebted to GE for sending me a copy of the e-mails referred in the above report. Read them here. One thing that struck me was that the guy with whom Dix is having such fun slagging off other bruvvers is Andrew R. Whitcombe, who clearly works at Bridgend College. I trust someone had a word with Comrade Whitcombe about using his Coleg Penybont e-mail account to discuss Labour Party business. But then, this is Wales . . .

Moving west, we come to the City of my Dreams. I have oft-times dealt with the local Labour Party (sometimes I’ve even managed to do so without frightening the cat by laughing out loud). Anyone wanting to read these previous observations should just type ‘Swansea Labour Party’, ‘John Bayliss’, ‘Mitchell Theaker’, ‘DPearleen Sanghaavid Phillips’ (Il Duce), or ‘Pearleen Sangha’ into the Search box at the top of the sidebar.

Now I learn that Pearleen, a councillor for the Santa Cruz Uplands ward, has moved to Cardiff to work full-time for the party machine. I am further led to believe that this will involve working with Mick Antoniw, AM for Pontypridd and self-confessed trustee of The Bevan Foundation, in targeting a couple of Lib Dem seats ahead of the next Assembly elections in 2016. Council leader David Phillips is livid that one of his gang has left without, apparently, telling him. There are a number of issues here.

The fragrant Ms Sangha is from California and was elected to the council – after three recounts – in 2012 straight from Swansea university. She has been home at least twice this year, and regularly swans off to various Labour yoof gatherings. So she knows sod all about Swansea and cares less, yet now she has been recruited to work for the party Mick Antoniwnationally – in a country she doesn’t understand!. Small wonder fellow Uplands councillor John Boy Bayliss – now, at last, gainfully employed – is complaining bitterly about having to do more work; tedious stuff like listening to constituents talking about drains, litter, and next-door’s dog. (This is serious, for Bayliss, Sangha, Theaker and many others belong to Labour’s hedonist wing. They only joined because they heard Labour was a ‘party’.)

By an amazing coincidence, Anglo-Ukrainian Antoniw also washed up in Wales as a student. After studying law he became, ahem, a ‘personal injuries’ lawyer. Antoniw, Sangha and all the other carpetbaggers illustrate the massive problem facing ‘Welsh’ Labour – it’s becoming less and less Welsh! With few Welsh people other than self-haters joining the party nowadays it desperately embraces and promotes anyone who’s under the age of 50, free of halitosis and flatulence and able to read joined-up writing. Of course, this also means that the party is exploited by political adventurers, entryists and dilettantes, who see ‘Welsh’ Labour, with its ‘donkey’ vote, as an easy route to an undemanding political career.

Now we move further west, into Jamesonia (formerly known as Carmarthenshire), and the cautionary tale of young Calum Higgins. Said to be a clever boy, our Calum, meeting the criteria given abovCalum Higginse, which has resulted in him being deluged with work. Though the more I think about it, the more I suspect Calum’s intelligence may be over-rated. I say that because Carmarthenshire council is a house of cards that will very soon topple. Anyone too close to the ruling Labour-Independent coalition will cop some rubble. Consequently, any aspiring politician with an ounce of political nous would not be hitching his wagon to the falling stars on Jail Hill. Of course, there is the possibility that Calum is sincere, and believes in the Labour Party . . . which would only confirm my assessment.

Finally, we reach out – unworthy though we may be – to the ‘Welsh’ Labour pantheon, wherein dwell Ma and Pa Kinnock, reclining on their EU millions. Their daughter-in-law, Helle Thorning-Schimdt, is the Prime Minister of Denmark . . . yes, she of the infamous ‘selfie’ with Obama and Cameron at the Mandela funeral. It may be of significance that even though she has a double-barrelled name Kinnock is not one of those ‘barrels’.

Anyway, the son / husband is Stephen Kinnock, and he has expressed an interest in standing for the Aberavon Westminster seat, when Hywel Francis, son of miners’ leader, Dai, steps down in 2015. Though his wife thinks the ambition “unusual”. Kinnock Junior seems currently to be the Managing Director of GLTE, which forms part of xynteo, but now rather fancies a change of direction. But why? Well, the news I’m getting from my sources in the Danish parliament is that Stephen Kinnock wakes up regularly from a nightmare, the narrative of which runs thus: Him and the missus are at a Buck House garden party. Beti comes over, they are introduced, and – as she does – says, ‘And what do you do, Mr Thorning-Schmidt?’ At which point he runs off, screaming, into the shrubbery, pursued by corgies and SAS ‘waiters’. Stephen Kinnock

I jest, of course. But if the Labour Party picks for Aberavon a man who works in Switzerland, has a family in Denmark, who’s had trouble with tax authorities, and who may be untruthful about his own sexuality, then it will be further confirmation of the contempt with which it regards its ‘donkey’ voters. It will also reaffirm that ‘Welsh’ Labour is as unfussed about the hereditary principle as the Hapsburgs or the rulers of North Korea.

To conclude. Some people think I’m cruel towards the bruvvers and the sissters. But think about it . . . yes, I put my own spin on things, but no one can accuse me of making anything up. It all comes on a platter, gift-wrapped. The issue isn’t that there are ‘jokes’ in Welsh Labour, more that the whole stinking structure is a joke.

P.S. I’ve just heard that at tonight’s City Carol Service in the Collegiate and Parish Church of St. Mary’s there were bishops present, and peers, AMs and MPs, mayors from neighbouring towns, and many other worthies – but not a single member of the ruling Labour group on Swansea city council. Just rows of empty seats.

Maybe this reluctance to be seen in public accounts for Labour spending some £2,000 on a two-page Christmas spread in the Evening Post, showing photographs of all 49 Labour councillors. Giving those who voted Labour the chance to see what their out-of-town councillors look like. I just hope it’s the Labour Party and not the council paying for this extravagance.

Sep 212013
 

As you know, I’ve been home in Swansea for a few days. I was actually staying in Llanelli but the new roads make getting to Swansea a doddle. The problems start once you get to Fforestfach, and all the out-of-town stores. From there on, through Fforestfach Cross, on to Sketty Cross, past Singleton Hospital and on to Mumbles seems to be one long traffic jam. In addition, the major east-west route down town is undergoing ‘work’ that’s causing a lot of disruption and anger. Among those mightily pissed off is former Wales rugby skipper Colin Charvis.

Add to that the near permanent road works on the Jersey Marine (the main artery from the M4 into the city centre from the east), the shambles at the river bridges, and the extra pressure on that stretch of road from the new university campus, the SA1 development and other projects filling the gap between Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, and you can understand why some people start twitching nervously when they read ‘Swansea city council’ and ‘major development’ in the same paragraph. In short, with it’s dying city centre, traffic chaos, drug problem, reliance on the public sector for jobs, Swansea is a shambles, and a terrible indictment of Benito Phillips, Il Duce Abertawesuccessive councils.

But Thursday’s issue of the Evening Post carried what I assume is a regular column by the present leader of the council, David Phillips, a scouser who drifted into Swansea via Pembrokeshire a few years ago. It can be found here, and merits comment. The article is accompanied by a photograph of Phillips at the Swans’ new training facilities, reminding us of the old political rule – if you’ve run out of ideas get yourself photographed with children, animals, a worthy cause, or else try to associate yourself with some local success story that in reality has nothing to do with you. Second, according to Phillips the biggPhillips commentsest problem in Swansea is litter. Reminding us of yet another old political rule: give yourself some breathing space by finding an issue – like litter – that nobody will argue against. A final observation: at the time of checking this story on the Evening Post website – some 48 hours after it was posted – there had been not a single comment or recommendation. Which says a lot about the political vision and spellbinding prose of David Phillips.

Elsewhere in Thursday’s Post I stumbled across another familiar face, Councillor Mitchell Theaker, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People. (Click to enlarge.) Theaker is one of the ex-students from God knows where that help keep the Labour Party in power in Swansea. The report begins: “TheakerYoungsters are urging Swansea Council to support plans to make the city the UK capital of children’s rights”. It goes on to quote a 10-year-old saying, “We need rights to help us learn, get along and have a safer life. It will make Swansea a better place for children”. Have you ever read such bollocks! The Labour Party appoints a gimmicky cabinet post for children and young people that can only be justified by indoctrinating and exploiting kids, giving them silly titles and putting words in their mouths they have no way of understanding. Which reminds us of another important political lesson. If you hear the waters of Shit Creek lapping in the near distance, and find yourself bereft of any mode of propulsion, then gimmicks can be a useful smokescreen . . . especially if they involve children, etc., etc.

Swansea at present is suffering under a Labour administration made up of people from somewhere else who do not know Swansea, and don’t really care. All that seems to matter is that Labour is in power, stopping somebody else being in power – it’s just a political game with little or no relevance to the people of Swansea. This could be proven in the coming months if, as some predict, Phillips’ position is threatened by the recently elected former MP and public school Trotskyite, Bob Clay, another Englishman who knows sod all about Swansea but, like all the others, wants to be on the council to play silly games.

As if that wasn’t enough coverage of the local Labour Party, the Post had yet more, in the dispiriting form of Mike Hedges, former council leader and now AM for Swansea East. (Click to enlarge.) Unusually for today’s Swansea Labour Party, Hedges is actually from the city, Plasmarl, to be exact. I say that because earlier this year in an exchaHedgesnge on Twitter he suggested that I didn’t like him because he was from Plasmarl. I had to inform him that my late father, Idwal Jones, was born and bred in Plasmarl (played for Cwm Albion). The reason I don’t like Hedges is because he’s a Labour machine man who failed Swansea as council leader and is now failing her as an AM; a man with the charisma of a week-old lettuce, a hang-dog expression and a George Thomas voice, who puts loyalty to his gang of carpetbaggers above loyalty to his city and his country. But I digress.

Jonathan-RobertsHedges’ half-page of wit and wisdom told us that in his considered opinion Swansea does not need a mayor. Really! Are we expected to believe that Swansea would be a worse place if run by an individual with ability, vision and energy; someone who knows and cares about the city; someone unwilling to play silly political games? It seems Hedges wants us believe that Swansea should aspire to nothing better than the incompetence of the shower we now see in County Hall. Proving what I said just now; his loyalty is to The Labour Party, not to Swansea, not to Wales.

Clearly Swansea Labour Party needs all the help it can get. For it would struggle to organise an evening of merriment in a building for the manufacture of beer. What passes for Labour’s ‘strategy’ to improve the city can be summed up thus: employ gimmicks and distractions; hope that the success of the Swans and the Ospreys results – somehow, anyhow! – in spin-off investment (then claim the credit); pray for good weather to bring tourists to Mumbles and Gower. With such a brilliant, proactive strategy the bruvvers must have been delighted when Jonathan Roberts took over as editor of the Beans on Toast, to give them the kind of uncritical support the Communist Party of the Soviet Union used to enjoy from Pravda. Something I predicted back in April, but I take no pleasure in being proved right.

Jun 182013
 

Here’s a merry and eclectic miscellany of tit-bits and tales that have caught my attention over the past week or so. Or at least, it’s those I deemed worthy of comment.

NOT CRICKET, SURELY? (THOUGH PERHAPS STILL VERY ENGLISH)

A strange story from the Nicholas Insurance Pembrokeshire Cricket League (Division Six), not a source of news I’ve used before, nor one I ever thought I would use, but there you are. It seems that in a game last Saturday Crymych Seconds were batting against Lamphey Seconds when the Crymych batsmen walked off complaining they’d been abused by Lamphey players for speaking Welsh. An official complaint has been made to the League by the Crymych club.

Now obviously, Crymych is in north, or ‘Welsh’, Pembrokeshire, and Lamphey is south of the ‘Landsker’ (near Pembroke town); but even so, in this day and age who objects to people speaking Welsh to each other? And what would have happened if Lamphey had been playing a touring side from, say, Pakistan? Would they have subjected the Pakistani batsmen to the same treatment? If they had, I guarantee that it would have made more ripples than this story, now being quickly and quietly brushed under the carpet.

IEUAN WYN JONES STANDS DOWN . . .

. . . about twenty years too late. All Plaid Cymru needs now is a leader . . . and policies . . . and politicians someone other than a political anorak might recognise . . . and a sense of purpose . . . and a commitment to the Welsh people (rather than to ‘Wales’) . . . and a clear-out of the dead-wood . . . and an acceptance that Wales cannot save the planet by being covered in wind turbines . . . and an abandonment of (lower) sixth form socialism by joining the real world . . .

SWANSEA, MY SWANSEA

Clay OuterThe Llansamlet by-election campaign is up and running. Hitting the straps early is Robert – ‘call me “Bob”‘ – Clay, public school educated Trotskyite, former MP, political adventurer, friend of George ‘Indefatigability’ Galloway and now refugee. I was sent a copy of what I assume will be his main election leaflet, which I am pleased to share with you here. (Click to enlarge.) There are a number of observations worth making.

1/ Despite it being a large, and very wordy, example of its kind, Comrade Bob could find no room for a single word of Welsh other than the ‘Llafur’ in the party logo.

Clay Inside2/ He admits that he and his Austrian wife – elected to the council last year – are political migrants, having come to Wales after hearing Rhodri Morgan talk of “clear red water”. So there you are, if anyone was still in doubt, you now know who to blame for carpetbaggers, Third Sector grant-grabbers and other undesirables coming over the border.

3/ He identifies a number of specific problems within the ward that he will tackle: listed as Rhyd-y-Felin, Lon Enfys, Trewen Road, Parc yr Helig . . . none of which he knows, nor can pronounce, for he only moved to Llansamlet last August. Though one issue he does not mention is the one he’s built his local reputation on – the fight against another Traveller site in Llansamlet. Why is he so reticent?

Staying in Swansea, but moving on to other carpetbagger Labour councillors who’ve been in Swansea no longer than the Clays, no one seems to know whether Pearleen Sangha is still in California. Her Twitter account @PearleenSangha has fallen silent, no tweet since June 13. Has she been ordered by the party to stay schtum, in the same way her equally embarrassing colleague, John Boy Bayliss, @JohnCBayliss, was ordered by the party to close his Twitter account? The third member of the student-councillor trio has also been making a fool of himself, again.Theaker 1

Gin drinker Mitchell Theaker, @mitchelltheaker, got in the habit of signing off council cabinet e-mails as ‘Mitchy’. (Yes, he’s in the cabinet, representing children and young people. I suspect he identifies better with the former.) Anyway, the suspicion is that the party took a dim view of this lack of protocol, coming Theaker 2on top of other little, um, annoyances. Does “signing off” mean he doesn’t write them? What exactly does he do for his £36,000 a year?

And come to think of it, ‘Mitchy’ has also gone very quiet on Twitter. Nothing since this gem last Saturday. (Left.) Maybe he hasn’t sobered up yet! Or perhaps some avuncular figure among the bruvvers has taken young Theaker Theakeraside and, in an arm-around- the-shoulder sort of way, whispered to him, Shut up! you embarrassing little sod!

UPDATE JULY 1, 2013: It appears that young ‘Mitchy’ is unable or unwilling to take advice. His latest indiscretion seems to have been tweeting nonsense while supposedly attending a cabinet meeting. (Right. Click to enlarge.)

STARSTRUCK LABOUR

The Welsh Labour Government is splashing out £50m to “attract world class scientists and their teams to Wales“. The first of these ‘stars’ has now pitched up at Cardiff University; he is Prof. Yves Barde, from Switzerland. Now you know me, I have the utmost faith in the judgement of our Welsh Government, but I can’t help wondering . . .

1/ How many jobs for Welsh people will this massive expenditure create?

2/ Haven’t we been down the road of publicity-grabbing, ‘prestige projects’ before, and don’t they invariably fail?

3/ Isn’t this scheme just disguised extra funding for Cardiff university? For how many of these academic ‘stars’ will other universities see?

4/ No disrespect to the Prof, but the high point of his career seems to have been in 1989, “with the discovery of a gene which creates a protein – brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – which is involved in number of brain processes including memory”. Mightn’t he, and others who’ll follow, be rather like southern hemisphere rugby players, coming here towards the end of their careers to boost their retirement pots?

LABOUR SEEING THE LIGHT, AT LAST?

I was struck by something said by Edwina Hart (and it’s not often I can say that!). Watch the BBC clip I’ve linked to and see if you get the same impression – that Labour now admits pouring money into the Third Sector was a waste of EU funding. She rejects in future having “hundreds and hundreds of partners” with “pet projects”, she tallks of more involvement from the private sector, and gives other signals that a corner may have been turned.

I’d like to think I’ve helped in my small way to bring about this change of direction. What I’m certain of is that the EU funders have made it crystal clear to Edwina Hart and others in Cardiff that they’ve screwed up twice, and they’d better get it right with the third and final dollop of Structural Funds.

I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Edwina and the rest have to explain to their grant-grabbing hangers-on that the days of wine and roses are over, forever. That the EU funding will in future be used for alleviating Welsh poverty, not for subsidising the unemployable of the loony left to capitalise on that poverty.

Apr 232013
 

Peraleen Sangha TwitterMore news from the soap opera that is Swansea Labour Party. You will recall that in earlier episodes we met those bright young things Pearleen Sangha (@PearleenSangha), “Big fan of Ray-Ban eyewear”; Mitchell Theaker (@mitchelltheaker), “Labourite and gin lover”; and John Bayliss (@JohnCBayliss), “LGBT campaigner”; all students at Swansea University when they were elected to the council last May. (Click to enlarge images.) These three are devoted to, in order of precedence: 1/ preening and promoting themselves, 2/ helping the good times roll, 3/ student politics, 4/ the internal bitching of the Labour Party (at a ‘national’ level), 5/ assorted rightMitchell Theaker Twitter-on causes, 6/ enriching the shysters of the wind con racket.

Although, nominally, Swansea councillors, these three don’t give a lot of thought to the city and its people. Swansea council merely gives them a platform from which to giggle and gossip with slightly more credibility about what really interests them . . . be that gin, Gay ‘rights’, bars and restaurants, the next yoof commissar of the Labour Party, feminism, name-dropping, recipies, etc., etc. That’s the thing you notice when you look over their tweets, there are virtually no references to the city they’re supposed to be serving, unless it can be used to promote one of their pJohn Bayliss Twitteret causes. Other than that, it’s all about enjoying themselves, but only with ‘their people’, as I’ll explain. Something else I should have mentioned is that they have opinions, on everything. They know nothing, but give out their views on everything. Take Pearleen Sangha, an American, living in Wales, but she has taken sides in the Scottish independence debate. No prizes for guessing . . .

They even use a cash-strapped city’s money to promote those ’causes’, and possibly to promote their friends. For it is rumoured that the soon to be announced GLBT Officer for the city will be a ‘friend’ of John Bayliss. Now of course, our three – and, it must be said, there are others – will argue that this new post is ‘serving Swansea’ . . . leaving us to wonder how the city could possibly have managed in the past without such an appoinSangha caketee.

And they do get about! ThiSangha Scots year alone, Pearleen Sangha has been home to California for a wedSangha weddingding, and was also in Leicester for the conference of Labour Yoof. A busy girl, Pearleen. Too busy to be a councillor on Saturdays, as one of her constituents found out recently – “Do you know what day it is?” the impudent constituent was told. I mean, bothering your globe-trotting councillor as she prepares for dinner with friends! Mitchell Theaker has been to India for a few weeks, empathising and meeting “bigwigs”. While John Bayliss has been home in Sussex for a while helping Labour candidates in the elections there next month. Of course it can be argued that while Bayliss is away the Uplands ward is in the delicate and fragrant hands of comrade Pearleen . . . unless of course anybody wants help on a Saturday. (The large photo of Councillor Bayliss below is taken from his blog. Quite franBayliss Eatbournekly, it’s toe-curlingly embarrassing. He looks like ‘the podgy one’ from a boy band, feigning modesty as Bayliss Ricardohe’s hailed by the total membership of his fan club.)

More thoughtful – cynical? (do I attract cynics?) – readers may at this point be asking themselves, ‘California, Leicester, India, Sussex . . . what the fuck has this got to do with running Swansea?’ A question more and more people are asking, even within the Labour Party.

Another thing you’ll notice by going through their tweets is that the Labour Party isn’t just the political party they belong to, it’s eBayliss Uplandsverything they are. They live on Planet Labour. One tweeter from the Labour Yoof shindig claimed that one third of all the people he knew were at the conference! That’s sad, and worrying. For here we have an organisation that has virtually cut itself off from the rest of society and whose members only mix with ‘their own’. This is New Labour’s gift to us all – a class of professional politicians for whom the talents of being glib and photogenic, being astute at networking and ruthless in back-stabbing, count for more than unBayliss Argentinaderstanding life outside the bubble. As it must, for they know nothing of life outside the bubble. It’s odious; almLuke Youngost incestuous.

Yet these middle-class kids are helping run Swansea. They puff and posture as the defenders of the downtrodden, people they would never mix with socially, but to whom they must pander because that’s where their votes come from. And it’s all feigned, all hypocrisy. All done to justify their hedonistic, gossipy lifestyles which, let me remind you, are being paid for by the citizens of Swansea.

GethingBefore we can achieve indepenTheaker Indiadence from England we must gain independence from a Labour Party that becomes less and less Welsh every year. As the Party fills up with careerists and chancers from outside Wales, and the disconnect between the party apparatus and its captive vote increases year on year, there is no longer any reason for Welsh people to vote Labour. If only we could offer them a viable alternative!

 

UPDATE 24.04.13: Someone phoned me to ask, ‘Why are they allowed to get away with it?’, meaning why aren’t the lotus eaters being reined in. The leader of the Labour group on Swansea council, and the council itself, is a scouser named David Phillips. I’m using a photo here that I’ve run across more than once. It shows him, steely-eyed, looking into the distance for foes to crush and challenges to overcome. Mussolini liked to be photographed in a similar pose. (I wonder how Phillips would look in a helmet?)David Phillips

You will remember that I wrote about him a while ago, when it was realised he wasn’t allowed to use the letters after his name that he’d been using to impress people since washing up in Swansea. Around the same time I heard that he’d turned up for the funeral of a former Labour councillor in a long, flapping, white trench coat, looking like an extra from a film noir. (Everyone else was in black.) And it should go without saying that his wife, Sybil Crouch, is also on the council, and a cabinet member.

So it would be pointless hoping for intervention from that quarter. Phillips is just another poseur. Swansea Labour Party is full of them now, all trying desperately to impress each other. They can’t pronounce Cwmrhydyceirw or Waunarlwydd, they know nothing of the history of Swansea, they don’t understand its people, but none of that matters. All that matters is that Labour now controls Swansea again. My city reduced to a ‘scalp’.This is ‘Welsh’ Labour 2013.

Feb 212013
 

Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Because what follows gets a bit complicated. That said, I believe there is now enough evidence to question the legitimacy of the decision taken by Swansea council on February 7th to allow RWE to erect wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwair, common land owned by the Duke of Beaufort on the city’s northern outskirts. My previous posts this month on Swansea council are, in chronological order, here and here.

Perhaps the first thing to make clear is that the long-serving local councillor, Ioan Richard, was not allowed to vote on February 7th because he had previously shown his opposition to the project. In other words, he’d been open and honest about his position. The same may not be the case for a number of those who voted to grant planning permission.

My attention has been drawn to the fact that RWE’s Renewables Developer for Mynydd y Gwair, Gwenllian Elias, tweets as @gwenll_elias, and among her 59 followers are Councillor Mitchell Theaker (@mitchelltheaker) and Councillor Pearleen Sangha (@PearleenSangha). She reciprocates Sangha 2by following them. (Another Swansea councillor Ms Elias follows is Nick Bradley (@CllrNickBradley) the council’s number one West Bromwich Albion fan.) On the night of (possibly the day after) the Mynydd y Gwair vote, Pearleen Sangha tweeted her joy at the outcome of the council meeting . . . and her tweet was almost immediately retweeted by Gwenllian Elias of RWE! Great minds, eh!

Now this may be harmless enough, perhaps nothing more than contact limited to Twitter. Alternatively, it could suggest that Elias, Sangha and Theaker were known to each other before the vote was taken. In which case it puts a totally different complexion on the matter. For if they knew each other before the vote then, seeing as both Sangha and Theaker voted for the bird and bat mincers, they were as ‘compromised’ as Councillor Richard in that their minds were also made up long before the discussion of the matter, and the vote, on February 7th. If that was the case then they should not have been allowed to vote.

Now let us turn to Llansamlet’s very own advocate of permanent revolution, Councillor Uta Clay, who has come in for a bit of a hammering of late, partly for stoutly defending the Duke of Beaufort’s financial interests, and partly for making silly remarks during the February 7th debate. This letter is just one of a number I am told have appeared in the Evening Post. As the letter suggests, how could this woman, who has only been in Swansea for five minutes, be so silly and insulting as to slur ordinary Welsh protesters as belonging to the “privileged few”. A category to which an English nobleman apparently does not belong! (Is this making sense?)

You also have to ask why, after the local party had the good sense to deselect her, and suspend her and her husband, some unnamed authority representing ‘London’ stepped in to insist the Clays’ suspensions be lifted and she be reinstated as candidate for the May 2012 council elections. What happened to devolution? What happened to ‘Welsh’ Labour?

Someone else who’s only been in Swansea for five minutes is New Zealander Andrew Hore, ‘Elite Performance Director’ at the Ospreys. (Not to be confused with the Andrew Hore who did the dirty on Bradley Davies last autumn) Hore was allowed to speak at the February 7th meeting in favour of the Mynydd y Gwair money machine. RWE sponsors the Ospreys, and a number of councillors are season ticket holders at the Ospreys; others have received ‘hospitality’. Which looks a bit . . . er . . . iffy? Here is a (PDF) link to an interesting exchange between Edwina Hart, a local AM, and Patrick Arran, Head of Legal, Democratic Services and Procurement at Swansea council, in which Ms Hart questions why Hore was allowed to speak at the council meeting. A good question.

Then, today, a letter appeared in the Wasting Mule from a Swansea councillor – one who actually knows the city, and can pronounce Mynydd y Gwair! What Councillor Tyler-Lloyd is (perhaps unwittingly) alluding to is a system now becoming dominant in Welsh political and public life. It begins with civil servants in London or Cardiff issuing diktats. When this is done in London it’s invariably done on the instructions of  politicians; when it’s done in Cardiff it’s too often done on orders from London and presented to the self-styled Welsh Government as a fait accompli. (Well, what do you expect? If Welsh Labour won’t stand up to ‘London’ on matters of internal party discipline do you really think they’re going to challenge Sir Humphrey in Whitehall?) These diktats then become Gospel for senior officers in local government who use them – and the threat of the expense involved in challenging them – to silence debate and stifle opposition. R.I.P. Welsh local democracy.

As it takes hold we see this process leading to situations such as that which has been played out in a London courtroom this week, as Fuehrer James of Carmarthenshire County Council sues – with public money – a blogger who dared criticise his regime. Or the cabinet of Labour-controlled Caerffili council meeting behind closed doors to give whopping pay rises to senior officers . . . at the insistence of the chief executive – i.e. the major beneficiary!

The wider and more worrying picture though is of a Wales in which we have the chimera of devolution while the reality sees us Welsh becoming increasingly marginalised and silenced across the land. In the rural areas the picture is stark, and villages and small towns are taken over by English colonists, but even in the city of Swansea we see it happening.

For one interpretation of that vote on the 7th of this month would be thart it was a victory for those who view our homeland as a resource to exploit, or else the political equivalent of a sandpit, somewhere to start one’s political career. On the one hand we had an English lord whose family has been robbing us for centuries, a German company here to milk the absurd subsidies paid for so-called ‘renewable energy’, a bunch of ex-student politicians that include a GLTB fanatic, a Californian, a West Brom supporter, another with an interest in cadets, then there’s a New Zealander working for the local rugby team (most of whose supporters still don’t understand what his bloody job is), and assorted other drifters, misfits and parasites who know fuck all about the city I love.

All these were allowed to speak, despite many if not all having already made up their minds on the issue or, worse, having a vested financial or other interest in seeing wind turbines on lovely Mynydd y Gwair. Yet, the councillor in whose ward Mynydd y Gwair is to be found, who had no financial or other interest, who had been open and honest in his opposition, and who represented the views of the overwhelming majority of his constituents – that is, those directly affected by the industrialisation of Mynydd y Gwair – was thrown out of the council chamber.

Where does this leave democracy, local or otherwise? And given that virtually all those on the one side of this debate were foreign, and almost all those on the other side were Welsh, what does it tell us about our country today? And our place in it?

UPDATE 23.02.2013: Interesting comments to the post from Jeff Jones and James Dunkley. Both question whether Councillor Ioan Richard was given the correct legal advice by the council officer(s). (Jeff Jones is the former leader of Bridgend Council who now works as a local government consultant.) They aren’t the only ones asking these questions. If Cllr Richard was wrongly told to leave the chamber then it must call into question either the competence or the impartiality of the person who gave that advice. (Patrick Arran. See the link in the post to his exchange with Edwina Hart AM.)       

Gwenllian Elias, the RWE Npower project officer for Mynydd y Gwair’s CV reads: 2007, left Cardiff University with BSc in Geography and Planning. September 2007 to September 2008 Planner with Newport City Council. September 2008 to August 2009 Planner with City and County of Swansea Council. August 2009 to April 2010 Planning Liason Officer with the Environment Agency. April 2010 to present Renewables Developer with RWE Npower Renewables Ltd. Looks like a planned career course: gain the background knowledge and contacts in the public sector before heading into the private sector and the serious money. And all done in less than three years.

The behaviour of certain councillors at the February 7th meeting, the near certainty of them being predetermined to vote in favour of the Mynydd y Gwair development, plus their established links with RWE’s project officer, has been referred to the Local Government Ombudsman for Wales.

Feb 142013
 

In a previous post I talked of the eclectic nature of the ruling Labour group on Swansea council. Of how it seems increasingly to be composed of people who neither know the city nor care much for it. Strangers who, by one route or another, have washed up on Swansea Bay and are simply using the Labour Party and the council to exercise whatever bee they have in their bonnet.

Dealing with the vote to allow bird choppers on Mynydd y Gwair, ancient common land on the northern outskirts of Swansea, I mentioned one Labour councillor who called the objectors rich, 4 x 4 driving nimbies. The irony of that absurd accusation is that the objectors were local Welsh graziers while the beneficiaries of the council’s planning consent will be the Duke of Beaufort and German energy giant RWE.

So I feel no inhibition in naming this woman as councillor Uta Clay, representing the Llansamlet ward. An interesting woman, Uta. Austrian by birth she’s been in Swansea for some four years, living with her husband, who is perhaps even more interesting. For he is Robert Alan Clay, educated at Bedford School and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Better known as Bob Clay, he is the former Labour MP for Sunderland North.

The Clays turned up in Swansea some four years ago, after wearing out their welcome in Hereford. They first lived in a converted barn at Rhydypandy, just outside Morriston, from where they began their political manoeuvrings. These included organising a protest rally at the Brangwyn Hall in October 2010. Also, turning up to council meetings, where Bob Clay, with his booming voice and upper class English accent would regularly harangue and insult Chris Holley, Leader of the then Liberal Democrat-led coalition running Swansea. After promoting themselves so assiduously it was no surprise when Uta Clay was selected, in February 2011, to stand for Labour in the Llansamlet ward in the May 2012 council elections. That the Clays didn’t live in Llansamlet was remedied when they moved there that August.

Not satisfied with her being a mere candidate, Bob and Uta Clay tried to take over the branch completely. These attempts resulted in much disharmony among the comrades, and led to Uta Clay being deselected in November. Welsh Labour got involved, and brokered a deal on the understanding that future election material would only be produced by the local party, and would promote all four Labour candidates in the ward.

This failed to disperse the poisonous atmosphere in the Llansamlet ward which finally resulted in the suspension of the whole branch in January 2012. But a month later peace broke out again and it was agreed that all four candidates (including Uta Clay) could stand in the May 3rd council elections. So that was that? Well, no. In mid-March, and contrary to the agreement brokered by Welsh Labour, a separate leaflet was put out on behalf of Uta Clay. The police got involved due to the attacks made in the leaflet on the sitting Independent councillor. The Clays were again suspended. Now the saga takes a very, very strange twist.

The suspension was lifted after an intervention by the Labour Party in London! According to Uta Clay the unauthorised – possibly slanderous – leaflet was put out by her husband, and was therefore nothing at all to do with her! The Labour Party accepted this, and re-instated her as a candidate!

As a senior Labour Party source put it: “This whole thing stinks to high heaven. The local Labour Party did everything by the book, and had the support of the Labour Party in Wales. But pressure has been brought to bear (from outside Wales) to get these suspensions overturned. It’s an outrage that loyal party members have been treated like dirt to accommodate two people who were campaigning against the Labour Party only a few years ago.”

This being a reference to the Clays campaigning with George ‘Indefatigability’ Galloway and his ‘Respeck’ party in the 2004 European Parliament elections. So why did these two Trotskyists get support from Labour in London to over-rule Welsh Labour and the local party, guaranteeing that Uta Clay stood in the council elections? How often does ‘London’ get involved in ward-level squabbles, and in Wales?

The Clays continue to entertain. Most notably with their involvement in the campaign to stop a second Traveller site being established in the Llansamlet ward. A few months ago they turned up at the official Traveller site asking those living there to move to Felindre or Fforestfach. Bringing with them a typed letter to the council asking for relocation that simply needed Travellers’ signatures. The Travellers complained to the council that Bob Clay had suggested they might “not be safe” if they stayed on the official site. The council reported the incident to the police. You must admit, Travellers complaining of being intimidated is unusual. Equally odd is seeing defenders of the underdog jumping on the anti-gypsy bandwagon.

Which brings us back to last week’s vote on the Duke of Beaufort’s subsidy farm at Mynydd y Gwair. A long meeting during which Uta Clay ‘lost it’ and turned on the objectors in the public gallery, calling them nimbies, saying they were all rich people with  expensive off-road vehicles. For these and even more offensive remarks Uta Clay has been reported to the Local Government Ombudsman. But she was not alone.

Also jeering the Welsh objectors were two of Swansea’s ex-student councillors, John Bayliss and his good friend Mitchell Theaker behaving like immature hooligans. Bayliss sits on the council to promote Gay issues, while Theaker confesses an interest in reserves and cadets.

The message I take from this sorry business is that in the matter of the Clays, Welsh Labour meekly submitted to orders from its masters in London. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that this happens in other spheres and at other times. Which means that the ‘Welsh Government’ is nothing but a puppet regime controlled from London. I have always argued that devolution is a sham, this case provides yet more support for that belief.

Looking at the wider picture, I can’t help but wonder what Swansea Labour stalwarts like Byron Owen, Robert Francis-Davies, Ceinwen Thomas and others feel about their party having been taken over by this freak show of GLBT zealots, manipulative academics, embittered Trots and assorted oddballs who’ve turned up out of the blue. How can this shower possibly be serving a city they do not know, they do not understand, and they do not care about?

Looking beyond Swansea, from Wrecsam to Caerffili to Caerfyrddin, we see the Labour Party failing to attract the quality of member that would have filled its ranks in earlier generations, leaving itself easy prey to entryists and others hoping to use the party to promote their own agendas. Thanks to the ‘donkey’ vote Labour may still appear strong, but it’s increasingly clear that this is a facade, one that can only be maintained at ward, branch and local authority level by surrendering to the sort of people now running Swansea.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a nationalist party to prick this ‘bubble’!