YMCA Wales

Sep 082014
 

On August 28th at Swansea Crown Court Naz Malik, former CEO of race industry charity Awema, was found not guilty on two charges of fraudulently paying the charity’s cheques into his own account. A third charge, that he used Awema money to pay a life insurance policy, was not proceeded with.

Naz MalikThe real issue never was that Naz Malik might have had his hand in the till, consequently this misguided prosecution was, at best, a distraction, with the danger that Malik’s acquittal will be interpreted as a vindication of Awema and the system that has created so many Awemas. This would be both wrong and dangerous.

I first encountered Naz Malik back in the late 1990s before his ambitions went national. He was then running the Swansea Bay Racial Equality Council. I was struck by the fact that he regularly came out with silly statements that had little to do with racism and everything to do with politics. Specifically, he would suggest that Welsh nationalism – and presumably Plaid Cymru – was inherently racist. A little checking soon revealed that Malik was a Labour Party stalwart, and even hoped to be a candidate at either Assembly or Westminster level, as did his children. Leading me to believe there was a quid pro quo arrangement that saw the local authorities on the Bay (Swansea, Neath Port Talbot) fund Malik in return for him putting the boot into them wicked nashies.

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As regular readers will know, I have, for many years, been a consistent critic of Malik, Awema and the system that gave birth to Awema. Unfortunately my pre-2010 posts are now lost due to Google pulling the plug on my old blog for no good reason. (So avoid Google Blogger unless you want the same fate to befall you!) Even so, I have enough information to ask the following questions.

  • After warnings in 2003 and 2007 that things were not right at Awema, why did the ‘Welsh’ Government continue funding the organisation? (In fact, there were 19 warnings from the Wales Audit Office!)
  • What justified Malik increasing his daughter Tegwen’s annual salary from £20,000 to £50,000 in the space of three years? Or rather, why did those funding Awema not ask this question at the time?
  • Did Naz Malik ever have the authority to unilaterally increase his own salary and benefits package?Awema Kenya
  • Why did no one in the ‘Welsh’ Government think it strange that they were funding a ‘Welsh’ charity that, on the Charity Commission website, claimed to also be operating in Kenya and Pakistan, using EU funding allocated to be spent within Wales?
  • Given the known problems with the Malik family’s running of Awema was it wise for Labour to have Naz Malik’s son, Gwion Iqbal Malik, as a candidate in the May 2011 Assembly elections, and for First Minister Carwyn Jones to be seen canvassing with him? (Surely this should have been vetoed?)
  • Why did no one wonder what the link might have been between Awema and Malik’s sister Fahro’s (now defunct) charity Lynk Reach Ltd? Or whether that connection was right and proper? (I’m told she was born in the same city, Nairobi, and in the same month, as Peter Hain. Funny old world!)

Well over seven million pounds of largely EU funding was squandered on Awema. As part of a wider system of Labour Party patronage that then enables local clients beholden to the party, like Naz Malik, to oversee their own systems of self-enrichment, patronage and nepotism. A veritable pyramid of corruption. So lucrative is this racket that once it became clear late in 2012 that Awema’s days were numbered a replacement sprang up, just a few streets away, in the form of Race Council Cymru.

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I’m afraid my home town is getting a bad reputation for third sector corruption. In June this year I Mo Sykeshad to report on the charity MEWN. In more recent posts, The Impoverishment of Wales and Ancestral Turf, I have dealt with another Swansea-based charity, YMCA Wales. There had been rumours for a few years that this was a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, and with my – ahem – customary perceptiveness, I wrote about YMCA Wales in July last year in YMCA ‘Wales’: Another Trojan Horse At The Trough.

YMCA Cymru’s chief executive, Mo Sykes, went missing in July, the trustees placed the organisation in receivership, while the ‘Welsh’ Government – perhaps hoping to appear decisive for once – called on DePlod to investigate.

Yet the problem isn’t with Swansea, the fault lies with a system that if it’s not designed to attract peripatetic third sector parasites will inevitably have that effect. For the word will quickly spread in their magazines, on their websites, and through the channels of the Guardian readers’ very own freemasonry, Common Purpose, that Wales is a soft touch, money is being showered on any shyster who can deliver a persuasive spiel.

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In the dock at Swansea Crown Court should have been ‘Welsh’ Labour, not its creature, Naz Malik. It should have been charged with squandering EU and other funding on professional grant-grabbers in order to buy support, while turning a blind eye to how that funding was used, and abused, lower down the food chain. Also in the dock – for this system could never have flourished without it – should have been the self-styled Welsh media, fearful of upsetting the Labour Party and, as a result of that cowardice, betraying the Welsh people.

The real worry is that Wales now has a system that blatantly mis-uses grant aid to fund political patronage, and that this inevitably leads to nepotism, self-enrichment, corruption of all sorts – and yet no one seems to care! This is the real problem with the third sector in Wales. In fact, this sums up the third sector in Wales. And we shall all suffer while this pernicious system endures.

Aug 262014
 

The more I learn about how Wales is administered the more I realise that it is not run in the interests of the Welsh. Whether it’s social housing, grant funding, top jobs, higher education, the more you dig the more it’s brought home to you that Wales is a colonial possession of England, organised along worryingly discriminatory lines. All of which makes devolution a charade, and exposes the ‘Welsh’ Government to be nothing but a sad bunch of clowns and puppets dancing to London’s tune. Those in other parties who dream of replacing Labour as ‘the Government’ would do no better.

Here are some examples to explain what I mean.

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‘IEUAN AIR’

The contract for the daily air service from Valley on Anglesey to Cardiff is up for re-negotiation. The service is usually – though perhaps unfairly – known as ‘Ieuan Air’, after the former Plaid Cymru leader and Deputy First Minister in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition (2007 – 2011), who was AM for the island and a regular user of the service. The wider issue is covered here in his usual exemplary way by Owen Donovan on Oggy Bloggy Ogwr. You’ll see that Owen tells us, “The Ieuan Air 2marketing and ticket booking services are provided by Manx company, Citywing, while the air service itself is provided by Links Air, based on Humberside”, and this aspect is what I shall focus on.

First, Citywing. In fairness, Citywing offers a full Welsh language version of its website, though seeing as it operates just one route within or from Wales this might worry some, who might wonder if this company has any other business. As Citywing is registered in the Isle of Man it’s not easy to get information on the company, which seems to have been founded as recently as November 22, 2012, when MD David Buck staged a management buy-out of the company, previously known as Manx2. A name change was possibly necessitated by Manx2 being involved in a crash at Cork airport on February 10, 2011 in which five people died. It seems that Citywing merely sells seats on “flights operated under charter from Van Air Europe and Links Air“.

My knowledge of this business is minimal, but it seems that we are very much down at the bottom end of the market, a kind of sub-Ryanair operation flying to and from Blackpool, Gloucester and other less-in-demand destinations in 19-seater planes because stricter legislation may come into force if more passengers are carried. The planes involved may be owned by the Czech company Van Air Europe and leased to Links Air with Citywing flogging tickets. Who knows? There’s so much leasing and sub-leasing going on in this game I’m surprised Nathan Gill and his gang aren’t involved, especially as Links Air is based just across the Humber from Hull.

Linksair Ltd is run by Jonathan Gordon Roy Ibbotson and his wife. It is one of three companies still trading out of a large number of companies with which 51-year-old Ibbotson has been involved. Some have failed owing money, and of the three still extant one, Linksair Properties Ltd, was only formed in July, and the other, Hangar 9 Ltd has (apparently) nothing to do with aviation, being involved in property letting, with a few outstanding mortgages to its name, and may even be Roissy Aircraft Management Ltd (another of Ibbotson’s companies) after a name change. To confuse the picture further, Ibbotson has run two companies called Hangar 9 Ltd!

Ibbotson's companies

Ibbotson obviously has an ‘interesting’ business career, so interesting that I would be loath to hand him a penny of Welsh public funding; and was there no company in Wales that could pretend to be an airline and sell a few tickets? Whether there was or not is academic, for this Anglesey – Cardiff air service has outlived whatever usefulness it might once have had, and seeing as most of the passengers have their fares paid for out of public funds it was never a viable commercial proposition. So scrap it. And if the ‘Welsh’ Government is serious about internal communications, that fare-paying passengers will use, that will create jobs within Wales, then start backing the re-opening of the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway link, as the first stage in a full west coast line.

In this first example we see millions of pounds of Welsh public funding being given to English companies for a service Wales doesn’t need. This money could obviously be better spent.

UPDATE 21.10.2015: LinksAir, the company operating the Anglesey – Cardiff service, has had its safety licence revoked by the Civil Aviation Authority. The ‘Welsh’ Government insists a new operator has already been found, said to be Danish company North Flying. The service receives a subsidy from the ‘Welsh’ Government of £1.2m a year, even though passenger numbers have dropped from 14,718 in 2008-09 to just 8,406 in 2012-13.

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CARTREFI CYMUNEDOL GWYNEDD & LOVELL

When the humour is on me I turn to a longer-term project of mine, a post examining the colonisation of rural Wales; how it’s being achieved, and what steps need to be taken to curb it. One thing that quickly became clear is how little was done at governmental level to replace the jobs lost over recent decades in agriculture (including creameries, abattoirs, etc), quarrying, forestry, utilities, nationalised industries and local government. These losses were disguised by propaganda arguing that tourism would provide jobs for everyone. This decline in the numbers of ‘real’ jobs needed by adult Welsh males resulted in the predictable reduction in the Welsh population . . . which has then been disguised by the English immigration encouraged by toLovell Reg officesurism.

Here I want to look specifically at local government, or rather, a successor body. In 2010 Gwynedd’s council housing stock was transferred to Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, and now the housing maintenance that would previously have been done by the council’s own workforce and local sub-contractors is done by a major English company called Lovell. Gwynedd is covered from Lovell’s North West and North Wales regional offices in Altrincham, Cheshire and Birkenhead, Merseyside. The south is covered from the ‘Midlands, South Wales and Southern’ regional offices in Birmingham, Cardiff and Hampshire. Which means it’s reasonable to assume that other Welsh local authorities and housing associations have become partners with Lovell. How many I wonder? I should mention that Lovell is also in the business of building new properties.

Here we are, fifteen years into devolution, and yet this major company still carves up our homeland and attaches the dismembered parts to English regions in the traditional, contemptuous manner of English business and administration. Lovell then compounds the insult by handing out its contracts to other English companies; contracts that in many cases are too big for smaller Welsh companies to apply for. In fact, when you read more abLovellout it, it looks as if the ‘partnership’ system is designed to exclude smaller firms. And when you see a photo such as the one I’ve used here (taken from the Lovell website) you can’t help wondering if there might not be a cartel of large English companies at work deliberately excluding smaller, more local companies.

Anyone can see the advantage for Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd in giving out a single contract for maintaining all its properties and then letting Lovell get on with it, but this is a very short-sighted policy. I have seen Lovell and their sub-contractors at work in this village. Working four-hour days due to travelling times from their English bases – and therefore taking twice as long to do the job! Does this system make sense on any level other than the convenience of the suits at CCG: employment is lost, money leaves the area, and jobs take longer to complete than if local companies were employed!

A system so ludicrous, so indefensible, can only arouse suspicion that someone at Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, or higher up the food chain, is in receipt of certain ‘inducements’.

This example shows money raised by a ‘Welsh’ organisation – from CCG’s Welsh tenants and the ‘Welsh’ Government – given to English companies to put Welsh companies out of business and Welsh workers out of jobs. Can you imagine such a system operating anywhere else on earth!

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YMCA WALES

This is an ongoing story, so regard what I tell you here as a ‘taster’. But first, I suggest you go back to a couple of posts I put out last year; first, YMCA ‘Wales’, Another Trojan Horse At The Trough, and then, YMCA ‘Wales’ and the Green, Green Pastures.The latest news – as of Friday last – is that the ‘Welsh’ Government has called in Plod to investigate YMCA Wales. Any investigation will almost certainly centre on the organisation’s former chief executive, Mo Sykes, who seems to have left her post in unexplained circumstances last month.

When I learnt of Ms Sykes’ departure I put out a couple of tweets, and I’m pleased to say that I had some responses. Here’s one anonymous response, as I received it:

  • Mo Sykes selling assets and cashing investments to pay off YMCAW overdrafts and debts.
  • Sykes spearheading campaign to build and sell at Penrhyndeudraeth without proper discussion at board level. (See last year’s posts.)
  • Took control of Port Talbot YMCA without board approval and proceeded to empty it’s bank account to “repay” a non existent loan to the national body.
  • Local branches of YMCA not linked to the national body in any way other than name. Receive no finance or any other support from Mo Sykes or her cronies.
  • Local branches struggling to survive whilst Sykes takes her newborn child and nanny on ‘fact finding’ mission to USA.
  • Some Trustees pleaded with charity commission to step in when militant Mo would not recognise concerns of trustees and was acting without authority. (This was two years ago, so why didn’t the ‘Welsh’ Government intervene at this stage, rather than allowing things to further deteriorate?)
  • Chairman after chairman turns blind eye to numerous attempts by group of determined trustees for transparency.
  • Many trustees resign after being shouted down by CEO and chairman Peter Landers for refusing to sign off on annual accounts moments prior to AGM commencing. (Landers is elsewhere described as ” . . . head of Newport YMCA . . . a loud, scruffy man . . . counting the days to his retirement . . . “)
  • Many whistle-blowers are crushed and humiliated by Sykes for seeking the truth. One hounded from post within YMCA and then pursued and punished through a new employer.
  • Hopefully, now, the truth will out and local branches will get the support so desperately needed from Welsh Government.

Another response was equally revealing, and disturbing:

“For 20 years the Llandovery YMCA was functioning as a small charity with less than £10,000 annual income, mainly from camping trips, bible study, after school fees and renting out the meeting room. Then in 2011 it’s annual turnover suddenly rocketed to over £100,000 with an innovative food box programme. This was an emergency relief project to stem the little known Llanymddyfri famine. Over 200 relief boxes per month (food and nappies) were distributed, and according to their annual report, which was generously supplied by the Kings Church in Newport under a scheme headlined as ‘Jesus Cares’.

The new venture was kicked off in 2011 with a grant of £44,000 from Carmarthenshire County Council and Llandovery YMCA saw a jump from zero to two staff being employed, incurring a cost Sykes-Tatmanof £23,000 in salaries. In 2012 there was a further consolidation with a cash injection of £103,000 from the Big Lottery. Only a part of this was spent on refurbishment of the premises as a tidy £25,000 cash payment was made to a trustee, Ms Jill Adeline Tatman, who, incidentally, is also on the payroll. The number of staff by the end of 2013, was four, with, by now, £50,000 going out of the payroll, and an annual pension due of exactly £3,500 annually.

Then in 2013 it landed an additional £16,000 Rural Community Inclusion Grant thanks to the work of a projects officer, also employed by Carmarthenshire County Council. The cash really started creaming in and in 2014, Llandovery YMCA landed a further £250,000 grant from the People and Places Lottery Fund, for a “ground-breaking therapeutic and emotional support project”, but as far as I can see the only emotional support provided is to Jill Adeline Tatman laughing her way to the bank from her home, also, as it happens, done up with public funds.

Trustee, Jill Adeline Tatman, originally from Redhill, Surrey, educated at a privately run evangelical college in Derbyshire and, like Mo Sykes, is a former trustee of YMCA Wales. She’d purchased the grade II listed “Windermere House” in Stone Street, Llandovery. This property was part of the Llandovery and Llangadog Townscape and Heritage Scheme which was refurbished in 2011 with a portion of the £2.782millon townscape fund, £737k of which was grant funded from Carmarthenshire Country Council. Not only does she get public funds to line her purse, but got some cash to do up her own house.”

Tatman was a director of YMCA Wales from November 2004 to November 2005 and personal assistant to the CEO, which might explain why the missing Mo Sykes (originally from the Six Counties) is a Trustee of Llandovery YMCA. Though the Charity Commission website tells us she is also a Trustee of the Bargoed and District YMCA and the Onllwyn and District YMCA. Accounts are overdue for the latter, so if the Charity Commission is expecting them from Mo Sykes they may have quite a wait. Something is clearly very wrong with YMCA Wales, and has been for a considerable time, so I ask again, Why did it take the ‘Welsh’ Government so long to pull its finger out?

I’m getting shyster fatigue from writing about those who migrate to Wales in order to take advantage of the ‘How much do you want?’ grant culture, but here goes, again . . . Tatman, based in a small Welsh town, has recently been given £250,000 for: ” . . . a ground-breaking therapeutic and emotional support project . . . and also go towards developing new opportunities for the unemployed through education and training”. In a relatively prosperous little town of less than 3,000 people how many unemployed are there, and what qualifications does Ms Tatman have to help them? Or what help can she give that no one else is currently giving? And how many kids are there in Llandovery needing ” . . . therapeutic and emotional support scheme for young people through art”. Truth is, all she’s really done is secure salaries for herself and her cronies. Plus of course, pensions, which I’m told are very ‘imaginative’ in their structure and very rewarding in the benefits they bestow..

In conclusion, I should point out that even though YMCA Wales is based in Swansea, it’s up in the wilds of Llansamlet somewhere, not in the grand old YMCA building on the Kingsway, that edifice we’ve seen so often in recent years on our television screens. For as I’m sure you’ll remember, this lovely old building was once home to AWEMA and our old friend Naz Malik. Naz, I regret to say, is currently in the dock at Swansea Crown Court. You know, I sometimes think that the Third Sector in Wales should really apply for funding from the Arts and Entertainment pot, because some of what they serve up is better than any soap opera.

YMCA Wales is yet another example of a Third Sector funding scandal: immigrants of dubious probity subverting a respected organisation to serve their own interests by exploiting the poverty and deprivation that results from the Union with England. And this one could be big, it could make old Naz look small coal.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 4, 2014: YMCA Wales in administration.

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SWANSEA COUNCIL

It is with great relish and lashings of schadenfreude I report that civil war has broken out among the ruling Labour group on Swansea city council. Unfortunately, I cannot as yet tell you of any fatalities, but I live in hope. Here is a brief communique. It seems that the trenchcoat-wearing rodomontade (God I”ve longed to use that word!) who has until now directed this farce, one David Phillips, felt increasingly insecure and decided to sack a couple of cabinet members he felt did not worship him as he thought they ought. But now it appears they were not alone, and it may be Il Duce himself who is under threat! Some intriguing comments to the stoBenito Phillips, Il Duce Abertawery on the Evening Post website by ‘pjrpost’ allege wrongdoing by the council’s HR department and a cover-up by the Labour administration. This, again is a story with ‘legs’, so I urge you to keep up with it. Another kick in the plums for the Labour Party is always good news.

The reason I’m including it here is because – as regular readers will know – I’ve written about this Labour shower before, many times. (Just type ‘Swansea council’ into the search box at the top of the sidebar.) It is the worst council the city has ever known, not least because many Labour councillors, including the council leader, are strangers to Swansea; they neither know the city nor care about it. Their loyalty is to the Labour Party, and the Labour Party alone. This is the dog-in-the-manger politics we suffer nowadays that sees political parties wanting power not to exercise it on behalf of the people but to keep some other crew out of power. For serving the Labour Party in this way Swansea’s councillors are rewarded by being allowed to pursue their pet issues (using council money of course), be that obsession promoting gay rights, saving the planet, or funding the Cwmrhydyceirw Unicorn Sanctuary.

On another level, as I write this the Swans are doing rather well, having won their first two games, but of course the club’s income is somewhat limited by having such a small stadium, which also means that many fans are unlikely to ever see a live game. The stadium should have been extended when the Swans were in the Championship, certainly after the first season in the Premier League. The Liberty Stadium is owned by Swansea council, and you’ll understand why the stadium is not being expanded when I tell you that the council leader, the aforementioned David Phillips, is a Liverpool supporter; one of the council’s representatives on the stadium management committee, Nick Bradley, proudly boasts of his undying love for West Bromwich Albion; while the chief executive of Swansea council, ciggie-puffing Jack Straw (no, not that one), is a Nottingham Forest supporter. This is the sort of thing you can expect when a council is run by a rag-bag collection of drifters, political chancers, students who couldn’t find their way home and single-issue obsessives.

Though on the plus side it is rather encouraging; for it suggests that Labour can no longer find local candidates, and has to rely on English immigrants. This is Bangor and Aberystwyth writ large.

In this final example we see Wales’ second city being run by strangers loyal to a political party whose only ambition is to keep Wales subservient to England. A gang who then waste public money funding all manner of nonsense but neglect the real interests of a city they don’t understand and people with whom they cannot possibly identify.

UPDATE August 28 2014: Disillusioned party members cornered Il Duce this evening and forced his resignation without recourse to the indignity of lamp-posts. It only remains now to see what happens to the clique with which he surrounded himself; these include his wife, assorted losers, and odious, self-promoting members of Labour Yoof who need Sat Nav to find their way around the city they help run.

Many would have it that Phillips jumped before he was pushed, as – it is alleged – was the case when he left his job with HMRC (or whatever it was then called) down in Pembrokeshire.

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Here we have looked at some examples of colonialism and discrimination at work. The UK government gives the ‘Welsh’ Government billions of pounds, but then civil servants and others ensure that as much as possible of that money either makes its way back to England, is given to English people living in Wales, or else is spent on projects that do nothing to improve the wellbeing of Welsh people.

These examples show this evil and discriminatory system at work. A system that makes a mockery of devolution; for unless devolved powers are exercised in the interests of Welsh people then ‘devolution’ is more damaging to Welsh interests than the system we knew before.

Jul 122013
 

Anyone who hasn’t read the previous post should do so before reading this. Pay particular attention to the comments, for therein lies great wisdom.

In that previous post on the planning application from YMCA Wales for new housing in Penrhyndeudraeth, I asked, “By what route did land in Gwynedd become the property of an organisation based in Swansea? But even if the YMCA owns the property, since when has this organisation been involved in property development?” I asked these questions because, even at first glance, the YMCA seemed an unlikely property developer.

Subsequent enquiries, and information received in the form of comments, now persuade me that my initial surprise at the YMCA going into competition with Wimpey and Redrow was justified. For it now looks as if the YMCA is acting as a cat’s-paw for another organisation that, for reasons I hope to explain, would prefer not to show its hand. So how best to draw the threads together, for this is pretty complicated?

In my previous post I noted that even though the organisation is called ‘YMCA Wales’ the only YMCA association or branch affiliated in the north is a tin shack in Trawsfynydd; otherwise there’s nothing further Flint YMCAnorth than Rhayader. Though out of a total of nine full-time YMCA Wales employees mentioned in the 2011/12 Report  two are based in “Flintshire”. Which I suppose raises the question, why is YMCA Wales paying for staff at unaffiliated associations? When I Googled ‘Flint YMCA’ this is what came up. Which now raises the obvious question, what is Green Pastures?

The answer can be found at the Green Pastures website. Green Pastures describes itself as a “Christian Social Enterprise” providing accommodation for the homeless. For the purposes of what might be afoot in Church homelessPenrhyndeudraeth, perhaps the important thing to know about Green Pastures is that it operates through franchisees, or ‘partners’. This panel from the website (click to enlarge) might give an idea of how this franchise system operates. The full page, and the video, can be found here.

Before leaving the Green Pastures website, I was struck by the distribution of the ‘partners’. Looking at the map (click to enlarge) we can see that GP is a largely northern English organisation, but with only one ‘partner’ further north than Harrogate. Then there is a cluster around London, plus a few outposts, one in Bridgend, the Well Christian Centre, another “Elim Pentecostal Church”. Surprisingly, there are four more ‘partners’ in the north east: the New Life Church in Green Pastures partners mapHolywell (which describes itself as “a church and a charity); EBVenture in Mold (no website); the Riverdee (sic) Church in Holywell; and the YMCA in Flint (again, no website). This cluster on the border explains why Green Pastures, despite being a very northern English outfit, and catering for the homeless, can manage without a presence on Merseyside other than Southport, nearer to Blackpool Tower than Liverpool Pierhead.

Some of you may now be thinking, ‘This is all very interesting, Jac, but pray tell – what has it to do with Penrhyndeudraeth!’ I’m coming to that, but first, let’s recap. There is a clear link, via Flint, between YMCA Wales and Green Pastures, yet another group in the homelessness racket. I say ‘racket’ because you mustn’t run away with the idea that the members of these sects are giving the homeless the clothes off their backs, or taking them in under their own roofs. No, it’s a business; a very lucrative business and someone else invariably picks up the tab. In Wales, the Welsh Government, your local authority, various other agencies. So let’s return to Penrhyndeudraeth. (I remember, vaguely, spending a wonderful and very drunken night there with the late, great Barrie Edwards of Harlech, complete with harp and penny whistle.)

Well, thing is, there just happens to be a church in Penrhyndeudraeth called Capel Fron. Once a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist chapel, now commandeered by happy clappies. In fact, Capel Fron is very typical of the kind of church that becomes a ‘partner’ to Green Pastures. Last November a new Pastor took over, by the name of Pete Campbell. He was ordained by Pastor Pete Day of Southport, which by an amazing coincidence is also Pete Cunninghamhome to Pastor Pete Cunningham, “co-founder of Green Pastures”, mentioned in this recent Southport Visiter report. Though the path has not always been smooth, as the same organ reports here.

What, I suppose, completed the circle, was learning that Pete Campbell, the new pastor in Penrhyn’, has Swansea connections. ” . . . Pete Campbell . . . was a worker at Townhill Baptist Church, Swansea. Both he and his wife Rachel have been ‘Relay’ workers with UCCF in the Swansea area.” (UCCF is the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship.) So we can assume that young Pete went to university in Swansea then, like too many others, stayed on for a while, making a nuisance of himself. (On the plus side, he didn’t become a Labour councillor.) I would wager my collection of Buddy Holly records that during his time in Swansea Predikant Piet had dealings with YMCA Wales.

So this is how I think it stacks up. YMCA Wales has applied to erect housing in Penrhyndeudraeth. (But remember, you don’t need to own the land in question to put in a planning application.) It may be being done this way so as not to draw attention to Capel Fron and Green Pastures. For given the link of Pastor Pete of Capel Fron with Swansea (and, almost certainly, YMCA Wales), and then the link between YMCA Wales and Green Pastures, a hardened old cynic like me is bound to assume that Green Pastures is the driving force with YMCA Wales merely fronting the project. If so, then these properties for which planning permission has been applied, and / or others planned for the same site, might be catering for the local homeless. And if there’s a shortage of local homeless, then prayers will be answered and homeless people will turn up from foreign lands, speaking in strange tongues.

I may be wrong on some details. And it could be just an incredible series of coincidences. But I think the time has come for some honesty from YMCA Wales, Capel Fron, and Green Pastures. It is also time for local politicians and media to start asking what exactly is going on. One thing I’m sure of: it is not a straightforward case of YMCA Wales applying to build private housing on land it owns in Penrhyndeudraeth.

CONCLUSION: As I’ve been saying for years . . . Wales has a Third Sector completely out of control and excessively large because the funding available has attracted grant-grabbers and shysters from over the border, who have often had to import the problems to justify the grants! An insane system only possible because of the weakness and connivance of successive ‘Welsh’ Governments.

There are rural areas of Wales – even urban areas such as Carmarthen – now experiencing an invasion of unwelcome Christian sects. In some cases congregations are moving en masse. These sects have primitive and reactionary attitudes to many issues, from evolution to homosexuality. They believe in the ‘laying on of hands’, the ‘casting out of demons’, and similar practices the rest of us believed were left behind in medieval times.

They often to try to hide their true nature by doing ‘good works’ which, when examined more closely, are invariably paid for out of public funds, and always serve as a front for proselytising. For the ‘good works’ they specialise in serve up a regular supply of weak and vulnerable people, desperate for support and open to suggestion. We should not be welcoming these sects into Wales. No local authority, and certainly not the ‘Welsh Government, should be funding or in any other way helping these groups. Nor should our elected bodies have anything to do with organisations, such as YMCA Wales, that work with these sects.

Jul 082013
 

This post, and my interest in the YMCA, was kicked off by a piece in my local weekly, the Cambrian News. (Click to enlarge.) YMCA Wales wants to build four houses on land it claims it owns in Penrhyndeudraeth; land the Penrhyn housinglocals believe was given to the community in 1918. After reading it I asked myself a couple of questions. By what route did land in Gwynedd become the property of an organisation based in Swansea? But even if the YMCA owns the property, since when has this organisation been involved in property development? No obvious answers presented themselves so I made enquiries into YMCA Wales.

First stop, the YMCA Wales website, and the Annual Report for 2005/6, the earliest available. The most recent being the Report for 2010/11. Now I’m no accountant or auditor, but a few of the figures drew my attention so I extracted them from the Reports to make this little table. (Click to enlarge.) I’d be interested to hear how others interpret these figures, and indeed, the full Accounts. Before leaving the Reports I must say that as we’re in the second half of 2013 the 2011/12 Report should have been available on the website Figuresa long time ago. In fact, I get the impression that the website has not been updated for quite some time.

Using the 2011 Report, I tried to find out about the people running YMCA Wales. It wasn’t easy. What quickly became clear is that the staff is overwhelmingly English. Though there seem to be fewer of them listed on the website than in the 2010/11 Report. Most noticeably, the 2011 Report lists four “Housing and Training” Officers, but none are shown on the website. Among those who do appear is Greg Woolley, in the modestly monikered job of “Global Youth Worker”. (Today Swansea, tomorrow the world?)

The composition of the Trustees displays the same bias – one of them, Stephen Harrison, even lives in England. Another, Peter Joignant, is the man to see about “private housing development”. (Useful for projects like Penrhyndeudraeth.)  Though in fairness, and in contrast to the Trustees named in the 2011 Report, the website suggests the YMCA has recruited a couple of indigenes to give some local colour. In addition, the YMCA has had the sense to use the old trick of having a Welsh figurehead, in the ample form of Sir Roger Jones OBE.

So what does YMCA Wales do? Well, it does a lot of things. Some predictable, others not so, and some downright worrying. Let’s start with the holiday business . . . yes, I did say holiday business, outdoor pursuits to be exact. In 2006 the YMCA bought from the Youth Hostels Association Penycwm outdoor centre in Pembrokeshire. The first thing the YMCA did was change the name to ‘Newgale YMCA Outdoor Education Centre’. Predictably, this being the outdoor pursuit business in Wales, the staff at Newgale is almost all English. And to judge from the testimonials on page 10 of the 2011 Report those attending Newgale also come from England. Typical ‘Welsh’ tourism.

The way in which Newgale is used reinforces the suspicion that YMCA ‘Wales’ is yet another Englandandwales outfit that uses Wales in a blatantly colonialist manner: to provide jobs for its English employees, holidays for English delinquents, housing for English criminals (see below) . . . with much of this funded by the Welsh public purse. The suspicion of an England focus was strengthened by a reference on page 9 of the 2010/11 Report to Ofsted. This is the Office for Standards in Education . . . an England-only body. In Wales we have Estyn. Why would a supposedly Welsh organisation be quoting a body that only operates in England?

Young tearaways from Wolverhampton enjoying themselves on the Pembrokeshire coast is bad enough, but I was more concerned to read “YMCA Wales has a partnership with East Jerusalem YMCA and Lebanon YMCA for the past three years”. (Report 2005/6.) What business is it of YMCA Wales to be sticking its nose in a very fraught political situation? Returning to Wales, my worst fears were confirmed when I read about the YMCA’s “partnership” with the National (Englandandwales) Probation Service. “We accommodate those with no local connection, have exhausted most supported housing projects due to their offending behaviour / support needs, and provide move-on from hostels to ensure continuity for those seeking bail or parole”. (Page 7, 2005/6 Report.) The only way to interpret this is that the YMCA is bringing dangerous criminals with no Welsh connections into Wales.YMCA Rhyl

Finally, just how much of Wales does YMCA Wales cover? On the website there is a drop-down list of ‘Local Associations’, but other than a tin shed in Trawsfynydd, none of those listed is north of Aberystwyth. (And nothing in Aberystwyth.) So what about Aberystwyth, Holyhead, Bangor, Llandudno, Rhyl, Wrecsam? I Googled ‘YMCA Rhyl’ and ‘YMCA Wrexham’. These are what came up. (Click to enlarge.) It suggests that the YMCA associations in the north are affiliated to YMCA England! If so, what is the point of YMCA ‘Wales’? And why does the ‘Welsh’ Government fund YMCA branches that are so contemptuous of YMCA WrexhamWales that they choose to affiliate to YMCA England?

The bottom line is that most of those working for YMCA ‘Wales’ are Third Sector grant-grabbers who moved to Wales when they realised how much public funding was on offer. Claiming to help ‘young people’, the ‘homeless’, people with ‘problems’, etc., etc. In other words, duplicating the work of a dozen or more similar bodies claiming to do the same work with the same funding. Now that the ‘Welsh’ Government has been told by the EU that the next round of Structural Funds must not be wasted on the Third Sector, let us hope that the next few years sees these and all the other carpetbaggers making their way home.

The YMCA Wales empire is – as you might expect – run from the YMCA building on Swansea’s Kingsway. This same building was home until very recently to Awema. So how could the ever-alert Naz Malik, tireless campaigner against ‘racism’, not see the discrimination, exploitation, misuse of public funds, taking place under his very nose? O tempora! O mores!

FOOTNOTE: I’m no nearer understanding what’s going on in Penrhyndeudraeth, but I know quite a bit more about YMCA ‘Wales’. And now, so do you.

UPDATE July 9: I am indebted to Y Cneifiwr for directing me to the Charity Commission website, where he’d found the 2011/2 Report, lodged with the Commission on March 7th. (So why hasn’t it been put up on the YMCA Wales website?) I leave it to others, better qualified, to interpret it.

Though one thing I did investigate was the Flint connection. YMCA Wales has just nine full-time employees. Two in Swansea, one in Cardiff, four at the Newgale YMCA Outdoor Education Centre in Pembrokeshire, and two in Flint. So what do they do in Flint? The answer seems to be that the YMCA is working with an evangelical church providing accommodation for (and doubtless proselytising to) the homeless of Merseyside. Though despite having only nine full-time staff and six part-time, the wage bill for 2011/12 came to £441,174, up from £413,185 in 2010/11 when there were more staff!

Looking at the bigger picture, the YMCA is, as a comment to the original post says, a one-trick pony. Its only real asset, major income stream, and security for bank loan and overdraft, is the Newgale Centre. Other than that it relies on grants, mainly from the Welsh Government, and income from Probation and Bond schemes. So, like a few dozen other Third Sector outfits in Wales, the YMCA uses Welsh public funding to provide holidays for young English delinquents and accommodation for their criminal elders.

It’s a good job Wales is a wealthy country, and can afford this generosity!