Oct 302017
 

THE DOGS BARK, BUT THE CARAVAN REMAINS STATIC!

The original meaning of caravan was of course a camel train, found in Asia, the Middle East or North Africa, carrying people and goods, often over deserts. The word comes from the Persian kārwān. Sometime in the 19th century it began to be applied in Britain to the horse-drawn homes of Romanies.

Today it means something towed along Welsh roads holding up traffic for mile after mile. The bigger ones, that never go anywhere except on the back of a low loader, are to be found now all over Wales, especially near our coasts, and it’s these I wish to deal with.

A caravanserai was a stopping place for a caravan. It might be an inn, possibly an oasis. I suppose I’m being a little whimsical in likening caravan sites in Wales to overnight stops on the Silk Road, but there you are.

‘Are we there yet?’

Those who’ve been following this blog will know that I had a Twitter exchange recently with a Tom Scarrott, we disagreed over whether or not there should be a tourism tax. It should have ended there, but Scarrott chose to pursue matters by inviting himself and a few ‘colleagues’ to the meeting planned for the Belle Vue Royal Hotel on November 4th to discuss the formation of a new political party. Read about it here.

Understandably, the hotel cancelled the booking. The meeting has now been rearranged for November 18th with an invited audience.

As often happens in these cases, the article prompted people to supply further information on the subject matter. Tom Scarrott is described as a man who likes to have his own way, something of a bully. Which anyone could have guessed from the tweets he sent me.

Though one source provided fascinating background information.

FAMILY

It seems that to fully understand the reach of the Scarrott family we need to appreciate its links with the Barkers.

According to my source, Thomas John Barker (DoB December 1931) ran the amusements at the Clarach Bay Holiday Park just north of Aberystwyth (when it may have been owned by Rank). I’m told he then bought the site in the early 1980s with Thomas Scarrott Snr as his right-hand man. By which time Scarrott may have married Barker’s daughter.

So it all started at Clarach Bay, and the Holiday Village, Clarach Bay, remains the correspondence address for the Scarrotts’ Vale Holiday Parks Ltd, and a number of other Scarrott companies; plus the Barkers’ Heatherdale Holidays (Clarach Bay) Ltd, and Barker’s Leisure Ltd.

The Barkers also own the Jolly Fryer Fish and Chip Shop Ltd, Sizzlers Restaurant Ltd, and a number of other companies based at Clarach Bay.

Between them the Barker-Scarrott clan own and run the following caravan sites in Ceredigion and beyond; 1 – 9 being Scarrott sites, 10 – 12 Barker sites:

  1. Cross Park, Kilgetty, Tenby, Pembrokeshire SA68 0RN
  2. Ocean Heights Leisure Park, Cross Inn, New Quay, Ceredigion SA45 9RL
  3. Woodland Vale, Ludchurch, nr Narberth, Pembrokeshire SA67 8JE
  4. Parc Farm, Graianrhyd Road, Llanarmon, Near Mold, CH7 4QW
  5. Grondre Holiday Park, Clunderwen, Pembrokeshire SA66 7HD
  6. The Village Holiday Park, Cross Inn, Ceredigion SA44 6LW [Formerly: Glynteg Caravan Park]
  7. The Old Vicarage Holiday Park, Red Roses, Whitland, Carmarthenshire SA34 0PE
  8. Liskey Hill Holiday Park, Perranporth, Cornwall TR6 0BB
  9. Penlon Caravan Park, Cross Inn, Ceredigion SA44 6JY
  10. Pilbach Holiday Park, Betws Ifan, Rhydlewis, Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion SA44 5RT.
  11. Wide Horizons Holiday Park, Cardigan Road, Aberaeron, Ceredigion SA46 0ET
  12. Aberdwylan Holiday Park, Abercych, Boncath, Pembrokeshire SA37 0LQ

You’ll see that I’ve typed three of them in red, so let me explain why. These three sites are all near Cross Inn on the A486, which runs down to New Quay from the main north-south A487. Important because I’m told the jewel in the crown for Tom Scarrott is the Ocean Heights Leisure Park.

AN UNACCEPTABLE MODEL

The Ocean Heights site is largely self-contained, in that it tries to offer those staying there as many as possible of the facilities they’ll need.

What’s more, those staying at the other two A486 sites are told, “guests are welcome to use the facilities on offer at this park including the Ocean Heights Country Club”.

Clearly, the Scarrott family hopes that those staying at their three Cross Inn sites will spend as much of their money as possible on the facilities provided at Ocean Heights. The flip side being that the Scarrotts want their ‘guests’ to spend as little money as possible in the wider community.

Bad enough, but let’s also remember that these are self-catering holidays. Which means that those staying in the caravans and chalets at Ocean Heights and elsewhere will bring as much as possible of what they need with them. They’ll even fill up with petrol or diesel before leaving home, and might return on the same tank.

The question then becomes – how does the wider community of Ceredigion benefit from tourism like this? And with this model being encouraged all over Wales by the ‘Welsh’ government and local authorities how does Wales benefit?

And as I pointed out in an earlier post, the Scarrotts like to take the money they’ve made out of Wales at the earliest opportunity, with their bankers being in Wiltshire and their accountants and auditors in Coventry. (And it’s the same arrangements for the Barker family.)

Then, when they’re asked to make a contribution to the community in which they operate, through council tax, Tom Scarrott protests that it will ‘devastate’ the local tourism industry. When a tourism tax is mooted, it too will cause ‘devastation’.

Let’s be clear about this. If tourism is an economic activity intended to bring money into a country, and to ensure that that money circulates within the host country bringing the widest possible benefits, then a business model such as that favoured by the Scarrotts should not be tolerated.

That it is tolerated, and worse, encouraged, goes a long way to explaining why tourism fails to deliver anything except clogged roads, tatty ‘attractions’, increased house prices and Anglicisation for our rural areas.

By all means encourage the Welsh family farm to diversify with a small caravan site, but Ocean Heights has more in common with a holiday camp, putting as little as possible into the local community. That’s why I believe large, self-contained caravan parks should be discouraged, and eventually phased out.

If this option is rejected then ways must be found for Ocean Heights and the rest to contribute to their local area, and the means are already available: increased council tax on static caravans that are obviously holiday homes, and a per head, per night, tourism tax.

PLAID CYMRU AND TOURISM

Despite the damage caused by tourism, Plaid Cymru is a big supporter.

Quite how we square Plaid’s commitment to the environment with support for mile after mile of coastal caravan sites,‘Ye Olde’ chippies and amusement arcades, the resultant rubbish, etc., is a mystery.

Equally mysterious is Plaid’s backing for an industry that through its activities and its inescapable corollary of settlement has devastated the bastions of the Welsh language.

I can only conclude that in some areas the tourism lobby is so well organised and vociferous, and Plaid Cymru’s position so weak, that the party has just caved in. Certainly the party opposes a tourism tax, with spokesman Steffan Lewis describing tourism as “the lifeblood of the economy”.

Listen, Steffan, if tourism really is the lifeblood of our economy then we’re as good as dead.

Simon Thomas, the regional AM for Mid and West Wales goes further, and wants to reduce the VAT for tourism. Arguing, “It has been estimated that cutting value added tax in tourism from 20 per cent to 5 per cent would bring £7.6 million to (the constituencies of) Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and £4.5 million to Preseli Pembrokeshire.”

As with so many of the ‘statistics’ produced by the tourism industry these figures are plucked out of thin air.

From studying various statements made by Plaid Cymru people it’s reasonable to conclude that the party has little to offer rural areas other than tourism. Another worrying revelation came in a Twitter exchange I had a couple of weeks back with Ywain Myfyr of Dolgellau which closed with the exchange below.

Ywain was a local headmaster and is a decent guy, heavily involved with the cultural life of the area, through  Sesiwn Fawr and Tŷ Siamas. Which makes his defeatism all the more worrying.

Plaid Cymru’s attitude is unfathomable. Tourism and its corollary will destroy the Fro Gymraeg and with it Plaid Cymru’s heartlands, so by encouraging tourism Plaid Cymru is effectively hastening its own demise!

‘WELSH’ TOURISM, SERVING ENGLAND BETTER THAN WALES

Before concluding, let me make my position clear. I believe there is a role for a tourism component in a broad and diversified economy. But to rely, or over-rely, on tourism is the economics of desperation, or worse.

I challenge anyone to name me one wealthy country that relies for its wealth on tourism.

Take London; tens of millions of tourists visit London (and spend a lot more per head than visitors to Wales) but London’s wealth isn’t generated by tourism. In the bigger picture tourism is just one element.

Or look at our near neighbour, Ireland. I’ve been visiting Ireland off and on for over 50 years, and for most of that time the economy relied to a considerable degree on the tourist pound, dollar, mark or yen, certainly in some of the more rural areas. But the ‘Celtic Tiger’ wasn’t nurtured on tourism.

We can see that tourism brings few benefits to Welsh people, and many problems to Wales, so why is it being promoted as if it was the answer to all our ills?

First, the UK economy is in trouble, and might dive further when Brexit hits. ‘Staycations’, which ensure money stays in the UK, are therefore being encouraged. (The exchange rate also helps.) That’s because most of the money generated by tourism in Wales will make its way to England in one form or another.

So when somebody in London wants more done to attract English tourists to Wales, the message is passed on by the London-controlled civil servants who double up as ‘advisors’ to Carwyn and his gang, and then the directive is repackaged as a “Welsh’ Government initiative”.

WalesOnline headline 8 March 2017

And the ‘Welsh’ Government is glad to do so, because they’ve got no ideas of their own. The same of course applies to Labour’s little helpers in Plaid Cymru. Equally bereft of ideas are our councillors.

This explains why rural and coastal Wales is now a recreation and retirement region for England. And it’s state policy. Because in addition to the economic benefits of staycations tourism has the extra advantage of Anglicising those areas most Welsh in speech and political outlook.

This process is under way from Conwy to Carmarthenshire. Little is done to bring in or encourage the growth of decent jobs, because to do so might make it less easy to fill the minimum wage jobs in tourism, care homes and the like.

Last week we learnt that Welsh workers have the lowest take home pay in the UK. So let’s remind ourselves one last time how Labour and Plaid Cymru plan to make things better – tourism! 

No invective, no hyperbole, no rant from me, could condemn these useless bastards better than they condemn themselves.

Now let’s get our new party started and begin putting things right in our country.

♦ end ♦

 

  71 Responses to “The Caravanserai of Ceredigion”

  1.  

    It is a sad fact that Plaid seem to be more interested in photo opportunities than actually working towards a sustainable economy. Ireland’s approach to bolstering the economy using EU funding included targeting particular sectors, bringing them to Ireland and training up the local population in that well paid area. Wales seems to have low ambitions for its population – recently I heard Radio Ceredigion advertise funded courses in hairdressing and carers. Our funding was used for pet projects so politicians could get a picture in their local paper and feel as important as a tadpole in a rapidly draining puddle.

    •  

      Exactly, Ireland’s economic miracle was built on moving away from tourism and misty images of Ould Oirland to move into the twenty-first century. Radio Ceredigion advertising courses in hairdressing and care work sums up the problem.

      •  

        Those service industries are symptomatic of our economic and social predicament. Hairdressing courses represent the feeble attempts of our further education sector to be seen as providers, easy to fund churning out loads of people with certificates of little or no value if they can’t get long term work ! The crisis in care provision is an even bigger threat. Set aside for a moment the demographic effect of folk retiring to rural Wales from elsewhere, as the growth in native dependency on such services is significant. These jobs are most often paid rock bottom wages with little or no allowance for travel time between clients which can be a real problem in most of Wales. The current crop of carers is ageing and young people are seeing how these people have been treated and have come to regard “care” as a job of last resort.
        Demand is already outstripping supply of such services and will get even worse unless authorities get their fingers out and fund the thing properly. At UK level less enthusiasm for Trident and sundry vanity projects would release the kind of funds that would help the caring services along with a multitude of other necessary public services.

        •  

          There was an interesting letter in today’s WM. Though it would appear that encouraging kids to be entrepreneurs and self-employed seems not to have reached Ceredigion. Gareth Davies

          •  

            The overwhelming bulk of SMEs (over 85%) employ 5 people or less one of which is usually the owner and at least one other is a family member, usually spouse. They are corner shops, tenanted pubs, tenanted farms fast food outlets, cafes, hairdressers, builders etc. Many have few assets of any value (window cleaners etc) and many only have intellectual assets (architects etc).

            A frightening amount of them have such a small turnover that the owner is on tax credits. Likewise a frightening amount exist literally from month to not paying peter to pay paul.

            Hence why they have problems raising capital – no bank in it’s right mind would invest in most of them.

            As for the paucity of ambition exhibited by Plaid (and Labour), I once asked a leading Plaid person why they thought continually chasing poor quality minimum waged jobs was such a good idea. The reply was ‘what do you expect us to do?’ Try doing your job matey, you get paid a fortune, start bringing home the bacon.

            •  

              I was hoping to avoid introducing class into this debate, but there has always been a suspicion that Plaid Cymru’s leadership represents an elite that regards the Fro Gymraeg as its fiefdom, with the better jobs reserved for it.

              Which would explain Plaid’s apparent contempt for locals who don’t belong to the elite – ‘Minimum wage jobs are good enough for them’.

          •  

            I assume that the author of this letter does not know the reality of the ‘support’ that Dylan Jones-Evans offers to the small businesses that he ‘mentors’. I knew someone who had benefited from Dylan’s mentoring a few years ago in Gwynedd – their business was in dire straits and had to be rescued by a kindly well-wisher. The well-wisher told me that Dylan had bled the business dry and then abandoned the two young entrepreneurs whom he ‘supported’. Three years later I was told by yet another person who knew a few other people whom Dylan had ‘mentored’ that Dylan’s model of supporting entrepreneurs was to fleece the business and move on.

  2.  

    To be honest though I’m not sure that some other business models of tourism are any better and are worse in some ways.

    It could even be argued that static caravans as purpose built holiday accommodation divert demand that could otherwise go to self-catering holiday cottages converted from permament residential use, though I’m not sure if this argument is correct, or whether it is more a case of more supply creates more demand.
    Self-catering holiday cottages are also likely to be patronised by somewhat better off people on average, which is good for local restaurants etc. but not so good for local housing affordability because the guests are more likely to be able to buy property as a second home or holiday let investment.
    If all the big static caravan sites closed, wouldn’t it also be more likely that people would come in towed caravans, or campervans/motorhomes which could bring in even less revenue per visitor.

    •  

      The answer is for local authorities to charge a council tax rate that makes it prohibitive for what could be permanent residences to be used as holiday homes for all but the wealthiest. There might then be a case for a lower rate of council tax for chalets and static caravans, but still well above the domestic rate.

      You say, “Self-catering holiday cottages are also likely to be patronised by somewhat better off people on average, which is good for local restaurants etc. but not so good for local housing affordability because the guests are more likely to be able to buy property as a second home or holiday let investment.” But the whole point of self-catering is that you do your own cooking, making your own beds, keeping the place clean, the very things that might put money into the local economy and create jobs.

      I’m not arguing for static caravan sites to close. What I’m saying is that the Ocean Heights model – more like a self-contained holiday camp – is not a model to be encouraged.

  3.  

    As a resident of N.Pembs (Dinas) and regular on the A487, and patriot, I can only agree with every gloomy word. Though it may help that Pembs County Council does levy a – not very large – second home tax. As you say, the real oddity here is the stance Plaid Cymru takes. This goes beyond tourism.
    Plaid has become a party where a number of policies were thought up years ago and have become Holy Writ. Unless you were MP or AM for a seat with a nuclear reactor.
    But generally, what now matters is that you mouth these policies and, crucially, kow-tow to the Leader. This above all. If your face, or manner, fails to conform you will be ostracised, bullied. Ms.Wood is making an example of Neil McEcEvoy “pour encourager – scare – les autres” And it works. Policy becomes irrelevant.
    As Ifan Morgan Jones observed in Nation.cymru recently 20 new members could change a lot. So we could end this Animal Farm/N.Korea/E.Germany phase which Plaid is going through.
    Yes, start with a rational policy on Tourism. As good a place as any to start. Don’t let up!

    •  

      McEvoy is one of the few genuine people-politicians in the Bay. The way Plaid has been treating him of late is utterly shocking and a sterling example of liberal-left political correctness.

    •  

      Actually, I think you’re wrong Jonathan.

      It’s not Leanne that’s the bully, she’s one that is also bullied. She just lacks the skill so cannot handle the clique which are the hand inside the puppet. I suspect she opens her email each morning to find new and unexpected ‘problems’ that need solving presented as ‘findings’ from shady has-beens like Alun Ffred Jones, Nerys Evans, Bethan Jenkins and others. Unlike DET, who was an easy shoot, these other peculators of influence are more difficult to handle and requires different leadership skills, which she (currently) lacks. You will notice the difference in confidence Leanne has between a speech on re-opening a paddling pool in her constituency or a point of policy in the Senedd and the type of speech she makes to a Plaid Cymru constituency on candidate selection or to the media on issues of personnel. The latter is ‘briefing notes’ usually compiled by a party executive, rather than an expression of political passion. If she followed her passions the likes of McEvoy would be on her front bench and the party would advance, but unfortunately she’s surrounded herself with autocrats and appatchiks with internal back-biting agendas. I thought for a while she’d get a grip, but unfortunately not yet done so. She needs to remember that what she does in Treochy, Penygraig, Porth and Ynyshir needs to be some in other parts of Wales too, and that includes Llangennech, Fairwater, Abertillery, Wrexham and Llangefni. That doesn’t happen in a conference rooms bedecked with skinny latte, hotel lobby gossip mongers, or consultancy executives down the Bae.

  4.  

    You mention Ireland. The republic has two incentive schemes for tourist development which is funded by tourist tax (9%)….

    (a)Hotel Capital Allowance. This incentive allows for a seven-year rate of write-off on capital expenditure incurred in the construction or refurbishment of hotel buildings. By doing this it takes existing building stock that is in local ownership and modernise the facility. Compare Rhyl with Galway. The Irish government decided to incentive the refurbishment of dilapidated Edwardian and Victorian seaside estate into revenue earning vibrant towns.

    To get their hands on this tax allowance the big chains like Jurys, Great Southern (Best subsidiary), and International Group have set up their European HQ there. Result, they pay their corporation tax in Ireland. Smaller ’boutique’ establishments can invest.

    (b)Tax relief for owner occupiers (Section 482 tax code). This encourages ‘locally owned’ attractions It provides a revenue stream for indigenous communities and only those businesses where the establishment is an owner AND occupier. In this way revenue is retained in the local community.

    Both the above schemes only apply to ‘approved enterprises’ that specifically excludes caravan parks and remotely owned theme parks (by type) and foreign registered enterprises (ownership). Sadly, in Wales we see Plaid Cymru do not concur with the Irish model, and are happy to sponsor the flow of cash away from Welsh communities.

    •  

      As someone has already commented, Plaid Cymru’s position is inexplicable.

      •  

        Actually, it’s worse. They are knowingly and deliberately deceiving those existing employees who work on the tourist industry.

        Plaid Cymru is claiming that, unlike Ireland, there is a high tax that already exists, at a rate of 20% in the form of VAT on sales. This is not the case. VAT of a business as a going concern is paid on gross margin, not on sales. So it you lease caravans and they cost £50k per unit and over the lifetime of that unit it yields sales of £80k, you end up paying the VAT on the margin. £80k*20% called output VAT minus £50k*20% called input VAT = only 6k, not £16k on turnover as some Plaid Cymru politicians have suggested.

        VAT is a Value added tax, on annual gross margin.
        Tourism tax is a turnover tax based on occupancy and can be season specific.

        If you make a loss, or just break even, you don’t pay any VAT collected over to HMRC. Also, when applied to energy generation business where input VAT is 20% and output VAT is reduced, at 5%, you can actually claim an annual rebate from the taxman. An example of this is Dyffryn Nantlle Hydro, and a director of this is Alun Ffred Jones. For him to suggest otherwise to Plaid Cymru policy forum, is just plain dishonest.

        A political party who seeks to lead Wales to independence should be honest with the people of Wales.

        •  

          I suspect Plaid Cymru knows the truth, but in its desperation to appear tourism friendly it’s prepared to lie.

          Another factor is, I suspect, that because tourism is largely English run, they don’t want to appear anti-English.

      •  

        Is it because a) Plaid is low on business literacy or b) just generally a bit thick ?

        •  

          Bit of both. In fact a lot of both. Most of the AMs I have spoken with (and the odd MP) don’t even understand how a basic pub tenancy works and the profit margins. They even get confused over gross and net when VAT is brought into the equation.

  5.  

    Jac

    A well thought out piece (as always) much of which I agree with wholeheartedly, but as someone with a direct business interest in the tourism world , let me make a few comments:

    1. I agree there are few if any countries who base a successful economy on Tourism. There are a number of countries who either by force of circumstance or geography have based their economy of tourism, some of which (Jamaica for example) have been very successful in attracting huge visitor numbers, but while tourism in these locations has made a few people very wealthy, there is only a limited impact on the wider population and economy.

    2. You cannot blame the owners of hotels, craven parks or indeed any other attraction for trying to get the visitors to spend their money on site. By and large simply renting accommodation is not a massive source of profit, especially at the “caravan park” end of the market. The real money is in keeping the punters on site, spending money in your cafe, bar, shop etc. Yes this impacts on the local trades, but such quite frankly its just good business.

    3. The VAT treatment of tourist services and or the desirability of a separate tourist tax are two different, and largely separate issues. A number of EU states, especially those where tourism is economically important have taken advantage of existing EU legislation which allows them to treat tourism services e.g hotel bills, restaurants etc as subject to a reduced rate of VAT (typically around 7%). The UK has chosen not to avail itself of this option, this means that a hotel bill in say Barcelona will be subject to VAT at (I believe) 7% while a similar hotel bill in the UK will be subject to VAT at 20%. Both hotels will be able to recover VAT in full on their costs. Giving the Spanish hotel a clear competitive advantage with pricing.

    4. Unlike VAT which is always included within the headline price of accommodation, etc, tourist taxes (typically a flat rate per night per guest) are generally excluded from the headline price quoted by the likes of Trivago etc, and are paid directly by the travelers to the hotel. Thereby enabling hotels to keep their headline rates attractive while still paying their taxes.

    5. The UK treasury has always (rightly in my opinion) opposed any degree of hypothecation, meaning that the VAT paid by say a Welsh hotel or caravan park simply ends up as part of the income of UK PLC to be spent when and where suits the UK government without any direct link to how and why those taxes were raised.Unlike VAT, a tourist tax is well suited to local taxation, and could be “tweaked” to encourage or indeed discourage certain types of tourism.

    5. I am far from convinced that Welsh hotels etc are really in competition with hotels in say Barcelona etc, but the tax differential is one of the reasons why UK holidays are perceived as comparatively expansive.

    6. Much of the tourist industry in Wales, and indeed elsewhere in the UK is designed to service a model (i.e two weeks by the sea in August with the kids) that is no longer relevant to a swathe of the population, and is one where weather, ease of travel and sheer volume of available accommodation etc will always mean that the UK is struggling to complete with Spain etc. The decline of our Seaside towns is not a uniquely Welsh issue and one that is difficult to reverse, given the geographic isolation of many of these locations , and the lack of alternative investment etc.

    7. That said Tourism in the UK is a success, visitor numbers are up year on year, and we are seeing an increasing amount of UK residents taking holidays here, although they tend to be short stay (typically less then four days) rather than the more traditional week or two week holidays, and this has been a major contributory factor to the growth of city based tourism outside London, with places like York, Bath, Edinburgh and Cardiff seen as attractive distentions for weekend city breaks.

    8. One of the major issues faced by large parts of Wales is geographical isolation, if you take Lampeter as an example it has a fair amount in common with somewhere like Ludlow in terms of size, character etc, and like Ludlow could well become a great location for gastro-tourism, given its strong links to the local agricultural community etc. The problem is that Lampeter is at least 2 1/2 hours away from any major population center (I accept that Swansea is a bit closer, but in UK terms Swansea is not a major population center)

    9. There are some genuinely stand out offerings in Welsh tourism ranging from large upmarket offerings to small mom and pop businesses. But there is also in my experience a whole lot of mediocre of not substandard offerings, or things being developed in the mistaken belief that if we build it they will come. 25 years in the hotel business has shown me that people are very choosy about how and where they spend their holiday funds, a trend which has only increased with the growth of Tripadvsior etc.

    10. The real issue in Wales is what are we selling, do we want to be a “cheap and cheerful” theme park full of caravans and zip wires, or something else. In my experience Visit Wales and the Welsh Government does not have a clue what its trying to sell, who it wants to attract or indeed where it should be investing money. Rather they seem to be completely obsessed with “visitor numbers” as if simply counting people as the cross the Severn Bridge is the answer to all Wales’ economic woes.

    11. In the UK where the one thing you a re not selling is sunshine, tourism thrives part of a mixed economy were the visitors have plenty to do and see, get it right and tourism can be a major contributor to local economy, get it wrong and you end up in a theme park full of day trippers. I wonder which one Wales is?

    •  

      A lengthy and thoughtful response that deserves a reply, so I’ll try to answer you point by point.

      1/ I agree, a country with golden beaches and year-round sunshine can do well out of tourism, but as you say, it’s the few who make the real money.

      2/ “The real money is in keeping the punters on site, spending money in your cafe, bar, shop etc. Yes this impacts on the local trades, but such quite frankly its just good business.” I think we’re agreed on that. But this business model fatally undermines the argument used by people like Scarrott that they put vast sums into the local economy.

      3/ VAT. If the UK government was to follow the advice of Simon Thomas AM and reduce VAT on tourism, who would decide what was and what was not a tourism business? I mean, would businesses on Aberystwyth promenade qualify as tourism businesses but not those in the centre of town? And if the whole of Aberystwyth was declared to be a tourist town with all businesses paying the lower rate of VAT this would give Aber a distinct advantage over over towns. Where do we draw the line?

      If it was agreed, for example, that road haulage businesses pay a lower rate of VAT then I think everybody knows what a road haulage business is, they are registered as such; but with tourism it’s virtually impossible. Let’s say a hotel in Llandudno is allowed a lower rate of tourist VAT, would that also apply to guests staying in the hotel who are in Llandudno on business?

      I can see that caravan sites would probably qualify for reduced VAT as tourism businesses, but what of caravans or chalets used solely by their owners and their owners’ families, would they be regarded as tourists visiting their own property? And once the reduction is allowed lots of other businesses will demand the same treatment, arguing that they too are tourism businesses. Who would decide?

      4/ The tourism tax I envision will be collected by the local authority and used within that authority’s area. I would like to see it used to help young locals compete in a property market distorted by tourists wanting to settle in the area where they take their holidays.

      5/ Not sure what you’re saying here.

      6/ & 7/ Bucket and spade holidays are finished, I think we all know that. It accounts for Rhyl being a dumping ground for drug addicts and other undesirables from north west England. Wales also loses out because those responsible for tourism deliberately target short stay vacationers saving their money for their main holiday abroad.

      8/ I think you’re off-track here. No part of Wales is really distant from England’s conurbations, that’s the problem. Nor do I think that gastro-tourism is a big money-spinner, we’re talking English tourists, here, remember, England renowned across the world for her cuisine! Even when they go abroad they insist on fish and chips.

      9/ I’m sure you’re right. One of the problems I’ve encountered over the years is that tourism in Wales attracts too many people escaping the rat-race who have a dream of running a country pub, or a restaurant, or a little hotel, maybe just a B&B – but haven’t got a bloody clue about how to run it properly. And they get ‘Welsh’ tourism a bad name.

      10/ Here we are in complete agreement. The ‘Welsh’ Government and Visit Wales are interested only in the headline figures of visitor numbers and money spent. With the result that Wales is at the bottom end of the market offering cheap breaks. The money is in foreign tourists making Wales their main holiday and spending real money.

      11/ As I’ve said time and time again, rural and coastal Wales is now a recreation and retirement area for England, zip wires over retirement homes, offering low wage and seasonal employment. Playground Wales.

    •  

      In reply/addition to Taf2…

      4 – Whilst it’s true that the headline price excludes the tourism tax (night rate levee), this is not unique to tourism.
      Air fares – does not include airport taxes, it is added at point of payment.
      TVs – when you buy a television it does not include the BBC license fee.
      Cars – when you buy a car, the price does not include the vehicle tax.

      9 – It’s cheap and nasty Scarrott jobbies that undermine Wales as a quality destination. Punters with a propensity to spend largers sums in quality offerings will shun areas splattered with caravans and trakkie bottomed candy-floss munchers. In the same way Waitrose shoppers shun Asda. If we are to ‘add value’ to Welsh tourism we need to remove the Scarrotts and Co from our landscape.

      11 – Wales is often sold as a destination under false pretence of sunshine, and sees itself as in competition with Greece or Tenerife. This deception does not work. It undermines (cheapens) the integrity of the product. Iceland is more honest – Blue lagoon, volcanoes and wild desolate landscape etc. Ireland also. It does not sell itself as sunny beaches, but sells the ‘craic’ based experience.

      A £10 a night bed-night tax would not adversely affect the £100-£200 per night quality hotel offering. It’s marginal effect will be felt at the lower end of the spectrum, most particularly Scarrott and Co. Bring it on.

      •  

        It’s fundamental, universal, and it applies to every form of economic activity – if you want to attract those with real money to spend then you offer a quality product.

        Despite this principle being universally accepted, Wales still promotes itself as the destination for cheapo holidays where you have to rub shoulders with the “trakkie-bottomed ones” (love that!) while simultaneously hoping to bring in high-rollers. It won’t work.

        Proven by the fact that the only places where the high-rollers congregate in any numbers are communities like Abersoch where the Cheshire Set has taken over and from where the “trakkie-bottomed” ones are excluded – along with the Welsh!

        Whichever way you look at it tourism is a disaster for Wales, and especially for the Welsh.

  6.  

    completely off topic but may serve to re enthuse people to embrace the separatist cause – read today’s reports that Gordon Brown (remember him?) now thinks that some of the leading bankers responsible for the 2008 fiasco should get porridge and lose benefits like pensions.

    What took you so long you dopey fuckin’ twat ? It was evident to all with an ounce of common sense where the responsibility lay but Gordon and his mates got cosy with the banksters and covered it all up with the biggest government handout ever. That in turn set the scene for Cameron and his bandits to really shove the knife in and imposed their version of austerity on those segments of the country that had sweet Fuck all to do with the original offence !! And now this dozy muppet starts to look for some delayed action retribution – is he completely bonkers or just covering up his own sense of guilt ?

    •  

      It’s quite extraordinary how so many are now waking up to problems that they were told about/caused many years ago Dafis. I’m intrigued by the ‘revelations’ that there is a problem with sexual harassment in Westminster.

      Er – wasn’t a Nigel Evans put on trial not so long ago for sexual assault and attempted rape of young male researchers? Didn’t it emerge during the trial that Nigel spent many hours rat-arsed in Commons bars and was a well-known groper but that was just ‘Westminster culture’. Nigel’s barrister friend was part of the team who defended him – Nigel got off and was welcomed back to the Commons as a hero. The barrister who defended Nigel later ended up in a chemsex scandal himself – I seem to remember that it involved a young gay man being found dead in his bed from an overdose…

      I made a few rude comments on my own blog re well-paid MPs believing that they are victims because a man once put his hand on their knee in a social situation – but we now have had a young Labour activist come forward who had been RAPED by a senior Labour official. She was told to keep quiet. Now complaining about being raped doesn’t come into the ‘snowflake’ category – that is a serious assault. So where were Harriet Harman, Diane Abbott and the rest of the selfish, lame cows who have constantly maintained that they are feminists and ‘care’ in a way that ‘Men’ don’t? A young woman was RAPED and she has revealed that the Labour Party had no structure for dealing with her complaint. The Labour Party’s NEC has had a women’s section for years. I have recently blogged about the monstrous hypocrisy of the women’s reps who built their own careers whilst ignoring the abuse of vulnerable people in the NHS and social services – a lot of those ‘reps’ were sponsored by unions with members working in the NHS and social care. But I didn’t realise that they were ignoring serious sexual assaults on their own sister-activists.

      As for the Welsh scene – I was entertained to see that former Arfon MP Betty Williams was first out of the traps to claim that she had been groped by Tories. Betty Williams had me thrown out of Tescos in Bangor some years ago when she was canvassing in there. Why? Because I tried to speak to her about the serious abuse of patients in the Hergest Unit in Bangor – a Unit with one of the highest suicide rates in the UK and where there had been numerous complaints of staff assaulting patients. I know for a fact that Williams ignored at least one letter of complaint from someone other than me about the abuse of patients at Hergest.

      Betty Williams was also a Councillor in Gwynedd – whilst Gwynedd Social Services had problems with that paedophile ring operating within their children’s homes back in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

      A bunch of hypocrites Dafis, shallow, hypocritical opportunists. Gyles Brandreth, who succeeded Sir Peter Morrison as MP for Chester, has written in his autobiography about the Chester Conservative Association openly gossiping about Morrison’s abuse of young boys. The CPS have admitted that Greville Janner and Cyril Smith should have been prosecuted for the abuse of male children but weren’t. Numerous people knew about these three MPs and many more. Everyone covered up for them. Are we surprised that so many in Westminster were groping and coercing colleagues into sex? The reason why so many remained silent about it was that some people undoubtedly received promotion in return for sexual favours.

      I was told 15 years ago by someone who had been active in the Young Lib Dems that two people who later became leading Lib Dems in Wales were known to be promiscuously providing favours for senior figures. One of those involved was male, one was female. The female Lib Dem did incredibly well for herself even in the wake of the UK-wide Lib Dem meltdown at the hands of Nick Clegg. I’ll leave it to your readers to work out who she might be…

      •  

        Given the frequency of allegations,often proven,of corrupt/deviant/perverted behaviours among M.P’s one begins to wonder whether the toxic environment at Westminster causes a (high?)proportion of new M.P’s to become “bent” in some way within say 3,5 or so years.

        Despite having little time for the Tories I was really taken aback by disclosures about Crabb pestering a young woman given his earlier posturing as a good ol’ Christian family man. Then we had Merthyr’s newly elected M.P installing his boyfriend into a staff job days after winning the seat – all in the finest “employ your nearest and dearest” policy tradition of the House. That’s a big pigpen there that needs clearing out – best walk away from it and go for independence instead !

        •  

          And in the finest Welsh Labour tradition, shortly after Christina Rees took the Neath seat a nice young man appeared in her office employed as her full-time caseworker (salary goes up to >£26K). No-one I have spoken to can recall the job being advertised. The chap bears an uncanny resemblance to her daughter’s boyfriend, so alike in fact that it is likely (no, definite) the caseworker will be on annual leave early in 2018 when the daughter gets hitched. I wonder if Dad, Ron Davies will be invited?

          I don’t often speak up for Plaid but don’t they now have a policy that family members are not to be employed? Wouldn’t have stopped this one though, since he won’t be “family” until the New Year.

          •  

            Dafis: I think that part of the problem lies with the sort of people who go into politics in the first place – I was chatting with a friend about this the other day and we both noticed that our contemporaries who became involved with student politics were in the words of my friend ‘nasty people who are thick’. As students we dismissed them as wankers – but some of them did become politicians. The President of the NUS in my day was a particularly loathesome specimen called Phil Woolas. He who later became a New Labour Minister and ended up bowing out of politics after being caught out on some pretty appalling behaviour. Others I think can become corrupted once they get there. One problem with the Westminster based politicians is that they hobnob with very wealthy people, so they start seeing themselves as deprived, which leads them down the expenses fiddling and not declaring interests path. (I saw a similar detachment from reality when I worked in London hospitals in the 80s/90s – consultants with private practises on top of their NHS work could be raking on more than £200k but they really believed that they were badly paid because their neighbours were bankers who’s gobs were stuffed with even more gold.)

            Stan: I don’t think that employing family members per se is the problem – it’s the lack of transparency and abuse of this that is so unacceptable. If an MP or AM has a spouse or adult child who is genuinely interested in the work and can do it well, I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s the milking of the system which is wrong – someone from the family on the payroll who is very obviously never ‘at work’ or not up to the job that they claim to be doing. I think though that you are right that the jobs should be advertised and there must be transparency.

            The pigpen certainly needs hosing down and the troughers turfing out. I know that the correspondents to this blog frequently discuss establishing another party and indeed Jac seems to be on the way to doing this, but I fear that the pigpen is in such a bad way that it cannot be retrieved. Arriving at Westminster or Cardiff Bay is probably like beginning a job in a very dysfunctional, completely corrupted workplace. It doesn’t matter how competent one is or if one is not going to trough, swindle and embezzle oneself, if just about everybody else is corrupt and incompetent one will not be able to make a difference. I have known university depts in that category and indeed there are more than a few hospitals and social services depts like that. People who are not crooks or idiots leave before they have a breakdown or worse – they just can’t effect change.

            •  

              I’m a hard bastard, I guess. My own view is if an MP has a wife/child/mother/cousin etc that would do a good job, let them do so – but working for another MP and let’s have them competing for the post. It’s still open to “who you know, not what you know” but at least it’s not such bare-faced nepotism/cronyism.

            •  

              I meet Phil Woolas (formerly MP for Oldham East with Saddleworth and before that BBC I think) quite a lot both on official stuff and socially. Odious little man who used to drink locally with some very dubious characters and was indirectly one of the causes of the 2001 civil disturbances there.

              Smarmy, creepy man.

              •  

                Phil Woolas was Peter Hain’s campaign manager for his spectacularly unsuccessful, and cataclysmic, bid for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party back in 2007. The bookies were quoting Hain as a rank outsider at 50/1 to be successful, and Woolas said, “The bookies’ odds baffle us frankly. They don’t reflect any of the evidence we have anecdotally or scientifically. We believe we have run a very professional campaign and we have influenced the debate in a positive way. Peter has been in international and national politics for a long time – he is not going anywhere.” And as regards Hain’s ambitions to rise right to the top in the Labour Party, he was right. He didn’t go anywhere and six months afterwards had resigned from the Cabinet and under criminal investigation having failed to declare over £100,000 worth of donations to his campaign.

          •  

            Plaid’s policy may exclude obvious family connection, but be assured you won’t get a job unless you can spout the same drivel as the clown recruiting you, thus delivering the “we are all of the same opinion” condition essential for party unity. Lovely, innit.

  7.  

    I get your drift and agree a tourism tax is necessary, and we have to steer away from this overdepdendency on it as it hollows out a lot of communities. The only thing is those caravan parks offer people a relatively cheap holiday and the majority of those holiday makers come from south wales and the valleys when it comes to Ceredigion. Whereas the immigrants probably run the majority of the hoiday cottage and tourism sector in ceredigion and west wales and are the ones moving into the dream cottages/smallholdingin the country. Its a bloomin conundrum

    •  

      My family used to frequent a “low end” caravan site in West Wales – almost as far west as you can go, but the clues stop there. We are all from the valleys. Our own experience on that site is yes, we would run into the odd family from Wales, they do visit, but overwhelmingly I would say the families were from the Midlands, often booking two or three vans because you’d swear they were an invading army there were so many of them. As you say, Gaynor, it’s a relatively cheap holiday and the van is the same price if you’ve two or ten in it.

  8.  

    You have paraphrased the Welsh economic position perfectly. In simple terms, we as a Nation are doomed under the present system.Time for serious and meaningful change !.

  9.  

    Statement In Response To ‘Jac O The North’ (AKA Royston Jones From Abergynolwyn).

    Do you know what really annoys me about this? It’s not the threats, not the intolerance, not the implied racism, and not the naked hatred of any dissonant views. No, none of those. It’s the suggestion that I, a Welshman born and educated in Wales, should have anything other than my home country’s interests wholly at heart. I’d love to take apart, piece by piece, the flawed and distorted charges made against me and my family, but I simply don’t have the time. You see, along with my family, I’ve a business to run based in Wales, providing full-time jobs for Welsh people, generating income for Welsh regional economies, and paying tax to support the Welsh Government.

    •  

      Why the parenthetical AKA, Tom? It’s no secret who I am or where I live. Why do some people think they’re ‘exposing’ me? It’s laughable. And a little pathetic.

      What “threats” are you referring to? What “implied racism“? What “naked hatred of dissonant views“? On the last count, let’s remember how this all started. I tweeted that I thought a tourism tax would be a good idea and you – a complete stranger – jumped in to tell me I was wrong.

      Then you threatened to come to a meeting to which you were not invited, with “colleagues“. What were you thinking! It was a clear threat to cause disruption. Your intervention caused me considerable hassle and some financial expense. But of course that was just a bit of fun, I suppose? But it explains why I took a deeper interest in you and your business.

      So it would appear that you too have trouble with dissonant views. To the extent of writing a 1,000-word rant against the increase in council tax on holiday homes and sending it off to assorted publications. Though I understand it was only the Cambrian News that published it in full. No surprise there!

      In fact, I’m told you “comb” the media looking for criticism of tourism, or any perceived threat, so that you can leap to the defence of how you make your money. That true, Tom?

      You’ve disappointed me on other levels too. If you were going to write at all I would have expected you to address issues such as:

      Ocean Heights and its satellites being little more than a holiday camp designed to minimise the money reaching the wider community.

      Your business may be “based in Wales“, that’s not in question, but why do you bank in England? And why are your auditors in England? (And remember that bullshit you came out with to explain banking in England – the bank manager from Caernarfon? How we laughed!)

      Why are you opposed to tourism tax and increased council tax on what are clearly holiday homes? (And try to do better than ‘devastating’ and ‘devastation’, they’re getting a little overworked.)

      I don’t question that you employ people, you have to to run your sites, so why dress it up as something virtuous like giving blood? But looking at the way you operate, and your statements on various issues, where you bank, etc., someone might think that you want to contribute as little as possible to the areas in which you operate.

      But I’m a reasonable old cove, Tom, that’s why everybody loves me. So, seeing as tourism attracts so much attention, and is promoted as our economic salvation, I’m going to give you the opportunity to put your case in a guest post on this blog. You can have 1,500 words plus diagrams and illustrations.

      If you use statistics, I want the source. If you quote a survey, I want to know who commissioned the survey. You will avoid personal abuse and stick to defending tourism in Wales and your business model.

      That’s the offer. Take it or leave it.

      •  

        Nice one Jac. I look forward to reading the 1,500 word guest post. Should be more interesting than the rant he previously presented.

        •  

          I’m sure he’s got a lot to say, Wynne. We can but wait to see if he takes up the offer.

      •  

        Would also be interested if he could provide verifiable evidence from other local businesses whether they view him as competition or contributory to local economy. I’d figure its a bit of both… but i find it hard to believe his “club” does not take business away from other local businesses, especially as it is open to the public.

        I don’t think he’ll take you up on your offer, though if he does make sure he provides evidence that he himself wrote the article just in case he tries to deny it at a later date.

        Personally don’t think he has the minerals.

        •  

          In fairness, he’s no fool. It’s his relationship with veracity that might let him down.

          •  

            I was always told “Never make threats in writing” so not sure if the former is strictly true. That and deleting it kind of confirmed its intent… not to mention deleted Tweets still exist on Twitters servers.

      •  

        Not a hope

  10.  

    Having read the whole series of articles about the proposed Aber meeting plus this latest one on caravan parks and tourism, the “threats” referred to by Mr Scarrott must have passed me by. I am wondering if he is confusing them with those that emerged in his own Twitter spat with Jac o’ the North, thankfully screenshot for posterity before he closed his account to public view and also deleted some of the exchanges. Persistently saying “see you in Aber”, and that he’d have “mates” with him, despite being clearly told on numerous occasions he was not invited, can surely only be interpreted in one way. He’s clearly a smart bloke and he damned well knew it. Just as he knows that referring to Jac o’ the North as “AKA Royston Jones of Abergynolwyn” imparts a message too.

    Anyway, moving on to more positive things, given the complete fuck up made by Welsh Labour over many years, and Plaid failing to appeal as a real alternative, I wonder if Mr Scarrott would consider joining the new Party if one is set up? Even if he doesn’t though, maybe he and his family might consider voting for it in future elections? After all, there is surely common ground in having Wales’ “best interests at heart”. But somehow, I just don’t think so.

    •  

      Once the party is set up he’ll be free to join just like anybody else. But he is not invited to the inaugural, exploratory meeting. For obvious reasons.

  11.  

    Thomas Scarott self identifies as “….a Welshman born and educated in Wales, should have anything other than my home country’s interests wholly at heart.” That’s a good start as it means that he will understand, perhaps, how one man’s freedom of choices and actions can have a negative impact on the freedoms of others. No need to launch into a long diatribe on free market economics, competition,social costs,low/seasonal wages,and the distortions caused by such factors acting in deliberate or accidental unison etc etc.

    I look forward to reading and understanding any perspective he offers debating its content, picking out its bits that have merit and perhaps finding a way forward which adds real value to the broader economy. If a few people of this kind see some merit in our interpretation and we manage to share some common ground with them it will certainly strengthen our position going forward. Having a few seriously commercial people on board will yield benefit all round.

  12.  

    Jac will be pleased to see My Lord Elis Thomas is now Minister of Tourism! All your complaints about the tourist industry will now be resolved by your local AM.

    •  

      It’s almost as if somebody’s taking the piss.

      •  

        Somebody’s definitely taking the piss – Baroness Eluned Morgan is in the fucking cabinet now as well. This is the Eluned who has achieved absolutely nothing throughout her long and glorious political career – the Eluned who started that career very young who just happened to have a dad well-connected in the Labour Party in south Wales – the Eluned who is a friend of the first family of troughing after a ride on the gravy train, the Kinnocks. Eluned’s pal Glenys, another Baroness, sits – or sat – on the Board of Snap Cymru, a ‘children’s charity’. Until recently another Board member was one Dafydd Ifans, who was named in the Waterhouse Report as being the line manager of three children’s homes in north Wales where the kids had been abused.

        •  

          But that IS the Labour Party, especially in the south – nepotism and cronyism. It’s how Labour operates, it helps it operate, and it guarantees loyalty. The same principle is found in self-perpetuating and generational crime organisations like the Mafia. If you can’t trust your own flesh and blood, and the offspring of your colleagues, then who can you trust?

    •  

      He has finally achieved his life-long political ambition; to become a Labour minister. I’r diawl â fo!

    •  

      Another nail in the coffin for Plaid Cymru?

      DET is associated with Plaid through his history. People will see this in any Plaid v Labour contest as – what’s the difference might as well vote Labour anyway – the left leaning and internationalist policies are the same.As for the small c conservative nationalist element/support for Plaid they will start drifting off, on the basis of vote Plaid get Labour, maybe these are to be welcomed to the new party?

      •  

        The conservative nationalist element pissed off with Plaid Cymru will definitely be welcomed into the new party.

    •  

      Bumped into My Lord Thomas in Bangor a few months back. Got chatting, told him I’m a Pliad member and voted Brexit and he went mental saying did I know how much work he would now have to do. I felt so sorry – NOT.

  13.  

    Somewhat O/T (but, then again, perhaps not as ‘somewhat’ as all that), this is a rather interesting re-imagination of recent history:

    http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/what-if-wales-had-been-offered-jews-homeland-palestine-zionist-israel-526573400

  14.  

    The comments section was frustrating me as I would see new comments had been posted by the number count but I had to search to find them. I’ve just noticed there a sort by choice just under the comment box. Makes things much easier. “Sort by: newest| oldest| most voted”

    Just in case someone else experiencing the same frustration I did. 🙂

    •  

      Thanks for that advice. Obviously, from my side of the desk I don’t see things the same.

    •  

      Thank you, daffy2012, because I had never noticed that, too intent to just make sure that I’ve not put in any stupid spelling mistakes usually. That’s a useful tip. While I am here, what are those ellipses above the comments box for, with things like b, i, b-quote, code etc? I’m sorry to be a numpty but I have no idea how to use them, if I should?

      •  

        Fresh back from my break – anyone miss me? !!

        First task for me, put our dear Stan ‘on track’.

        The ‘tags’ are for editing purposes Stan.
        ‘b’ = Bold. Highlight the text you want to show in bold text and then click the appropriate (HTM) tags. The text you have highlighted will automatically appear as ‘bold’ text after you post your comment.

        The same applies to the others:
        ‘i’ = Italic

        ‘b-quote’ inserts the inverted comma ‘quote’ symbol. If you want to quote some text paste it into your comment, highlight it, then click on the ‘b-quote’ button.

        ‘link’ = insert a hyperlink to a web page or similar.
        ‘u’ = Underline the text. etc. Have a play – it won’t hurt, you can always delete your experiment afterwards.

        P.S. your web browser should have a ‘spell check’ function Stan (make sure it’s activated), so that any misspelt words should have a red squiggly line under them. If you right click the misspelt word you should have a dictionary function pop up that will give you the correct spelling or invite you to add the word to the browser’s dictionary. Let me know what browser software you use (Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome etc.) and I’ll give you specific instructions on how to activate the ‘spell checker’ function. It’ll save your eyes from having to repeatedly proof read the things you write!

        Click HERE for more info.

        •  

          Absolutely brilliant service, thank you, Big Gee.

          Let me know what browser software you use

          . It’s Firefox I use. I’ve been wondering for ages how people are highlighting their comments etc
          I hope I’m not the only one this has assisted.

          •  

            Reminds my of EasyJet. Looks like the IT department all went on break at the same time.

            •  

              Ha ha! The difference between our IT department and Ryan Air’s cock-up is a question of numbers daffy – our IT department has a staff number of ONE!

          •  

            You’re VERY welcome Stan. I can see you’ve got the hang of it by your answer!

            To switch ‘Spell Checker’ on in your Firefox browser do the following:

            1. Select the Menu Button ( https://www.technipages.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Menu-Button.png ) located at the upper-right hand corner of the screen, then choose “Options“. If you have the Menu Bar enabled, select “Tools” > “Options“.

            2. Click the “Advanced” option on the left pane, then select “Check my spelling as I type” under the “General” area if you want to turn spell checker on. Take the ‘tick’ out of the box – it if you wish to disable it.

  15.  

    Just seen this elsewhere with a comment about it.

    O/T Of interest to you Jac being a Swansea man. Same kind of thing happening in many Uni towns.

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/plans-transform-historic-swansea-pub-13845043

    Comment:

    “Pub made famous by Sir G Sobers being converted into a 46 bed HMO. There is a lot of local opposition to the plan but the council seems inclined to approve it at the meeting next week. Could prove to be yet another nail in the coffin of the local community. TBH, it is a vicious cycle whereby swelling student numbers are displacing local residents leading to further business closures-IMO Brynmill and Uplands have gone into irrevocable decline as residential areas with St Thomas and Port Tenant following suit since the opening of the Bay Campus “

    •  

      Forty-five flats but no parking places. So planners say it will be a ‘car-free’ zone. Yes, we can all see that working.

      Lovely old pub. I know I say this about lots of pubs, but I had many a good time in there. Particularly remember dreamy afternoon sessions with Phil Henry. We were often joined by a guy named Graham Evans, a lecturer in the Uni, originally from Coedpoeth.

      •  

        45 bed HMO will be single-bed ‘flatlets’ of the smallest size legally possible. No car parking spaces needed cos the people that will be living in them will be highly unlikely to even own a car.

        •  

          Students need to live somewhere and these bedsits will be ideal. The old boozer clientele are long gone. As for the car parking…how many students have or want a car?

  16.  

    I see Mr Scarrott has been just been fined for paying his employees less than the minimum wage. So there you have it, the Welsh Government future for Wales is poverty wages. Strange that a Plaid Cymru AM and presiding officer of the Senedd is so pleased to sponsor slavery. Vale Holiday Parks Ltd, Ceredigion, for failing to pay £213.38 to two workers.
    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business/business-news/welsh-firms-named-shamed-not-14010486

Ok, you’ve read what I think, now what do you have to say?