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.

*

‘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.

*

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!

*

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.

*

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.

 *

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.

  33 Responses to “The Impoverishment of Wales”

  1.  

    I was about to share this, but felt this was uncessary and devalued your point. “And it’s strange how many of these charlatans are women”.

  2.  

    don’t think the gender is relevant is it , if a shaister is a shaister

    •  

      Actually, in my old-fashioned way, I suppose was being gentlemanly. But seeing as it is of no great importance to the thrust of that section, or the wider post, I shall remove it. But don’t let anybody else get ideas. If I think something is important, relevant, and needs to be said, then it stays in.

  3.  

    I live in the city and it really does look to be on the boulevard to nowhere. Housing , pay and display car parks , extra bus lanes and more housing seem to dominate.This is the case in the city centre and the marina/SA1 area.The city centre needs a massive boost. And any plans to bring it into 21st century look in the ‘long grass’.

    Leadership looks self interested and never far from controversy. The regeneration ‘experts’ within the council should
    also be accountable. The same regeneration executives have worked throughout various political umbrellas.

    Hopefully a leader can be appointed who has a genuine concern and passion for the city. Most importantly that person needs to stress the economic urgency of the situation . A 21st century rSwansea regeneration needs to start
    and the Senydd , the local authority and private sector need to be on the same page and committed to this regeneration .

    •  

      What brought home to me the ineptitude of this council was when they announced, a couple of years ago, that the SA1 development was not to be a marina, which everyone had believed was the case. So that every company that had located there, everyone who had bought a flat there, was expected to look out over an old dock and an expanse of dirty water!

      •  

        Most of the land around the dock was intended to be used for private commercial/residential development. However our “Welsh Assembly Government” (aka Edwina Hart in these parts) have now offloaded most of it to Trinity St David’s for a campus and Coastal Housing for more social housing. How any private sector investment funder will ever be able to trust these people is beyond me. I know that people who have bought houses there already are spitting tacks. I wonder how many Swansea people will benefit from these developments ? I am reliably informed that the first that the council officers knew about the Trinity St David’s move was when they read it in the Evening Post.

  4.  

    I think the ineptitude of the council and it’s regeneration office has been there in abundance for over 20 years.

    On the wider picture – no strategy to develop the airport,ferry,roads.

    But if the lack of regeneration of city centre and SA1 are scrutinised there are many cases of zero regeneration .
    There’s been lots of rhetoric and talk around ambitious plans:-
    1. City centre retail led regeneration St Davids centre & Oldway House

    2. Car park site opposite Grand Theatre should have been a commerciall/cafe quarter branded Picton Lanes

    3. High Street ( the creative hub has yet to be built ) – affordable housing has not brought about an economic improvement

    4. Sailbridge & Dylan Thomas centre – significant parcel of land prime site for mixed use regeneration eg concert venue/bars

    5. SA1 itself – pockets of economic recovery but businesses must find it tough when promised regeneration guidelines have not been followed. Housing,housing and car parks will not instigate an economic improvement.

    So shortsighted.
    A huge expanse of land is now boat storage. This is designated ‘leisure’ in the government land use master-plan. An indoor ice rink would be a huge success here. Think of the footfall it would encourage.More variety and ambition needed to embrace private sector. It’s a pleasant waterfront area on the doorstep of Mumbles & Gower.

    Why the city can’t tap into this tourism staycation potential is very frustrating….no it’s staggering and reflects poorly on many in the corridors of power

    A lot of these plans have been in place for 20 years. Yet nothing. AM’s should also be asking questions on this lack of regeneration.

    Swansea deserves better.

    Hopefully a clear,ambitious and committed case can now be made for more jobs,investment and better connectivity.

  5.  

    That is a misuse of the word ‘Rodomontade’. Properly applied, it describes the boast, not the boaster.

  6.  

    Here is an RDP video of it’s funding in Llandovery area….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSRLRAO5wLs

    It features …

    (a) a man from Warwickshire who’s dropped in to spread his skills
    otherwise without his input “Carmarthenshire would be on it’s knees”,

    (b) two ladies from Tunbridge Wells who got cash for a hotel and bistro operation
    with grant funds to undercut the pre-existing businesses in the town, and

    (c) your very own Ms Tatman creating space which wouldn’t otherwise exist,
    helped by a man from Warrington.

    Hope I’ve got the accents right.
    How does this ‘help local farmers to diversify’?

    •  

      These shysters are being funded to do things that don’t need doing. It is fucking amazing.

      •  

        No, Jac. You’re wrong. It’s not stuff that just doesn’t need doing, it’s blatant state funded colonialism.

        Dispossessing the heritage and culture of the native population. As you know, while government ministers in Cardiff debate funding of decent broadband for villages such as Rhandirmwyn, they are dishing out grants in the guise of rural development to English people parachuting in and evicting those who are now involved in Cymeithas Hanes Llanymddyfi from the towns Heritage Centre. The funds were used to deck it out a broadband hub meeting space, so farmers from up the valley have to rent bandwidth in order to go online to check stock and feed prices.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbQ04oIi7Bo

        Notice owner (and grant funded zero hour contract puppet?) admitting this in the video at 2:53. The way in which these shysters are colonising Wales is modelled on Cromwell’s plantation schemes in Ireland in the 19th Century. It’s state funded dispossession of assets from a native population. The Welsh Government handing over cash, delivered from abroad, to evict the local population in the name of ‘rural development’.

        •  

          You’re right. Take a look at where the money was spent in other parts of the county. Some of the recipients are just laughable. http://www.wwec.org.uk/english/rdp/casestudies/pages/home.aspx

          In some respects this reminds me of the old Development Board for Rural Wales, which had as its remit stemming depopulation in Mid Wales (i.e. Powys, Ceredigion and Meirionnnydd). This was to be done by attracting employers to the region, who brought their workforces with them, for everyone – tea-lady and office boy – qualified as a ‘key worker’ whose skills could not be found within the local population. With the result that locals saw very few of the new jobs. Houses were built for these incoming workers, houses for which locals were never considered, because they didn’t qualify. It soon became clear that the DBRW was a blatant colonisation strategy. Over the years I’ve tried to track down the DBRW’s records, but no one seems to know anything, it’s as if the DBRW never existed.

          Clearly, what’s happening in Carmarthenshire, and elsewhere, is that EU and other funding is being used to a) facilitate English colonisation and b) give English colonists the economic upper hand. It’s being done without the brutality and expulsions of Cromwell’s terror in Ireland, but the comparison is valid because the objective is the same – to destroy the identity of a neighbouring country and make that country English through colonisation. (Though I should point out that Cromwell was active in the 17th century, not the 19th.)

    •  

      The projects development officer for Llandovery YMCA is Lee Mattocks who arrived in the town in 2011 from the north of England after being discharged from the British Army. Mattocks is now responsible for the large part of the spend at the Market Square premises, having taken over the ‘job club’ from David Saywell.

      Here’s the video…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo0cOQFAfLU

      You may notice in the video that they boast a key success of a couple on job seekers allowance who moved up from London and I quote ‘to escape from the rat race’. It is introduced by Glyn Jones, the Rural Community Inclusion Officer, employed by Carmarthenshire County Council.

      •  

        This is obviously funded colonisation. And the council knows it, that’s why Saywell and Jones figure so prominently, speaking Welsh. A case of the Welsh language being used to disguise that which will destroy it. And there’s something very odd about the couple from London. Why move to a small Welsh town you can’t even pronounce the name of if you don’t have a job to go to? And Mattocks looks very uncomfortable. What would a behaviourist make of his body language and facial expressions?

  7.  

    In a massive geographical expansion, Carmarthenshire Heritage Regeneration Trust has recently purchased the title freehold to the empty YMCA building in Pontmorlais, in the county of Merthyr Tydfil. They have also secured £12.8million from cash strapped Merthyr Council and a chunk of £58m from the EU sourced Vibrant and Viable Places regeneration programme. Merthyr is of course the constituency of Huw Lewis AM, who was at the time the deal got signed off, the then regeneration minister for the Welsh Government. I was wondering what interest a Carmarthenshire Heritage charity has in Merthyr Tydfil? The currently empty building is tipped for use as the “Universities Heads of the Valleys Institute”. No surprise then that Huw Lewis AM is now the minister for Education and Skills.

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/merthyr-tydfil-set-128m-funding-7284306

    This coincided with the announcement that the Pontypridd YMCA, a fully solvent and popular community facility which owns it’s own substantial premises in Pontypridd town centre, is to get a similar cash injection to deck it out with internal kit for services previously provided by the council This decision coincided with the closure of RCT council owned ‘Municipal Hall’ situated just round the corner from the Pontypridd YMCA. This was due to cutbacks from RCT council. As it happens, a trustee and treasurer of YMCA Wales, Mr Skinner, also happens to be a trustee and treasurer of YMCA Pontypridd. The CEO of the Pontypridd operation is Cllr Steve Carter, a Labour member of RCT council, who supported the closure of the council run ‘Muni’ in Pontypridd, in the face of stiff local opposition.

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/pontypridd-town-centre-set-6m-7283189

    Whatever financial gymnastics went down in Llandovery, it’s peanuts compared the sums of public money the YMCA is to be showered with in the central valleys. Maybe the departure of Mo Sykes from YMCA Wales was just the result of a financial probity exercise uncovering something naughty by a Cardiff civil servant. The Welsh Government have a clear policy of displacement of council services in Wales as public services are being hived off to the YMCA under the guise of ‘community regeneration’. I ask again, what interest has a Carmarthenshire Heritage charity have in imposing Victorian halls in Merthyr Tydfil, and what pre-determination did Labour Minister have to close/supplant the main council owned community facility in RCT with a massive expansion in the public funds handed over to the YMCA in Pontypridd?

    •  

      It just gets worse. I’m going to have to give this whole issue a bit more thought.

    •  

      I’ve done a bit more checking on Carmarthenshire Heritage Regeneration Trust.

      The Trustees and Directors seem to be made up mainly of the great and the good, and almost all of them Welsh apart, perhaps, from a ‘Heritage Professional’ and a ‘Management Consultant’. However, the one who runs the show, the CEO, is Claire Deacon, and she is of course English, for we are talking here of the ‘Welsh’ Third Sector. Haven’t yet found details of other employees.

      On its Charity Commission entry the CHRT clearly states that it operates “Throughout Wales”. In fact, I’m sure I picked up on this some time ago, when I was looking into Llanelly House or some other project. It is also a company limited by guarantee, and Ms Deacon is the Company Secretary.

      I went to the Annual Accounts (March 31, 2013) on the Charity Commission website, which threw up a few puzzlers. According to the accounts, CHRT receives nothing from the ‘Welsh’ Government but over £2m from the “UK Government”. So why is the UK Gov’t funding a Welsh charity? Among “Principal Funders” we find “Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council”, and these accounts, remember are up to March 31, 2013. The Trust has 6 outstanding mortgages.

      Ms Deacon also works on her own account as a “Historic Building Consultant”, and during the period covered by the accounts CHRT paid Ms Deacon £59,159 for her services. In addition to her CEO salary? The accounts also mention a “sister company” CHRT Ventures, which owes CHRT money from a £20,000 loan plus “services provided”. CHRT Ventures, of which Ms Deacon is again Company Secretary has liabilities in excess of assets to the tune of some £24,000.

      It all looks very incestuous. If Deacon is being paid a salary by CHRT why did she also need to be paid as a ‘consultant’? And when was the Merthyr connection established?

  8.  

    In fairness Jac, the DBRW did bring some manufacturing jobs to our tref, and built a load of houses which have passed to Cyngor Powys. Amazingly some of those houses are still in public ownership. The jobs have largely gone though, and this is the main problem in many small towns. I say:

    1. Revive small scale manufacturing eg clothing (apparently the cost of moving it from say Vietnam or Jordan is becoming so much that there is an opportunity to start our ‘trouser factories’ again. The skills are still here – just.
    2.Use lottery/EU funds to buy back council houses. This would be socially just as most of the lottery tickets are purchased by the poor.
    3. Build loads of council houses and abolish the RTB. (in fairness the Welsh discount is so small, it has virtually stopped it)
    4.I would say stop spending on vague infrastructural projects but I would make an exception – tourism – see examples of Ludlow (food/culture) and Kington (walking), both have done well from investment and imagination. Barmouth the next Aldeburgh?

    While I disagree with you on many points, one of your core arguments (no strategy for the really important things like jobs and houses) is right.

    PS The small builders round here and in y Fro would starve to death without the cash rich English.

    •  

      Far too many of the jobs brought in to Wales by the DBRW went to ‘key workers’ moving with the re-locating businesses (i.e, just about anybody who wanted to move). Which then meant that far too much of the DBRW budget was spent on housing. And the residue of this DBRW housing stock is now owned by Mid Wales Housing.

      I agree that small scale industries employing local people are the way forward. I say that for a number of reasons.

      First, it has to be accepted that rural Wales has been losing many of its more ‘adventurous’ and talented young people for generations. With the result that the vast majority of Welsh people need jobs provided for them, and this is what’s being lost, as I argue in my post.

      Second, because our people are unlikely to apply for grants to start up businesses it means that in many spheres grants are nothing more than engines of colonisation, enabling outsiders to start up businesses, often in competition with existing local businesses. Funding a restaurant to put a nearby restaurant out of business is absurd, and a waste of money. The grants system needs to be overhauled and re-focused.

      On housing, I would say let social housing providers be able to buy existing properties (as they once could), they would then be able to buy back the council houses, which English buyers tend to avoid. And don’t knock RTB; it’s how I came to own my home, and the same applies to lots of other Welsh people. Rather than building lots of new social housing reduce the pressure by insisting on a five-year residency qualification before anyone can apply for social housing.

      I am aware that many small builders rely to a great extent on cash-rich English home owners. Rebalance the economy, re-focus the funding regimes, improve infrastructure and public works and Welsh builders wouldn’t have to rely on English customers so much. What you are describing is a symptom of the problem – look beyond that symptom to how that situations comes about. With a Wales that was run in the interests of those who belong here there’d be fewer English customers.

  9.  

    Jac, It’s great to see investigative journalism still alive locally. I gave up on the printed Carmarthenshire rags years ago. You will still be read when they are well and truly dead, relegated to free council mouthpiece chip wrapper. Unfortunately now you’ve fingered the YMCA, you won’t be going to heaven, but what the heck, the food parcels there probably aren’t that good anyway…

    •  

      The thing is, like most people, I had a sneaking regard for ‘the YM’, even though I never used their facilities; and it’s this acceptance that the YMCA is ‘good’ that made it a perfect target for these shysters and enabled them to expoit the YMCA’s good name for their own selfish purposes.

      •  

        Councils certainly seem to have a soft spot for various flavours of Christianity when it comes to giving away our money. I suppose it harks back to when the Doctor, the Teacher and the Preacher were paragons of community virtue. Many Welsh communities still cling on to that quaint idea, and as the average age of councillors puts the childhood of most of them mid 1900’s, they are probably easy targets for anything of a religious bent. Ah, religious and bent, two words which seem to be made for each other…

        I wonder if someone wanted to start “Humanist Food Parcels” whether they would get a look in…..

  10.  

    Keep up the good work, you’re shaming the ‘local media’

    Off topic here’s a video you and your readers will appreciate, it’s from a Yes for Scotland meeting in which former UK Ambassador Craig Murray talks incredibly frankly and honestly about Westminster’s true motives, Wales should take note https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIQ8VVn8AJA&feature=share

  11.  

    David Phillips has resigned as leader of Swansea Council. You can break open that bottle of vintage Tizer, Jac.

    •  

      I have already updated ny latest post. The Tizer will have to wait, got to be up in the morning; but tomorrow night it will be my favourite Argentine ‘Tizer’.

  12.  

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-28996082 – £2m to help homeless and injured veterans in north Wales. The BBC Radio Wales report yesterday talked about veterans settling “into” Ceredigion, but the preposition has been lost on the interweb.

    A week’s TA camp gets you a house in Ceredigion folks! From 1st Choice HA’s own site: “A veteran is defined as anyone who has served in the armed forces and has received seven days’ pay . This service can be the Regular Armed Forces or the Reserve.” (http://www.fcha.org.uk/VeteransPage.html)

    •  

      This was posted yesterday to, ‘Housing Associations: More From the Dark Side’.

      “Back in July of this year, David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister announced that over £6million was to be allocated to a ‘Pathway’ project for veterans discharged from the British Armed Forces.

      In the bidding process, £4million was awarded to Haig Housing, based around the garrison town of Colchester in Essex and Riverside Housing based around the two garrison towns of Catterick (sic) and Aldershot. However, both these ‘pathways’ to housing were deficient in their ability to provide housing and support for veterans with “disability and additional complex needs”.

      This requirement was awarded to First Choice Housing Association based in Penarth, South Wales. They will get over £2million from the UK government. First Choice currently provides 158 homes for over 480 tenants across Wales and Shropshire, and will provide support to former soldiers who are sick, injured or homeless to adjust to civilian life and get jobs. A total of £2.2m will be allocated to special needs housing schemes, specifically in Wrexham, Flintshire and Ceredigion through First Choice.

      Stoll will run the housing referral scheme out of their West London headquarters, who will validate service record and housing needs to obtain access to the housing pathway projects,and provide benefit advice and assistance with administration, form-filling etc.

      Is this a case of keeping the fit skilled de-mobs in England and dumping the injured ones in Wales? Will the MoD be handing over the ‘funding follows the patient’ to NHS Wales? Why is it ‘easier’ to find a job in Wrexham and Cerdigion rather than Essex or Hampshire if you are disabled or injured? Just asking.”

      •  

        Thanks, Jac.

        •  

          There is something altogether odd about this. Why move disabled English ex-servicemen to rural west Wales where facilities and services for them will be limited? It doesn’t make sense. Though I can imagine any future criticism of colonisation being met with, ‘Bastard! . . . disabled heroes . . . ‘.

          Then, there’s the issue of cost. It wasn’t Ceredigion council or the Welsh NHS that sent these men to war, so let us hope that the UK government meets all of the inevitable costs, over and beyond housing.

  13.  

    Some may remember the ‘celebrities’ roped in during the failed attempt to stop Burberry upping sticks from Treorchy and moving their factory to China. Little known. is the fact that a secret deal was struck between Chris Bryant, the local MP, and the top executives in Burberry for the payment of £150,000 a year for ten years to be paid into a trust fund run by Bryant and four other of his Labour Party mates after the factory was to be closed. The Rhondda Trust doesn’t have a bank account, the cash is paid annually to RCT council, then distributed to ‘educational’ needs in the area. Every year Chris Bryant arrives in his second home in the constituency dishing out grants from the Burberry bursary to worthy causes, mainly to Christian sporting and adult education schemes saying “here’s some money, I’m so caring, vote for me”.

    http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends89%5C0001124289_AC_20130331_E_C.pdf

    The Rhondda Trust has five trustees, Chris Bryant MP himself, an MP parachuted in from High Wycombe, a churchy chaplain who’s also chairman of the Army cadets, two former GMB shop stewards from the closed factory, and Leighton Andrews AM. The Welsh government meanwhile, sends trade delegations off to China to encourage trade as it stimulates the British economy which, it is claimed may have ‘spin offs’ for those thrown on the scrapheap begging a few quid for the local basket ball team to make the poverty bearable. This is how the Labour Party enrich the natives.

  14.  

    […] sector corruption. In June this year I had 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 […]

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