Voting Brexit Party for Welsh independence

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

In June 2016 I explained why I was voting for Brexit in a post on this blog entitled, ‘EU Referendum: Why I Want OUT!‘ I followed it up after the referendum with ‘Brexit, Wexit: Things Can Only Get Better!’

I’m telling you this in the hope of proving that what follows is both intellectually and on all other levels consistent with what I wrote three years ago. Consistency being in short supply in Welsh politics at the moment.

AS I WAS SAYING . . .

I explained in June 2016, with the six points reproduced below, why I believed Brexit could result in Welsh independence.

  • We shall lose the EU hand-outs and these will not be replaced by Westminster.
  • Leaving the EU will result in economic meltdown.
  • The City of London will be replaced as Europe’s No 1 financial centre.
  • Brexit is fundamentally English nationalism.
  • Post Brexit the UK will experience the most repressive and anglocentric government ever known.
  • Scotland will probably become independent.

Since writing that I have also come to believe that the Brexit shambles, and the possibility of a hard border in Ireland, could well result in a reunified Ireland.

I concluded my pre-referendum piece in June 2016 with, ‘If you care about Wales, and if you want to see Wales survive and prosper as a nation in her own right, then you must vote to leave the European Union as the precondition for leaving the United Kingdom’.

I wrote that because I hoped for the debacle we see now, the confusion of political parties imploding and new ones appearing out of nowhere, with the emergence of an intolerant English nationalism that tries to shout everybody else down. I also wanted economic collapse. Does that make me irresponsible? Maybe, but only in the short term.

After the referendum Plaid Cymru’s leadership should have sat down, held hands, and engaged in an honest discussion in the hope of figuring out why so many Welsh people had gone against its recommendation and voted to leave the EU.

Had they done so they might have realised that many Welsh voters were pissed off with falling standards in health, education, housing and so many other fields; and they were relatively poorer than they’d been ten or twenty years earlier, with their concerns ignored by politicians they felt to be ‘distant’ and out of touch.

So they allowed themselves to be seduced and they took their frustrations out on the EU by voting for Brexit.

An honest inquiry like that should have made Plaid Cymru realise that many Welsh people were pissed off enough to vote for Brexit because devolution had failed them due to the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party being less than useless.

But when presented with the ever-open goal of England’s management team in Cardiff Bay Plaid Cymru always prefers to put the ball over the bar.

Wales voting for Brexit was as much due to Labour’s and Plaid Cymru’s inadequacies as it was to London’s neglect, proven by the situation in Scotland. There the SNP took Labour on in a no-holds-barred struggle – and won. With the result that since the SNP took control in 2007 things have visibly improved across the board for most Scots, and this influenced their vote in the EU referendum.

For by 2016 not only was Scotland doing much better than Wales by every measurable criterion, but the SNP had successfully convinced a majority of Scots that any problems affecting them could be attributed to London, not Brussels.

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Plaid Cymru’s failure to emulate the SNP’s success was due to the party spending almost two decades doing no more than a little light sparring with Labour prior to elections. The enemy was always ‘them wicked Tories, innit’, even when the Conservative Party was in opposition in Westminster!

A major reason Wales voted for Brexit in 2016 was Plaid Cymru’s failure to emulate the SNP. Worse, when not cwtching up to Labour the party was pushing a discredited ideology and obsessing over ‘niche issues’ rather than the everyday concerns of real Welsh people.

Plaid Cymru is now repeating past mistakes by linking up with groups like the Green Party that view Brexit, and Wales, through an Englandandwales prism. But it has no alternative because it failed to create a Welsh dimension for Brexit.

RED QUEEN TOPPLED, PAWNS FIGHT ON!

Since the overthrow of the Red Queen it appears that Plaid Cymru has, confusingly, moved further to the left! Not only that, but the party has reneged on its 2017 election promise to secure the best Brexit deal for Wales by recently coming out as a hard-line Remain party.

Both these trends were in evidence a week last Saturday at the All Under One Banner Cymru march in Cardiff. Not only was the event restricted to Plaid Cymru and its offshoots but there was as much if not more talk of socialism and EU membership than of Welsh independence.

One speaker, Sandra Clubb, of Undod – Plaid’s ‘independence-but-only-if-it-means-a-socialist-dystopia’ group – even called for a socialist feminist republic. I bet that would be jolly!

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Sandra Clubb is the wife of Gareth Clubb, Plaid Cymru’s CEO.

Consider this: Plaid Cymru was never able to shake off the perception that it’s a party for Welsh speakers. This belief limited the party’s appeal and cost it the votes of otherwise well-disposed, Welsh-identifying anglophones.

Rather than learning from this difficulty Plaid Cymru is now further limiting its appeal by saying, ‘We are the party of independence – but also a socialist party wanting EU membership’. Thereby alienating non-socialists and those none too keen on the EU . . . in a country where the majority voted for Brexit!

This self-destructive positioning can only happen when there is a monumental misjudgement of the public mood brought about by echo-chamber ‘debates’. Social media does indeed have a lot to answer for.

As for the undoubted increase in support for independence, this is due to the same anger as influenced the Brexit vote – but with three more years of it! And there are more who feel this way.

With growing numbers of people increasingly pissed off it’s inevitable that some will look with fresh eyes at Welsh independence. But this has little or nothing to do with anything Plaid Cymru has done.

Yet we see Plaid Cymru trying to ride this wave, and even control it, by presenting itself as the only party offering independence. Which explains why Ein Gwlad was not even informed of the Cardiff march, let alone invited to participate.

One obvious manifestation of this mood has been YesCymru.

A GOOD IDEA BEING SUBVERTED?

I was so glad to see the emergence and growth of this new movement, bringing many new faces into the independence tent by avoiding ideologies and having no links with any political party – as is the case with All Under One Banner in Scotland. But it couldn’t last.

That’s because despite having made little or no contribution Plaid Cymru still wants to both capitalise on and control the growing mood for radical political change within Wales. While also being the local franchise for a UK-wide anti-Brexit movement of the woke and the ‘progressive’.

My understanding of YesCymru is that it’s a loose collective of independent local groups. But to counter centrifugal tendencies it has a Central Committee, and a Constitution. Towards the end of last year, first at an Annual General Meeting, and then at an Emergency General Meeting, both were changed to personnel and rules more attuned to the thinking of Plaid Cymru’s leadership.

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To cover all the bases, in January, Plaid Cymru launched Undod, an outright socialist group, which as we’ve seen, is calling for a socialist feminist republic. Now some tell me I’m out of touch, so maybe there are tens of thousands marching for this feminist republic. If so, they have not marched past Château Jacques.

And although YesCymru maintains the pretence of being ‘a non-party political grassroots organisation’, this pretence is wearing a little thin. A couple of recent incidents will explain what I mean, in relation to both the EU and Plaid Cymru.

Last Wednesday, Nigel Farage visited Merthyr, and the local branch of YesCymru was out protesting. More than that, they blocked a road to stop people from attending the Brexit Party rally.

Then on Saturday, when Plaid Cymru was out leafleting in Chepstow, the local YesCymru crew turned up in support.

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We’ve seen (in the passage of the Constitution I linked to above) that YesCymru claims to be ‘non-party political’, but what does the Constitution say about the EU?

What it says is (my highlighting):

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That reference to ‘the wider European family’ could mean cousin Helmut in Düsseldorf, but I suspect it hints at something else.

If you’re going to write something as soppy and vacuous as what we see in the panel above then why not start with something along the lines of, ‘A new relationship based on mutual respect between the nations of these islands’ before moving on to Europe and the wider world?

Though in fairness, I must say that many YesCymru branches do remain ‘non-party political’, and also avoid the Brexit debate. Using a rule of thumb, the further a YesCymru branch is from the poisonous influences of Cardiff Bay the more likely it is to be true to YesCymru’s espoused principles of neutrality and focus on independence.

WAITING IN THE WINGS

As a student of history, I know that Welsh independence is more likely to emerge from political chaos and economic disaster than from the Tory party anchoring itself on the centre right, Farage’s new party imploding, ‘Welsh’ Labour and its third sector continuing to run Wales (down), the UK remaining in the EU, and Plaid Cymru . . . well, just being Plaid Cymru.

For these, or any combination of them, will keep Wales in the UK.

Which is why I have always believed that leaving the EU acrimoniously and using the resultant shitstorm to our advantage will be the best outcome for Wales in the long run. I say that because this election on Thursday isn’t really about the EU, or Brexit; it’s a preliminary skirmish for an impending conflict to determine who controls the UK.

In Scotland, the SNP is using the 2016 Remain vote to push for a second independence referendum that it might well win. Across the water, la revanche du berceau continues to undermine Unionist supremacy, with the possibility of more moderate non-Catholics preferring unification with a now secular and prosperous South to remaining in a poor, bigot-heavy statelet.

Quite possibly the Brexit Party will cobble together a manifesto and stand in the next general election – which might be called before the year is out – which means we might end up with a coalition of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage.

Of course, such a troika will need to reach out beyond England, but it already has allies north of the border and in the Six Counties in the form of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the DUP, Orange Lodges, Glasgow Rangers fans and assorted Loyalist gangs.

And they’re already on the streets. Saturday saw a little sabre-rattling in Glasgow.

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There are dark forces waiting in the wings, using organisations and groups like those in the panel above. These shadowy elements are determined to gain power by one route or another. (And I’m not the only one who sees this.) Which is why nothing must distract us from the bigger picture and the best interests of our people.

Voting for the Brexit Party and encouraging their shadowy friends to show their hand is more likely to draw a response that results in Welsh independence than voting for Plaid Cymru in a meaningless election when the party’s long-term objective seems to be – wait for it! – a return to the status quo ante referendum!

Do you recall those halcyon days, boys and girls? When Wales was a land of milk and honey (or beer if you preferred); those talented and imaginative politicians in Cardiff Bay ruled wisely, making all corners of our land prosperous, and we all danced in the streets shouting, ‘Good old Carwyn, may he reign forever!’

Cos I must have missed it.

♦ end ♦

CLARIFICATION: From the many comments received to my Facebook page it seems that some people think I actually support the Brexit Party. Let me explain . . .

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The Brexit Party and their shadowy friends are the means to an end. Socialists will understand this as ‘raising the revolutionary consciousness’ of the masses. Putting it bluntly, Dai Public is more likely to want independence after a kick in the nuts than yet another patronising pat on the head.

Call me cynical, call me an absolute bastard, but I’m a realist, and I know that just drifting along as we have done for 20 years – which is what Plaid Cymru wants – will get us nowhere.

It was neatly summed up in a letter in today’s Western Mail where someone concluded by saying that Brexit would result in “economic collapse and the breakup of the UK”.

Which is exactly what I’m saying. Short-term pain for long-term gain.

How ‘Welsh’ Labour and its third sector keep Wales poor

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

HOUSE OF THE RISING SON

In an earlier post of assorted items one dealt with the Labour Party in Cydweli. We looked at the party’s safe house in Llys Gwenllian, the abode of the current mayor, Phil Thompson, and – apparently – a number of others who’ve stood for the party in recent elections.

I asked if this was a house of multiple occupation seeing as it has also been given as his address by Arwyn Rhys Williams, a candidate in a recent town council by-election. Though now I learn that young Arwyn is the fruit of Thompson’s loins, but uses his mother’s name.

Despite the claimed address in Cydweli Arwyn’s Facebook page seems to locate him either in Swansea or Tenby. Maybe he should update it.

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Anyway, Arwyn lost the by-election, getting just 90 votes while his Independent opponent got 369.

Something of which I wasn’t aware when I wrote my earlier piece was that when Arwyn’s dad stood for the county council in 2017 his proposer was a Lois Poynting. Who is, as we learn from her Linkedin profile (here in pdf format), one of those ‘butterflies’ that have blown into Wales to flit between the public and third sectors.

Lois probably arrived in Wales when her husband took up employment with Calsonic in Llanelli and seems to be based in Cydweli. (Ignore ‘Swansea’ on the Linkedin profile as Linkedin seems to locate everyone to the nearest city.)

That Linkedin profile also tells us that up to November 2017 Lois worked for Shared Lives Plus, an Englandandwales organisation with its headquarters in Liverpool.

Shared Lives Plus brings people with ‘difficulties’ – and this includes youngsters leaving care – into Wales to live with ‘carers’ who may also have moved from England. These new ‘families’ often live in housing association properties.

This is what Labour candidate Beryl-Ann Williams was alluding to in her election material when she talked of turning Cydweli into “an autism and dementia friendly town”. (But of course it goes beyond autism and dementia.)

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This clear reference to the work of Lois Poynting and Shared Lives Plus also highlights again the strong and mutually-beneficial relationship between the Labour Party and the third sector.

A relationship that, on the personal level, has many times become sexual.

Though what I find odd about this Shared Lives Plus project across southern Wales (which then follows the M4 to the source of many of its clients) is the low key approach. I put that down to two things: one, a certain reluctance to inform the public; two, the project has all the money it needs.

Because in different circumstances the third sector is adept at using the media to publicise various causes and then exploiting that publicity to screw money out of the ‘Welsh Government’.

Here are a couple of examples.

VISIBILITY IS EVERYTHING

A few weeks ago Swansea Women’s Aid criticised a police crackdown on prostitution in the city. In fairness, Plod wasn’t dragging the girls off to the cells but offering support, a way out.

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Yet it appeared from the criticism of the police action that Women’s Aid wanted the prostitutes out on the streets, in full public view.

And this is certainly the case with the homeless, who are blessed with dozens of organisations to exploit help them, using a fraction of the hundreds of millions of pounds these organisations receive from the ‘Welsh Government’.

In Cardiff, the city council has been trying to assuage public anger over the centre of the city having so many homeless people and beggars. These don’t just sit in doorways but live in tents they’ve been given by well-meaning but misguided charities and other groups.

A few weeks back the article below appeared in Llais y Sais. It tells that in the past three years 144 people have been given one-way tickets home from Cardiff. Some to eastern Europe, one to Bermuda. (Someone left Bermuda to live on the streets of Cardiff!)

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This policy – entirely voluntary – clearly angered Shelter Cymru, one of the major players in the homeless racket. The extract below is a statement by Shelter Cymru taken from the article above.

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Let me translate: ‘The pressure we in the homeless sector have brought to bear on the ‘Welsh Government’ has resulted in legislation ensuring that all those we can attract to Wales must be looked after. This system also results in us receiving tens of millions of pounds every year, at least 80% of which goes on salaries, pensions, new cars and jollies to conferences and the like’.

The homelessness debate has raged on. Just last week, former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood was persuaded by her friends at the Wallich – another major player in the homeless racket – to speak in the Assembly.

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Is this venerable legislation really being enforced by our constabularies (perhaps with mutton-chop side-whiskers complementing stovepipe hats?). Well, actually, no. It looks as if the saintly Leanne was misinformed by the sisters-in-greed at the Wallich.

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Proven by the information (above) received by a source in response to Freedom of Information requests to our four police forces. Of course, it could be that our police have developed a sudden fondness for this antediluvian legislation in the past few months, with this not being shown in the FoI responses, but I doubt it.

It’s just the third sector doing what it does best – exaggerating a problem, or importing it, or telling lies to keep the moolah flowing.

Homelessness made the news again on Monday when the BBC reported on a scheme from Finland called Housing First that is being introduced by the ‘Welsh Government’.

An interesting read with – I am informed – a number of important omissions.

One being that Derek ‘Del’ Clarke, quoted and pictured in the story, is a native of Dublin, in Ireland. He was offered a ticket home and a flat was guaranteed by Dublin City Council. He chose to stay on the streets of Cardiff. (One-way tickets is also how the Housing First scheme operates in Finland.)

Homelessness is an undoubted problem, an indictment of any society, but no one should be allowed to make an industry out of it, with hundreds of careers sustained by the public purse.

Yet that is exactly what has happened in Wales.

LOIS GOES WEST

We left Lois Poynting in Cydweli, arranging transfers of people with ‘issues’ into Wales, thereby increasing the burden on our NHS and other services. Now she’s working in Pembrokeshire, and doing very similar work.

If we turn again to her Linkedin profile we read . . .

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You’ll see that I’ve highlighted two programmes. I couldn’t find anything specific to ‘Communities for Work and Communities for Work Plus’ because the Pembrokeshire County Council website tells us: Futureworks delivers the Work Programme in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion on behalf of Rehab Jobfit, one of two prime contractors for the programme in Wales’.

(Even though Futureworks gives addresses in Cardigan and Aberystwyth I can find no mention of it on the Ceredigion council website. Does Ceredigion council know?)

So what can we learn about Futureworks and Rehab JobFit? There is only a skeletal website for the second of them, perhaps because there is no Rehab JobFit company as such, just a Limited Liability Partnership, that most dubious and opaque of set-ups. Another possibility might be that bad publicity has forced it to either pull out or change its name.

The three partners in the LLP are Interserve Service Futures Ltd of Reading, TGB Learning Ltd of Birmingham, and The Rehab Group, of Dublin. All are interlinked and may be based in Dublin for tax purposes. Strange that this should be allowed by the UK Government for which Rehab JobFit has done so much work.

Let’s now return to the Pembrokeshire County Council website; you should start with ‘Apprenticeships and Training‘ and keep turning the pages. What we read there seems innocuous enough – training youngsters, giving them skills, etc.

If that’s all it is/was, why does it have to involve a company based in England, or Ireland, with ‘Rehab’ in its name, which of course is short for rehabilitation? The suggestion made to me is that young tearaways are brought into Pembrokeshire (and Ceredigion) for ‘rehabilitation’. (Often their families are similarly relocated.)

And this may be what’s explained under ‘Background‘ where we read: ‘Community Task Force on behalf of Groundwork UK – services for young people (18-24 years) who have been unemployed 9 months or longer.  Young people developed work related skills through community projects either in the third sector or in-house.’

So who are Groundwork UK, and how do they fit into the picture? And why is the Pembrokeshire council website referencing Groundwork UK when we have Groundwork Wales? In fact, we have a Groundwork Wales and a Groundwork North Wales!

The Charity Commission provides the information in the panel below. Note that Groundwork Wales operates ‘throughout Wales’, but Groundwork North Wales operates ‘throughout England and Wales’. How do we explain this?

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Is it the old story of northern Wales being treated as an extension of north west England? And might this cross-border activity explain what is clearly a reference to rehabilitation in the panel above where we read of people changing ‘their own lives for the better’.

This is a relationship that should have been brought to an end by devolution, but if anything, devolution has made it worse. Perhaps because we’ve had twenty years of a Labour government in Cardiff so desperate not to be perceived as ‘nationalist’ that it encourages England to walk all over us. And then dresses up this cowardice as Wales being ‘welcoming’.

Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe there’s some other explanation as to why Groundwork North Wales, covering just a third of the country, has much more money than Groundwork Wales. There may also be a simple explanation for why it operates ‘throughout England and Wales‘.

If so, I’d like to hear it.

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Lois Poynting worked for a number of years for Chwarae Teg. At Chwarae Teg now we find Gill Owens, an ‘Employer Partner’. Before that Gill was at Welsh Women’s Aid. And not long before that she was Service Development Manager at Rehab JobFit LLP. All set out here in her Linkedin profile. (Here in pdf format.)

Perhaps doubling up as ‘Supply Chain Manager – S Wales’.

Poynting and Owens seem to be ships that passed in the night.

With Rehab JobFit, Futureworks, Work Programme, Groundwork and the rest we are in the netherworld where UK Government programmes and private probation companies link with community work orders handed down by local courts to allow more serious offenders – from ‘away’ – to be slipped into the system.

Where the murk also helps obscure individuals moving between the public, the private, and the third sectors, but often doing very similar work. For example, before Lois Poynting was putting up the Welcome signs in Cydweli for Shared Lives Plus she worked for (takes deep breath) Mid and West Wales Health & Social Care Regional Collaborative (MWWHACRC).

This outfit has no online presence of its own, it just crops up in assorted references. Though I was directed to this document which has Lois Poynting signing, on behalf of MWWHACRC, a deal for services to be provided by Capita, one of the UK Government’s favourite ‘delivery agencies’.

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(Though Capita’s record is so abysmal that it appears regularly in Private Eye as ‘Crapita’.)

The document to which I’ve linked appears to show a Welsh health agency outsourcing to a private company. Is this the privatisation of Nye Bevan’s National Health Service so dreaded by the bruvvers? Do they even know?

But then, what exactly is the Mid and West Wales Health & Social Care Regional Collaborative? Is it third sector? Is it private sector? Is it part of the Wales NHS? To whom is it answerable?

Answers on the usual dog-eared postcard, please.

UPDATE 17.05.2019: If we look at Gill Owens’ Linkedin Profile we see that she gives her primary occupation as ‘Property Developer and investor at St Michaels Property Development & Investments Ltd’, of Ystrad Mynach.

Yet Companies House tells us that this company has not filed accounts since May 2018 (up to 31.08.2017) and they were for a dormant company with an address in Kent. From the same source we learn that three charges have been taken out in March 2018 and January 2019 for two properties in Leigh, near Wigan.

THE MONSTER IN OUR MIDST

I’ve studied the operations of the third sector for a number of years, and certain things have become clear.

A fundamental problem is that too many ‘Welsh’ third sector bodies do not limit themselves to Welsh needs or interests because by importing many of their clients they can expand their operation thereby boosting their funding and salaries.

This constant importation of clients both distorts the picture for Wales and also means that no problem is ever adequately dealt with because to do so would put many people out of a job.

Third sector operators get away with this deceit because they are shrewd and devious, able to run rings around our politicians at both Assembly and council level.

Third sector operators like to present themselves as principled and moral, but when push comes to shove, and if there’s money to be made, or personal advancement to be secured, they’ll sup with the devil.

All of which results in Wales being burdened with a monster that must be constantly fed in order to sustain thousands of unnecessary jobs sucking up an ever greater proportion of the Welsh public purse.

This monster dictates that the homeless and prostitutes must be left on the streets for all to see; with drug addicts and delinquents perceived as business assets.

The third sector’s most significant contribution to Wales is to make a poor country poorer. How much longer do we tolerate this exploitation?

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Ain’t no mountain high enough . . . to escape the ravages of saturation tourism

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

TURNING THE TAPS ON A BIT MORE

Wales has just experienced another Bank Holiday. Even so, I hadn’t intended writing anything relating to it until I read this piece on the BBC Wales website in which Elfyn Jones of the British Mountaineering Council argued for ‘investment’.

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According to Elfyn: “It’s great to see tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people enjoying the Welsh countryside – but how can we cope and deal with so many people? . . . Footpaths are being eroded, car parks are overflowing and we don’t have enough facilities for litter or toilets . . . “We need to invest in our infrastructure if we are to maintain this growth in people coming here . . . “It’s also absolute chaos for the locals trying to live amongst it.”

Elfyn sounds a bit confused. Is it really “great” to see hundreds of thousands of people swarming over the Welsh countryside, especially when so many are concentrated in certain locations?

Though in his favour, Elfyn Jones admits that footpaths are being eroded, that there are many other problems, yet rather than promote the obvious remedy – a reduction in tourist numbers – he insists we must accept and cater for the increase.

This is insane, especially as he admits that locals are suffering from the problems brought by the current numbers. For God’s sake, Elfyn, if your bathroom was flooded you wouldn’t turn the taps on a bit more, would you!

As we’ve seen, Elfyn Jones was speaking on behalf of the British Mountaineering Council, an organisation to be found nestling among the intimidating peaks of . . . West Didsbury, in Manchester.

Naturally, I went to the BMC website, and below you’ll a screen capture from that site. I was immediately struck by there being no mention of Scotland, where I’m told there are quite a few mountains.

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The absence of the Munros is due to the fact that the ‘British’ Mountaineering Council, like the Green Party, and the Planning Inspectorate, and countless other bodies we have to live with, covers only England and Wales.

Having established that the use of the term ‘Britain’ is misleading I was surprised to read elsewhere on the website that the BMC has a ‘National Council’. How can there be a National Council when there are two countries involved that do not together form a political unit?

Perhaps the answer is that there may be two countries making up the BMC but – with the exceptions of Elfyn Jones and chairman Gareth Pierce – the hierarchy and the membership comes from just one nation.

This is more than mere semantics, for it betrays the BMC as an Englandandwales body. Or to put it another way, English climbers and Welsh mountains. Just more ‘Playground Wales’.

No one should be surprised by this. Let’s not forget that the Plas y Brenin National Outdoor Centre at Capel Curig is owned by Sport England.

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The truth is that we already have too many visitors to Yr Wyddfa, Pen y Fan and other sites. Anyone arguing that bigger car parks and more toilets is the answer either doesn’t understand the problem or else is trying to avoid it.

And this problem I’m referring to is not confined to Wales, it is global: any place attracting large numbers of visitors will pay the price in noise, disruption, strain on local services, traffic gridlock, environmental degradation and cultural erosion.

Even Mount Everest is suffering.

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The ‘British’ Mountaineering Council reminds us of the colonial relationship between Wales and England and it also leads on to the wider problem, which is tourism in general, and tourism’s effects on Wales.

Last word: Maybe Elfyn Jones and Gareth Pierce should consider their positions as token Taffs in this English organisation. Why not form a Welsh mountaineering group? Why not reclaim Plas y Brenin? Also ‘Mount Snowdon’?

CUI BONO?

The subject I’m writing about is of course referred to by journalists and politicians as ‘Welsh tourism’. But to regard it as Welsh in any sense other than the locational would be a mistake.

The companies that own the major tourism enterprises in Wales are almost all owned by outsiders. The same applies to smaller businesses like hotels, pubs, restaurants and shops. This is especially so in those areas and communities that nowadays have no raison d’être other than ‘tourist destination’.

Think about that. You’ve lived in your town or village all your life, it’s where you ran around with your mates when you were young, you met a girl and got married, had children, but to some hack writing in a magazine nobody reads except in a dentist’s waiting room, the place you call home is just a tourist destination.

But it makes sense, because tourism seeks to lessen the claim of indigenes to a city, a region, or a country; and then, in the interests of those who pay hacks to write about ‘tourism destinations’, pretend these places ‘belong to everybody’, and exist solely ‘to be enjoyed’.

So if we Welsh don’t own the businesses making the money, what benefits do we see from tourism? Well of course there’s jobs.

The most recent figures available with StatsWales are for 2015 (don’t ask me why there are none more recent). And they claim that in that year tourism-related industries provided 131,300 jobs. Though I’ve always been concerned about that term ‘tourist-related’, suspecting that it’s somewhat ‘elastic’.

This elasticity might explain why ‘tourism-related industries’ provided 5,700 jobs in Rhondda Cynon Taf but only 4,600 in Denbighshire, despite the northern county having the coastal resorts of Rhyl and Prestatyn plus a number of inland hot spots, the most notable of which would probably be Llangollen, home to the International Musical Eisteddfod. (In which I competed one year.)

I’m not sure what fun spots lie hidden within the borders of Rhondda Cynon Taf to compete with Denbighshire’s attractions.

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Maybe the job numbers for RCT are exaggerated, with ‘tourism-related’ giving the game away. Whatever the answer, jobs in tourism are nothing to brag about, tending to be low skill, low pay and seasonal.

Tourism certainly doesn’t provide the kind of employment that enables people to buy a home; certainly not in those areas where property prices are inflated by tourists buying holiday homes, and moving in, or retiring. No local employee in tourism could buy a home in Abersoch, Rhosneigr, Aberdyfi or ‘Sand Banks‘.

Moving on . . .

You’d think that so few positives would be reason enough to discourage saturation tourism, and the picture gets even bleaker when we consider the negatives. One of the downsides would be traffic congestion, resulting in many areas being so overwhelmed with tourists that the quality of life for locals is seriously impaired.

Another consequence of tourism is that many operators drop Welsh names in favour of English. There are so many examples that I can’t list them all, but Happy Donkey Hill is one I’ve written about, then there’s Stallion Valley, not forgetting Wynnborn, and more recently, Slate Mountain.

The ‘phlegm’ comments were eventually removed, but only after complaints. Either the site is not moderated, or else the moderator accepts borderline racism, as long as it’s anti-Welsh. Click to enlarge

This is a result of having an English tourism industry in Wales that – despite the desperate marketing of Visit Wales – wants its customers to think they’re in a part of England with nicer scenery, cleaner beaches, higher mountains, etc – so do away with names that when spoken sound as if someone is bringing up phlegm.

Another issue guaranteed to raise emotions is holiday homes. Though I recall (Ifan) Prys Edwards, when he was chairman of the old Wales Tourist Board, and probably during the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign, appearing on television and proclaiming that holiday homes had nothing to do with tourism!

I forget which programme it was, and I can’t recall the ‘interviewer’, but I remember being amazed, and angry, that Edwards was allowed to get away with such a statement. The ‘Welsh media’, eh!

About three years ago, Cyngor Gwynedd was considering raising council tax on holiday homes, leading to a debate in the Cambrian News. Some of the comments from the defenders of holiday homes, and tourism generally, were not only absurd, they were insulting.

Here’s a taste:

  • “Holiday homes put a lot of money into the local economy”. Response: More than would be put into the local economy if a holiday home was lived in 52 weeks of the year?
  • “I do worry about a return to the burning of holiday homes by Nationalist extremists”. Response: what special kind of idiot believes that tackling the issue of holiday homes, and reducing their numbers, would result in another arson campaign?
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  • (Increasing council tax on holiday homes) “borders on racism”. Response: There is no sensible or reasonable argument against holiday homes not paying extra council tax, and anyone who has to resort to ‘racism’ is only confirming that.
  • ” . . . coastal towns and villages came into being because of tourism in Victorian times”. Response: This is classic colonialism – ‘They had nothing before we arrived’. In fact, the population of Merioneth was higher in 1841, before the first train arrived, than in 2011, after almost a century and a half of tourism. It’s worth remembering that ‘resorts’ like Barmouth, Aberdyfi and Porthmadog were busy ports and shipbuilding centres in the 19th century.

The arsehole who contributed that last comment, Andrew Currie, lives just up the road from me. In addition to being an arrogant colonialist he’s also a Green. We don’t talk.

To conclude, ‘Welsh’ tourism was never intended to benefit Wales, or the Welsh. We suffer saturation tourism today for three reasons:

  • CULTURAL: Tourism Anglicises Wales, partly through the regular invasions, but more insidiously through the population movement it encourages. (Though I’m sure Prys Edwards would argue differently.)
  • ECONOMIC: Tourism serves England economically because money spent by English tourists in Wales will make its way back to England by one route or another. Unlike money spent abroad.
  • POLITICAL: Tourism encourages a dependency mindset by encouraging us to believe that we’d all starve without English tourists . . . who would still be welcome in an independent Wales that could legislate on numbers and keep the money they’d spend in the country.

THE ‘WELSH GOVERNMENT’

The attitude of the ‘Welsh Government’ is dictated by the tourism industry itself, and can be spelled out as, ‘There’s no such thing as too many tourists (go and wash your mouth out!)’. Wales would need to be gridlocked for a few days, with communities cut off and resorting to cannibalism before anyone in the tourist industry admitted, ‘Well, maybe we do need to manage things a bit better’.

If they won’t reduce numbers then the complacent clowns down Corruption Bay could introduce a tourism tax, so that money raised in the worst affected areas was used to compensate the indigenous population in some way. But no, they listen to the advice of those running the ‘Welsh’ tourism industry, greedy and insensitive bastards who should not be allowed within half a mile of a golden goose.

The sad fact is that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ is more than happy to see scenes like this inflicted regularly on our precious and fragile landscape.

Yes, how frightfully British. Unfortunately it’s happening in Wales. Click to enlarge

And yet, these politicians I refer to recently made a climate emergency declaration. The same twats who – after promising they wouldn’t – gave over large areas on the outskirts of Cardiff to English house building companies, firms that will bank their profits and leave the mess behind for us sort out. Labour will also cave in and allow the redevelopment of the M4, because it’s what London wants, not what Wales needs.

Even before the climate emergency declaration the ‘Welsh’ Government introduced legislation like the One Planet con and The Well-being of Future Generation Act, all designed – we were told – to bring Wales into closer harmony with Nature and reduce our carbon footprint. But not if it means upsetting the strangers who exploit and despoil our country, who change our ancient names and regard us as some inferior species to be elbowed aside.

When it come to saving the planet, the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government says the right things but is betrayed time after time by its actions in some areas and its lack of action in others. But then, that’s the deceitful, gimmicky shites they are.

All piss and wind, and ever obedient to England’s wishes.

♦ END ♦

 

Wales 2019: state-subsidised colonisation

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

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You’ll recall that in the post before Easter I reported on ‘Welsh Government’ generosity in Aberteifi. Now another case has been brought to my attention.

This one in Talyllychau, a village not far from Llandeilo, where a gang called Talley Community Amenity Association (TCAA) is lined up for £522,653 from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

You’ll have noticed that in my playful way I just referred to them as a ‘gang’, but they couldn’t really be a gang because one of them is an an ex-copper, who seems to have bought ‘a place in Wales’ and then got a transfer for the final few years of his service.

In fact, many police officers get pre-retirement transfers to Dyfed Powys and North Wales. To which we can add others who get transfers because they can’t cope with the pressure in England’s towns and cities.

And this phenomenon is not confined to the police service, it’s widespread with cross-border employers, Royal Mail would be another example. I wonder how many jobs we Welsh lose due to transferees filling vacancies in scenically attractive parts of the country?

But I digress, let us hie back to Talyllychau.

WHO ARE THEY AND WHAT DO THEY DO?

In the hope of learning more about Talley Community Amenity Association I turned to documents filed with Companies House. The company was Incorporated 18 July 2002 and gives as its business, ‘Support services to forestry’. The TCAA also registered as a charity – number 1097539 – 15 May 2003, where its ‘Activities’ are listed as ‘Management of local woodland’.

Clearly, TCAA is interested in woodland around Talyllychau, partly explained in a piece by one of the company’s original directors, Stephen Upson. This document also makes clear that TCAA existed in some unspecified form before it became a company and a charity, and that it was in discussions with both Forestry Commission Wales and the Welsh Development Agency to acquire local woodland as a community amenity. (This map might help you better understand the area. The village proper is just visible on the far right centre.)

These negotiations probably explain the need to become registered, for in the first ‘Financial statement’, for 2003, we see that the money is rolling in, and there is now £81,733 in the pot, but no mention of whence it came. Though I couldn’t help noticing that these accounts were prepared by ‘Gray & Associates, Accountancy Services, Talley House, Talley’. This is presumably the Sarah Ellen Gray who became a director of the company on 12 September 2005.

Isn’t this cosy!

The balance sheet for year ending 31 July 2004 shows fixed assets of £64,999, explained as ‘Land sold to the Association by WDA repayable 9 May 2029’. Elsewhere on this filing we read of ‘grant funding’ of £112,021, but again, no clue as to the source of this moolah. But don’t worry, because ‘Grant work completed’ amounts to £111,748, leaving just £273 for tea bags, sugar and biccies.

These second ‘accounts’ – and I use that term loosely – give no indication as to who prepared them, who audited them, who the company’s solicitors are, or its bankers. Talley Community Amenity Association seems to be using every loophole in the Companies Act to give out the bare minimum of information.

The newly-acquired asset is further explained by a Welsh Development Agency charge against TCAA for ‘land at Plas farm’. But by the time we reach the 2008 accounts the £65,000 ex-WDA asset has disappeared. Where’d it go?

Well, according to the title document for ‘Land at Plas farm’ the asset passed into the ownership of the ‘National Assembly for Wales’ 28.03.2007. Which throws up a wee conundrum.

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I mean, if the land was returned to the ‘Welsh Government’, or the Notional Assembly, then surely the charge held by the WDA would have been satisfied. Or if the happy band at ‘Talley’ had been paid £65,000 – as the title document suggests – then they would have used that money to pay off the WDA, wouldn’t they?

Yet the charge remains and there is no sign of any income – or little activity of any kind – in the accounts after 2008. The Talley Community Amenity Association has just been ticking over with a few thousand in the bank gaining interest.

Am I missing something in the Plas farm land transfers and sales? Or is something being omitted from the minimalist documents submitted to Companies House?

THE CAVALRY ARRIVES – IT’S BOOTS AND SADDLES!

A recent addition to the ‘Talley belongs to us’ crew is Angela Gail Hastilow, who seems to have arrived in 2012, along with husband Ian, from West Sussex. The Hastilows are saddle-makers. The firm seems to be still based in England, for the website tells us ‘Angie runs the office from Wales’.

I’d like to refer you now to a document filed with Companies House 27 July 2018 telling us that Angela Gail Hastilow replaced Peter Graham Knott as a ‘person with significant control’ (PSC), which usually means the person running the show.

Let me quote Companies House, which words it thus: ‘A person with significant control (PSC) is someone who owns or controls your company. They’re sometimes called ‘beneficial owners’.’

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What is also strange is that this occurred on the same day as Mrs Hastilow became a director. I’m sure there’s no legislation forbidding someone joining a company and becoming the PSC on the same day, but it’s unusual.

The only times I’ve come across it is when someone buys out a company. But Talley Community Amenity Association is not that kind of company; for example, it has no shares to be bought or transferred, so it’s difficult to see how anyone could take it over. Or why it would be allowed.

Yet that’s what Angela Hastilow appears to have done. Not only is she now PSC but the company’s registered office has moved to her house in Talyllychau. And it’s the same with the TCAA charity. Hers is the address and she is the contact for the charity. It appears to be a clean sweep.

This takeover throws up another conundrum. I’ve told you that Hastilow became a director and the person with significant control on 27 July 2018, and yet there is another document filed with Companies House that suggests otherwise.

According to this other form, Hastilow became a/the person with significant control 02 September 2017 . . . before she even became a director!

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Of course, it may be a genuine mistake. But if Angela Hastilow did really take the reins in September 2017 how was this achieved without her having any declared links with TCAA?

This anomaly has been reported to Companies House.

And now Talley Community Amenity Association is lined up for £522,653 of our money; and it also looks as if they’re going to be gifted – or at least given control over – 800 hectares of prime Welsh land. That is, land we own.

Yet who can blame them for this very human acquisitiveness, for Talyllychau is an idyllic location. Its has lakes, a ruined abbey, and is reasonably close to the M4; all features that make it very attractive to well-heeled English folk.

And the area around Talyllychau has great tourism potential.

Despite all the talk of ‘biodiversity’ and ‘community benefits’ it is being suggested to me that more mercenary motives may be at work. So before money or land is given to Talley Community Amenity Association certain things need to be established:

  • Why are the TCAA accounts so rudimentary and uninformative?
  • Where did the £81,733 come from that appears in the 2003 accounts?
  • What is the source of the ‘grant funding’ of £112,021 shown in the 2004 accounts?
  • For what was this grant funding given and was its spending monitored?
  • If the TCAA was paid £65,000 in 2007 for the Plas farm land why didn’t it use that money to clear the WDA debt?
  • And if TCAA was paid £65,000 then what happened to the money?
  • If the TCAA was not paid £65,000 then by what route did the ‘National Assembly for Wales’ gain the land?
  • How was it possible for Mrs Angela Gail Hastilow to become the ‘person with significant control’ of TCAA before she’d even become a director?
  • Does Mrs Angela Gail Hastilow now control TCAA?
  • If so, how did this come about?
  • What are the terms under which the 800 hectares mentioned in the newspaper report will be made available to TCAA?
  • Will the 800 hectares remain in public ownership if this project goes ahead?
  • Will the directors and trustees of TCAA be allowed to use the land to further their own business interests?
  • If this project proceeds will the ‘Welsh Government’ require TCAA to produce full and independently audited annual accounts available for public scrutiny?
  • How representative of the wider community is TCAA?
  • Why is there so little Welsh involvement in TCAA?

BOTTOM LINE: Why is the ‘Welsh Government’ paying wealthy outsiders to take over publicly-owned Welsh land that they will almost certainly use to make money for themselves?

PART OF A PATTERN

Returning to the article that appeared last week in the South Wales Guardian we read that the scheme delivering the loot and the land is ‘the Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS)’, administered by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme’.

Alun Davies reading his lines, click to enlarge

This scheme can be traced back to 2013 when then Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, acting under orders from ‘his’ civil servants, transferred 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding from Pillar 1 (farmers) to Pillar 2 (‘rural development projects’).

Despite the order coming from London, via its Wales-based civil servants, ‘Welsh’ Labour enthusiastically endorsed this diktat and justified the decision by waffling about ‘biodiversity’, ‘sustainability’, ‘parsnip trees’, etc.

For the bruvvers had already been moving in that direction by becoming the first administration on Earth to surrender to a rabble of hippies by implementing the One Planet legislation in 2011. Since when things have snowballed.

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Next came the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 with a Future Generations Commissar. And as I mentioned at the top, before Easter I reported on the ‘Welsh Government’ ‘selling’ five acres of good land on the outskirts of Aberteifi for just £1 to yet another a bunch of ‘Gimme! Gimme!’ Greens.

Though I’m pleased to report that resistance to this invasion is growing. People are angry that the planning regulations they must abide by can be flouted with impunity by people they are funding!

Resistance encouraged by those with designs on our country over-reaching themselves with their Summit to Sea extravaganza, a vast project that has George Monbiot and his playmates hoping to take over 10,000 hectares of land (and even more of sea!)

The Rewilding Britain website tells us that its partner in Summit to Sea is the Woodland Trust. To understand the quintessentially colonialist nature of this project listen to Natalie Buttriss, the Woodland Trust’s Director of Wales, speaking about the project on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’ programme.

Or watch Rebecca Wrigley, Director of Rewilding Britain.

The attitude of these latter-day memsahibs is clear – ‘If the locals don’t like our plans then they can jolly well fuck off’. (From their own country.)

The truth must be faced that we have reached a stage where things done in the name of ‘Wales’ that are antithetical to the interests of the Welsh. Which in turn reveals, among other things, that devolution is nothing more than a confidence trick that allows our masters to filter their colonialist ambitions through their local management team.

This ‘Welsh Government’ is only too willing to comply because ‘Welsh’ Labour hates country people, and especially indigenous country people; with hairy-arsed, Welsh-speaking rustics being the favoured targets down at the Lord Tonypandy Memorial Firing Range. (Garters optional.)

And because it’s a party of very woke and posturing planet-savers Plaid Cymru will support Monbiot and his memsahibs against Welsh farmers and the interest of the nation.

Everywhere we look we see Welsh people being elbowed out of attractive localities like Talyllychau. And as locals are squeezed out they are replaced by white flighters and good-lifers, grant grabbers, retirees and the human detritus of urban England. (This last category brought in by our housing associations.)

With these incomers funded with hundreds of millions of pounds that for some reason was never available for locals.

As we approach the third decade of the twenty-first century there’s a welcome in the hillsides for just about anybody . . . except us. Last year I reminded you of the term coined by Martiniquais poet and political activist Aimé Césaire to describe this phenomenon, it was ‘genocide by substitution’.

This is exactly what we see happening in Wales today – a deliberate and systematic strategy of replacing one people with another. A bloodless form of ethnic cleansing.

♦ end ♦

 

Tit-bits, shysters, liars and tits

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Here are the updates and the like that I mentioned in the introduction to my previous post on Dawnus, and that I would have given you earlier had it not been for fresh news on Dawnus.

It’s quite a bundle, almost 4,000 words, but broken up for you – as advertisements for pet food are wont to say – into bite-sized chunks. Enjoy!

COLEG HARLECH

Forgive me if I get a little nostalgic, perhaps emotional, but I spent two years at Coleg Harlech, two wonderful years; I even managed to fit in the odd lecture. But a lot of time was spent in the Castle Hotel, or the Queens, or the Red Lion, or the St. David’s, where I sank many a ‘sundowner’ while enjoying the view of the golf course and the sea. (Though I detest golf and golfists.)

Yes, many’s the night I spent in the Dai’s getting legless with Dafydd El, holding him back from some impulsive patriotic act that might have jeopardised his career. As Mary Hopkin sang, those were the days. Not that I personally wanted to spend every waking hour in licensed premises, you understand, but I fell in with bad company.

Of course, the pubs were shut on Sunday back then but that’s when we – usually me and Dai Williams, ‘the Beast of Bedwas’, best man at my wedding – used to have some of our most memorable sessions, up in the Castle Hotel run by Ron Hopkins, originally from Aberdâr.

Coleg Harlech showing offices and auditorium. Image courtesy of Daily Post Wales. Click to enlarge

I recall  being in the Castle just before the final Sunday Opening vote. Hopkins of course was in favour of opening, and he was arguing with a very left-wing lecturer from the Coleg, an Englishman who intended voting to keep the pubs shut because he believed – correctly – that’s what most locals wanted.

Now Ron had had a few pints that night down the Ship Aground in Talsarnau (another of Ron’s wife’s family’s pubs), and he’d rolled into the Castle well lubricated. Then the argument started. Because this lecturer was a ‘communist’ and in favour of Sunday closing Ron had somehow linked the two to persuade himself that keeping pubs shut on Sunday was a communist conspiracy.

I just leaned on the bar marvelling. Imagining the grizzled old men of the Politburo in Moscow sitting down and saying, ‘Now then, Comrades, the next step in destabilising the West is keeping the pubs shut on Sunday in Merioneth’.

It was one of those insane discussions that take place in Welsh pubs when those participating are opinionated drunks. (I speak as an observer, you understand.)

God bless you, Ron. God bless you, Dai. Thanks for the memories.

Not far from what was the Castle Hotel we encounter the St David’s Hotel, which has lain empty for over a decade. It’s owned by a company based in Gibraltar that probably had no intention of renovating the place, unless someone else was paying. Even then, perhaps, it wouldn’t have been restored, for who knows – like so many such properties in Wales – maybe it was making money just by standing empty.

Now it might be demolished at public expense!

A photo I took of the St David’s Hotel, Harlech in January 2011, click to enlarge

The hotel is just up the road from the Coleg, which also fell on hard times, was then closed, and finally put up for sale. Now we learn that the Coleg has also been sold, though to someone based rather nearer to Harlech than Gibraltar.

According to the Cambrian News new owner Leslie Banks Irvine is still “gathering his thoughts” after buying the Coleg itself, Theatr Ardudwy and ancillary buildings. So he’s bought the whole shooting-match but we’re expected to believe he has no idea what he’s going to do with it?

Is he fibbing, or is he one of those wealthy men who buys things on impulse then figures out what to do with them?

Anyway, off I went a-digging. Irvine, or Banks-Irvine, had a company called Anglo-Euro Trade Ltd, originally based in southern England that moved to Talybont (near Bermo), in April 2004, presumably when the man himself moved. It’s stated business, ‘Distilling, rectifying and blending of spirits’. (Not more bloody ‘craft gin’?)

I’m using the past tense because Anglo-Euro Trade Ltd was dissolved in May 2017. From the accounts I’ve looked at it never made enough in any one year to pay for the cat food. But there you go, maybe he didn’t have a cat.

Though a new company was launched 28 January. Apart from the authoritative tones of the man himself the only other voice we hear in the cavernous boardroom of LBI (Wern Fawr) Ltd is that of Tessa Jane Beverly.

The company’s business is, ‘Development of building projects’. Which would suggest that LBI has been set up to carry through whatever plans the eponymous Leslie Banks Irvine has for my alma mater.

And what might those plans be?

Well . . . something I turned up on the Cyngor Gwynedd planning portal might give a clue. Last year Leslie Banks Irvine applied for a change of use for Fairbourne church hall. The application said he wanted to use it to store his – or someone’s – ‘collection of classic motor cars’. The application was refused.

Has this plan now moved up the coast to Harlech?

Of course I have no way of knowing what the plans are for the Coleg, the auditorium and the other buildings, but if I lived in or near Harlech I would be asking Leslie Banks Irvine, and not accepting ‘dunno’ for an answer.

But wherever we live in Wales we should be concerned that another historic and iconic site has been sold off by a public body, to a virtual stranger, probably at a knock-down price, and for an undisclosed purpose.

And there’s a good chance he’s hoping for public funding.

SAVING THE PLANET BY EXPLOITING WALES

Talking of knock-down prices, how about fives acres for £1? Yes, that is five acres of good Welsh land for just 100 pence. For that’s the deal done by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ for Parc Teifi in Cardigan with a bunch of eco-shysters environmentalists.

The leader of this lucky band, one Alpay Torgut, believes the deal was done because, “The Welsh Government was impressed with our work and achievements over the last ten years, in creating and successfully running our previous community forest garden and the Cardigan Eco shop”.

The previous ‘community forest gardens’ were in England and Llandudoch. For it should go without saying that Alpay Torgut is not from aroun’ by ‘ere. He is another who has realised that everything is greener on this side of the Dyke, especially the politicians and the funders.

He mentions the Cardigan Eco Shop “which has been going for nine years now”. Maybe, but the company Naturewise Eco Shop CIC was only Incorporated in January this year, and probably only done to enable Alpay and his gang to qualify for the goodies. Just more box-ticking.

Parc Teifi, image courtesy of Western Telegraph, click to enlarge

Upon seeing the photo above I mumbled the appropriate incantations and an apparition appeared, who spake in this wise: “Jac!”, it intoned, “Jac!” (repeating itself), “I have the gift of seeing into the future, mush, and I tell you now, this will soon be a commune. And lo! retrospective planning permission will be granted, and many shekels will be shoved the way of these con artists. Mark my words, son!”

And then, with a drawn out wail, the apparition departed.

The commune foretold – and other examples of encouraged colonisation – will be justified by England’s management team in Cardiff docks as ‘reducing Wales’s carbon footprint’.

I’m still waiting for an explanation as to how we reduce our carbon footprint by, a) encouraging people to move into Wales and then, b) letting them exploit land that had previously been causing Mother Earth no problems whatsoever.

UPDATE 17.04.2019: I have now written to the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ asking for my five acres.

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Another bunch of such arrivals hoping to milk the system are to be found in the Clever Green Hub Penarth, an offshoot of the Clever Green Group of Brighton. Registered with Companies House as the Clever Green Cardiff Hub Ltd.

The directors of the colonial outpost in Penarth can also be found at The Clever Green Mendip Hub Ltd and The Clever Green Portal Company Ltd. In fact, just looking at the companies linked with one of the leading lights, Simon Paul Egan, throws up a host of them, many using ‘Clever’ in the name. The home base would appear to be Woking in Surrey.

The reason I mention this crew at all is because one of them is boasting that our former First Minister, Labour’s Carwyn Jones, has promised to help them secure a licence to grow hemp (cannabis) and that a big pharmaceutical company may be involved. For not only is it now legal to grow cannabis, but from last November doctors can prescribe cannabis products.

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The word on the street is that there will be no benefit to Wales because the licence will be used to grow pot that will then be transported to England, where it will be processed and where it will provide jobs.

It may even be possible to use the licence in England. Wales and the ever-obliging Carwyn Jones may simply be used to get the necessary authorisation.

If anyone has more information, then please get in touch.

TARDIS IN CYDWELI!

A curious story reaches me from that source of many a strange tale, Cydweli.

You may recall that the town council’s Mynydd-y-Garreg ward saw a by-election in February won by Labour’s Beryl-Ann Williams, an art psychotherapist, our Beryl-Ann. Now there’s another by-election in the same ward and the Labour candidate this time is Arwyn Rhys Williams.

From the form below you’ll see that young Arwyn gives his address as 27 Llys Gwenllian, an unprepossessing property built by Grwp Gwalia, now merged into the Pobl group. (You might remember that it was Gwalia that housed the gang of London paedophiles.)

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Also resident in this property is councillor Philip Thompson, who’s a lawyer, and a QC, yet somehow qualifies for social housing . . . but then, he is Labour, and being a party activist puts you at the top of the waiting list with most housing associations.

Others who have given this as their address in recent years are Siôn Davies, who was Labour candidate for Llangyndeyrn, and Lisa Williams who stood for the party in Trimsaran. I’m told there have been others.

So is this a house of multiple occupation, and if so, is it registered as such? If it’s not a HMO then what’s going on? Could it be that Labour candidates are afraid to tell us where they really live?

Getting back to young Arwyn for a minute, something I found on his Facebook page would not have me queuing outside the polling booth at 7am in the pissing rain to vote for him.

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But then, in fairness to the boy, those attributes could apply to so many Labour politicians. His political future is assured!

UPDATE 17.04.2019: I’m now being told that Arwyn Rhys Williams is the son of Cydweli mayor Philip Thompson. He uses his mother’s name of Williams.

So if he is now living with his dad then Arwyn needs to update his Facebook profile, which locates him either in Swansea or Tenby. Alternatively, if the FB information is true, then maybe he’s just living at the Cydweli address until the election is over.

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It also suggests he’s still in school. He is 18, is he?

SWANSEA COUNCIL

I hope I whetted your appetite in the previous post with my promise of updates on the whereabouts of some of those I’ve written about in the not too distant past.

To set the scene . . . a few years back the Labour Party on Swansea council relied heavily on councillors who were no more than students. They knew nothing about my wonderful city and were just making up the numbers for council leader David ‘Il Duce’ Phillips, another stranger to ‘the ugly lovely town’.

One by one they disappeared. California girl Pearleen Sangha went to Cardiff to work as a regional organiser for ‘Welsh’ Labour. In other words, she left a city she didn’t know in order to ‘organise’ a region she knew even less about.

Then she went home to the States to work for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. She was based in the Carolinas, which might have been as alien to her as Swansea. Perhaps she had some interesting encounters with good ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye . . . and voting Trump.

After a stint back in her home state, working for Mayor Sam Liccardo of San José, she has now returned to these shores as a fully-fledged ‘political consultant’. All set out here in her Linkedin profile.

Then there was John ‘John Boy’ Bayliss, a native of Eastbourne. I understand John is currently working as a press officer for Home Secretary Sajid Javid and LGBT adviser to the Conservative Party. So it could be that John Boy has deserted the bruvvers.

In the collage below you’ll see John Boy luxuriating in the adoration of his canvassers. They too look as if they’ve been recruited from the university.

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On the left of the collage you’ll see a bizarre shot of Il Duce in mayoral robes at the foot of the Mansion House stairs, with his eyes shut, and his loyal band behind him. Nothing wrong with a shot like that, when it’s the Kennedy clan on a wide and elegant staircase at Hyannisport . . . but not with that gormless crew bunched up fighting for air.

On the great man’s right hand is his consort Sybil Crouch, another Labour councillor who thought Mumbles was a speech impediment until she washed up in Swansea. Interestingly, Crouch worked at the university.

In the trio on the top right we see, on the left, Nick Bradley, loyal West Bromwich Albion supporter who was given the brief of the Liberty Stadium, the Swans’ home, presumably because somebody thought he might know something about football.

Bradley went off to Araby recruiting for some English university and he now divides his time between Dubai and Boston, Massachusetts, working as International Sponsor Director for Shorelight Education.

In the middle we see Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Theaker. Gin connoisseur who also took himself off to the Gulf but has now given it all up for life as a globe-trotter. Though the word is that he hopes to return to Swansea and resume his political career.

The once and future Labour councillor Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Theaker? click to enlarge

On the right we see Rene ‘Rocking Rene’ Kinzett, the only Tory in this gay trio, and at one time the youngest of Swansea’s councillors. I predict with certainty that Rene will not be returning to Swansea . . . after he’s released from prison.

I wrote about ‘Rocking Rene’ back in 2013, and someone, in a comment, reminded me that his brother Richard had been sent down for life after attacking an off-duty copper outside the Uplands Tavern while on a visit to Rene. I then received a message from their father, demanding apologies for all sorts of things. I wrote about it here.

I felt sorry for Kinzett senior back then, and I feel even sorrier for him now with two sons banged up. I just hope he has other children to console him.

DAWNUS 3A

Just a brief update to Dawnus 3.

There’s no question that French arms manufacturer Thales didn’t stay long at the Stradey Business Park in Llangennech. It left soon after the (official) British withdrawal from Afghanistan, maybe before. So why wasn’t Thales’ departure given the same coverage by the ‘Welsh’ media as its arrival, or indeed any coverage?

The building used by Thales was taken over by Hydro Industries Ltd, as shown in one of the photographs below that I was sent by a local. This explains Carwyn Jones’s visits to the USA in 2013 and 2014 promoting Hydro Industries.

The other photo, from the front gate, leaves no one in any doubt that Robert Lovering’s company European Telecom Solutions has moved in.

click to enlarge

(What’s equally clear is that no one cleans the old signage.)

Hydro Industries is ostensibly involved in the harmless and praiseworthy business of bringing clean water to Africa. I suspect it’s involved in rather more than that. And that it wasn’t just the Thales building that it took over.

Hydro replacing Thales explains the sudden attention – and financial input – of the Waterloo Foundation and Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle, who is herself French.

Another piece of information that came to light was the recently filed accounts for Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd, one of those mystery companies carrying the Dawnus name with sole director Andrew Kenneth Keay.

I’m still not sure what this company does, or how it links to Dawnus, but profit on turnover of 78% is remarkable. No overheads, depreciation, or debts of any kind. Doesn’t seem to do anything.

click to enlarge

I’m sure we’d all like to have a company like this.

UPDATE 18.04.2019: I am grateful to a Spanish source for telling me that Robert Nigel Lovering has a company in Spain, Costa Blanca Luxury Boat Rentals SL. What with Whiteshell Boat Charters Ltd in Swansea as well Lovering is quite the sailor boy. Both companies are one-man bands with no accounts yet filed.

CLEDDAU BRIDGE HOTEL

The wife and I like to take ourselves off for short breaks exploring this wonderful country of ours. One such trip about three years ago took us to Pembrokeshire and the Cleddau Bridge Hotel, a superb location on the Milford Haven Waterway and ideally located for walking across the bridge to take in the stunning views.

Cleddau Bridge, picture by Toby Driver 2007, courtesy of Coflein, click to enlarge

We were disappointed to learn in December 2017 that the hotel was closing. A few months later came news that the owners were heavily in debt. Next we learnt that the hotel was to be converted into a care home. In May 2018 planning permission was granted.

Then last month the cannon that stood outside was stolen. Some bastard obviously slipped it into his pocket and walked off whistling. Finally, at the end of March, it all catched afire.

But there you go, these things happen . . . and often in the sequence I’ve listed here!

‘COFIWCH DRYWERYN’

One of the big issues on the Welsh Twittersphere over the past few days has been the defacing, then the partial demolition, and finally the rebuilding, of the ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ mural on the A487 just north of Llanrhystud.

First, on Thursday night, it was vandalised by someone painting over the message, then on Friday night the wall itself was partially demolished. These incidents being the latest in a series of attacks, presumably by those objecting to the message.

The recent incidents are covered pretty well in this BBC Wales report. (From which I’ve used the image below.)

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Not only has the wall been rebuilt and the message repainted but a petition has been launched to raise £20,000. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve chipped in with my £20 (plus the charge!) but I’m still not sure what exactly I’m contributing towards.

The petition reads,

This Mural is an important landmark in Welsh history which symbolized the hurt and pain that the drowning of the village of Tryweryn caused in the 1960s

After the mural was  desecrated numerous times in the last few years, we want to make sure it’s secure and protected for future generations.

Please donate to our cause!

(The drowned village was actually called Capel Celyn.)

But what does this appeal mean? If it means constantly repainting and rebuilding the memorial (for memorial is what it is) after each act of vandalism, then I shall be very disappointed, because I believe there has to be a permanent solution to ensure no further attacks.

Personally, I wouldn’t object to booby traps, but I suppose some would, so what is to be done? For a start, who owns the land on which the wall stands, and the lay-by in front? Can it be bought? And if so, who would own it on behalf of the nation? It obviously can’t be a single political party or group; ownership and custodianship has to be as broadly based as possible.

But it must also be in Welsh hands, which is why I was appalled to read this suggestion from English Heritage (West) that their mates in The English National Trust be involved.

click to enlarge

Why the hell would we need to involve a middle class BritNat outfit? And seeing as this is a national memorial the decision can’t be left entirely to the local community council either, a group that might be influenced by Cadw.

Responses I’ve seen to the recent attacks hint at a divide long evident in the national movement. I’m referring now to those ready to turn the other cheek and keep rebuilding the wall after every attack; and those who want to bring those responsible to book, and ensure it never happens again.

A divide exposed by Tryweryn itself, when some felt that the correct response was to sing hymns in the streets of Liverpool, while others wanted to blow up the dam.

We are entering dangerous times, with a confused and angry neighbour that might fall under the sway of demagogues and rabble-rousers who have some very ugly masters. Those seeking martyrdom might get their wish, but it won’t help Wales one bit.

UNBRUVVERLY FLINTSHIRE

At the risk of getting a reputation for picking on the Labour Party I conclude with a tale of bruvvers at each others’ throats. This story comes from Flintshire, realm of the late Carl Sargeant.

A name we became familiar with in those dark days was Bernie Attridge, apparently a big (in every sense of the word) mate to Sargeant. In fact, in the aftermath of Sargeant’s death, Attridge got quite emotional at times and made no bones about targeting Carwyn Jones.

But then it seemed that the Sargeant death opened a can of worms. For example, it was suggested that Attridge had hinted that Sargeant could have gone to prison for unspecified crimes. Attridge is alleged to have used the colourful phrase, I bet he’s shitting bricks. And this was alleged to have been said before Sargeant’s sacking and suspension in November 2017.

These rumours were known to the denizens of the Connah’s Quay Labour Club, and officials of the party. From reading what was being reported it was clear there were divisions within the local Labour Party. But of course this had nothing to do with ideology, for the Labour Party in the north east is very much like the Labour Party we know in the south, in that it’s an ideology-free gravy train.

Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

The main cleavage seemed to be between the council leader, the appropriately named Aaron Shotton, and his deputy, Attridge, plus of course those who took sides. Things seem to have come to a head in the past couple of weeks, first, with Shotton sacking Attridge, and this closely followed by Shotton’s resignation.

It was even suggested that Shotton had chucked it in due to the fear of Attridge supporters taking to the streets. (Flaming torches and pitchforks optional.)

In the BBC report I’ve just linked to, ‘“Cabinet colleague Carolyn Thomas warned earlier that “hatred and animosity” threatened to split the Labour group’.

While this WalesOnline report tells us that the problem goes back to a secret recording made ten years ago of a conversation between Shotton and Attridge that contains ‘expletives’ and ‘defamatory allegations’.

Then last Thursday a piece appeared in the Wasting Mule which seemed to be answered by another piece on Saturday. See what you make of them.

click to engorge

It’s pretty obvious, even from a distance, that the Labour Party has a very unhappy band of bruvvers in Flintshire. If it comes to all-out war it could get nasty, for the Flintshire Labour Party – and indeed the council – has always contained a number of renowned swordsmen.

What makes it even more awkward for Labour is that Shotton and Attridge both represent the Connah’s Quay Central ward. I bet ward meetings are a bundle of laughs. Happy days!

♦ END ♦

 

Dawnus 3

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

This was intended to be a sort of bits and pieces post in which I looked at various topics. Among them the sale of Coleg Harlech and an update on the (ex-)student councillors that used to plague Swansea council, a sort of ‘Where are they now?’

For your information, and titillation, one former Labour councillor ended up working for Tory Home Secretary Javid; another went home to California before returning to promote herself as a ‘political consultant’; a third works as a ‘Director of Sponsor Relations’ for a US company; a fourth worked for that same company before becoming a ‘globetrotter’; while a fifth – the only Tory – got banged up for child pornography.

But all that can wait because cogs have been turning in the old Jac noggin as I tried to make sense of who’s who and what’s what on either side of that great turbulence that cleaves Jack from Turk.

Not a great deal of new information has come to light but I have been pointed in certain directions and the bigger picture is now less opaque as connections are made and things fall into place.

Though I beg you to be patient, because this is one of the most complicated investigations I’ve ever done.

DAWNUS

There are a few things to add on Dawnus itself, and the myriad companies that sheltered ‘neath that umbrella. To help you get up to speed I advise you to read Dawnus and Dawnus 2.

The asset stripping and dismemberment of Dawnus may or may not have begun with the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone 2014/15 but it certainly ties in with the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, who now seems to run what’s left of Dawnus.

Though having said that, two new companies have emerged from the ashes. The first, on 22 March, was Dawnus International Group Ltd, which has already changed its name to DIG International Group Ltd. This new entity contains as directors a number of names that have appeared before in connection with the Dawnus group.

Then on 28 March the world saw the birth of Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, based in sunny Porthcawl and with Andrew Kenneth Keay as sole director. Keay has used the Dawnus name previously for his one-man-band companies, though where he fits in the puzzle remains a mystery.

Another unplaced piece of the puzzle is Legsun Ltd, a company that is heavily in debt and whose directors are, since 14 February 2014, Timothy Alun Lowe, who has served as director with many Dawnus companies and also, since 12 March 2018, Dawnus head honcho Nicholas Charles Down.

click to enlarge

The early documents for Legsun are not available with Companies House without payment but we know that the company was started in March 1973, and though it now uses a Cardiff address it was previously using an address in the Pontypool area. I am in no doubt that Legsun is linked with the former Royal Ordnance Factory at Glascoed. Today this site is known as BAE Systems Munitions Glascoed.

Legsun is not a commercial company in the sense that you or I understand that term, because no genuine company could sustain losses on the scale of Legsun’s without going bust. How Legsun links with the collapse of Dawnus I’m not entirely sure. But it does, if only because Legsun’s only directors are also directors of Dawnus companies, and previous Legsun directors also had Dawnus links.

Legsun introduces the first connection with the military-industrial complex.

Late news: the following companies are now officially in receivership: Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd; Churchfield Homes Ltd; Legsun Ltd; Quantum Geotechnical Ltd; Dawnus Group Ltd; Dawnus Southern Ltd; Dawnus Ltd; Dawnus Developments Ltd; Ashridge Construction Ltd.

There are charges outstanding against all these companies with the sole exception of Legsun which, despite having massive debts, was somehow able to satisfy three charges on March 14.

At the time of writing the administration documents aren’t available with Companies House. There’s also the possibility that other companies in the Dawnus stable may yet follow those listed above into receivership.

By my calculations the companies left standing are: Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd and Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, the Keay companies. Then there’s Dawnus Consulting Ltd, with a Manchester address; Dawnus International Ltd; Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd; DIG International Group Ltd; Dawnus Holdings Ltd; Construction Recyclate Management Ltd.

CROSSING OVER AND TOOLING UP

Another connection with the military-industrial complex – and one I neglected to mention in the two previous pieces – is Thales, the French ordnance manufacturer. Thales has a presence at Stradey Park (Business Centre), Llangennech, owned now by Robert Nigel Lovering.

To understand the background I refer you again to a 2014 Rebecca article by Paddy French.

What Paddy French told us was that the redundant Ministry of Defence site at Llangennech was bought in early 2009 by Carmarthenshire County Council (Prop. M. V. James) and immediately sold on to R & A Properties, an unregistered company.

According to this WalesOnline report from early May 2009 the manner of the deal was justified by ‘the council’ (the aforementioned M .V. James) because the MoD would otherwise have auctioned the site.

The title document for Stradey Park is interesting. Lovering is named as the owner but the money to buy the site seems to have come from three funders: Lloyds Bank plc, the Secretary of State for Defence, and Carmarthenshire County Council.

The title is dated 1 April 2009. It also refers to land detached in 2015 from the title and directs us to the title plan for Stradey Park . . . which is not available on the Land Registry website.

The ‘sale’ was handled by Hugh James Solicitors of Cardiff, official solicitors for the ‘Welsh Government’.

There appear to be further loans, including one from Thales UK Limited.

There are also leases; one is for ten years from 1 April 2009 and covered by title number CYM465605, which again, is unavailable with the Land Registry, perhaps because that lease has now expired. Another, for 25 years from 27.03.2012, is with SSE Micro Renewables (Commercial) Ltd for the lease of air space.

But none of this can be checked because everything is in the name of the individual Robert Nigel Lovering. Who must be well thought of in certain quarters.

There was understandable disquiet over the deal. One councillor was quoted, “No information was given about the firm that will be creating the jobs beyond the fact that it was involved in defence procurement. Neither were we told who was behind R & A Properties, except that they were known to some of the officers.”

Just over a week later WalesOnline reported the involvement of then Welsh Rugby Union chairman David Pickering. Pickering was promising the creation of 100 jobs before Christmas by a “blue chip” company understood to be involved in the “defence procurement industry”.

Pickering was also reported as saying, “I know some people will find it strange that R&A is not a limited committee (sic), but we’ve been advised to do it this way by our professional advisers”.

It may not have been a limited company but the section below from the year ended 31 March 2016 accounts makes reference to R&A Properties LLP (Limited Liability Partnership); but I can find no such company registered with Companies House. Was it not registered, or registered in some other jurisdiction?

click to enlarge

One company I did unearth was R & A Secure Services Ltd, described on the Companies House website as a ‘non-trading company’ with Lovering as sole director. This was launched in September 2012, so chronologically it fits, but how?

The capture below is from the Company Check website. Jacobs can be disregarded, he’s a Company Formation Agent, but who or what is Francis Trust? And where’s Pickering?

click to enlarge

One company that Lovering has been involved with for some time is Lancehawk Ltd, of which he became a director in July 1999. And as this report from an Industrial Tribunal tells us, he was in fact managing director.

The report, about a bit of rumpy pumpy (was he shagging two of his staff!), also tells us that Lancehawk was trading as European Telecom Solutions. So I don’t understand why Lancehawk is still in business and a new company called European Telecom Solutions Ltd was formed 15 November 2017.

By November 2009 the BBC was telling us that Thales UK was to equip or modify Warthog all-terrain armoured vehicles at Llangennech for use in Afghanistan. This is the “blue chip” company we were told about, the justification presumably for the curious purchase arrangements.

So it looks as if Lovering (plus Pickering and Preece?) bought the site specifically to accommodate Thales? (Whatever the answer, R & A Properties now seems to have finally done the decent thing and gone legit, forming R and A Properties Cardiff Ltd last month. Why ‘Cardiff’?)

Some would have us believe that Thales has moved out of Stradey Park, but I can find no report of such a departure, certainly not in the Welsh media. Though I did turn this up in the Herald. It suggests that Thales closed its Llangennech operation – or part of it – in late 2012 or early 2013.

Which might link with reports in February 2012 that Cassidian was moving to Llangennech. Cassidian merged with Airbus Military and Astrium in January 2014 to form Airbus Defence and Space, now a division of Airbus.

This would give us a third connection with the military-industrial complex. Though I can find no evidence of the Cassidian move ever materialising.

Though from a distance there is little documentary or other evidence of either Thales or Airbus having been in Llangennech. Come to that, the whole site might as well be a secret, what with it being owned by an unregistered company, or an individual, there being no website, and Google turning up no recent references to either company being at Llangennech.

Though Google Earth came up trumps with what might be a recent shot, suggesting that Thales is still in situ.

Courtesy of Google Earth, click to enlarge

Correction: The Google Earth image I’ve used there is from 2011. I am informed that Thales has long since slung its hook. Why was it not reported in the Welsh media?

UPDATE 23:25: The British Army withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014, which would clearly have reduced the demand for the Warthog All-Terrain vehicles assembled by Thales at Llangennech, and this might explain the closure.

It also suggests that despite all the bullshit and backslapping that attended Thales’ arrival in Llangennech it must have been known that the French visitor was never going to stay and put down roots.

However, this forum posting I stumbled upon suggests that other uses were found for Warthogs: “Jane’s military guide has reported that British Warthog vehicles will be transformed to serve as transporter vehicles for Thales Watchkeeper UAV”. ‘UAV’ being unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone. Which would make perfect sense.

Watchkeeper drones fly out of the base at Aberporth and they are none too reliable, five having crashed in recent years, one of them uncomfortably close to a school.

I’m convinced that drones out of Aberporth, or possibly Llanbedr, use darkness and cloud cover to fly up the Dysynni Valley along part of the ‘Mach Loop’. The constant noise can last half an hour or more. And recently I’ve had reports of the same issue around Cydweli, Glanyfferi and out over the sea.

Which means that Thales’ presence is still here, with Watchkeeper drones being transported on Warthog vehicles assembled at Llangennech. Overflying our country . . . and often crashing!

HYDRO INDUSTRIES LTD

On 2 January 2013 Lovering and Preece became directors of Hydro Industries Ltd (originally Watertec Solutions Ltd and then Aggrelek Ltd), with Pickering joining them in November.

Watertec was Incorporated 2 September 2010 on the east side of Swansea, at the Ashmount Business Park . . . within spitting distance of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (at the time known as Dawnus Construction Ltd).

click to enlarge

Is this propinquity a coincidence? I think not.

The address for Aggrelek Ltd changed to Stradey Park 13 July 2011, and it became Hydro Industries in December of that year. Hydro Industries becomes another Legsun, in that it seems to operate in a parallel financial universe, being heavily in debt but still able to satisfy charges and generally carrying on as if nothing is amiss.

click to enlarge

The founders of Hydro Industries, Philip and Janine Morgan of Gorseinon, presumably had some knowledge of the water industry, to judge by other companies with which they’ve been involved, and certain directors of these companies, such as Chris Stretton.

But I don’t know what knowledge of desalination processes, or water purification and disposal in the third world is possessed by Lovering, Pickering and Preece. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

For almost immediately Lovering, Preece and Pickering had their feet under the Hydro Industries boardroom table things started happening for them on a transatlantic level with First Minister Carwyn Jones jetting across the Pond to put in a word.

As this ITV report from February 2013 tells us. Here’s how the BBC covered it. This, remember, is just one month after the trio became directors. Carwyn Jones was over again in February 2014.

Now clearly, if Lovering, Preece and Pickering didn’t join Hydro Industries until January 2013 then they didn’t have time to have arranged the contract with T&T Salvage that was announced by Carwyn Jones in February. In fact, Carwyn Jones seems to have taken Hydro Industries Ltd under his wing. How many other small companies received such treatment?

Another interesting – and more recent – reference to Hydro Industries I turned up is this one from March 2018 which sees Hydro Industries at No 3 in a list of “The 7 firms at the heart of Wales’ thriving tech and digital sector”.

Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

You’ll see that at No 6 in the list is Airbus. Airbus is also mentioned along with Hydro Industries in the blurb for Carwyn Jones’s 2014 visit to the States. And I’ve seen the connection made elsewhere.

As with Thales locating to Llangennech the T&T contract was arranged by someone else, and Lovering and Preece were put into Hydro Industries to front the deal because they were ‘trusted’ . . . by someone. ‘Someone’ who could also pull Carwyn Jones’s strings.

SWEET CHARITY?

Though as I told you in the previous post, the three amigos have now been joined (displaced?) by some very glitzy company on the board and among the shareholders of Hydro Industries.

Almost immediately Pickering had joined Lovering and Preece on the Hydro board we saw investment from Diane Briere de L’Isle, David Stevens and Heather Stevens.

As I explained in an earlier piece, Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle is the French wife of Henry Englehardt the American founder of Admiral Insurance. So who are David and Heather Stevens?

They, it turns out, are behind the Waterloo Foundation, a name that some may think unfortunate or insensitive given the involvement of Mme. Englehardt. The Waterloo Foundation was begun in 2007 with a donation of Admiral Group plc shares to the (then) value of £99m.

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And it all makes sense, for “clean water” is listed among the charity’s ambitions under ‘World Development‘. Which is why I was surprised not to find Hydro Industries listed under ‘Investments‘ and ‘Wales’ because the Foundation has definitely invested in Hydro.

And after the investment came a series of convoluted share reclassifications and allocations. Diane Marguerite Marie Briere De L’isle is named on the Companies House website as the person ‘with significant control’ from 21 August 2017. Preece, Lovering and Pickering cease to have significant control on the same day.

It’s not inconceivable, given Hydro’s links with Thales, that Mme. Englehardt joined Hydro in order to represent France’s interests.

Certainly Mme. Englehardt became a director of Hydro and appointed others to eventually outnumber the three musketeers. Among these newcomers was Guto Harri, Welsh language journalist and former PR guru for Boris Johnson.

The boys are still there, but maybe just for window dressing.

Predictably, perhaps, the Waterloo Foundation is a Patron of The Prince’s Trust. And why not, for The Prince’s Trust is based at Stradey Park. And wouldn’t you know it, the Chief Operating Officer for Hydro is Brigadier Rick Libbey . . . who used to run the The Prince’s Trust in Wales!

The links with the British establishment just keep coming, and of course Libbey provides another to the military-industrial complex, such as we find throughout this saga.

Which is easily explained. Major powers exert influence through ‘soft power’, which can mean aid to third world countries that just happen to have valuable natural resources or are of strategic importance.

What could be more caring and philanthropic than providing clean drinking water?

SUMMARY 

Up until the autumn of 2018 everything seemed to be hunky-dory with Dawnus, Hydro Industries, Swansea University, Thales, Legsun, etc, and there were exciting plans in the pipeline.

Here we are, six months later, and it’s all fallen apart. Perhaps some of those involved were strung along, and once they’d outlived their usefulness they became dispensable.

So what are we left with? Well, there’s Hydro, which I believe to be a ‘front’ company for some agency of the UK state; and then there’s the remains of Dawnus, run by someone who is almost certainly co-operating with the same shadowy elements.

If I’m right, then hundreds of Welsh workers, sub-contractors and suppliers were shafted by the UK Government, which either engineered the collapse of Dawnus or else accepted it as collateral damage. But we’re Welsh, we’re used to being shafted and exploited.

What is unforgivable is that this damage was inflicted on Wales with the support of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ and, especially, that of Carwyn Jones.

♦ end ♦

 

Dawnus 2

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Following on from the previous article, information received justifies a fresh post rather than just an update to the original ‘Dawnus’.

Some of this fresh information gives further support to the theory that much of Dawnus’s tangible assets, in the form of heavy machinery worth millions of pounds, was shipped out to Sierra Leone before Christmas. But it goes much further than that.

Before pushing on let me say that I got something wrong in the previous post (forgiveable, given how many companies and charges are involved). I interpreted this (also below) to be a fresh charge against Dawnus Sierra Leone when in fact it was issued because someone didn’t spell Sierra Leone correctly in the original document!

click to enlarge

MISCELLANEOUS UPDATES

I’m beginning to realise how busy Dawnus was in different parts of the country. For example, the council on Ynys Môn seems to have relied on Dawnus to a great extent, even for services such as road gritting that we would normally expect to undertaken by the council itself.

So embedded was Dawnus into the council’s structure that last year, when it had already become obvious that Dawnus was in trouble, the council was paying for Dawnus’s supplies as the company’s own accounts were blocked. Despite that, Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn handed Dawnus a two million pound contract to alleviate flooding in Beaumaris. A job that was left unfinished when Dawnus finally collapsed.

Another contract in the north was with Natural Resources Wales at the Gwydir Forest, where Dawnus was strengthening four reservoirs. And NRW had other contracts with Dawnus. One project I passed regularly was the tree-felling above the A487 a few miles north of Machynlleth.

The amazing thing perhaps about this whole business is that anyone dealing with Dawnus knew long before the event that the company was in serious financial trouble, so why was Dawnus allowed to limp on?

TRYING TO FOLLOW THE MONEY

This Swansea company that grew from nothing into an international operator with a £200 million annual turnover started to go downhill in 2014/15 after the Ebola outbreak affected its operations in Sierra Leone. At least, that’s the generally accepted theory.

Soon after this Ebola-inspired downturn we see the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, whose Linkedin profile tells us that, “After 30 plus years of working in overseas locations , mainly the Middle East and Canada I am finally returning to work in the UK. Dawnus Construction wish to grow their operations in London and the South East and this represents a new challenge for me.”

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He says he joined Dawnus Construction Ltd as director for London and the South East, and his Linkedin profile says this was in October 2015, but Companies House insists Down wasn’t a director of any Dawnus company until 15 April 2016. That was when he joined Dawnus Southern Ltd, Ashbridge Construction Ltd and Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (which had been Dawnus Construction Ltd until 22 October 2013).

Later that year, on 11 November, he became a partner in Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP (resigning 1 October 2018), before joining Dawnus Group Ltd as a director on 15 February 2017.

I don’t know what to make of this discrepancy over his initial involvement because I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t know who they’re working for, or when they started. Though I suppose we have to accept the rest of his Linkedin entry, which tells us he had previously worked for Laing O’Rourke and Carillion.

Linkedin also tells us Down became Dawnus group managing director in January 2018. Before becoming a director of all the other companies in the group 10/12 March 2018. By which time the skids were well and truly greased.

All of which makes Down joining Dawnus a strange career move, unless he was assured that there was a future at Dawnus, maybe a future guaranteed by players keeping a low profile.

Soon after Down took control a Chattel Mortgage was secured from HSBC Bank plc, on 16 March 2018. This was added to seven other charges taken out between August 2017 and February 2018, either with Lloyds Bank or HSBC. These earlier loans were all against land and property owned by the company.

On 28 March two charges were delivered by ‘Welsh Ministers’ against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (DCH). But only one of them appears to have been delivered against other Dawnus companies in the group.

The one specific to DCH being charge number 042305790020, and if we scroll down to page 10, we start a long list of construction site material, much of it heavy and expensive machinery. By the time we get to page 17 we can see that much of this machinery is in Liberia, with some in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Extract from HSBC Chattel Mortgage on Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd, click to enlarge

This looks to be exactly the same equipment listed in the HSBC Chattel Mortgage. Which suggests that Dawnus took out a mortgage with HSBC and then, less than two weeks later, the ‘Welsh Ministers’ seemed to ‘cover’ the HSBC loan (or part of it).

This raises a number of issues. To begin with, it might disprove the theory that a great deal of machinery came home from Sierra Leone when Ebola struck in 2014/15. Did it move down the road to Liberia, or was there always equipment in Liberia?

What we know is that more equipment went out from Swansea to west Africa before Christmas. I have now seen photographs and other evidence for these shipments.

click to enlarge

And we are talking big money here. Even second-hand machines can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. While a source tells me there’s a thriving export market in second-hand equipment to the land of Uncle Sam, due to the fact that all new machinery sold there must be made in the USA.

The ‘Welsh Government’ is said to have handed over £3.5m, of which two million has been repaid. This was done in early July and the ‘Description of Assets’ would appear to be machines at the Swansea depot, now cleared for export.

But was the ‘Welsh Government’ actually repaid some of the money it was owed, or was it a charade to justify releasing those machines? Perhaps under instructions from a higher authority? Something we’ll consider in a moment.

A FLOCK OF PHOENIX!

In the previous post I told you that since the ‘collapse’ of Dawnus a new company had been formed, called Dawnus International Group Ltd, formed 22 March. Well, it’s already shed the Dawnus name to become DIG International Group Ltd.

And now there’s another new company, Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, Incorporated 28 March. The sole director is Andrew Kenneth Keay of Cardiff.

You may recall that we met Keay in the previous post. He was sole director of Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd from its Incorporation 20 February 2013 until its dissolution 9 June 2015. Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd was resurrected 25 August 2015 with Keay again as sole director.

Keay has also been in business using his own name with Keay Cost Value Engineering Ltd, 9 August 2004 until 28 July 2015.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the original Dawnus Commercial Management folded in June 2015, Keay Cost Value Engineering folded in July, and then Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd was re-born in August.

But that still doesn’t tell us who Keay is, how he fits into the Dawnus picture, and why he uses the name.

Another company I mentioned earlier was Legsun Ltd, where we find Nick Down as director and Timothy Alun Lowe serving as both director and secretary. While not a new company, Legsun had life breathed into a couple of weeks ago when it was able to satisfy three charges with the National Westminster Bank plc.

Legsun Ltd accounts for y/e 31.12.2017, click to enlarge

Quite an achievement for a company that returned a loss of £4,147,000 on turnover of £9,298,000 for year ending 31.12.2017, compared with £1,184,000 and £17,496,000 respectively for the previous year. So how was Legsun able to do it?

These charges were satisfied on the very day it became publicly known that Dawnus had collapsed.

All of which makes it quite obvious that ‘Dawnus’ may have collapsed but certain parts of the group are being hived off to carry on. They may eventually drop the Dawnus name, and will probably be operating overseas.

FLYING THE FLAG?

I am now convinced that the UK government was instrumental in the Dawnus disaster. I believe that Dawnus was propped up – with the help of the ‘Welsh Government’ – for as long as was necessary to prepare things in Africa, then the prop was removed.

Which is a hell of a thing to say, but the evidence is out there. Or rather, as I hope to prove, it’s here, and you’re going to read it.

As I’ve said, everybody knew Dawnus was up Shit Creek, and it’s been known for well over a year, Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn paying Dawnus’ bills is just one example of this. But Dawnus couldn’t be allowed to collapse until things were ready.

The rot had set in some time before that, maybe it was down to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Maybe not. Whatever the truth is, the problems confronting Dawnus, and the company’s resultant vulnerability, probably explain the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down.

Down tells us that he had worked in senior positions overseas for most of his working life, much of it in a sensitive region like the Middle East. He would therefore have had regular contact with the Foreign Office, and perhaps other agencies.

This explains his being sent to Dawnus. The exact manner of his appointment I’m still unsure about, but that doesn’t really matter, what’s important is his background and the timing of his arrival.

For Dawnus was to become a company run at arms-length by the UK government to serve the UK’s strategic interests in another sensitive region, Africa. For while there had been a tendency to ignore sub-Saharan Africa in the post-colonial period recent Chinese investment in the continent had changed all that.

Where’s the evidence?

OK, let’s go back to August last year, when the prime minister Theresa May was in South Africa, and we heard of a ‘Swansea consortium’, involving Dawnus, Swansea University, and Hydro Industries Ltd of Llangennech. (The Uni and Hydro Industries had in fact shacked up in January.)

Image courtesy of Getty Images, click to enlarge

So who or what is Hydro Industries? Well, it seems to have been a small company, bumping along, under the directorship of David Pickering and a couple of others. That is Dai Pickering formerly of the Welsh Rugby Union, arch-Brit and obsequious royalist.

Pickering, together with Wayne Preece and Robert Lovering, took over the company in January 2013 from its founders. After more than five years of glorious obscurity they were joined on the board in June 2018 by Guto Harri, former BBC journalist and later ‘communications director’ for Boris Johnson.

Why would Tory insider Harri join a small company in Carmarthenshire? What’s more, one in a very poor financial state.

For the most recent accounts for Hydro Industries, up to 31 March 2017, make for grim reading. Yet despite being in such a parlous state the three director still paid themselves £290,489, and also made a political donation of £20,000! (Socialist Workers Party, probably.)

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Harri was soon followed by other big hitters, check them out for yourself. If you’re wondering who Diane Marguerite Marie Briere De L’isle is I can tell you that she’s the French wife of Henry Englehardt, American founder of Admiral Insurance.

So one minute we have a little company in Carmarthenshire up to its neck in debt, and the next minute it’s attracting rich and influential people, who now control and own the company, with Dai and his mates kept on for appearance’ sake . . . though I’m sure they’re getting well paid for it.

And all this happens at the same time as troubled Dawnus is taken over, hollowed out and asset stripped, with the expensive equipment shipped off to Africa, and once that’s all done Dawnus is allowed to collapse. And we know these events are linked because the prime minister is in RSA pushing a ‘Swansea Consortium’.

Dawnus was kept alive and then put down, throwing Welsh people out of work, leaving Welsh sub-contractors and Welsh suppliers unpaid. Leaving contracts across Wales unfinished, causing misery and disruption to many, many people.

And the ‘Welsh Government’ collaborated enthusiastically in this conspiracy to inflict misery on Welsh people. ‘Welsh’ Labour became a willing party to England’s protection of her post-colonial interests in Africa by doing down, yet again, her first and oldest colony.

This about sums up the Labour Party . . . and devolution . . . and Wales’ relationship with England. When are we going to learn?

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 09:00: Something in the back of my mind told me, ‘Check on Dai Pickering – haven’t you read something somewhere?’ So I did. And I had. Pickering ‘bought’ the Llangennech site where we find Hydro Industries.

Initially Carmarthenshire County Council bought the site from the MoD and sold it on in a ‘no other bidders’ deal to Pickering. Or so it was assumed, but the Land Registry makes clear that the site is actually owned by his partner Robert Lovering.

But Pickering was the perfect door-opener – Oh, Dai Pickering, played for Wales. Tidy boy, mun – what do he wunt?’ And he had debts. But his record as a rugby player and then as a WRU official meant he was perfect for whoever wanted to impress the locals and make use of the Llangennech site.

Among those that took up residence on the Llangennech site was the Prince’s Trust, and wouldn’t you know it – Brigadier Rick Libbey, now Chief Operating Officer of Hydro Industries, “spent four years as the Director of The Prince’s Trust Cymru and Director for South West England”.

I suggest you read Cneifiwr’s article in which he refers to a piece by Paddy French of Rebecca Television. Also worth a read is this Carmarthenshire Planning item from October 2017. These explain the background to the Llangennech deal. And they make clear that certain people have friends in very high places.

Given the involvement of Mark James and Swansea University I do hope the UK government isn’t planning to further rip off the Swansea City deal to serve its interests in Africa.

Dawnus

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

A story that’s taken up a lot of column inches and air time recently is the collapse of contractors Dawnus; which is sad in so many ways; lost jobs, another blow for my home town, and public money down the Swanee. (Or, in this case, the Tawe.) It’s this final consideration that seems to have exercised the minds of our tribunes and our scribblers.

But the interest has been only superficial.

Here’s a piece from the Wasting Mule that seems satisfied to learn that two million pounds from a ‘Welsh Government’ loan of three and a half million has been returned, with the spokesperson confident that they’d soon see the balance.

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From reading that article you might get the impression that there’s a single company called Dawnus which received just one loan. The truth is rather different, and quite confusing.

MORE THAN JUST A COMPANY

There are no less than 10 companies bearing the Dawnus name (with another dissolved). Then there are other companies also operating out of Unit 7 Dyffryn Court, Riverside Business Park, Swansea Vale, SA7 0AP, not far from Junction 45 of the M4.

The full list of Dawnus companies with dates of their formation is:

  1. Dawnus Construction Holdings Limited (Originally Dawnus Construction Ltd) (07.06.2001)
  2. Dawnus Ltd (21.02.2002)
  3. Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd (Originally Dawnus Developments Ltd) (14.01.2003)
  4. Dawnus International Ltd (Originally Dawnus Plant Ltd) (23.01.2003)
  5. Churchfield Homes Ltd (Originally Dawnus Homes Ltd) (06.01.2004)
  6. Dawnus Developments Ltd (Originally Dawnus Holdings Ltd) (20.10.2004)
  7. Construction Recyclate Management Ltd (Originally Dawnus Northern Ltd) (02.08.2005)
  8. Quantum Geotechnical Ltd (Originally Construction Geotechnical Ltd) (22.09.2011)
  9. Dawnus Holdings Ltd
  10. Dawnus Southern Ltd (08.04.2011)
  11. Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd (1) (20.02.2013 – 09.06.2015)
  12. Dawnus Group Ltd (02.09.2013)
  13. Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd (2) (24.08.2015)
  14. Dawnus Consulting Ltd (18.05.2018)
  15. Dawnus International Group Ltd (22.03.2019)

A number of things struck me when compiling that list. First, the sheer number of companies. Second, the way names seem to switch within the group. Third, Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd, why did it dissolve in June 2015 and resurrect in August, with the same director, Andrew Keay?

Come to that, who is Andrew Keay and why is he using the Dawnus name? All I know at the moment is that he also had his own company, Keay Cost Value Engineering Ltd, and this also went belly-up in July 2015.

Then, last Friday, a new company was formed, Dawnus International Group Limited, with its address given as, ‘c/o Acuity Legal Limited, 3 Assembly Square, Britannia Quay, Cardiff CF10 4PL’.

Acuity Law is well-connected in Cardiff Bay, and also with the higher levels of officialdom in Wales. Which explains why they’re lawyers for Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James. And they’ve done a great job of defending – nay, burnishing! – his reputation. Acuity will in no small part be responsible for the outpouring of communal grief that will accompany James’ retirement in June.

Of course most companies begin life using the address of an accountant or a lawyer before changing to a more permanent address, but I just find it significant that in this case it should be Acuity Law.

Now let us turn to loans made to Dawnus. Yes, there’s more than one.

WHO OWES WHAT, AND TO WHOM?

The newspaper article I reproduced above tells us that the Cardiff Bay management team made a loan of £3.5 million to ‘Dawnus’ of which two million has been repaid. So there shouldn’t be much to worry about. Mmm . . .

Except that . . .

  • Working our way down the list of Dawnus companies in the order seen in the previous section we find two outstanding charges against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd with ‘the Welsh Ministers’, delivered 28.03.2018, both part-cleared 02.07.2018. (Do these part-cleared charges account for the repaid £2m?)
  • There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus Ltd delivered 28.03.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd, delivered 06.04.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus International Ltd, delivered 28.08.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Churchfield Homes Ltd, delivered 28.03.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus Developments Ltd, delivered 28.03.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Quantum Geotechnical Ltd, delivered 28.03.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus Southern Ltd, delivered 28.08.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against the Dawnus Group Ltd, delivered 28.03.2018.

So there are at least three charges.

But we need to be careful because when querying similar charges – with the Development Bank for Wales – for a number of companies run by the same individual, and asking why a company based in London had received funding, I was initially given the ‘group’ answer.

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But in the example I was querying there was no group, just many companies run by the same guy, Jimbo Lynch of Cardigan (for it is he!).

And then I checked with Companies House and wondered why alarm bells didn’t ring in Cardiff when this appeared on the document –

click to enlarge

Beachbay is a company that has bought and runs property in London, it should never have received funding from what was then Finance Wales. I’m now waiting for another excuse explanation.

It’s obviously much easier to make the ‘group’ argument with Dawnus, but if so, then which is the parent company? And even if the group explanation holds, there are still at least three outstanding charges; two delivered on 28.03.2018, and one on 06.04.2018 to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd.

Though this last one raises the question of whether the Development Bank for Wales should be funding a company that presumably operates in west Africa.

Newspaper and media reports give the impression there is just one company, yet we know there are many using the Dawnus name. This BBC Wales report only confuses matters further by (at the foot) introducing a company called Dawnus Liberia, which I can’t find anywhere.

Though an internet search for Dawnus Liberia turned up this article which mentions Legsun Building Services. The company is actually called Legsun Ltd, and is based in Cardiff. When I checked the Legsun directors I saw the names Timothy Alun Lowe and Nicholas Charles Down, names I recognised from the Dawnus companies.

In fact, Down was appointed to the boards of 12 companies at the Dawnus address on March 10/12 last year. Some of these companies do not carry the Dawnus name but are presumably part of the group. Companies like Ashridge Construction Ltd, Pond Bridge Management Company Ltd, Dyffryn Court Management Ltd and Medrus Plant Hire Ltd (that began life in 2011 as Port Talbot Tyres). To confuse matters, there is also Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP.

Apart from the LLP all the companies have charges against them – or are covered by the group charge – held by ‘the Welsh Ministers’ and delivered 28.03.2018, just two weeks after Down became a director for most of them.

Let us return to Legsun for a moment, where we found both Lowe and Down serving as directors. The accounts to 31.12.2017 record a loss of £4,147,000 on turnover of £9,298,000, compared with £1,184,000 and £17,496,000 respectively for the previous year.

Yet despite apparently being up Shit Creek, Legsun was able to settle three charges on March 14 with the National Westminster Bank, the very day it was announced that Dawnus was in administration. Did the money come from Dawnus Group Ltd, as is suggested in the extract below from the accounts?

click to enlarge

And if so, was it simply moving money beyond the reach of creditors, or was there something else going on?

Nicholas Charles Down first appears in April 2016 as a director of three companies – Dawnus Southern, Dawnus Construction Holdings and Ashbridge Construction. In November we find him as one of the original designated members of Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP. He joins Dawnus Group Ltd in February 2017, and finally, as we’ve just seen, he becomes director of a whole raft of companies in March 2018, including Legsun.

So who is Nicholas Charles Down? Well, here’s his Linkedin profile which tells us that before joining Dawnus he was managing director of Laing O’Rourke for three and a half years.

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You’ll note that Down’s Linkedin profile says he became a director of ‘Dawnus Construction Ltd’ in October 2015, but that name was not used after October 2013; Companies House tells us he became a director of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd 15.04.2016.

How do we account for this discrepancy? Was he there ‘undercover’ from October 2015 before becoming a registered director in April 2016? It’s possible, because according to his Linkedin profile he left his previous post at Laing O’Rourke in June 2015.

Though I can’t find Down listed as a director for any Laing O’Rourke company.

Someone else who got involved around the same time was Albert James Barclay, a Scot, who was director of Carillion Construction (West Indies) Ltd from June 2005 until August 18, 2017. That company was wound up in November 2018, a casualty of the more general collapse of the Carillion group.

Barclay has been, since 12.03.2018, a director of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd and, since 25.08.2017, a designated member of Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP.

ALL PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR?

The reason I decided to write this piece is because someone contacted me with rather disturbing information. As I’ve hinted, Dawnus did a great deal of work in west Africa, principally Sierra Leone.

This work was badly hit by the outbreak of Ebola, which began in January 2014. As a result of which a great deal of heavy machinery was shipped back to Wales and parked up in the Dawnus yard in Clydach.

One source insists that this heavy equipment accounted for a considerable part of the Dawnus group’s assets.

About a week ago someone popped down to the yard and mooched around a bit. It seems there’s a new security firm from Carmarthen on site and so the guard he spoke with couldn’t tell him much. But my mate wandered around, looked through the fence and estimated that the yard had room for a hundred or so sizeable machines, but there were only five there. It was clear that many of the spaces had recently been vacated.

Perhaps the intention always was that this equipment would return to Africa, and that’s what I’m told happened towards the end of last year when almost all the equipment was shipped out again, presumably back to Sierra Leone.

click to enlarge

Which means that at a time when everybody – including suppliers, sub-contractors and ‘Welsh Government’ – knew that Dawnus was in deep, deep trouble, big money assets were leaving the country.

I can’t help but wonder if the numbers given on the part-repayment made by Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd refers to heavy machinery. If so, then the part-repayment might have cleared them to be exported from August or September onwards.

But was Peter being robbed to pay Paul? Or to put it bluntly, could the loan in April – that no one seems to talk about – have funded the part-repayment in July?

This almost certainly links to the one constant in the Dawnus media reports, which say UK work has stopped but ‘overseas operations will continue’, or that only group companies operating in the UK are in the hands of the receivers.

But with a Byzantine structure like the Dawnus group of companies who knows what’s what? Does the ‘Welsh Government’ know which companies are in receivership? For nothing is filed yet with Companies House to say that any Dawnus company is in receivership.

TRYING TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER

If Sierra Leone and Ebola were the undoing of Dawnus, then the problems started at the beginning of 2014. But in fairness, Dawnus didn’t just cut and run; no, the company stayed and helped fight the outbreak. And the UK Government also sent help, including military personnel.

Image courtesy of Imperial War Museum, click to enlarge

Let’s put together a little timeline to help us make sense of the events leading up to the Dawnus collapse and subsequent happenings:

  1. Up to 2013 things seem to be going well, at home and in Africa
  2. January 2014, Ebola outbreak begins in Sierra Leone
  3. Heavy equipment is moved from Sierra Leone to Wales
  4. The company’s financial health starts to suffer
  5. Late 2015/early 2016, Nick Down appears
  6. March 2018, the ‘Welsh Ministers’ loan Dawnus £3m
  7. April 2018, there is a further loan specific to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd
  8. From August/September 2018 Dawnus becomes noticeably slower in paying suppliers and sub-contractors
  9. From September 2018, it is reported that heavy equipment is leaving Swansea for Sierra Leone.
  10. March 13/14 2019, it is announced that Dawnus is in the hands of receivers
  11. March 14, 2019, loss-making Legsun satisfies three charges
  12. March 22, Dawnus International Group Ltd registered with Companies House

So what does that tell us? To begin with, it doesn’t tell us how or why – or at whose request? – Nicholas Charles Down got involved with Dawnus. One source is adamant that everything started to go pear-shaped with his arrival. Though I suspect that the writing was on the wall and Down was brought it to sort things out.

Turning to the ‘Welsh Ministers’. It’s obvious that their loan (or loans) is linked with Down taking control of so many companies in March 2018. It’s equally clear that this was never going to be enough to save the Dawnus group, it was just enough money to keep it limping along for a while.

Long enough for Dawnus to be restructured and the heavy equipment moved back to Africa. Though the ‘Welsh Government’ must have been aware of this, for it almost certainly explains the further loan, in April 2018, to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd. Should this loan have ever been made?

Among the known unknowns is new company Dawnus International Group Ltd, for the directors are names previously associated with the Dawnus group. So is the new company challenging the new regime?

Whatever street-fighting may still be going on in the ruins of Dawnus this whole business reflects very badly on the ‘Welsh Government’. For Dawnus was a major Welsh company and serious investment might have saved the group, but the miserably inadequate contribution made only delayed the inevitable. And the ‘Welsh Government’ knew that when it made the loans.

When I think of the money showered on every crook and chancer who crosses the border with a half-baked idea scrawled on the back of a fag packet it makes me angry to see that nothing was done to save a major Welsh company already in business, with good contracts, providing work for hundreds of our people.

Instead, the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ appears to have encouraged, facilitated, and perhaps funded, the demise of Dawnus. The only question remaining is, was this done through malice or incompetence?

At the end of the day, for all those who’ve suffered, does it really matter?

♦ end ♦

Devolution has failed; Wales either moves forward or we get taken back

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I am a nationalist; all my life I have wanted my country, Wales, and my people, the Welsh, to be independent of Britain/England.

I want independence now more than ever.

THE CASE FOR THE ASSEMBLY

Let me start this section by admitting that this piece was prompted by something I read in yesterday’s Wasting Mule. (See below.)

The thought of those buffoons down Cardiff docks having a self-congratulatory bash  for twenty years of devolution is insulting to every one of us outside of the tiny minority that has benefited from devolution.

The picture shows people celebrating the referendum result in September 1997. I guarantee there will be no such celebrations for the Assembly’s 20th birthday – no matter how much free booze is laid on. Click to enlarge

Even so, let us try to be positive and look on the bright side, let’s try to remember the good things that twenty years of devolution have delivered.

Well, there’s . . . um . . . and then there’s, er . . . and we mustn’t forget, uh, you know . . .

Truth is that in concrete and positive terms – beyond free prescriptions and other gimmicks – there really is nothing. For unless you’re Stan ‘the pies’ Thomas or some other ‘developer’, a third sector parasite who smelled easy money and slithered over the border, or you’re one the shysters with their snout in the grants trough, there really is nothing to celebrate about two decades of devolution.

Away from the banal and the everyday we are told by otherwise intelligent people that devolution is a wonderful thing because Wales is taken more seriously as a country because we have an Assembly. We are now in the realm of the symbolic.

Don’t get me wrong, in my younger days I was a great one for the symbolism myself. It’s why I tried to saw the head off a statue in Aberystwyth prior to the Investiture in 1969. For what could be more symbolic than beheading the statue of a soi-disant ‘Prince of Wales’ to remind our people of the beheading of a true Prince of Wales in 1282?

But symbolism can only take you so far. It don’t put food on the table. So I reject the ‘more of a country’ argument. To those who truly care, Wales has always been a country, with or without devolution.

And if symbolism is the best that defenders of devolution can come up with, then in reality there’s little to be said in favour of the Assembly, and nothing to celebrate.

THE CASE AGAINST THE ASSEMBLY

It is proven by countless surveys and studies that Wales is worse off today than she was in 1999 when the First Assembly sat. Whether it’s the economy we look at, or education, the health service, or any other field, Wales has gone backwards over the past twenty years.

That would be bad enough, but because of devolution, and the absurd symbolism attached to the Assembly, devolution has facilitated damage that would have been difficult if not impossible to inflict directly from London.

What am I taking about? Let’s consider a few examples.

I’ve mentioned the third sector, so let me explain what I mean. I’m talking now of the influx we’ve seen of third sector ‘professionals’ to set up or grow organisations that supplement or replace local and/or central government agencies. This influx has been so great that we now have a much bigger third sector pro rata than either England or Scotland.

And because the driving imperative is securing careers and salaries rather than public service devolution has created a vast superstructure of publicly funded bodies competing with each other and duplicating each other’s work. For as I was informed in the answer to a Freedom of Information request submitted to the ‘Welsh Government’ we have no less than 48 organisations combating homelessness.

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Each and every one of those organisations has a vested interest in NOT solving the problem of homelessness because to do so would mean a loss of funding resulting in many people losing their cushy jobs.

What applies to homelessness can be extended to every other segment of the third sector – duplication, competition, waste of public funding and a financial disincentive to achieving the espoused goal.

Why does this insane system persist? Because a bloated third sector provides benefits for ‘Welsh’ Labour:

  1. ‘Welsh’ Labour can blame the need for such extravagance on the Tories.
  2. A vast third sector needed to combat Tory callousness allows ‘Welsh’ Labour to present itself as ‘caring’.
  3. The third sector provides countless opportunities for ‘Welsh’ Labour to practice the cronyism for which it is rightly famed.
  4. ‘Welsh’ Labour uses the third sector as an auxiliary organisation to the party proper and even as a means to extend the influence of the party in areas of the country where it has little electoral support.

This third sector is a creation of devolution, and would be retained, or even expanded, if Plaid Cymru was in coalition with Labour or replaced Labour.

Now let’s consider ways in which Wales is damaged that would have been far more difficult to achieve were it not for devolution.

Not so long ago I wrote about the despoliation of Powys by wind turbines. Specifically, the Hendy site where, under pressure from her London masters, the wretched Leslie Griffiths over-ruled the planning inspector’s decision and allowed the development to proceed.

Let’s say we had no devolution, and someone in London had said; ‘Now look, you Welsh chappies, we intend desecrating some place called Llan-thingey so that some of our hedge fund chums can capitalise on the generous subsidies’. I suggest there would have been a hostile reaction.

But run it through the ‘Welsh Government’ filter, throw in a load of bollocks about saving the planet, and the only objectors can be dismissed as a bunch of ‘nimbys’.

Staying with environmental bollocks, the ‘Welsh Government’ has signed up to the One Planet scam, which in Wales means encouraging an influx of hippies to take over land and ignore planning and other regulations because it’s good for the environment, innit.

The justification given is that Wales must reduce her carbon footprint . . . so we are expected to believe that this can be achieved by encouraging people into Wales, letting them take over unused land, working that land, driving their vehicles around the countryside, and filling the air with smoke from their wood-burning stoves, their joss sticks, and whatever they’re smoking.

Let the full idiocy of that premiss sink in for a minute.

Emboldened by previous successes these well-to-do enviro-shysters are no longer satisfied with hobbit houses and pig shit, they have now set their eyes on vast swathes of our country – and again, the ‘Welsh Government’ is helping, as we see with the Summit to Sea project, the first of many.

The area claimed by Summit to Sea runs along the coast from Aberdyfi to Aberystwyth then inland, following the A44 up to Llangurig (deviating south to Cwmystwth) and then on to Llanidloes, after which it’s the minor road up to Llanbrynmair, and Glantwymyn, before heading down the Dyfi valley to Aberdyfi. The area of sea claimed begins well north of Aberdyfi near Llanfendigaid. Click to enlarge.

Again I ask you to imagine a spokesperson for the London government announce, ‘We shall clear Welsh farmers and other indigenes from the land so that thousands of acres can be taken over by Mr Monbiot and his friends for their rewilding projects’.

There would have been a national outcry . . . but get the ‘Welsh Government’ to promote this clearance and colonisation programme and it confuses the issue, and makes it much easier to push it through.

What I’m describing here is what I’ve dubbed ‘The Godfather Syndrome’. You’ll recall that in that movie the Mafia had a profitable relationship with the Batista regime. Hardly surprising seeing as US corporations controlled the economic life of Cuba and despite being nominally independent the island was almost a colony of the USA.

Something similar is happening in Wales, with the beneficiaries speaking Estuary English rather than Brooklynese. Some may think I’m going too far with this analogy but the facilitating principle is the same – weak leadership here and a colonial relationship with their home country allows such groups and individuals to benefit from our country, at our expense.

Small countries and ex-colonies being run by remote control is a global phenomenon. For example, the ‘stans’ of Central Asia are of course independent – but still take orders from the Kremlin. The former French colonies in West Africa remain under a loose form of French control and the old colonial power regularly sends in the Legion to safeguard its interests.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that George Monbiot is to be compared with Michael Corleone, Vladimir Putin or the President of France but the truth persists that well-organised lobbies and groups such as those to which Monbiot belongs have looked at Wales and said, ‘Mmm, here is a small country, with a devolved legislature and an Assembly stuffed with third-rate politicians that we can bend to our will’.

And because Monbiot and his ilk have establishment connections they are aided by the fact that so much of our national life is controlled by civil servants that ostensibly serve the ‘Welsh Government’ but in reality answer to London.

But it’s not just Monbiot and his environmentalist friends, there’a whole galaxy of interests able to take advantage of ‘The Godfather Syndrome’ in ways that would be impossible without the chimera of devolution and a ‘Welsh’ Assembly acting as a ‘screen’ for what is – as in pre-Castro Cuba – thinly-disguised colonialism.

Finally, there’s the naked corruption. Cardiff Bay is a cess-pit where politicians and civil servants can be ‘influenced’, to the extent that the ‘Welsh Government’ is unique on this island in refusing to introduce a register of lobbyists . . . at the insistence of the lobbyists!

WHERE DO WE GO NEXT?

You must understand that devolution was never supposed to work for Wales. We were offered devolution, in a package with Scotland, because there were some in the Labour Party that agreed with George Robertson, who thought that devolution would “kill the SNP stone dead”.

Obviously he was wrong about the SNP, but in Wales devolution has worked perfectly because ‘the threat of nationalism’ has been represented by Plaid Cymru. After the initial shock of the first Assembly elections in 1999 Plaid obligingly removed Dafydd Wigley and then went on to bury its head up its arse by becoming obsessed with niche issues.

This is why those who argue that devolution is a ‘stepping-stone’ to independence are wrong. As are those who believe that devolution could work if we only ‘got rid of Labour’.

What devolution has achieved – and what it was designed to achieve – is to create a class of politicians, apparatchiki, third sector operatives and others, who either rely on devolution for their pay cheques or else enjoy having status and prestige without the responsibility that would come with independence.

And for as long as it toes the London line this colonial management class will be defended and supported by its Whitehall masters, for it disguises what is not merely continuing control from London but increased control.

Which leaves Wales stuck in a situation where not only is devolution not delivering for Wales, it is actually making things worse than they would be without devolution.

Which, for me, means the choice has to be moving forward or going back. And I want to move forward, to independence. But one of the biggest, and most bizarre, obstacles is that many of those claiming to want independence rush to the defence of devolution!

Make up your bloody mind – you can’t have both!

Image Jane Barlow PA/AP/File reproduced courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor. Click to enlarge.

The UK is already tearing itself apart over Brexit and this leads to an increasing likelihood of Scottish independence and Irish reunification, and then there’s the rise of the far right in England, all of which mean there has never been a better time to push for independence.

Devolution is thoroughly discredited, so anyone defending devolution is lining up with the colonial management class and their London masters.

We must be bold and push for independence, because defending the indefensible leaves the field open for those who will capitalise on devolution’s manifest failure to take us in the opposite direction and, ultimately, assimilation.

But being asked to ‘celebrate’ twenty years of devolution takes me back to 1969 and the Investiture, when we were asked to commemorate 700 years of subjugation. Now where did I put those hacksaws . . .

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Poor old Swansea! victim of devolution and Cardiff-centricity

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

THE TOWN I LOVED SO WELL

As you’re probably aware, I am a native of Swansea; as it says on my Twitter profile, “A Jack by blood, birth, upbringing and inclination”. Despite having spent most of my life away from the city it remains my home town, it’s where my roots lie, and it’s where my heart will ever be. (Cue violins.)

When I was very young Swansea was still pulling itself together after being knocked about by the Luftwaffe, and despite the disastrous rebuilding of the centre we kids accepted it – ‘modern, see’. Of course, our parents and grandparents missed the old town, Ben Evans department store (‘the Harrods of Wales’) and all the rest.

And as Dylan Thomas reminds us in Return Journey, so much else was gone, including the famous Kardomah cafe, where he had ‘argued the toss’ with Vernon Watkins, Dan Jones, Arthur Janes and the rest of the gang.

A view from pre-war Swansea, courtesy of Swansea Recalled, click to enlarge

On the economic front, the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s were pretty good, you could tell the boss to F— Off on Friday and find a fresh job on Monday.

Despite what Turks and other disbelievers might say, we had the best rugby team in Wales; in summer, Glamorgan could pull 20,000 to St Helen’s, and in football, well, most of the 1958 World Cup team came from Swansea, and if Big John hadn’t been hacked out by the Hungarians in the previous game we would have beaten Brazil and won the competition.

Obviously there was some disappointment when in 1955 Cardiff was named capital, but we soon got over it because what did the title mean in practical terms? So we shrugged and continued to enjoy being the pre-eminent sub-species.

But since the 1980s it’s been noticeably downhill for Swansea in just about every conceivable sphere. And devolution has only made things worse.

BALLS, AND PLAYING SILLY BUGGERS

I’ve mentioned St Helen’s Rugby and Cricket Ground (to give it its full name), which opened in 1873 and held Wales’ first-ever home rugby international in 1882. It hosted rugby internationals until 1954. I suppose some might say that Swansea’s decline began when it lost rugby international games to Cardiff. For Swansea’s loss is invariably Cardiff’s gain.

Glamorgan v West Indies at St Helen’s, August 1950. Courtesy of Casgliad y Werin. Click to enlarge.

Since losing rugby international matches in 1954 St Helen’s has also lost Glamorgan CCC games to the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, where crowds are smaller than they were at St Helen’s. So the move would appear to make no economic sense, but that’s to miss the point, for the Swalec Stadium was built so that Cardiff can host England games. Yes, honestly. This of course brings money into the city, but with collateral damage in the loss of our national cricket team.

A loss the political and business leaders of Cardiff consider a price worth paying. Which tells us a number of things, among them that it’s not simply Swansea that loses out to Cardiff’s insatiable greed and self-aggrandisement.

Of course, some of Swansea’s wounds are self-inflicted. The city centre is a disaster area. The planning of traffic movement, one-way systems, pedestrianisation and the rest could have been handed over to a bunch of ten-year-olds forty years ago and today they could be showing their adult children around the city with pride – because they couldn’t have done a worse job than successive city administrations. Administrations that, with all-too-brief interludes, have been Labour.

The most recent such interlude was from 2004 until 2012 when the Liberal Democrat-led Swansea Administration ran the council in coalition with assorted others. In 2004 Plaid Cymru had five councillors, the group led by Darren Price, but refused to join the coalition, deluding itself it held the balance of power and could therefore dictate things. Which didn’t work out, so towards the end Price was having regular and quite open meetings with David ‘Il Duce‘ Phillips, the Labour leader, and ‘Rocking’ Rene Kinzett, local Tory hetman.

This unholy alliance eventually triumphed and Il Duce was restored to power in 2012, carried aloft by a crowd of thousands marching down the Mumbles Road singing the Red Flag interspersed with throaty renditions of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. (OK, I made that bit up.)

Alas, ‘Rocking’ Rene fell from grace, and his fall was complete when he was caught with child pornography. Il Duce was soon overthrown in a coup and also ended up in court, but for fly-tipping and taking over somebody else’s garage, with the rightful owner describing Phillips as a “nutcase”!

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In the elections of 2008 Plaid Cymru went down to one seat, and since 2012 it has had none. Darren Price crossed over and sold his soul to Beelzebub. (Trans: is a councillor in Carmarthenshire serving His Omnipotence Mark James.) Today Plaid Cymru barely exists in Swansea. Some ‘Party of Wales’, eh?

That said, not all the wounds were self-inflicted, and not when it comes to the state of the city centre. For long before the rise of internet shopping started doing its damage Swansea’s city centre was being undermined by out-of-town shopping, though as I say, this time the council was not entirely to blame.

Certainly not when it came to the Swansea Enterprise Park on the east side of the River Tawe, overlooked by Bonymaen and Llansamlet, the first and largest Enterprise Zone (as it originally was) in the UK, covering some 735 acres. Planned for light manufacturing and warehousing retailing was given the green light by Nicholas Edwards, Secretary of State for Wales under Margaret Thatcher until 1987.

Major stores and other retail outlets locating to the Enterprise Park certainly hurt the city centre, but then, Edwards couldn’t be bothered with that, because he had bigger fish to fry. For Nicholas Edwards was a man with big plans for Cardiff through the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, set up by him to pump public money into land owned by Associated British Ports, of which he just happened to be the leading director.

This, perhaps the biggest single rip-off of public funding in Welsh history, is detailed in Corruption Bay, a document I compiled almost 20 years ago, but the facts, and the interpretations, still hold up.

DEVOLUTION – SHAFTED AGAIN!

Corruption Bay also explains why our Notional Assembly came to be located in Cardiff Bay – for the benefit of Associated British Ports, and as a ‘consolation prize’ for the opera house was that was never built. For among the countless ‘hats’ worn by Nick Edwards were director of the Welsh National Opera and chairman of the Cardiff Bay Opera Trust.

Even though Cardiff Bay eventually won the Assembly Swansea Guildhall was the only site that met the criteria on value for money and availability set out by Secretary of State Ron Davies in the search for a home for the new institution after negotiations over Cardiff City Hall – the assumed location for the Assembly – collapsed. But once again, Swansea was done down by certain influencers in Cardiff. (Explained in Corruption Bay.)

This competition ‘won’ by Swansea seems to have been written out of recent Welsh history; but then, as Churchill said, history is written by the victors, and what passes for the ‘Welsh media’ is the voice of Cardiff. (Fortunately, the subterranean and bomb-proof Jo’tN archives contain a library of newspaper articles from the period.)

After the ‘competition’ was launched, and as the terrifying prospect of the Assembly being housed in Swansea sunk in, the Western Mail and the rest of the ‘Welsh media’ went into hyper-drive, even accusing politicians and civil servants of leaning on Ron Davies to favour Swansea, as this ludicrous article from 3 March 1998 spells out.

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Yes, Rachel Lomax, then top civil servant at the Welsh Office, had been born in Swansea; and yes, there was something odd and unconvincing about her spat with council leader Russell Goodway over leasing Cardiff City Hall; but there was never any danger of the Assembly not being in Cardiff, but it was going to the Bay, for the benefit of Nick Edwards and his mates in Associated British Ports.

Which meant that the real beneficiaries of a National Assembly for Wales were a bunch of Tories who had always opposed devolution. They laughed all the way to their banks. (Which were probably offshore.)

And poor old Swansea got shafted, yet again.

NOTHING CHANGES

In recent years Swansea has received further blows in the form of rail electrification ending at Cardiff thanks to Chris Grayling, the man who never gets anything wrong; and the plug being pulled on the tidal lagoon.

How energetically Swansea’s case was argued by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ is anyone’s guess. If I had to put money on it, I’d say the response was, ‘OK, fair enough, we’ll pass the message on’.

Even after the disappointment of electrification and the tidal lagoon there were still bright spots in the gloom. Among them, the growing reputation of Swansea University, and its increasingly lucrative spin-offs.

Since 1998, when the Times and Sunday Times started publishing their ‘Good University Guide’, Cardiff University had been top in Wales, but by 2016 things were changing in favour of Swansea University. A change confirmed in the 2019 Guide. (Though for some reason WalesOnline thinks the change happened in 2019!)

But lo! out of a clear blue sky, and just before Christmas, came the bombshell that senior figures at Swansea University had been suspended. Apparently this was connected with the University’s links to the Wellness Village in Llanelli, pet project of His Omnipotence Mark James.

Llanelli’s planned Wellness Village, click to enlarge

Now I won’t deny that the Wellness Village project may be the ultimate vanity project; and maybe the University’s involvement should have appeared more institutional than personal; but at the same time, I can imagine certain interests in Cardiff jumping at the opportunity to take Swansea University down a peg or two. And the ‘Welsh Government’ was only too happy to assist.

Vice-Chancellor Richard Davies has been replaced by Paul Boyle, an uninspiring Englishman who is “looking forward to being back by the sea!” – is he going paddling? No doubt Boyle is under instructions to rein in Swansea’s ambition and not get ideas above his University’s ordained station (below Cardiff in any rankings that matter).

UPDATE 13.03.2019: Just one day after I published this post the Western Mail, which used to be known as Llais y Sais (voice of the English), and could more correctly be re-named Llais Caerdydd (voice of Cardiff), published another piece it hoped would reflect badly on Swansea University. The unmistakeable message in the unattributed article is that these donations are ‘irregular’, perhaps dirty money.

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AND THEN THERE’S THE WELSH RUGBY UNION

It’s difficult to know where to start with this section, because rarely, even in the history of Wales, have so many been pissed off by so few. The few in question belong to the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and something called the Professional Rugby Board. Few would have heard of the PRB until last week.

For it was last week we heard that the WRU intended forcing through a merger of the Ospreys (the West Glamorgan region) and the Scarlets, the Llanelli super club. Not only that, but we also learnt that the WRU had previously tried to force through a ‘merger’ of the Ospreys with Cardiff Blues, another club that rejected regional rugby back in 2003.

No matter on which level we consider this, or from which angle we approach it, these proposed ‘mergers’ are insane. The Ospreys are Wales’s most successful rugby outfit yet the WRU wants to do away with them.

And then, how drunk do you have to be to think that Swansea rugby fans, having seen their team killed off, would travel the 40-odd miles to support Cardiff?

And when it comes to the takeover by Llanelli Scarlets, the WRU’s argument is that the Ospreys are broke while the Scarlets are in rude financial health. Llanelli Scarlets were for a long time kept afloat by the WRU, then Carmarthenshire County Council – Mark James again – took over the life-support system and poured in millions of pounds of council taxpayers’ money.

People in the world of rugby are laughing openly at the Welsh Rugby Union. Click to enlarge

Not only that, but all manner of imaginative special arrangements were dreamed up by Mark James to keep Llanelli Scarlets, and their white elephant stadium, afloat. Because Parc y Scarlets has never been financially viable. Whereas the Ospreys have no such worries because they share the Liberty Stadium with the Swans.

Mark James retires in June, and when he’s gone those who have cowered in his shadow this many a year may grow cojones and start questioning some of his decisions. Not least why Carmarthenshire County Council has written off millions of pounds owed to the people of Carmarthenshire by Llanelli Scarlets. And why revenue was lost in ‘concessions’ and all manner of questionable arrangements.

But anyone, in the Welsh Rugby Union, or anywhere else, who thinks that Llanelli Scarlets is a financial success story must be relying on the kind of accountants who appear on this blog . . . and often appear before a judge and jury.

Looking east, the WRU owns Newport Dragons, the least successful of our four ‘regions’. Newport is the same distance from Cardiff as Llanelli is from Swansea, so why not merge Cardiff and Newport into a South East region, and have them play at a new stadium to be built in Pontypridd or Pontypool? For neither Cardiff nor Newport has made any serious attempt to engage with their Valleys’ hinterlands. Making a mockery of ‘regional rugby’.

Another aspect is that these absurd mergers were proposed because the WRU wants a new region in the north. Back in 2003, when regional rugby was being discussed, David Moffett, then group CEO of the Welsh Rugby Union, proposed four regions: North, West (Llanelli, Swansea, Neath and others playing in Swansea), South (Cardiff, Pontypridd, Bridgend and the Central Valleys), and East (Gwent).

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Llanelli, Cardiff and Newport refused to become regions but called themselves regions anyway, and the WRU caved in. Swansea and Neath merged to form the Ospreys, a genuine region, and they are now being rewarded with oblivion.

Whatever the WRU’s grand plan may have been – and I’m being generous in assuming there is, or was, a coherent plan – viewed from Swansea this looks like just another Cardiff-based organisation doing Swansea down.

And if the WRU has its way and destroys the Ospreys then a new rugby entity will almost certainly emerge in Swansea and may have no alternative but to affiliate to the English Rugby Football Union. Is that really what those clowns in the WRU and the PRB want?

MAKING SENSE OF IT

Sticking with the Welsh Rugby Union for a minute, nothing surprises me when it comes to that BritNat-Masonic outfit, forever fawning over English royals, with its ludicrous feathers badge. Other countries have emblems representing the country and its people, Wales has one representing an individual claiming to be ‘Prince of Wales’ who has as much claim to the title as my cat.

Looking back to 1955 and the announcement that Cardiff was the official capital of Wales, maybe the rot set in for Swansea then, for it was obvious that, being more convenient for England, all manner of agencies would base themselves in Cardiff. Since then it’s been a drip-drip effect.

Devolution should have ‘evened things out’, but instead it’s made them worse, and not just for Swansea but for every part of Wales other than Cardiff. It used to be said – I heard it back in the 1970s – that devolution would simply give us ‘Glamorgan County Council on stilts’. Devolution has actually given us Cardiff City Council on steroids.

The reason devolution has failed ninety per cent of Wales economically is that concentrating everything in Cardiff has made it easier for bodies concerned only with Cardiff to influence decisions for Wales. For example, I guarantee that the denizens of the Cardiff and County Club have more influence on the economic life of Swansea than Swansea council and all the politicians the Swansea region sends to Cardiff Bay and Westminster combined. And that influence is malign.

And Swansea has no independent voice to speak up for her. The Evening Post, once Wales’s biggest selling daily ‘paper (it may still be), is now printed in England and censored in Cardiff, and losing readers fast; partly because it refuses to criticise the Labour Party, whether in County Hall or Cardiff Bay.

And all the while, thanks to this combination of Labour ineptitude, the lack of an effective media, and Cardiff pushing to become a major provincial city on a par with Bristol or Leeds, Swansea and the rest of the country must pay the price.

Poor old Swansea!

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 15.03.2019: From today’s Western Mail. BBC Radio Wales is dropping Mal Pope of Swansea from its schedules and it looks as if it’s also closing the historic Alexandra Road studios from where Dylan Thomas broadcast.

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