Local Government Reorganisation, Again!

INTRODUCTION

I’m old enough to remember the term ‘Wales and Monmouthshire’ being used, which gave us the thirteen old counties, and then there were the four county boroughs (Swansea, Cardiff, Newport and Merthyr).

This system was swept away by the Local Government Act 1972 which in 1974 gave us a two-tier system of local government, made up of eight counties, thirty-seven districts, and, if I counted them all, 43,736 councillors. It was probably the most absurd system of local government ever devised by man.

Mrs Jones would go her district council office with a query or a complaint only to be told that the issue vexing her was a matter for the county council. (And vice versa.) To further confuse us I seem to recall that responsibilities were often shared or split. Didn’t district councils collect the rubbish but counties dispose of it?

The obvious thing to have done, of course, would have been to do away with the districts leaving us with eight good-sized unitary authorities. But no, this is Wales, and other factors influenced decisions. Such as lowering the minimum population level to 60,000 so that Merthyr could be one of the new unitary authorities.

Quite obviously, twenty-two local authorities – and Powys having more councillors than New York City – is no real improvement on the two-tier system in a country of just over three million people.

The two local government reorganisations introduced in 1974 and 1996 were the work of the UK government and the Boundary Commission with considerable input from political parties and others. But now the power lies with the ‘Welsh’ Government.

For this is the age of devolution; Wales is a land of milk and honey, where lambs frolic under the planet-saving wind turbines (watered daily by the local hippies). Freed from the tyranny of labour by the introduction of AI we fly from Cardiff airport to our villas in the sun – even those from the north can reach Cardiff International in two or three hours on the new motorways and train lines that traverse the land. Students from Vladivostok and Valparaiso fight to get into the Assembly in order to see and hear for themselves our leaders, men and women globally renowned for their wisdom and their probity. Poverty is forever banished, everyone has a nice home and a new electric car or three . . . and I really must lay off the Malbec.

Back to reality. For a few years now the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government down in Corruption Bay, that monument to the late Nicholas Edwards, has toyed with the idea of yet another round of local government reorganisation. The subject seems to surface from time to time, often when Labour needs a distraction, or wants to be seen as ‘visionary’.

Earlier this month the ‘Welsh’ Government’s Local Government Secretary Alun Davies resurrected the suggestion to trim down our twenty-two local authorities to just ten with the publication of a Green Paper. So let’s examine the proposal in a little more detail.

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NORTH, MID AND WEST

In the previous, two-tier system, the north had two counties, Clwyd in the east and Gwynedd in the west. In the map above you’ll see three counties mooted for any future reorganisation. But why?

I suggest that the answer lies with the Labour Party itself. Lump together Flintshire and Wrexham and you create a council that might just have a Labour majority, or certainly a council that could be run by Labour in coalition with Plaid Cymru and/or assorted Independents. (There being no less than three different Independent groups on Flintshire council!)

But add Denbighshire to the mix, where Labour currently has 13 (out of 47) councillors, and a resurrected Clwyd would be much less likely to be a Labour fiefdom. Which makes the union of Flintshire and Wrexham far more acceptable to the bruvvers.

This would leave the combined Denbighshire and Conwy with the burden of almost the whole of the north coast and its problems, ranging from the importation of criminals and assorted deadbeats into Rhyl and other towns to the granny trafficking that gives this littoral its nickname of the Costa Geriatrica.

Gwynedd and Ynys Môn is a natural unit in every way and of little interest to the Labour Party. Though in the former Gwynedd these two were joined with Conwy.

Moving south, to other areas where Labour has little chance of success (and consequently little interest), we see that the ‘Welsh’ Government has no wish to change the status quo or the status quo ante, with Powys left untouched and Dyfed reborn.

THE STEAMY SOUTH

Now we move into the south, where Labour most definitely does have an interest in the new boundaries.

First, Swansea Bay, where my understanding is that Swansea and Neath Port Talbot councils have already agreed in principle to merge, thereby formalising what is happening on the ground, with Amazon’s ‘Swansea’ distribution depot and Swansea University’s new Bay Campus both in Neath Port Talbot.

Aerial photo (courtesy of Swansea University) from 2013 showing the old, Mumbles Road, campus, top star; and the yet to be built Bay Campus, lower star. Also shown: River Neath, M4, Port Talbot to the left, Swansea to the right. Click to enlarge.

Next, it’s suggested that Bridgend links up with Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr. Which makes a certain sense in that they are three staunchly Labour areas covering the central valleys and approximate to the old Mid Glamorgan. Things get more complicated, and contentious, as we move east.

Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan comprised the county of South Glamorgan under the two-tier system, and it’s proposed to bring this back. This respect for history must be the reason for the proposal, and not the fact that the Vale is (with the help of an Independent) a Tory-run authority, with Labour holding just 14 of the 47 council seats.

Merged with more populous, and Labour voting, Cardiff, the proposed new authority would almost certainly have a Labour majority.

GWENT

Moving yet further east, things get really, really complicated.

Under the two-tier system Gwent was one of the eight counties, now it’s proposed to link Newport with Caerphilly, while Monmouthshire merges with Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent. The first we can almost overlook, seeing as it brings together two Labour areas, but the second is gerrymandering on a scale that old-style Ulster Unionists would applaud.

Monmouthshire council today is Conservative run, with the party holding 25 of the council’s 43 seats. At Westminster level Monmouthshire is represented by David Davies MP, and at Welsh Assembly level the AM is fellow-Tory Nick Ramsay.

Next door we find one of the poorest areas in Europe, an area that the twenty-first century – maybe also the twentieth – seems to have passed by. Blaenau Gwent should be held up as an example to the rest of the world of how not to handle the decline of traditional industries.

For whereas in well-run countries the post-industrial era means metal-bashing and extractive industries being replaced by clean, new industries, in Blaenau Gwent it just means neglect and decline. But, God bless ’em, for after a brief flirtation with the People’s Voice, Blaenau Gwent is back to blaming the Tories for its deprivation.

Perhaps I’m wrong, so let’s hear Alun Davies – the AM for Blaenau Gwent – argue that this proposed merger of Monmouthshire with Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent is not a kick in the plums for Dai Davies, nor an act of socialist vindictiveness against wealthier neighbours.

CONCLUSION

Within days of Alun Davies bringing out his Green Paper it came under attack from a very predictable quarter – the Welsh Local Government Association.

Despite all the flim-flam from the WLGA about ‘services’, and the ‘public interest’, and worries about ‘who’s gonna feed the gondolas?’, the real objections to local government reform from this Labour-controlled group are pretty selfish, and no different to the objections to earlier council reorganisations.

If you’re a council leader who’s schemed and back-stabbed his/her way to the top then you won’t take kindly to a plan to dismember your little empire or have it taken over by someone else’s empire. (The big fish in little pools syndrome.) Something similar goes for ambitious younger councillors with dreams of making it to the top.

And even if you have no ambitions beyond turning up now and again, snoozing on the comfy benches in the centrally-heated chamber, and picking up your allowance, you will still be alarmed because mergers must mean fewer councillors.

Which leaves Wales in a dangerous place.

For just about everyone accepts that we need fewer councils. But if the debate is restricted to the ‘Welsh’ Government on the one hand and the Labour-led WLGA representing the councils on the other then party unity will be the priority rather than the public or national interest.

This would be a disaster.

The ‘Welsh’ Government must be firm and force through reorganisation, and it must also fund reorganisation. The money needed to implement the changes will soon be recouped from the savings made in having many fewer councils.

And rather than go for crudely political and frankly illogical mergers why not just revert to the eight counties we knew up until 1996 and with which many of us are still familiar?

To avoid local government reorganisation becoming an internal Labour Party matter I encourage those reading this to make your opinions known; with letters to your local ‘paper, to your AM, your MP, and also make your local councillors realise that you want fewer councils and councillors even it means them losing out.

♦ end ♦

Third Sector Bollocks

UNCRITICAL PUBLICITY

Over recent years, at the prompting of political friends of the homelessness industry, both BBC Wales and the print media have given television series and pages of newsprint so that the countless competing and duplicating businesses in the sector can promote themselves and their ‘mission’.

To my knowledge, nothing even vaguely critical of the homelessness racket has been allowed. It’s the sort of publicity other commercial enterprises usually have to pay for.

But this free publicity is not restricted to companies in the homelessness business, it covers all bodies operating in the third sector, to the extent that the third sector has achieved the status of royalty or dead heroes in that it’s beyond criticism.

If nothing else, this exposes yet again the problems caused to Wales and Welsh public life by the incestuous little world we know as the Cardiff Bay Bubble.

We saw it with the death of Carl Sargeant and we see it again in the crucifixion of Neil McEvoy. A politician’s political or personal enemies ask a lobbying outfit to get some friend in the third sector to make a silly claim of harassment, or bullying, or bum-touching.

The victimisation process might even be initiated by the lobbyists themselves. (‘Shame on you!’ I hear.)

Then it’s a case of all girls together and another poor man-beast is brought down.

Another part of the Bay Bubble is the ‘Welsh’ media, which cannot criticise the third sector, stuffed with Labour Party members and supporters, without offending the Labour Party itself. So the third sector gets the kind of kid-glove treatment I’ve just described.

So who loses out? You and me, my friend, and the 99.9% of Wales lying outside of the Cardiff Bay Bubble.

WCVA STEPS IN WITH DIRE WARNINGS

Earlier this month the Wasting Mule ran a big publicity puff and funding appeal (masquerading as a news story) for the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, in which CEO Ruth Marks told us that the “voluntary sector” is worth £1bn but she’s worried about reducing funding. Note the use of the term “voluntary sector”.

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Ms Marks quoted spurious figures which I’ve highlighted. For example, the figure she uses for ‘England’ almost certainly includes UK-wide bodies based in England and even international agencies such as Oxfam and Save the Children.

The only valid comparison would be England-only agencies with Wales-only agencies. Because I know damn well that in England a Tory Government, and Tory-controlled local authorities, do not throw money at the third sector in the manner of Welsh socialist politicians maintaining their system of patronage.

This reluctance to fund the third sector in England explains why so many third sector operatives have flocked to Wales since we’ve had devolution and Labour dishing out the loot.

Another interesting claim is that the third sector accounts for 10% of Welsh employment. Seeing as these jobs are almost entirely reliant on public funding they could be equated to paying benefit. Or, to be more generous, seeing as many third sector activities are ‘outsourced’ transferring from the public sector to the third sector just re-labels existing jobs.

Then again, the “voluntary sector” means unpaid work, so how can it account for 10% of Welsh employment? She must be confused, or perhaps hoping to confuse us.

After studying the third sector in Wales for many years I know there is a deliberate attempt to mislead or deceive in almost everything the third sector says and does. That’s because there’s a lot of money involved and many careers; the third sector is often a stepping stone to a political career, or it provides a nice retirement job after leaving politics.

But to enjoy these benefits you must be in the ‘club’. And membership is restricted to the Labour Party, with Plaid Cymru – in return for political support – allowed to feed off the scraps.

WCVA GETS REALLY DIRE

Just nine days after the Ruth Marks piece in Llais y Sais, the WCVA was back with a full-page article written by Anna Nicholl, Director of Strategy and Sector Development.

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Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like grabbing the reader’s attention with the first few lines, just think of: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”, or “All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, and of course, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”.

But when I read, “To my mind, the very fabric of Welsh life depends on the survival of the third sector”, the needle on the old hypocrisy meter went off the dial. While the bollocks detection equipment just blew up from some kind of power surge. (You should have seen the cat move!)

Hypocrisy_meter_tsd

To believe Anna Nicholl, the third sector is all that saves our beloved homeland from the ravages of the Four Horsemen.

Whereas the truth is that many Welsh communities are being damaged by the criminals, addicts, problem families and others imported by many third sector bodies (and here I include housing associations). Because once you’ve found your racket, and got your funding, you need a steady supply of ‘clients’ to keep the funding flowing, and if Wales can’t provide enough ‘clients’ then you have to look elsewhere.

Earlier I wrote, “there is a deliberate attempt to mislead or deceive in almost everything the third sector says and does”. This article by Anna Nicholl proves my point. But for anyone in doubt, let me spell it out.

On the one hand we have the kind of third sector body represented by the WCVA, such as homelessness company Llamau, with its 266 employees, spending over 70% of its £10m+ annual income on salaries, and paying its CEO £80,000+. Llamau is obviously not a voluntary organisation – it is a business.

Worst of all, it is a publicly-funded business competing with too many other, publicly-funded businesses.

By comparison, Mrs Williams (Troedyrhiw) who you encounter on the High Street, and who puts a sticky badge on your chest for dropping a washer or two in her tin (I always carry some), is a volunteer, because she performs this work for nothing.

Which is not to say that the organisation Mrs Williams collects for doesn’t have paid officials higher up its food chain, but these are charities in that they rely on donations from the public – not government funding.

Another kind of voluntary group is that we see in the picture used to illustrate the Anna Nicholl article, a local group trying to improve its neighbourhood, and with groups such as this there is usually no money involved at all!

So why use a picture like that if it’s not an attempt to mislead or deceive those reading the article?

In fact, Ms Nicholl gives the game away with the wording of the caption accompanying her photo: ” . . . the vital third sector, such as voluntary organisations”. But ‘voluntary organisations’ are only a small part of the third sector, and here they’re being used as a fig leaf.

The good news might be that the WCVA realises that the kind of organisations I criticise are now beyond defending, the only hope being to confuse them in the public mind with ‘voluntary organisations’.

AN ATTEMPT AT BALANCE

After reading Anna Nicholl’s deliberate confusion or conflation of voluntary groups with the avaricious money-grabbers the WCVA really represents I was moved to write to the Western Mail. So I sent my e-mail and got a quick response asking for my full address.

So we know they have my letter for publication, will they now have the balls to publish it, unedited? Just in case, here it is.

“It seems that in recent weeks the third sector has felt the need to defend itself. Presumably in an effort to help, the Western Mail ran a big piece on the 8th quoting Ruth Marks, Wales Council for Voluntary Action CEO; and then on the 16th we had a full-page article by Anna Nicholl, Director of Strategy and Sector Development at the WCVA.
 
This later article was accompanied by a big picture of a mother and child picking up litter, as an example of the ‘voluntary groups’ the WCVA claims to represent, and on which “Welsh life depends”, according to Ms Nicholl. The picture was cute, but deliberately misleading.
 
I have criticised the third sector over many years, principally on my blog, ‘Jac o’ the North’, but I have never criticised voluntary groups, nor charities with an obvious purpose such as the RNLI. My criticism has been reserved for what can only be described as self-serving, third sector businesses.
 
Many of which get millions of pounds in public funding every year, with most of the money going in salaries. And a hefty chunk of that salary funding going to the CEO, who is invariably a Labour Party member or supporter, and often from outside of Wales.
 
As if that isn’t bad enough, we have the duplication to consider. In a recent FoI response from the ‘Welsh’ Government I was told that there are 48 bodies in Wales dealing with homelessness. That’s forty-eight in a country of 3 million people.
 
Having identified an ‘issue’ to exploit it then becomes imperative for third sector bodies to have a steady supply of ‘clients’ in order to ensure the continuation of the generous funding. To meet this need often means importing undesirables from outside of Wales.
 
One Cardiff-based housing association is currently wreaking havoc in Lampeter with the drug dealers and others it’s housing in that hitherto peaceful town – and it has applied to Ceredigion council for permission to convert more buildings to one-bed flats in order to bring in more misfits! And remember – this is being paid for from the Welsh public purse!
 
How can we explain this apparent idiocy? The answer lies in the fact that the third sector is, as I’ve suggested, an extension of the Labour Party.
 
On one level, the third sector is pure cronyism in that it provides thousands of jobs for Labour supporters. On another level, the size of the third sector is used to indicate how poor Wales is, and of course it’s always someone else’s fault – so ‘Vote Labour!’
 
Which means that the third sector exploits and entrenches Wales’ poverty for the benefit of those working in it and for the electoral advantage of the Labour Party.
 
If the hundreds of millions of pounds poured into the third sector every year was used to encourage entrepreneurship and invite investment Wales would be much better off, but would also be less likely to vote Labour.
 
All of which means that the unnecessary, crony-filled and duplicating third sector bodies I’m dealing with have nothing in common whatsoever with mothers and children picking up litter in their local park.”

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 20.03.2018: Chwarae teg, the WM published the letter in full today.

Networks

‘DO YOU WANNA BE IN MY GANG?’

We all belong to some kind of network. It can be as obvious as family or friends, or else it’s neighbours, workmates, political associates, other fans of the teams you support, fellow-worshippers at your chapel or church, even the people you play darts with down the pub. And nowadays we have to include social media.

Yet when we consciously use the word I’m sure many of us think of vaguely sinister organisations such as the Freemasons.

A curious outfit, the Freemasons, forever extolling their links with the Temple of Solomon, the Knights Templar, and the intellectuals and freethinkers of the Renaissance and the French Enlightenment. Yet this brotherhood lost its way and became what we see today – a mutual benefit society.

In fact, the Masons changed from being an organisation of questioning intellectuals to one representing an unquestioning and defensive bourgeoisie linked with the Conservative and Unionist Party, and in Ireland with Unionism and the Orange Order.

Freemasonry became a buttress for a UK establishment feeling threatened by the extending franchise in Britain and ‘Fenianism’ in Ireland. Which is not to say that supporters of other political parties don’t become Masons, but at root, Freemasonry is very much a Queen and Country organisation.

Yet today’s Freemasons maintain the pretence they belong to a rebellious intellectual continuum taking in Michaelangelo and Voltaire. Obvious nonsense.

One of the great bogeymen, and therefore recruiting sergeants, for the Freemasons a century ago was the Labour Party. Labour returned the compliment by trying to copy the reach of Freemasonry by building up its own network.

As with Freemasonry when it moved beyond the esoteric Labour’s expanding network of affiliated and associated bodies attracted individuals seeking personal advancement. This has predictably resulted in corruption.

Nowhere is this corruption more obvious now than in Wales.

THE OLIVE TRUST & THE KIDWELLY HUB

In the previous post we renewed our acquaintance with Denise Kingsley Acton, former Green Party candidate in Watford, proprietrix of the Olive Trust (‘Smells ‘n’ chants ‘r’ us’) who washed up in Wales (as so many like her do), struck up a curious friendship with an elderly Swansea Labour councillor, and then in 2010 applied for £1,000,000 from the Welsh European Funding Office.

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Last week I wrote to WEFO asking if this application had been successful. The answer I received seems very carefully worded. The underlinings are mine.

“Thanks for your email. I’ve discussed with colleagues and as far as we’re aware, the Olive Trust does not appear to have directly received EU funding. For your information, the EU funds pages of the Welsh Government shows a list of all approved project through the current programmes“.

“As far as we’re aware” be buggered! Surely they keep records, they must know!

On the assumption that she did not get her million it could be that Denise Kingsley Acton believes the grass – and perhaps the funders – may be greener in Carmarthenshire, for she is now domiciled in Kidwelly. To be exact, in a detached house on an expensive new development near Mynydd-y-Garreg.

According to 192.com Denise S Kingsley lives with the man to whom I assume she is engaged – for her Facebook page informs us she is betrothed – and a Denise S Acton! Ménage à trois? Of course not – how dare you! – but confusion is bound to result when you use different names; and when she gets married the confusion can only increase.

Kingsley-Acton has recently opined that Kidwelly is badly in need of a community building (the kind of thing she wanted a million quid for in 2010) but hasn’t she heard of ‘The Hub’? It’s all happening in the Kidwelly Community Hub . . . well, maybe not much is happening, but it provides photo opportunities galore for Labour politicians. So it serves its real purpose.

Nia Griffith MP (in paper hat), Cllr Phil Thompson (green pinnie), Barry Lee Waters AM (back row), click to enlarge

The curious thing about the Hub, or to give it its proper name, Ynghyd Community Interest Company is that the Companies House website tells us there are three people with the Right to appoint and remove directorsMrs Nicola Herbertson of Surbiton, Mrs Diana Sylvia Groom, now of Kidwelly but until very recently a psychotherapist in Oxfordshire, and a Mr Steve Jones.

Other directors or former directors are also recent arrivals in Wales. Which makes the claim on the Facebook page that “Kidwelly Community Hub is a venture by Kidwelly people for Kidwelly people” a load of old bollocks, as we students of the third sector are wont to say.

It’s all so reminiscent of another ‘community’ venture in Carmarthenshire, this one at Llandovery. There we find another Englishwoman, Jill Tatman, who has commandeered a building – the former YMCA – then demanded and received funding to pay herself a good salary for running the show, though the YMCA has told her she can no longer use their name.

That’s because there are suspicions that hubby’s interest in the children visiting the building is not entirely innocent. Though she is said to have defended him at a recent trustees meeting by arguing that he had suffered enough for “only rubbing up against the kids”. So that’s all right then.

How many of these fucking memsahibs are there infesting our rural areas? Though some of them are not even living here, they seem to do it by remote control!

Firmly in Kidwelly, we find town and former county councillor Phil Thompson. Thompson is a barrister at law, yet his Declaration of Interests tells us he lives in social housing provided by Pobl (formerly Gwalia). Can’t a lawyer afford to buy a place of his own?

It reminds me of someone else with a very healthy income who lives in social housing, someone who writes regular letters to Llais y Sais. But then, former RAF Group Captain Kel Palmer of Mountain Ash is another Labour Party supporter, formerly involved with the doomed Communities First programme.

Many assume that social housing is for local people who can’t afford to buy a home of their own, which is how it should be, but not how it works in Wales. Well-off people can get social housing – if they’re in the Labour Party.

But then, the social housing system fails Wales in so many ways.

Not far from where Phil Thompson lives in Kidwelly his landlord Gwalia housed a gang of paedophiles brought down from London. Housing associations are bringing untold misery to Welsh communities by importing all manner of criminals, such as we see with Labour-controlled Wales and West in Lampeter.

To the point where what we have in Wales is very often anti-social housing – paid for from the Welsh public purse. How stupid must we be to tolerate this?

UPDATE 15.03.2018: I have now figured out how Mrs Nicola Herbertson of Surbiton got involved with the Kidwelly Hub. A previous director was Jonathan Michael Hobden, along with his wife, Fiona Mary. Here’s his Companies House entry and below is an extract from his Linkedin profile.

You’ll note, first, that he describes himself as a philanthropist! But more importantly, he is Director of Marketing at Hao2.eu aka 3DNovations. Now the CEO and founder of Hao2.eu Ltd is Nicola Herbertson. (There is also a Hao2.eu Foundation registered with the Charity Commission, No 1153397.)

So it would appear that Ynghyd Ltd / Kidwelly Hub is a creation of, and controlled by, a company based in London. Which reminds us yet again what a load of old bollocks is the claim on the Facebook page that,  Kidwelly Community Hub is a venture by Kidwelly people for Kidwelly people”. I doubt if there’s one genuine Kidwelly local involved.

So does the Kidwelly Hub exist for the people of Kidwelly or for the benefit of Hao2.eu and ‘Welsh’ Labour?

K SHARP

Another recent arrival in the area is a company called K Sharp Ltd, and once again we should thank Llanelli Online for bringing us the news.

According to the story, attributed to Iwan Lewis, “K Sharp has spread its footprint by opening a new office in Llanelli, South Wales, whilst keeping an office in Gloucester”. This is clearly a regurgitated press release, for readers of Llanelli Online should not need to be told that their town is in south Wales. (Many would prefer ‘west Wales’.)

Though if we go to the Companies House entry for K Sharp Ltd we see that on 11 January the company changed its address to Suite 2, West End Yard, West End, Llanelli, which suggests a complete move rather than opening a branch office.

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So what do we know about K Sharp Ltd?

Well, the website suggests it’s a company concerned with human behaviour, including, ‘Cultural and Behavioural Analytics’, and that the head honcho is Barry Kirby, assisted by his wife and two other women. Much of their work seems to be police- or defence-related.

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So who is Barry?

Until quite recently Barry was Deputy Leader of the Labour group on Gloucestershire County Council, and a general election candidate to boot, until he threw it in last October. This rupture with the Gloucestershire Labour Party and the move to Llanelli in January (or earlier) are surely connected.

So why was Llanelli Online so late with the news?

Given K Sharp’s line of work is there any link with the Local MP, Nia Griffith, being shadow defence secretary? Or is Barry hoping to cash in on the Coffin partnership’s Wellness extravaganza?

I think we should be told why a company based in Gloucestershire, working with Gloucester University, suddenly ups sticks and moves 110 miles down the M4. Nobody makes a move like this unless there’s some advantage in it for them, so what has K Sharp Ltd been promised, and by whom?

Another mystery is that the Micro-entity accounts available on the Companies House website for K Sharp Ltd deal in peanuts, so where’s the money to run a company like this and pay four people’s salaries?

Looking at the bigger picture, is Labour perhaps fearful of electoral trends elsewhere in the county infecting Sosban and now attempting to strengthen its hold on the constituency? A project greatly helped by Plaid Cymru destroying itself in the area.

But with all the memsahibs, snake oil salesmen/saleswomen, and outright crooks now sucking on the teat of public funding, and with so few of them having true local connections, this ploy could backfire. Because people aren’t that stupid, not even lifelong Labour voters.

But whatever the future holds we can rely on Llanelli Online to bring us all the Labour Party news. It’ll be up to people like me to give you something closer to the truth.

 ♦ end ♦

 

Third Sector Nightmare

OLIVE AND POPEYE

Regular readers will know that before this incarnation of my blog – hosted by the estimable Gwilym ab Ioan – I had a blog with Google that ran for a few years until December 2012. Then it was pulled for no obvious reason, though Google suggested that I was a spammer, which was palpable nonsense.

I always suspected that someone made a complaint. (However difficult that might be to believe!)

Perhaps because, in that last month, I had a quite bitter exchange with a rather odd woman based in Swansea; her name was Denise Acton Kingsley and her hope for riches was called the Olive Trust, a weird outfit dealing in alternative therapies and treatments. Joss sticks and incantations as far as I could make out.

If you really want to, you can get something of the flavour of the exchange from reading I Will Have My Say.

Acton Kingsley was yet another of those oddball, middle class Englishwomen who have flooded into Wales since devolution was introduced. True to form she cwtched up to the Labour Party – in the form of long-serving Swansea councillor Alan Lloyd OBE, Lord Mayor 2009-10, and now Alderman – before whacking in her application for funding.

Again, sticking to the template we see across Wales, she found herself – or hoped to find – an old building and asked the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) for a cool one million pounds to turn it into a ‘community building’. (Well, it’s a nice round figure.)

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As someone pointed out, ‘community’ and ‘communities’ appears 14 times in the screen grab you see above, and that’s no accident, for these are magic words which initiates know as the keys to untold wealth. Throw in ‘minority’ or ‘minorities’ and you can hit the jackpot.

I’m not sure if this application was successful. I’d like to think it was laughed off, as it should have been, but the WEFO Online site is currently offline, so I can’t check.

Anyway, after I started the new blog I forgot about Denise Acton Kingsley and her Olive Trust until someone referred me to a piece in Llanelli Online telling us she has resurfaced, across the mighty Llwchwr, in Cydweli, but with the ageing Alderman still in tow to open doors for her.

Now, it appears, she is an expert in ‘equality training’, obviously cashing in on the Equality Act 2010.

According to the Llanelli Online article by Alan Evans the “Olive Trust was set up in 2011”. But we know different, don’t we, boys and girls, because the WEFO application was submitted in July 2010.

What’s more, the Olive Trust may go back even further. Checking the Charity Commission website turned up this reference to an Olive Trust based in Gloucestershire until 2005, when it was “Removed – REGISTERED IN ERROR”.

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Given that this outfit was involved with “natural therapies” it’s reasonable to assume that it’s the same Olive Trust that washed up in Swansea and is now plying its dubious trade out of Kidwelly.

The new scam venture is Olive Training 180 (though the name seems to change from page to page on the website). And reading it causes me to worry for the good people of Carmarthenshire. Turning to the ‘About the CEO’ page (which doesn’t give the CEO’s name!) brings up the panel below. How can anyone claiming to be so well educated have written that first line?

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She also writes of “our team” . . . which is presumably her and Alan Lloyd, the latter described in the Llanelli Online piece as the Chair. The gem above says that Olive Training is the “business arm” . . . of the Olive Trust? I ask because the Olive Trust is nowhere mentioned on the website, but is the only entity mentioned in the Llanelli Online report.

But on the plus side, if you go to the ‘Store’ page you can “Ask an equality question” – for £3! Bloody hell! this is money for old rope – I can offer a service like that. I can see the questions now: ‘Dear Jac, Do you think Labour is doing a good job running Wales?’, or, ‘Dear Jac, Do you have views on the third sector in Wales?’.

I have searched and searched, but have been unable to find anything on the Charity Commission website or the Companies House website for the Olive Trust, Olive Training, Olive Training 180, etc., etc. Which suggests to me that this outfit, whatever it might be called, has no official existence.

That being so, and given that Denise Acton Kingsley is clearly lacking in the small, brightly-coloured round things we boys flicked with our thumbs along the gutters of Brynhyfryd and Manselton, I shall certainly revisit the Olive Trust if I hear that any public money has reached the unlikely pairing of Denise and Al.

STAYING IN CARMARTHENSHIRE . . .

As if the Odd Couple weren’t bounty enough for Sir Gâr I hear of more charlatans third sector mentors putting in an appearance, this time we are being saved from the darker angels of our nature by Gerli Orumaa and Rosie Leach.

Now you’re looking blankly at the screen and wondering, ‘Who the f . . . . . ?’ So let me tell you.

Gerli is an Estonian, living in Swansea, and she’s the Regional Coordinator in Central South Wales for the Ethnic Minorities & Youth Support Team Wales (EYST); while Englishwoman Rosie is based in Cardiff and works for the Welsh Refugee Council (which, despite the name, is not a body helping Welsh refugees).

Unusually, perhaps, for a woman in this area of activity, Gerli has three children.

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Gerli Orumaa and Rosie Leach are organising a focus group in The Hub, Llanelli on Monday the 12th. I don’t know much about Orumaa beyond the fact that she’s involved in the ‘diversity’ industry and has some connection with Swansea University.

Rosie Leach on the other hand provides plenty of information in her Linkedin profile and it’s a fascinating read. She was educated at private schools in Somerset before going up to Oxford where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, getting a 2:1 in the Oxford degree that runs Britain.

Her first job in Wales seems to have been as an Oral History Researcher at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Corris from December 2012 to March 2014. (Though of course that would not have been local oral history.)

She went back to England before returning to do 4 months as a research assistant at Cardiff University in the early part of 2015, then back to England before flitting in again to do 4 months in 2016 as a researcher at Bangor. This was somehow fitted around a two-year stint as a Money Advice Caseworker with Advice Mid Wales. Since June 2017 she has been Refugee Week Wales Coordinator for the Welsh Refugee Council.

Theatre is obviously Rosie Leach’s ‘thing’, but her background tells us so much about modern Wales.

Here we have yet another highly-educated middle class Englishwoman involving herself with the Labour-controlled third sector (often with a university connection thrown in), which then results in her and others like her touring our land educating us in how to behave towards fellow human beings – as if we Welsh are in dire need of such lecturing! What is the real message here?

And who are the minorities?

In the case of Naz Malik of Awema fame, Rose Mutale Nyoni Merrill of Bawso, and the Board of Community Health Councils, plus various others, the minority benefitting often extends little further than their family and cronies, most of whom seem to be recent arrivals. So they tend to be self-perpetuating and very self-serving minorities.

By comparison, what of the Chinese, who work hard, keep to the law, and rarely if ever trouble the public purse? The same perhaps could be said of Jews, Sikhs, and to some extent Hindus. Which means that the minorities dominating the third sector in Wales are of African and / or Muslim background.

And why, apart from Gerli Orumaa do we see so few European minorities represented in the third sector when we have so many of them in Wales now, especially the Poles? And what of the long-established Italian community of the south – did they ever demand a constant drip-feed of public funding?

And if we’re talking of minorities, what about those areas of Wales where we Welsh are in a minority, such as the coastal strip between Mawddach and Dyfi? I belong to this minority, so can I demand my wodge? Of course not.

Because it’s not really about minorities, or about respect, or dignity; it’s all about serving ‘Welsh’ Labour’s agenda in suggesting that racism is rampant in Wales due – nudge, nudge – to ‘nationalism’.

It a publicly-funded propaganda exercise.

MEANWHILE, ACROSS THE MIGHTY LLWCHWR . . .

News has also reached me concerning Beverly Garside, of whom I wrote last month in ‘Move to Wales – Plenty of funding, no questions asked’. Garside is a former animal rights activist who mixed with some pretty hairy characters before removing herself to Wales and starting a new life . . . in the sector between second and fourth.

My source, reliable thus far, now tells me that it’s all falling apart, writing, “Occupation of The Feelgood Factory, Bryncynon, by the Empower SVS/Garside empire has been terminated as of this coming weekend. Desertion by Staff or the recent exposé(s) may be the reason.”

But it’s what my source says next that really concerns me.

“Empower/Garside however may be seeking forgiveness for Sins past and present – rumour is that it/she has been engaged to overcome the legal problems faced by https://morristontabernacl.org/ following a period of failure to pay minimum wage.
 
£60,000 underpayed (sic) is rumoured to be the claim.
 
Those responsible for management of The Tabernacle are also Trustees of other Charities that receive Council and Government support and funding. The Morriston Tabernacle building itself is Grade 1 listed and has been beautifully (and expensively) restored……with funding from where?
 
It takes dedication in all weathers to hand out Pink flip flops in Wine Street, Swansea on a Saturday night (grant funded?) It takes competence to act as a Manager and/or Trustee and to properly administer public and charity funds.”

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Not only does it concern me, it also confuses me.

Let’s start with Morriston Tabernacle / Tabernacl Treforys “The largest, grandest and most expensive chapel built in Wales”. My source talks of legal problems due to underpaying, presumably of staff, but Morriston Tabernacle is an unlikely rogue employer. Come to that, how many employees would it have?

The source then says that those responsible are also “Trustees of other charities”. But looking at the three charities connected with the chapel – 1116477, 1164521 and 1152614 – I can only find one trustee who is also a trustee of another charity, and that one is very small.

Then there’s the reference to “Wine Street, Swansea”. While some may be pronounce it like that, it’s in fact spelled Wind (and probably derived from wynd). Though where the hell the pink flip-flops fit I have no idea.

If there is a link between Garside and Morriston Tabernacle, then the question has to be, Who recommended this woman to Tabernacle, and why?

So, Source, please get back with clarification.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 10.03.2018: Thanks to a phone call out of the blue I may now have made the hitherto unfathomable connection between Garside and Morriston Tabernacle.

The minister at Tabernacle is Reverend Jill Hailey Skeel Harries and she also serves as a trustee on the board of the Union of Welsh Independents, Charity number 248076. More importantly for our purposes, Reverend Harries is also involved with Carmarthenshire Domestic Abuse Services Ltd (previously Carmarthen Women’s Aid) which, as my source suggested, receives “public and charity funding”.

Given that Garside is also involved with domestic abuse, having been a director of Cyfannol Women’s Aid Ltd, of Pontypool, it’s entirely reasonable to assume that if they didn’t already know each other then contact was made through a mutual acquaintance, unless of course Garside has been recruited by the Union of Welsh Independents.