Weep for Wales 3

PLAS GLYNLLIFON

This is the third instalment of my gripping narrative dealing with shysters, con men, crooks, liars, asset-strippers, and assorted low-lifes. To bring yourself up to speed I – and my agent – recommend that you read Weep for Wales and Weep for Wales 2 before proceeding.

As I mentioned in my previous posting, there were Open Days at Glynllifon on Sunday and Monday (the 24th and the 25th). And despite my absence it all went swimmingly . . . if we are to believe Rowena Williams and the hitherto unknown Land & Heritage Ltd, who seem to have had a big hand in arranging the event.

So now you’re asking, ‘Who are Land and Heritage Ltd?’ The answer is that it’s a new company, formed less than a year ago, and based in Cornwall, where Paul and Rowena Williams have enjoyed a number of triumphs. They may still have business interests down there, who knows with those two?

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You will note that according to the panel above, from the Land & Heritage Facebook page, Team Williams showed people around the house with its impressive fixtures and fittings, while “Matt, Sarah and Dudley presented plans for future projects and developments”. The BBC was also in attendance.

‘Matt’ I assume to be Matt Jackson, director of Land & Heritage. I’m not sure yet who ‘Sarah’ is (but I know somebody’ll tell me). Of more interest though, is ‘Dudley, who I’m almost certain is Dudley James Cross, Regional Head of Building Consultancy at Lambert Smith Hampton. A company, you may remember from the previous instalment, mentioned in this report from the Daily Post of two years ago as the ‘agent’.

I suspect that LSH was involved in the liquidation of the company that previously owned Plas Glynllifon, or perhaps not involved in the liquidation itself, but with finding a new buyer while the liquidation was proceeding. As we’ve seen on his Linkedin profile, Cross has worked for LSH for 22 years, but that hasn’t stopped him branching out, because from 7 June 2016 until 1 February 2018 he was a director of Leisure and Development Ltd, the main vehicle for Paul and Rowena Williams’ property empire.

According to the documents filed with Companies House, Cross’ address is given as Plas Glynllifon, and his Country of residence as Wales; yet his Linkedin profile tells us that he lives in Northampton. Can’t both be right, can they?

Anyway, Cross ceased to be a director of Leisure and Development Ltd on 1 February, when the company and its assets – including the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne – were allegedly taken over by convicted thief and fraudster Keith Harvey Partridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer (of whom more later).

click to enlarge

If Plas Glynllifon has really been bought by Paul and Rowena Williams, and everything’s tickety-boo, and with him no longer a director of Leisure and Development Ltd, why isn’t Cross back at his day job with Lambert Smith Hampton? Or does LSH still have some interest in Plas Glynllifon?

This may be a good point to give some information on the recent history of Plas Glynllifon.

On 7 November 2000 a company called Glynllifon Ltd was Incorporated with Companies House. Next, on 2 April 2003, this company bought Plas Glynllifon from Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, with a mortgage from the NatWest Bank.

This company stayed afloat – with help from Cyngor Gwynedd and the Welsh Development Agency – until the AIB group called in a receiver 3 July 2013. Glynllifon Ltd finally slipped beneath the waves when it was dissolved 24 June 2017. By which time Plas Glynllifon had been bought by Paul and Rowena Williams.

Their company Plas Glynllifon Ltd bought the mansion on 19 April 2016 for £630,000. Though you might not know that from the title document, which simply refers to “land adjoining Glynllifon College”. To complicate matters there is no map available from the Land Registry.

But Cyngor Gwynedd assures me that Title No CYM127981 covers Plas Glynllifon.

Aerial view of site (April 2009), courtesy of Google Earth. Plas Glynllifon is in the centre of the picture. Click to enlarge

Since the purchase of the mansion just over two years ago, Plas Glynllifon Ltd has taken out no less than six mortgages or loans with our old friends, the pay day lenders of the commercial property market, Together Commercial Finance Ltd. So maybe it’s time to take a closer look at this company.

Together Commercial Finance Ltd was until very recently known as the Lancashire Mortgage Corporation, part of Jerrold Holdings Ltd controlled by Henry Moser. Censured by the City watchdog in 2012 and with a host of complaints against it from customers – even a petition! – this group is the lender of last resort for those who cannot borrow from banks and more reputable lenders. Designed for people like Paul and Rowena Williams.

To confirm what I’m saying just do a quick search for Lancashire Mortgage Corporation, Blemain Finance, Monarch Recoveries, Henry Moser. Interestingly, Together/Lancashire seems to allow buildings to lie empty, which is what we see happening in Powys and just over the border; and, may be the fate awaiting Plas Glynllifon.

When I’ve got a few days to spare I might try to work out how much Paul and Rowena Williams owe to Together Commercial Finance Ltd. (I hope my calculator’s up to it!)

MEANWHILE, BACK IN POWYS

Despite the sunny weather enjoyed by all at Glynllifon clouds appeared on Rowena Williams’ Facebook page with voices from the recent past, reminders of the businesses they used to – perhaps still – own on both sides of the central border.

Oh! what a tangled web we weave . . . 

From Rowena Williams’ Facebook page. (Click to enlarge.)

Be that as it may, in the official, Williams, version, the properties owned by Leisure and Development Ltd have all passed to Keith Harvey Partridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer. Now Partridge we know is a convicted thief who had to downsize following his spell in prison. But what of Heer?

At one time he seems to have been a high flier, a managing partner at accountancy firm RSM Robson Rhodes, but he left under a cloud in May 2006 and the once ambitious company he’d led was taken over by Grant Thornton in 2007. The Financial Times referred to Heer’s “sudden resignation”. (This may be the link, but there’s a paywall.)

So how has Heer kept lupus lupus from his portal since bankrupting RSM Robson Rhodes?

In 2011 he joined a firm based in Assembly Square, Cardiff. And although this report from WalesOnline mentions Heer’s association with RSM Robson Rhodes it neglects to tell us the circumstances of his departure. Which is no less than I would expect from a ‘news source’ that does little more than repeat press releases.

Later, with Sukhpal Kaur Heer, perhaps his wife, he formed SSH Associates Ltd. This company entered the ring 5 July 2013 and went down without landing a blow on 26 April 2016. Sukhpal Kaur Heer was involved with another firm that seemed to take a dive, H & H Ventures Ltd.

Another company of Sukhbinder Singh Heer’s that formed and dissolved without apparently doing any business was Premium Hotels Ltd; Incorporated 28 June 2013 and ‘dissolved via voluntary strike-off’ 31 May 2016. The other director of this spectacularly inert enterprise was Keith Harvey Partridge.

The Companies House record for Premium Hotels Ltd. Why bother? (Click to enlarge.)

If nothing else, this tells us that Partridge and Heer have known each other since at least 2013. But when did Partridge drift into the joint consciousness of Paul and Rowena Williams?

If we are to believe Rowena Williams she met Partridge just once . . . perhaps when he skidded to a halt outside the Radnorshire Arms in answer to their ‘Property Empire for Sale!’ advert in Exchange and Mart.

But as I mentioned in the previous post, Partridge stayed a number of times at the Radnorshire Arms, and female staff there found him “unpleasant”.  I have since learnt that he also stayed at Mortimers Cross Inn, Leominster, after Paul and Rowena Williams bought the place in October 2001. So Rowena Williams either suffers from amnesia or she’s a liar.

(I bet it took you a long time to work out which!)

On other fronts, local politicians have been involved. The Tory MP for Brecon and Radnor, Chris Davies, responded thus: “I have received a number of emails from constituents who are concerned about this and have asked me to find out more. To begin with I have written to the owners requesting an urgent meeting at both of the sites to be able to discuss what their plans are and to gain further information. Furthermore, I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance in the Welsh Government to request further information and I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to gain this information as well.”

The obvious question is – ‘Who does Chris Davies think owns the Radnorshire Arms?’ If he thinks it’s Team Williams then they’ll say, ‘We’ve sold it – nothing to do with us, guv.’ And if he’s written to Partridge then I suspect he’s got a long wait.

Local Lib Dem AM Kirsty Williams, answered with, “Obviously these allegations are hugely concerning. I just wanted to let you know that I have raised them with the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates AM, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM and the BCU Commander for Powys, Superintendent Jon Cummins.”

So there you are – Ken ‘Flint Ring’ Skates and Lord ‘Principality’ Thomas are on the case! What could possibly go wrong?

Stop laughing! It’s not nice to laugh.

THINKING ALOUD

We’ve assembled quite a cast here.

First, we have Paul and Rowena Williams, who buy properties, then sell them to themselves at greatly inflated prices. Which apparently is just fine, nothing wrong in this at all.

The funding for these purchases comes from a finance company with an appalling reputation and track record.

The Williams properties outside of north Gwynedd appear to have been sold to a company run by a convicted thief and con man and a man who single-handedly destroyed a thriving and ambitious accountancy firm before setting up what suspicious souls might view as shell companies.

These businessmen then leave the properties they ‘own’ – often listed buildings – empty and decaying. But not to worry, because word is that all the valuables have been removed.

Meanwhile, and having, allegedly, divested themselves of everything outside of the Caernarfon area Paul and Rowena Williams focus their attentions on the Glynllifon estate, now estimated to be a £20 million project. I shall repeat that for the hard of reading – the estimate for the Glynllifon project is twenty million pounds.

This estimate, remember, comes from people who are up to their eyes in debt, and they’re not in debt to your friendly High Street bank!

Talking of debt, why do all roads lead to Manchester, and the city’s property/financial sector? What are the connections?

Is Lambert Smith Hampton still involved with Plas Glynllifon or is Dudley Cross freelancing? Cross ceased to be a director of Leisure and Development Ltd on 1 February following the ‘takeover’ by Partridge and Heer, so if he is involved with Glynllifon shouldn’t he now be a director of Plas Glynllifon Ltd?

The pictures I’ve seen from the Open Days, pictures of four-poster beds, tasteless statues and Louis XIV pool tables, may have drawn ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the carefully primed crowd, but it could all be packed onto the backs of a few lorries one dark night. How much has been spent on Plas Glynllifon that cannot be removed?

Louis XIV pool table (cliquer sur l’image pour l’agrandir)

A point may soon be reached when Paul and Rowena Williams go to Cyngor Gwynedd, the ‘Welsh’ Government, maybe a few other bodies, saying, ‘We’ve run out of money, you can’t leave this wonderful old building half finished now can you – so slip us a few mill’. If there’s resistance, then public opinion will be mobilised and pressure applied.

Given the disappointments of the past two decades, first with Glynllifon Ltd from 2001 to 2013, then the Wynnborn nonsense in 2015, they may be hoping there’s a desire in official quarters to just get the bloody place finished, and so money will be handed over.

I repeat my advice to Cyngor Gwynedd and the ‘Welsh’ Government: You are dealing with unscrupulous people – just check their records – so make it clear to them NOW that there will be no public funding to complete Plas Glynllifon.

Unless of course, such promises have already been made. In which case, we should indeed weep for Wales.

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 2

TO RECAP . . .

This is in the form of an update, following further information, doing a bit more research, and generally just thinking about what we’re dealing with. If you haven’t read the original piece I suggest you do so now, it’ll help you make sense of this offering.

The big picture – so we’re told – is that on 1 February Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams sold off their assets in Powys, Herefordshire, Cornwall and God knows where else to focus on the properties they’d acquired around Caernarfon.

Among those assets was the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, bought in August 2015 for £3,487,049.

The vendor was Rowena Claire Williams and the buyer was Leisure and Development Ltd, a company she’d set up with her husband just a few months earlier. In effect, they’d ‘bought’ a property they already owned at what most agree was a greatly inflated price.

Which posits the obvious question: who did the valuation?

But it wasn’t just the Radnorshire Arms that was sold/bought.

There was also the Knighton Hotel, in the town of that name. (Though formerly known as The Norton Hotel.) The title document tells us that this was sold for £2,881,599, which would seem to be a fair price for a substantial hotel (everything apart from the ground floor on the extreme right of the picture below).

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The problem, as with the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne, is that Paul and Rowena Williams already owned the building, and so once again they ‘sold’ it to themselves in the form of Leisure and Development Ltd.

The third example is the Castle Inn in Wigmore, near Leominster. (Formerly known as The Compasses.) Here again, the title document tells us that the transaction was done “between (1) Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams and (2) Leisure & Development Limited”. And the sum mentioned is £1,269,720.

As with the other ‘purchases’, money came from the NatWest Bank. The same pattern and chronology as with the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne, the Knighton Hotel, and other properties. Also, two changes of name during the ownership of Paul and Rowena Williams.

It seems to me that the purchasing of the Williamses’ property portfolio in 2015 boils down to three possibilities:

1/ Transferring property from themselves to their company, yet pretending they’d bought it from a third party and taking out mortgages or loans to purchase the property, is perfectly legitimate.

2/ What they did amounts to mortgage fraud. In which case the lenders must be informed. Though if this is the case, why wasn’t it noticed by Paul and Rowena Williams’ solicitors who dealt with these non-sales, Beaumonts Solicitors of Hereford?

3/ If these non-sales were illegal, and everyone involved knew they were illegal, then we’re dealing with a major crime.

ENTER KEITH HARVEY PARTRIDGE, THE MONEY MAN

To believe the Williamses – or Rowena Williams, who often does the talking for them both – all these assets bought in 2015 were sold on 1 February 2018 for approximately £10 million pounds to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Partridge. But were they really sold?

It’s an important question because Partridge (or ‘Partdridge’) certainly became the “Person with Significant Control” over Leisure and Development Ltd on 1 February. Then on 22 April he was introduced to the staff at the Radnorshire Arms as the new owner and told them that their hotel, and others, would be closed for 8 – 10 weeks for refurbishment and ‘re-branding’. After which they’d be able to apply for their old jobs.

Now if it’s true that Partridge became the owner of these properties on 1 February then the loans or second mortgages taken out with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle after that date are his.

But of course there is an alternative interpretation, which might run thus . . . Needing to raise more money, but knowing they’ll experience difficulty raising it themselves, Paul and Rowena Williams go through the charade of ‘selling’ their property empire to Partridge.

Partridge approaches Together Commercial Finance, saying, ‘I need loans to buy all these properties from Paul and Rowena Williams’. The lender sits him down, pours him a drink, and says, ‘Delighted to help, Mr Partridge – how much do you want?’, then hands over the lolly. Partridge takes his cut, plays his role as the new owner, and everybody’s happy . . . except of course the dozens of people who’ve just lost their jobs.

In an attempt to give substance to this charade paperwork is submitted to Companies House saying that Partridge is now the head honcho. But as yet, nothing has been filed with the Land Registry to tell us that ownership of the properties allegedly sold to him have actually been transferred to Keith Harvey Partridge.

Though it might also be worth mentioning that Paul and Rowena Williams were themselves dealing with Together Commercial Finance before Partridge – apparently – appeared on the scene. This report about Plas Glynllifon from the Daily Post of 22 February 2017 tells us, “They . . . have agreed a finance package with Together in Manchester. They are also in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support.”

This “finance package” was presumably for Plas Glynllifon. But surely they didn’t need it after Partridge came to the rescue with his £10m buyout?

Or am I wrong for thinking that more money has been raised by various means – much more – than has or will ever be spent on Plas Glynllifon and the other projects. 

Incidentally, Rowena Williams insists that she hardly knows Partridge, having met him just once. Yet I am reliably informed that he stayed at the Radnorshire Arms a number of times when they were running it. I’m also told that female staff found him “unpleasant”.

INTRODUCING RIKKI, THE RUGBY FAN. BLESS!

Another reason I have my doubts about Partridge’s real role is due to the situation at Seiont Manor. We know it’s owned by Paul and Rowena Williams yet the entry on the Companies House website tells us that the sole director for Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd is Rikki John Reynolds. Sole director usually indicates owner, but not in this case.

Rikki John Reynolds – erstwhile manager at the Chang Thai Bar and Restaurant in Ludlow – is simply fronting for Paul and Rowena Williams. It could well be the same with Partridge. It begins to remind me of the wonderful ‘buffers’ scene from the Godfather.

Rikki John Reynolds, click to enlarge

Staying with Rikki John Reynolds for a minute, I received an interesting comment to my previous post, and the comment read:

“Myself and 2 other night porters were laid off by Paul and rowena on purchasing Seiont Manor hotel. When I spoke with one director he Rikki Reynolds said our jobs are safe days later we got our marching orders.
May I also add there does seem to be a massive amount of directors in the company. Every manager was pushed to be directors. I belive you don’t pay as much tax to directors. I can confirm the kitchen porter who has disabilities was unfairly dismissed. Meetings were had with him by Rrl telling him what he should do. Manipulating him!
The maintenance manager was fired because he took a authorised holiday.
They also started knocking down walls in a grade 2 listed building which was occupied by some very rare bats prior to planning consent in the grounds of Seiont Manor
That’s just for starters….”

The bit about “Every manager was pushed to be directors” might not only explain Reynolds’ position at Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd but also chimes with something else I was told about employees of Paul and Rowena Williams being registered with Companies House as directors without their knowledge. This perhaps explains the lengthy list of directors at Leisure and Development Ltd in the company’s short life.

I’m fairly sure it’s illegal to register someone as a director with Companies House without their consent.

Quite a number of these directors at Leisure and Development have their address at the Knighton Hotel, including a Frenchman and a Romanian. No less than ten of the directors ‘resigned’ on 1 February 2018 (including Rowena Claire Williams and Plas Glynllifon Ltd), the same day Partridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer became directors, making up a trio with Paul Steven Williams.

Which throws up another curiosity. We are asked to believe that on 1 February Paul and Rowena Williams sold Leisure and Development Ltd and the properties the company owned to Keith Partridge, so why is Paul Williams still a director of a company we’re told he’s sold?

And who is the latest addition to the board, Sukhbinder Singh Heer, and how does he fit into the picture? Answers on the proverbial post card please.

I know Heer was a non-executive director at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust. Interestingly, perhaps, Rowena Williams was involved with Age Concern Birmingham, and Partridge has also dabbled in that market with Coast to Coast Care Ltd.

THE MANCHESTER DIGRESSION

One thing that struck me as I trawled through news reports and official documents was that Manchester kept cropping up.

For example, the loans or mortgages that Paul and Rowena Williams took out to buy the properties in 2015 were with the NatWest Bank plc at Hardman Boulevard in central Manchester. The loans or second mortgages taken out in 2017 and 2018 were with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle.

This report from the Daily Post of August 2015 tells us that the sale of Glynllifon was being handled by “David Currie of David Currie and Co”. I couldn’t find a company of that name, but I did find a David Currie listed with Winterhill Largo Property Ltd. The liquidation process for this company started soon after the report I’ve linked to. The liquidators were based at 3 Hardman Street in Manchester, just the other side of Hardman Square from Hardman Boulevard, where we found NatWest.

Currie has had a number of property companies. There’s Broad Tree Management Ltd, which has interesting paperwork attached to it. Then there’s David Currie Ltd, which is dormant. Next there’s D. Currie Consultancy Ltd, which is at least alive, but barely. There are also others that have fallen by the wayside.

How did this real-life Ol’ Gil (from the Simpsons) get the Glynllifon gig? This report from the Daily Post dated 10 June 2016 mentions “agent Lambert Smith Hampton”, which I know is a major company, but it too has an office in Manchester . . . in fact, at 3 Hardman Street, the same building as the liquidators for David Currie’s company Winterhill Largo Property Ltd.

And then of course we have the report I linked to earlier, telling us that Williams was dealing with Together Commercial Finance in February 2017, making it reasonable to assume that these negotiations started in 2016. But did he find them, or did they find him?

I mention these Manchester connections because people in the same line of work, or linked industries, often know each other. I can imagine the word spreading in the city’s finance-property sector about a ‘big mansion in North Wales’ and the desperate need to find and fund a buyer – any buyer!

Perhaps the desperation was due to recent bad publicity over the ‘Wynnborn’ bollocks leading to official and governmental bodies ready to accept any buyer, with few questions asked.

NEWS FROM THE FRONT (AND THE BACK)

We are now asked to believe that Paul and Rowena Williams have moved to Caernarfon and are devoting all their energies and talents to their acquisitions in that area. The truth may be rather different.

To begin with, they have an exclusive residence just over the border from Powys. Two children attend a private (day) school in Hereford. They maintain a flat at the Knighton Hotel, and are regular visitors to the properties they’ve ‘sold’ to Partridge, often seen taking yet more stuff away. Rowena Williams was at the Radnorshire Arms yesterday loading stuff into her car.

This, remember, is a property she and hubby are supposed to have sold over four months ago!

Talking of which, I’m told that when Paul Williams was complimented on the antiques and collectibles he’s piled up at Glynllifon, he explained that he has “agents all over the world” looking out for interesting pieces for him.

Can’t you see it! a global network of antiques experts working for Paul Williams; Paris, New York, Milan, St Petersburg, Barcelona, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Shanghai . . . . Oh, yes, that must be the explanation.

The beer garden at the Radnorshire Arms, will it ever see customers again? Click to enlarge

Now I hear that a petition is being circulated, and enthusiastically signed, by residents of Presteigne and other communities, demanding that politicians and others find out what the hell is happening to all the properties once owned by Paul and Rowena Williams, properties that were ostensibly sold to Keith Harvey Partridge, properties that were supposedly closed for refurbishment on 16 April for 8 – 10 weeks but ain’t seen hide nor hair of any workman to carry out the promised refurbishment.

It’s almost as if, once the buildings have been milked for the money, they become surplus to requirements.

And yet, the irony must be that it was the closure of the hotels, and their treatment of the staff, that drew attention to Paul and Rowena Williams, Partridge and the rest of the gang. It’s certainly why I got involved. If they’d just kept the hotels open they might have got away with it.

There’s a lesson there for all of us . . . especially those perpetrating mortgage fraud and property scams.

∼ 

WHERE’S OUR MONEY?

One reason for asking that question is that Williams has told people in Caernarfon that he now owns four hotels in the area but plans to soon have eight. Lucky Caernarfon!

Also, I know that the Radnorshire Arms and the Knighton Hotel have received six-figure sums from the ‘Welsh’ Government, hundreds of thousands of pounds has been suggested. Now they lie empty and derelict, the staff laid off and the small communities in which they sit suffering as a result.

And what of Cyngor Gwynedd? Is it reasonable to assume that after the ‘Wynnborn’ fiasco they were so glad to find another buyer that they went along with Paul Williams without checking on what sort of a character he was? A few seconds Googling would have turned this up.

Come to that, who actually owns Plas Glynllifon, because I can find nothing on the Land Registry website. I’m told that the ownership is ‘complicated’, but surely it’s not a state secret. Have the Williamses really bought it?

The callous behaviour of this gang has has already affected the lives of dozens of people and damaged communities. To help those they claim to represent the ‘Welsh’ Government, Cyngor Gwynedd, Powys council, and other public bodies, must recover all public money given to this gang and, if possible, find buyers who will re-open the Radnorshire Arms and the other establishments.

But a start must be made today, by henceforth adhering to Uncle Jac’s Golden Rule – Not a penny more!

Then we need explanations for why things were allowed to go so far. A little openness and honesty is required, even if it does cause embarrassment in official circles. And if, as so many believe, criminal offences have been committed, then legal action must begin.

This can also start today.

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales

OUR STORY BEGINS IN PRESTEIGNE . . .

I am indebted to an anonymous source for the basis of the tale you’re about to read. I’ve contributed some supplementary digging and a number of interpretations. The original information I received was also sent to a couple of police forces, a number of media outlets, and other agencies, but I doubt if any will act on the information, so it’s up to Jac to extend his scrawny old neck, again.

Let the story begin in the pleasant little border town of Presteigne. To be even more specific, in the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, a half-timbered building dating back to the late 16th century.

click to enlarge

As told to me . . . this establishment was bought in 2006, or thereabouts, by a Paul Steven Williams for a price close to £400,000. It was then leased to a succession of tenants at an unreasonably high rent, with the predictable result that none of the tenants was able to make a go of it.

The last of these unfortunates seems to have been Gianni Roberto d’Aniello of Cora Berry Hotels Ltd. A company registered in January 2014 at the Radnorshire Arms, and put into the hands of Cardiff liquidators in November of that same year.

RESCUE!

But then! when all seemed lost, this by now neglected building was sold in August 2015 for the princely (and surprising) sum of £3,487,049 to Leisure and Development Ltd, a company with an address in nearby Knighton. A company Incorporated only a few months earlier on 19 January 2015.

And it wasn’t just the Radnorshire Arms that was bought by the new company, for in June and July 2015 Leisure and Development Ltd went on a spending spree and acquired seven properties, with another two added in February 2016, one of them the Beaufort Sports and Social Club in Ebbw Vale. (To see them all click on the ‘Charges’ tab of the Companies House entry I’ve just linked to.)

The founding directors of Leisure and Development Ltd were Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams. The charge referring to a loan from NatWest Bank suggests that the Radnorshire Arms had been transferred to Mrs Williams prior to the sale to Leisure and Development Ltd (see panel below).

click to enlarge

UPDATE 21:52: It may be worth spelling out that the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was sold by Rowena Claire Williams to Leisure and Development Ltd (Directors: Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams) for at least twice what the property was worth. This is very odd; I mean, how can you ‘sell’ something to yourself?

Something else that struck me about Leisure and Development Ltd was the number of changes of address it saw in such a short time. Incorporated January 2015 with an address at the Knighton Hotel, Broad Street, Knighton; then in February 2016 to just over the border in Craven Arms; in February 2017 the company re-crossed the border from Craven Arms to Plas Glynllifon, Caernarfon; and finally, in April 2018, it moved back to Craven Arms.

There’ll be more on Plas Glynllifon and other properties in north Gwynedd later. They can’t be ignored because Plas Glynllifon Ltd now owns all the shares in Leisure and Development Ltd, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you who the directors are of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Though they have ceased to be directors of Leisure and Development Ltd.

But the Williamses still own Leisure and Development Ltd through their ownership of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. It’s one way of operating – set up a company, then set up another company, resign from the first company but retain ownership through the second, then set up a third company, resign from the second, and so ad infinitum.

The person now nominally in charge of the Leisure and Development Ltd portfolio, named on the Companies House website as “person with significant control” from 30 April 2018, is Keith Harvey Partdridge. An interesting character, Partdridge, of whom more in a short while.

Though I suspect that spelling may be a recent affectation, if not a mis-spelling, because he has previously been known by the more usual spelling of Partridge. As in Museums (Norfolk) Ltd and Health Choice Hotels Ltd, both of which appear to be dormant.

Another example of Partridge’s business acumen, or perhaps his probity, may be found with Turnholly Ltd, owing some two hundred thousand pounds to various creditors.

SO WHO’S WHO AND HOW ARE THEY CONNECTED?

Well, we’ve met Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams, and I’ve also introduced their business partner Keith Harvey Partridge. And as I suggested, Partridge has a colourful past.

From 1992 to 1997 he owned the Midlands Motor Museum in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. But towards the end of 1999 he was jailed for stealing a Bentley Azure worth over a quarter of a million pounds. In March 2008 his home was up for sale with an asking price of £2,000,000.

But the Williamses are no paragons of good business practice either. Despite being repeatedly warned they carried on advertising the Radnorshire Arms as having AA and Visit Wales ratings, until they were eventually fined £1,250 with £4,250 costs.

(Incidentally, let me make it clear that despite the name the Williamses are not Welsh. They describe themselves as ‘English’ (not British) on documents submitted to Companies House, and I’m told that Paul Williams is a particularly unsavoury Kipper.)

Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams. Credit: Wales News Service

In terms of companies, so far we’ve encountered Leisure and Development Ltd and Plas Glynllifon Ltd, plus some of Partridge’s solo ventures. Now it’s time to list a few others, without I hope causing too much confusion.

Paul and Rowena Williams were directors of Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd, also listed among the directors was their company Leisure and Development Ltd (which bought the Radnorshire Arms Hotel). Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd is now run by their associate Michael Adrian Jones, with his address given as Polvellan House in Cornwall.

On April 1 Jones – who owns all the shares since they were transferred to him from Leisure and Development Ltd – made an application for Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd to be voluntarily struck off, but someone objected and the strike-off has been suspended.

I understand that Rowena Williams was outraged on finding that some scallywag had pinned the notification to the front door of the Radnorshire Arms.

A similarly named company is Rural Retreats and Development Ltd, of which Paul and Rowena Williams are both still directors. Former directors were Debra Yvonne Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister, and Polvellan Manor Ltd. There are a number of Charges against this company for loans and mortgages, including one against the Fronoleu Country Hotel at Tabor, just outside Dolgellau.

The mortgages, or more likely second mortgages, are with Together Commercial Finance Ltd, which seems to offer the commercial equivalent of pay day loans to those who find it difficult to raise money anywhere else.

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Turning to Partridge, since his release from prison he has formed a number of companies called Coast 2 Coast. There’s Coast 2 Coast Land Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Shores Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Developments Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Resorts Ltd, and Coast 2 Coast Care Ltd. The last of them is now dissolved but was formerly known as Coast 2 Coast Leisure, with Gwynedd directors following the change of name.

I find this last entry intriguing because it suggests an attempt by Partridge to break into the granny farming racket in Gwynedd.

WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT TOURISM?

I’ve already mentioned Plas Glynllifon, but the Williamses and/or Partridge also own Seiont Manor, Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch.

Plas Glynllifon has a chequered recent history. You may recall a few years ago someone trying to market it as ‘Wynnborn’. That previous owner was Gavin Lee Woodhouse, a spiv from Yorkshire. I wrote about Woodhouse in English Tourism in the Colony of Wales and Colonial Investments. (Paul and Rowena Williams also got a mention.)

After pissing people off in Caernarfon and beyond with his insulting ‘Wynnborn’ nonsense Woodhouse seems to have sold out to the Williamses and turned his gaze south. After linking up with Bore Grylls and then – to give the project some credibility – Peter Moore, former MD of Center Parcs, he unveiled the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

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Quite an ambitious undertaking for a man who was then six million quid in debt, but the ‘Welsh’ Government gave the trio everything they wanted – land, planning permission, infrastructure, money, you name it.

It’s impossible to know what the future holds for the four properties around Caernarfon, we can only be guided by the record of those who now own these fine old buildings. And that record is not encouraging.

A FEW WORRYING FACTS

Since April 16 the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne has been closed. On Monday 16 April staff were told by Paul Williams that Leisure and Development Ltd – comprising seven pubs, hotels, restaurants – had been sold to Coast 2 Coast and was being ‘re-branded’.

In other words, convicted thief Keith Harvey Partridge had somehow managed to raise“more than £10 million pounds” Williams claimed the deal was worth. Partridge whose companies are either in debt or mere shells.

On Sunday April 22 Partridge appeared in person at the Radnorshire Arms to tell staff that all the company’s establishments would be closed for 6 – 8 weeks for refurbishment. Staff were being laid off but could reapply for their jobs later. Over 70 staff were affected at the various locations.

Nothing has since been done to the Radnorshire Arms, and no planning application has been submitted. The building has instead been gutted and left to decay. There are broken windows and slates have fallen into the street. This, remember, is a 16th century, Grade II listed building.

In saying that the Radnorshire Arms has been “gutted”, what I mean is that it has been stripped of everything that can be sold off. The panel below is taken from the latest accounts for Leisure & Development Ltd submitted to Companies House at the end of April. Or rather, the unaudited financial statement.

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You’ll see that between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2018 almost seven million pounds worth of plant and machinery plus fixtures and fittings somehow slipped off the balance sheet. Leaving the companies assets confined to freehold property, in other words, mere structures, decaying structures, all of them mortgaged and re-mortgaged, and perhaps overvalued.

Earlier I mentioned Polvellan Manor in West Looe, Cornwall, now owned by Polvellan Manor Ltd. On April 1 Paul and Rowena Williams transferred the 5000 shares they each owned to Keith Partdridge. They ceased to be directors on the same day, leaving Partdridge in sole control.

Polvellan Manor is another fine building that has been gutted and left to rot by Paul Williams, Rowena Williams, Keith Partridge and the rest of the gang. Cornwall Live featured Polvellan Manor in March this year, when it was listed among, “23 derelict buildings in Cornwall at risk of disappearing forever”.  

Paul Holden, chair of the Cornish Buildings Group, told the CL reporter, “We have applied unsuccessfully to get the building listed, the rejection notice said that much of the historic interior had been lost.” I wonder where the interior could have gone? Did it just walk out the door?

The Fronoleu Country Hotel, just outside Dolgellau, is now closed, just like Polvellan Manor and the Radnorshire Arms. So is the Beaufort Sports and Social Club in Ebbw Vale. I guarantee that most if not all of the properties owned by this gang are closed. What sort of business can this be?

And here’s a thought . . . has anyone from Cyngor Gwynedd or the ‘Welsh’ Government been inside Plas Glynllifon lately?

Another thought; by stripping and neglecting these buildings the gang is almost certainly breaking the conditions of the loans and mortgages, the conditions that insist these buildings be properly maintained and looked after. Intact.

And what do the insurers think of this behaviour?

UPDATE 14.06.2018: Here are the letters received by the staff at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the other establishments owned by Rural Retreats and Leisure Ltd. The first from Rowena Williams of RRL and the second from Keith Partridge of Coast 2 Coast. (Here in pdf format.)

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According to these letters the deal was done 1 February, so why did it take eight weeks to inform the staff?

Note how optimistic Rowena Williams sounds, “At the moment we do not have any more information that (sic) what we have shared with you except that they (Coast 2 Coast) want to move quickly in order to be open for the summer period”.

But the Williamses have been dealing with Partridge for years, and they knew exactly what the plan was.

And as for the “summer period”, well, it’s mid June, Whitsun has come and gone, and in the northern hemisphere it is now definitely summer . . . but the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the other establishments remain firmly closed, with no sign of them opening any time soon.

How could anyone ever trust these people?

COUNT THE SPOONS!

You’ll have noticed that Paul and Rowena Williams and their sidekick Partridge buy property almost indiscriminately, and then they just strip them to the bare bones and let the buildings deteriorate.

This is because they have no interest in actually running hotels. The racket is to buy a property, with a loan or a mortgage; announce a big investment, lots of jobs; then strip the building of anything valuable; sell it on within the gang at an inflated price (or simply transfer it); dissolve indebted companies; pull down whatever grants are available, use these grants and new loans to service old loans; while paying yourself handsomely behind this fog of deceit.

With all the debts accrued, this is a house of cards. Collapse must surely be imminent.

Consequently, to have any dealings with these people would be foolish. To give them money would be insane. And yet, this is what I’m told has happened, and probably explains why they’ve moved their operations to Wales. For it’s claimed the gang has already received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government, with more in the pipeline.

I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to Visit Wales, but I have already been told that the Radnorshire Arms received a grant of £370,000, plus a smaller grant; while the Knighton Hotel (formerly Norton Hotel) received an even larger grant.

God knows how much they’re getting, or anticipate getting, from their foray into Gwynedd.

In case anyone is in doubt, let me make it absolutely clear: These people are liars, chisellers, scammers, asset-strippers, con men, crooks; so cut off all public funding immediately and demand repayment of what they have already received; insist on a thorough inspection of the buildings they ‘own’; and then refer them to the police. 

Weep for Wales that we keep attracting people like these, scavengers drawn to a fallen beast. A once noble beast brought down by a colonial system that will always favour strangers, and exploitation; a system that will never encourage native initiative lest it gives us ideas about our place in the great scheme of things.

This system, and those who promote and operate it, must be swept away. Do that and I won’t have to write about Paul and Rowena Williams, Keith Partridge, Bore Grylls, Gavin Woodhouse and the occupying army of which they are just a small detachment.

♦ end ♦

 

Bits & Pieces 04.06.2018

MOLD RIOTS 1869 (Update)

In my previous post I mentioned the Mold Riots of 1869, which resulted in four locals being shot dead by soldiers brought in from Chester, with many more wounded, resulting from unrest at Leeswood Green colliery – situated between Mold and Wrecsam – following the appointment of English manager, John Young, his treatment of the miners and his hostility towards the Welsh language.

Determined to get more information on this episode of Welsh history that has been largely ignored outside of the immediate vicinity, I started trawling the internet. One piece I came across was on the Hiraeth website (a site previously unknown to me), and while the site narrative followed the accepted version there was a curious panel insert offering a very different version.

So curious is it that it deserves to be analysed in some detail.

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First off, the writer of the panel, David Rowe, tells us, “There is no evidence that the use of Cymraeg was banned by Young”. (Note the use of the ‘I’m on your side’ ‘Cymraeg’ rather than ‘Welsh’.)

And yet, the novelist Daniel Owen, who lived in Mold at the time, and wrote about the events in Rhys Lewis, was in no doubt that the curtailing or prohibition of the use of Welsh in the mine was one of the causes of the unrest that culminated in the riots.

So do we believe a Welsh speaker, an observant man native to the area, with no political axe to grind, who almost certainly spoke with those involved, and therefore wrote from first-hand knowledge; or do we believe David Rowe, who comes from north east England, as did John Young?

I know who my money’s on.

Rowe continues, “Indeed, during one of the two trials associated with the events, a number of the defendants were provided with a translator as they did not speak English.” He could well be right, but this is a non-sequitur because the trials were not organised by John Young. This contribution has no value beyond establishing that many of those involved spoke little or no English.

Soon after we read, ” . . . it is also perhaps worth noting that very little is said about the injuries suffered by the army and police prior to them opening fire. Two of the eighteen injured police officers, Superintendent Thomas and Sergeant Dew, never returned to work and of the latter it was reported that ‘his helmet was smashed in, a stone was afterwards found inside it’”

This is almost unbelievable. Rowe seems to be arguing that stones thrown at police and soldiers justified those soldiers firing into a crowd containing women and children, and killing two women!

As for Superintendent Thomas and Sergeant Dew not returning to work, was this due to the severity of their injuries, or did they just take early retirement?

Rowe’s interpretation goes on, “The affair was not supported by Mold townspeople and shopkeepers, and the miners took their business to Wrexham.” Here we have something else that needs to be taken with a dollop of Halen Môn. The miners worked at Leeswood, which lies between Mold and Wrecsam, many of them may have lived nearer to Wrecsam than to Mold, and may always have done their shopping in the larger town.

But the intention is clear – ‘These were a few hotheads ostracised by the local community’. A crude smear.

And yet, for the wrong reason, Rowe may be right. For in Rhys Lewis, Daniel Owen has chapel elder Abel Hughes, say, “But these strikes are a very strange thing. They’re things that have come from the English; they don’t belong to us, and I fear that they will do a lot of harm to this country”. (Translation: SM.)

So if the locals of Mold kept their distance from the strikers this could be because they regarded strikes as an unwanted English importation. Which would mean that the strikers were not behaving in an acceptably Welsh way.

David Rowe concludes with a ‘lived happily ever after’ element in the form of, “(Young) went back to Leeswood Green Colliery and one of the original rioters is later described as being his ‘right hand man’.” Perhaps an attempt at bridge-building forced on Young by the mine-owners?

Though seeing as there were hundreds of rioters this doesn’t really say much.

Interestingly, Rowe neglects to address the matter of Young bringing in English miners and giving them the best diggings. This may have been as much a cause of the trouble, perhaps more so, than Young’s hostility to the Welsh language.

Now I’ve been around long enough to recognise a whitewash when I read it, the sanitisation of historical events to suit a political or other agenda, and that’s exactly what we have here.

To paraphrase David Rowe.

John Young was victimised by a small group of nasty, xenophobic Welsh miners. The behaviour of this malign element was countered with the civilising influence of English soldiers who were provoked beyond endurance and were fully justified in firing on a crowd of (allegedly) unarmed people. Following the riots the strikers were again proven to be just a few hotheads representing no one but themselves when they were shunned by the people of Mold. 

Rowe strikes me as one of those of whom we have too many in Wales today. They move in and in a very short time have taken over local clubs and associations, setting themselves up as experts on all things Welsh, all things local, and because of our inbuilt timidity resulting from centuries of brainwashing, we allow them to get away with it.

But not on this blog, pal.

Malcolm X once said, “Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children” I think we can add, ‘Only a nation of fools would let its history be interpreted by its enemies’.

HOW A COLONIAL ECONOMY OPERATES

Princes Gate

I’m sure many of you have drunk Princes Gate bottled water, I know I have, though I must admit I was never sure where it came from. Now I learn there’s a little place called Princes Gate a couple of miles south east of Narberth in Pembrokeshire, not far from Cold Blow.

And it’s there we find the company run by brothers David and Glyn Jones. It’s in the news because they’ve sold out to Nestlé. Which I find concerning for two reasons.

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To begin with, we see an old story retold – Welsh company starts up, grows, becomes profitable and desirable, with the result that it is bought out, usually by a larger English company, and often closed down, with production moved to England.

Though in the case of Princes Gate the new owner is mega multinational Nestlé, and seeing as it bottles local water production certainly can’t be transferred, though the operation might still be closed down if Nestlé felt it had too many producers of bottled water, or if the market took a dip.

Of more concern for many than job losses is Nestlé’s reputation in the field of water extraction, and how its operations impact on neighbours and the wider environment.

Here are two reports on Nestlé operations in the USA; one in California, and one in Michigan. The allegations are that Nestlé pays a pittance for the right to extract water, extracts more than it should, lowers the water table and affects everyone else, and generally puts its own corporate interests above all other considerations.

Nestlé hasn’t bought Princes Gate to lose money, and given the company’s global track record it’s reasonable to assume that it will seek to increase production. Increasing production can only mean extracting more water, and this will inevitably lower the water table and affect the local environment.

Which is what Princes Gate was accused of doing in 2016. Maybe the effect the increased production was having on neighbours they knew and socialised with held Dai and Glyn Jones back from further expansion. It may be why they’re selling up.

Multinational Nestlé with its army of lawyers and ‘experts’ will have no qualms about pissing off the neighbours.

One to watch, methinks.

Arla ‘Welsh’ Cheese

Moving north, another recent story concerned the Arla cheese plant at Llandyrnog, a few miles east of Denbigh. It seems that the Danish company that owns the plant is transferring production to Devon but will still call the product ‘Welsh cheese’.

This, again, is an old refrain, for many of us will remember the closure of creameries in the south west in the 1970s and 1980s, with politicians doing nothing to help as production was, again, transferred to England. Milk from Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire is still heading for the border every day. As one respondent to a tweet I put out said, “You only need to go to Cross Hands (on the A48, just shy of the M4) any day of the week to see tens of articulated tankers filled with Welsh milk destined for dairies in England.”

Picture: BBC Wales (click to enlarge)

Why is this still happening twenty years into devolution? Even allowing for the fact that the Poverty Party cares nothing for rural areas the other parties could surely be applying pressure? Or, come to that, why can’t our farmers organise themselves, as farmers in Ireland and other countries have done, why rely on foreign companies to come in and rip them off?

Raw materials and unfinished good being taken out of a poor country to be finished and profited from in a controlling richer country is the classic definition of a colonial economy.

One the best illustrations of this comes from pre-independence Cuba where the locals were allowed to grow tobacco which was then shipped to Spain in its raw state to be made into cigars. With the jobs and the profits of course accruing to Spain.

Twenty-first century Wales is catching up fast with nineteenth-century Cuba. What a testament that is to English ownership and ‘Welsh’ Labour management of our country!

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Many observers, of a leftist or ‘progressive’ bent, have enjoyed drawing silly parallels lately. For example, the election of Donald Trump is compared to Hitler taking power in 1933, people refusing to be silenced by political correctness are the harbingers of global fascism, and the rise of anti-establishment movements is the first step on the road to totalitarianism.

All bollocks of course, because if there is any parallel to be drawn with the past, certainly in these offshore islands, then we need to go back a few centuries. I’m thinking of a time when England was trying to take complete control over the other countries with varying degrees of support and opposition coming from within those countries.

If we take Ireland in the medieval period, there was support for the English presence from the ‘Old English’, before their position was usurped (because they remained Catholic) by the Protestant Ascendancy, which in turn was replaced by the Presbyterian Scots, mainly in Ulster but also in the other Provinces.

Today the descendants of those settlers from Lowland Scotland wield great power in the UK government, for the Democratic Unionist Party, founded by the Reverend Doctor Ian Kyle Paisley, is keeping Mrs May’s shower afloat. Another face of Unionism-Loyalism is of course the Orange Order.

Among these Loyalists we find some thuggish elements, as we saw in George Square, Glasgow, the day after the independence referendum in September 2014. What we also saw in George Square that day were plenty of fascist salutes, reminding us of how Loyalism and fascism often merge into the ultimate expression of ‘British values’. Something to which critics of ‘nationalism’ seem blind.

The Orangemen are to hold a big march at the end of this month in Cowdenbeath, Fife, and the guest speaker is Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP. This is unusual for a number of reasons, not least that the Orange Order’s attitude towards women has historically mirrored that of the Freemasons, an organisation with which it has always had strong links – ‘Make the tea, doll’.

There can be no question that inviting the leader of the DUP to Scotland is designed to send a message to the SNP about its thinking on a second independence referendum. It might even be a threat. It would be interesting to know if the UK government had a hand in the invitation.

But it could all be counter-productive when we remember the kind of bigots and outright nutters that inhabit the Unionist-royalist-Loyalist-BritNat-fascist continuum. Fortunately, the latest issue of Private Eye reminds us of some of the stars to be found in the Democratic Unionist Party.

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Top of the bill must be the Reverend William ‘Boxcar Willie’ McCrea. As the Eye tells us, “According to official papers released three years ago, after the American air raids on Tripoli in 1986, Boxcar Willie asked the Thatcher government to launch similar missile attacks on the Irish Republic. A memo from an official in the Northern Ireland Office noted: ‘Rev William McCrea urged Libya-style strikes against Dundalk, Drogheda, Crossmaglen and Carrickmore’.”

Which is even more insane than it initially reads – for Crossmaglen and Carrickmore are actually in Northern Ireland; Republican strongholds, admittedly, but still in Northern Ireland. So this lunatic wanted the UK government to bomb parts of the United Kingdom and kill people who were – however reluctantly – British subjects!

And now he’s in the House of Lords. It would be easy to be flippant and say that’s where he belongs, among lots of other old tossers. But he’s there because his party is propping up – and influencing – the UK government. And remember, Boxcar Willie and the DUP represent the acceptable face of Unionism. Just think what the arse-end looks like!

Finally, consider this: there will soon be a Catholic majority in the Six Counties, and this will inevitably be followed by a united Ireland (if Brexit doesn’t do it). As the Unionist-Loyalist Götterdämmerung approaches many of Boxcar Willie’s fervid supporters will be looking for somewhere else to settle. (Unless they decide to go out with an OAS-style bang.)

When that happens I guarantee some will be ‘directed’ to Wales. So maybe you’d better prepare yourself for this sort of thing along Aberystwyth Promenade.

PUTTING FAITH IN CARWYN

The ugly lovely town has taken a few to the nuts of late: first it was the decision not to electrify the railway line from London beyond Cardiff; then, last month, we lost 800 jobs when Virgin Media pulled out; the Swans have been relegated, the Ospreys knocked off their perch; and now it seems we are not getting the tidal lagoon either.

But Carwyn Jones, our beloved and respected First Minister, has reiterated his government’s support for the project with, “The Welsh Government remains committed to the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and we stand ready to provide significant financial backing to help make it a reality”Can’t say fairer than that!

Though I wonder if he’s not giving himself – or his successor – up as a hostage to fortune. Because if, as expected, the UK government pulls the plug this week on the lagoon project then people in Wales, and especially those around Swansea Bay, will expect Carwyn Jones to come riding to the rescue.

But will that happen? And is there anything he can really do?

Picture: Tidal Lagoon Power (click to enlarge)

Carwyn Jones seems to be offering money, but I’m not sure that’s the sticking point. I believe there’d be no difficulty finding funding for the project – if the UK government agrees to take the power produced, which it seems unwilling to do.

Because the sticking point is the ‘strike price’ asked by those operating the lagoon, which according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is significantly higher than the price agreed for electricity supplied by the Hinckley Point nuclear power station in Somerset.

Yet operators Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) disagree, saying they had previously asked for a 90-year contract with the UK government with an average strike price of £89.90 per megawatt hour. The new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset was given a strike price of £92.50/MWh for 35 years.

It begins to look as if, for whatever reason, the UK government just doesn’t want tidal energy, or maybe it’s tidal energy in Wales it doesn’t want. Either way, it looks as if the project is dead. However . . . if the ‘Welsh’ Government’s money can bring down the strike price it might be difficult for London to remain intransigent.

The announcement later this week will be Mrs May lobbing the ball into Carwyn’s court. It’ll then be up to him how he plays it.

Will it be a thundering cross-court volley leaving Theresa May sprawling? Might it be an elegant backhand drawing oohs and aahs from the sun-drenched crowd? Or will he stumble and smash it into the net, as usual?

♦ end ♦