2019: A Year to Remember?

Although it’s still 2018, in this post I look forward to the year ahead.

Already, at Westminster, we see chaos and in-fighting in both major parties, though there is within the Conservative Party an element that knows where it wants to take us. Maybe the question is how big this element is and how much support it has within the wider establishment and elsewhere.

Here in Wales we also see chaos, infused with hopelessness. For after twenty years of managing decline the Labour Party has given up all pretence at serving Wales and elected Mark Drakeford as ‘leader’. Apart from Neil McEvoy there seems to be no effective opposition to the slow drift towards greater deprivation and ultimately assimilation.

The latter may even be offered as a solution to the former – for as we’ll hear, ‘devolution has obviously failed Wales’. Many, unable to differentiate between the Labour Party and devolution, will agree with that.

Beyond the chambers of government politics is returning to the streets, with the far right resurgent. The element I’ve referred to within the Tories wonders whether these Wetherspoon’s warriors could be used to advance its agenda; but it needs the excuse, the crisis, to justify such an alliance. Will Brexit provide it, or perhaps some other unforeseen eventuality?

Let’s start by asking how we got here.

THE FETISHISATION OF THE POPPY

After the Scottish National Party took control of the Scottish Parliament in 2011, and a referendum on independence loomed, the UK establishment had cause to be grateful to an almost forgotten Serb nationalist. Though Gavrilo Princip could never have known that the events he set in train at Sarajevo in 1914 would be so shamelessly exploited by another tottering empire a century later.

For the one hundredth anniversary of World War One allowed our masters to fetishise the poppy and go so far over the top that, had they been at the first day of the Somme, they could have been half way to Berlin by nightfall.

Hiding behind ‘The Glorious Dead’ and piously mumbling ‘Lest we forget’ became mantras against the threatened departure of the Scots, Sinn Féin on the brink of becoming the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and mounting divisions within England.

I’m not suggesting that hopes of Scottish independence were drowned in a sea of poppies, partly because the referendum took place on 18 September 2014, when the poppy cult had not yet reached tsunami proportions, with ‘weeping windows’ and other examples of necrolatry.

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But the BritNat offensive had already opened on other fronts. Television playing a major role. Consider this: in the final year of the Labour–Lib Dem coalition in the Scottish Parliament (to May 3, 2007) there were just 25 separate shows that had ‘Britain’ or ‘British’ in the title.

By January 2014, with the SNP in power, and with the independence referendum looming, the number of ‘Britain’ / ‘British’ programmes had rocketed to 516! This was no coincidence.

More recently, the ‘Everything is British’ agenda became almost laughable in its desperation when compliant supermarkets branded whisky and even haggis as ‘British’. (Though in fairness, the German supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl did not surrender to this diktat, most probably delivered as, ‘A quiet word, old chap . . . ‘.)

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There is no escaping it; the fear of Scottish independence coupled with the turning tide in the north east of Ireland, with Brexit thrown into the mix, has combined to give us a very nervous British establishment.

Just how desperate that establishment is, and how far it might go to preserve it’s influence, or hold the Union together, remains to be seen. But the augurs are worrying.

ENTER STAGE RIGHT, THE FAR RIGHT

A taste of what to expect was perhaps seen in George Square, Glasgow, when ‘celebrating’ Loyalists went on the rampage on September 19, 2014, the day after Scotland voted to remain in the UK.

It was all there in plain sight – union flags, Nazi salutes, destroying Saltires and attacking anyone who didn’t agree with their interpretation of Britishness. (White, Protestant, monolingual, royalist, Islamophobic, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic.)

The problem posed by a state becoming more diverse yet containing a growing minority moving in the opposite direction is pretty obvious.

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The extract below taken from The Herald makes clear who was behind the George Square violence, for it explains the connection between a certain Glasgow Rangers supporters group, the English far right, and Northern Ireland paramilitaries.

“The entire loyalist demonstration had indeed been orchestrated online, it turned out. You sent us the online poster headed “Scotland Said No” asking for demonstrators to come to the city centre at 6pm. The poster was circulated widely by Britain First, the far-right party set up by ex-BNP members, which has a strong following in Northern Ireland and the west of Scotland.

Then you sent us Facebook postings from ordinary Rangers fans, horrified at what their fellow fans were planning. One read: ‘I am a Rangers supporter. The Rangers pages have been drumming up support to riot at George Square all day. It’s disgusting. I am ashamed of them.'”

I was surprised no one asked if there was official involvement in the George Square riot. Because we know that during The Troubles Loyalist terrorists were almost an extension of the UK state due to the intelligence, training and arms they received. While the intelligence services formed links with the National Front during the exile in England of Roberto Fiore.

Thankfully, Wales has been largely immune to this evil, though there is a little clique in Swansea, associated with the city’s football club. They used to call themselves Swansea Loyals and had a website showing photographs of their visits to Glasgow and Belfast. The website was taken down but the gang remained.

Some made their continued presence felt with the display of a union flag at the Liberty Stadium, but now, perhaps encouraged or motivated by the developments we’ve considered they feel emboldened. New banners have appeared, such as the one you see below.

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For those unable to ‘read’ the symbols, let me interpret. ‘Swansea Loyal’ is self-explanatory, loyal to the interpretation of ‘Britishness’ we saw in George Square. The badge on the right is that of Swansea City, on the left Glasgow Rangers, with those badges flanking the red hand symbol of Ulster. ‘Quis Separabit’ (‘Who shall separate [us]?) is the motto of the outlawed Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

Let me make clear that not all Rangers fans are bigots, not all Rangers fans support the UDA, and some Rangers fans even support Scottish independence, but let us also remember that among the various ditties sung by Gers’ fans is the notorious Famine Song which urges those of Irish Catholic descent in Scotland to ‘go home’.

Defenders of the banner have argued on Twitter that the motto has also been used by the British army regiment the Connaught Rangers (disbanded 1922), the Order of St Patrick (dormant order of chivalry), and the Irish Guards regiment, which is still active but – like so many units of the British Army – recruits from just about anywhere bar Russia. (Though my old mate Vladimir Vladimirovich has other ways of knowing what’s going on.)

I have tried before to explain how intertwined the histories of Scotland and Ireland are; exemplified by Glasgow Rangers being supported by the descendants of Scots who settled in Ulster, while Celtic fans are often the descendants of Irish immigrants to Scotland.

Wales has no such links. For which we should be thankful, it means we have been spared the hatred and the violence that results from these connections. And I don’t want to see this poison introduced into Wales, which is one reason why I oppose the Swansea Loyals.

The other reason I oppose these buggers is because they are anti-Welsh. They would destroy everything that distinguishes us as a nation and merge Wales into England.

Having felt marginalised for many years the far right must feel it’s being invited in from the cold when it sees a Tory MP threaten the Irish (Catholics) with food shortages; hears an SNP MP told to “Go back to Skye”; reads of a Plaid Cymru MP mocked for his accent.

Image courtesy of The National, click to enlarge

It’s unsurprising then that going into coalition with an extremist party such as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) presented no dilemma for modern Tories.

Further encouragement for the fringes came from the rise of Ukip, while out on the streets and in social media the far right has found its voice in Tommy Robinson and others. A few years ago such people would have been ostracised, now they’re invited onto Newsnight, Question Time and other television programmes. (Though the invitations are usually from the BBC.)

What we’re dealing with here could be viewed as a continuum, one that extends, in one direction, from the BNP or the EDL or National Action to Ukip and then the Conservative Party; and in the other direction to Glasgow Rangers, affiliated ‘Loyal’ groups with other clubs, the Orange Order, and assorted terrorist groups. Giving us an extended continuum from the Tory Party to Loyalist terrorists.

And there seem to be extreme BritNat parties springing up all the time. I drew your attention in November to the Democrats & Veterans Party, which has a presence in Swansea and even a Welsh co-ordinator. (Though of course he’s not Welsh.) And who could forget Shane Baker, the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo, another who has come to live among us.

As we’ve seen, this atmosphere of over-zealous and intolerant Britishism affects everything from haggis to Nicholas Soames of ‘Skye’ fame, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill – it even infects darts players!

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The far right is today more accepted by the establishment and the mainstream media than at any time I can recall. I remember Margaret Thatcher back in the 1980s urging people to reclaim the union flag from the National Front, but we hear no such calls today. ‘Unity’, is the cry, under the umbrella of unquestioning and increasingly intolerant Englishness/Britishness.

THE STARS OF ILL OMEN ALIGN

I believe that the poppy cult, tabloid campaigns against ‘Ungrateful Jock bastards’, Great British Cushions (BBC2, also available on iPlayer), all contributed towards the Brexit vote.

Whether that was the intention of those who whipped up this spittle-speckled BritNat hysteria is something that might become clear in the years ahead.

And it seems I’m not the only one feeling concerned. Already the UK government has put troops on standby for a no-deal Brexit, and I’m sure Cobra has other plans that we won’t hear of.

But the threat doesn’t really come from this direction, and I’m not sure that Brexit, even a no-deal Brexit, would be enough to prompt a putsch that had any hope of support within the establishment. The best hope for the putsch-minded in the period of uncertainty and recriminations following a no deal or bad deal Brexit might be to take over the Conservative Party and by extension the government.

Maybe the bigger threat comes from the fall-out from Brexit, in Scotland and Ireland. For I can predict with certainty that the bigger the cock-up over Brexit, or the more damaging the consequences, the greater the likelihood of Scottish independence and Irish reunification.

The threat of either could be the ‘trigger’ for the putsch. Both could plunge us into an Algeria/OAS (Day of the Jackal) situation with ‘loyalist’ rebels in the ‘breakaway’ territory linking with the far right and certain politicians in the ‘mother country’ . . . justifying ‘intervention’.

Another trigger could be the death of the Queen, now 92. There would be wide-spread resistance to Charles becoming king, and attempts to by-pass him and install his son William would stir up a constitutional hornets’ nest.

Or how about economic collapse leading to civil unrest? There was a major wobble in the markets over Christmas.

Tommy Robinson is obviously popular with these squaddies. Picture courtesy of Sky News. Click to enlarge

I mentioned earlier that the UK government has troops on stand-by but how reliable is the British Army, drawn largely from the same disgruntled white working class that fills the ranks of the far right? And it’s not just a few smiling squaddies posing with Tommy Robinson we need to worry about, there are some nasty buggers hiding in khaki.

The reason Brexit is dangerous – and the very reason we are facing Brexit – is because we Welsh are trapped in a state in irreversible decline where political leaders and a great portion of the population refuse to accept this reality.

A deluded populace enduring falling living standards guarantees the volatile political atmosphere welcomed by those promising to restore England’s greatness. And if that means curbing ‘the excesses of democracy’ and banging up a few ‘traitors’, then it will be done.

And because the English are masters of the political euphemism we shall never hear the words coup or putsch. It will be: ‘Uncertain times . . . national emergency . . . desperate measures . . . great reluctance . . . avoidance of civil unrest . . . suspension of habeas corpus . . . unfortunate necessity . . . national unity . . . abolition of Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly . . . necessary . . . recruitment of auxiliaries . . . ‘

WHAT WILL BE THE WELSH RESPONSE?

Despite the foot soldiers being ready and the plotters dreaming up titles for themselves, any talk of a putsch, or even a coup within the Conservative government, remains speculation. Yet it cannot be ruled out, while staying in the EU would excite the far right even more.

So what should be the Welsh response to any economic, constitutional or other crisis in 2019? Nationalists like myself will obviously argue even more strongly for breaking away from a divided and dysfunctional UK state. After all, the confusion I’ve described here is one reason I voted for Brexit.

You might argue that, ‘Wales also voted for Brexit, so Wales too is divided’. Wales voted for something, but the majority of Leave voters are to be found in the pissed-off but Welsh-identifying population from Blaenau Gwent to Swansea Bay. Present these with a different vision, a Welsh vision, and many can be won over.

But what of the left? Knowing the left as I do, many will view a putsch, even a half-hearted power grab, as a ‘British’ issue and start organising trips to London to be seen at whatever pointless rally metropolitan luvvies have organised.

That’s because too many on the left in Wales are trapped in a British mindset, which they like to disguise as ‘internationalist’ and flaunt in contradistinction to what they depict as ‘narrow nationalism’. But it’s never been anything other than a cop-out, just another way of saying, ‘We don’t really care about Wales’.

As a result, the left in Wales has been English colonialism’s greatest asset for a century, ever since Labour replaced that ‘too Welsh’ Liberalism that so alarmed Alderman Bird. Aided in more recent times by a left-controlled Plaid Cymru.

A leftism that dismisses any critic as a fascist in the hope of silencing them. And the smug, sanctimonious bastards who employ this censorship argue they’re defending freedom of expression, and claim the moral high ground!

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If the worst happens and the lunatics take over the asylum the left in Wales will have a choice. It can either seek to restore the asylum’s management, or it can choose to escape the asylum and build an independent Wales.

Come to that, why wait for a Dad’s Army putsch? Wales is a rich country made poor by the system we have now – what are you waiting for?

♦ end ♦

 

Pot Pourri 12.12.2018

As you can see, this is another big one. But it’s made up of five separate reports: Hendy wind farm, recent events in Swansea and Llanelli which may – or may not – be linked, the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, the redevelopment of the Tower opencast site, and finally, the leadership election in a non-existent political party.

So you can either make yourself a panad, settle down and go through the lot in one go. Alternatively, you can take them one at a time. The choice is yours.

Unless something big crops up this might be my last posting until 2019. If that’s how it turns out, then . . .

HENDY WIND FARM: WHO GAVE THE WORD? WHEN? WHY?

A few weeks ago, in Corruption in the Wind, I looked at three wind farms: Bryn Blaen, near Llangurig; Rhoscrowther, near Milford Haven; and Hendy, near Crossgates. All being promoted by the same property company. 

Hendy wind farm merits another visit.

You’ll recall that Hendy was refused planning permission by Powys County Council and this decision was upheld by a planning inspector in May this year. But then, in late October, Lesley Griffiths, Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Secretary for the management team in Cardiff docks, said that she would over-rule the planning inspector’s decision and allow Hendy to proceed.

The landscape to be desecrated by Hendy wind farm, click to enlarge

In the earlier piece I argued that what triggered the change of heart over Hendy was the High Court decision in September to finally put a stop to the Rhoscrowther project on the Milford Haven Waterway.

Prior to that High Court decision the developers had Bryn Blaen in the bag, were hopeful of getting Rhoscrowther, and were probably resigned to writing off Hendy, taking the view that two out of three ain’t that bad. But once Rhoscrowther was lost they were down to one out of three – they had to have Hendy.

Here’s the sequence of events leading to where we are at present.

The Construction Environmental Management Plan we encountered in the bullet points above should have been produced before work started, but in the case of Hendy it’s dated November 19, six weeks after on-site work started. 

The more I think about it, the more I believe there’s only one way to explain the panicky happenings at Hendy.

The decision to allow the Hendy wind farm was taken in London after approaches by the developers following the Rhoscrowther decision. (For despite the Planning Inspectorate having a desk in Cardiff it answers to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London.)

A political decision taken in London was passed to the Planning Inspectorate and only belatedly relayed to Lesley Griffiths when someone remembered about devolution. (Further proof that what masquerades as the ‘Welsh Government’ is just London’s management team in Wales.)

Worth mentioning may be that the landowner at Hendy is Sir Robert John Green-Price 5th Bt. It’s reasonable to assume that Sandhurst-educated Sir Robert has influential friends. It’s equally reasonable to assume that the developers, Marcus Owen Shepherd, Matthew Simon Weiner and Richard Upton, also ‘know people’.

Last week the developers were pile-driving at the source of the Edw, a Special Area of Conservation. All being done in the name of ‘conservation’ and ‘the environment’. The Edw runs south to join the Wye at Aberedw.

Pile-driving in an SAC at the source of the Edw, click to enlarge

Where, last Sunday, a day after the Cilmeri commemoration, people remembered a hero who may have been betrayed. How fitting that they should gather at Aberedw, by a river being polluted by modern invaders assisted by today’s traitors.

TIDAL LAGOON PUTTING WIND UP WIND FARMERS?

One of the more interesting schemes promoted in Wales in recent years was the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. It eventually failed because the UK government refused to support it.

Yet it had a great deal of backing from people who pointed out that the electricity generated by the Swansea lagoon, a relatively small prototype, was bound to be expensive, but the possibilities of tidal power are immense and larger lagoons would be cheaper all round. For one thing tides, unlike wind, are entirely predictable and therefore reliable.

Not far away from the proposed tidal lagoon we saw one of the more extravagant schemes mooted in recent years in the £225m Wellness Village in Llanelli’s Delta swamp, being promoted chiefly by Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James and Swansea academic Marc Clement, the latter a Turk by birth.

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This project was to be part-funded from the £1.3bn Swansea Bay city deal.

Clement and a few other senior academics in Swansea, including the vice-chancellor, were recently suspended and it was generally agreed that this was somehow connected with the Wellness Village, certainly Clement was connected. Though no Llanelli connection could be established for vice-chancellor Richard B Davies or the other two, unnamed, persons who were suspended.

It was no surprise then that following the Swansea suspensions the Wellness Village seemed to get poorly. Within a very short time the infection spread and now a review has been ordered of the whole city region deal.

But why should the London government suddenly be so concerned about doings in south west Wales?

I’ve been giving this matter some thought, and here’s what I think.

Just a few miles from Swansea Bay lies Mynydd y Gwair, on the northern outskirts of the city. This was an area of wild and unspoilt upland . . . until fat grants were introduced for wind turbines.

Then the owner of Mynydd y Gwair, the Beaufort Estate (Prop. Duke of Beaufort), decided it could make millions by covering this beautiful area with ugly, useless, bird-killing wind turbines. This is the same Beaufort Estate that ten years ago charged the city council £280,000 to put a footbridge over the Tawe near the Liberty Stadium.

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Beaufort and his ilk are descended from medieval robber barons, and they still know how to extract money from the rest of us.

It’s the same across this island. In Scotland the descendants of the Parcel of Rogues and assorted foreign landowners are minting it with wind turbines; while in England it’s a similar story, with former PM David Cameron’s father-in-law among those raking it in.

And linked with them are the property men and experts who will do all the dirty work, and reap their own rewards, those we see behind the Hendy wind farm.

And so there must be a possibility that the UK government is ‘reviewing’ the Swansea Bay city deal because Swansea council is threatening to resurrect the tidal lagoon, for that might be disastrous for the wind farmers who are so close to the Tory party, and in many instances, fund it.

‘But, Jac, what about the suspensions at Swansea University and the Wellness Village?’

The Wellness Village was up Shit Creek anyway, no private money was going to appear. It has simply been written off early before any more public money is wasted. As for the suspensions, the Wellness Village might have been a useful distraction.

Put the Wellness Village to one side and remember that the university is also heavily involved with Tidal Lagoon Mk II. It was the university that commissioned the recent report – on behalf of the Swansea Bay City Region – into reviving the barrage project.

Then look at the plan. Swansea University’s new Bay Campus is at the eastern landfall of the proposed lagoon. Students would have fought to get into a university with its own private beach which also overlooked a ground-breaking tidal lagoon offering many recreational facilities.

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But as I say, a revived Swansea tidal lagoon might be bad news for those behind Hendy wind farm, and for Lord Beaufort, also for the repackaged Parcel of Rogues, and of course for Sam Cam’s daddy.

We may need to look no further to explain the UK government’s decision to ‘review’ the Swansea Bay city deal.

BODNANT WELSH FOOD CENTRE

Another recent business failure was the collapse of the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in Dyffryn Conwy. Though it now looks as though it has been saved by local teacake tycoon Richard Reynolds (who I’m sure is no relation to Rikki Reynolds of Weep for Wales notoriety).

In all the excitement too many have neglected to ask the basic questions about Bodnant, such as: Who’s calling the shots? Why was a grant of £6.5m made? Should that money have been allocated? Was the money used well? Why did Bodnant Food Centre collapse? What happens now?

The first thing to explain – and this is fundamental to understanding the bigger picture – is that the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, opened in 2012 by Charles Windsor, is part of the Bodnant Estate, run by The Hon Michael Duncan McLaren QC, educated at Eton and Cambridge.

Michael McLaren’s father was the third Baron Aberconway, but this son has not succeeded to the title because he’s trumped by an older half-brother, Henry Charles McLaren, from his father’s first marriage (though there may be a dispute over entitlement).

Bodnant Estate, click to enlarge

You won’t find Bodnant Welsh Food Centre on the Companies House website because it trades as Furnace Farm Ltd, and this company was Incorporated with Companies House 20 October 2005. Furnace Farm is where we find the venture that received the £6.5m grant, but this is little more than a fancy shop selling overpriced food. 

For as a source put it to me: Dry home cured bacon for sale at £23/kg, yet both butchers at Llanrwst, some four miles away, were selling at £7.55/kg! Both butchers from known local sources!!”

Maybe at this point I should explain that despite not having succeeded to the title, Michael McLaren owns the whole shooting match, for in this document (page 5), the financial statement for year ending 31.01.2013, we read, “The company (Furnace Farm Ltd) entered into transactions with the Bodnant Estate which is owned by The Hon Michael McLaren”.

In addition to the Bodnant Estate and the Welsh Food Centre we have of course the well-known Bodnant Garden, owned by the National Trust but run by Michael McLaren as if he owns it. Then there’s Bodnant Garden Nursery Ltd, a private company with directors Michael McLaren, his wife Caroline, his mother, Lady Aberconwy, and Brian Eric Alcock.

The McLarens have three children: Angus John Melville, Iona Ann Mariel and Hamish Charles Duncan. Nice to see our Welsh aristocracy keeping with those names that resonate through our history.

Alcock’s background is in furniture, in north west England, with a previous directorship in Malbry Furniture (Sales) Ltd (wound up in May 1992), then Burford House Furniture Ltd (dissolved in August 2013).

So how did Alcock, with his IKEA-rivalling career in furniture, get involved with Michael McLaren in Bodnant Garden Nursery Ltd?

The other company in the family group is Bodnant Joinery Ltd, directors Michael and Caroline McLaren.

Giving us a number of interlinked enterprises on the Bodnant Estate, and all of them controlled by The Hon Michael McLaren QC. Invariably, with such an arrangement, there will be trading and lending between the different entities.

For example, that document I linked to earlier tells us that by January 2013 Furnace Farm Ltd owed Michael McLaren £4,969,122. By 31.01.2014 it’s up to £5,997,109. On 31.01.2015 it’s down a little to £5,862,901. A year later there is no specific mention of McLaren but the amount owed to all creditors has increased from £6,804,203 in 2015 to £7,921,963. By 2017 the figure is up to £8,981,591.

In that final financial statement we are also told that Furnace Farm Ltd lost before tax £1,497,444, up from £1,088,324 the previous year.

Just as well the company had a grant of £6.5m.

The problem with assessing how the grant was spent is that Furnace Farm Ltd is much more than just The Welsh Food Centre. For it also includes accommodation, at the farmhouse. In fact, the Estate offers plenty of accommodation.

And let’s not forget the National Beekeeping Centre of Wales.

To complicate the picture further, when I went to the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) website I could find nothing for either Furnace Farm Ltd or Bodnant Welsh Food Centre.

So eventually I telephoned WEFO, and I was surprised to learn that the name of the project was in fact the Centre of Excellence for Welsh Food, a name I have not seen used.(But I am only too familiar with this practice for making it difficult to make enquiries.) Here are the details

So the question becomes – on what was the £6,444,107 spent? And after going back to WEFO I was told that, “Furnace Farm Ltd received funding of £237,032 from the Processing and Marketing Grant scheme . . . enabled the company to erect a new bespoke building complex . . . “.

So that’s £6,681,139, and counting?

The document I’ve linked to reads: “Centre of Excellence for Welsh Food The adaptation of abandoned farm buildings for economic use . . . 5 minutes from the A55 . . . private investor is providing 50% of the costs . . . project aims to create a retail outlet for local products, catering facilities for innovation with local food and a culinary school.”

Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, image courtesy of Business Leader, click to enlarge

The mention of “abandoned farm buildings” being adapted “for economic use” may refer to the farmhouse I mentioned earlier, now being used as a holiday let, rather than having anything to do with food excellence.

The latest update tells us that the new owner of the food centre, who plans to re-open on February 1st, and is said to be leasing the buildings from the McLarens, told the Daily Post: “It (Bodnant Welsh Food Centre) has been poorly run and we want to bring it back to what it was . . . with genuine authentic local produce in the shop . . . We can’t get away with charging a premium for something you can pick up in the supermarket.”

How very true. But then, if civil servants and/or politicians want to give someone millions of pounds to spend on property he already owns, then whether a retail outlet succeeds or not may be of little consequence in the bigger scheme of things.

The big question for me is: Why did anyone think it was a good use of EU funding to give millions of pounds to a wealthy aristocrat to open a London-prices shop in the Conwy Valley, especially as such funding was not supposed to be given for retail purposes?

And what guarantees do we have that such ‘misjudgements’ will never occur again?

THE LEFT BETRAYS WALES, AGAIN

This is another little tale that gets rather complicated, so let me set the scene with some background information. (Sorry, no music.)

You’ll recall that in December 1994, under threat of closure, Tower Colliery at Hirwaun was bought out by its miners under the leadership of Tyrone O’Sullivan. This made them mine-owners but paradoxically they also became deities in the socialist pantheon.

Tower Colliery was worked until it became uneconomic and closed in January 2008. What is less well known is that following the closure there was a period of opencast mining in the area.

This explains the formation of Tower Newco Ltd which soon changed its name to Tower Regeneration Ltd, a company dedicated to, “Open cast coal working” and “Development of building projects”. The second of those presumably following the ensuing clean-up operations.

Opencast mining began in May 2012, and if it hasn’t already ended, it is scheduled to end this month.

At its birth, Tower Newco Ltd had a single director named on the Certificate of Incorporation, a Kevin Dougan, of Durham. He was soon joined by others including O’Sullivan and also by Ian Anthony Charles Parkin, another businessman from north east England.

If we turn to the Tower Regeneration website, and scroll down to the bottom we find a link to a company called Hargreaves. It’s no surprise to learn that Hargreaves Services plc is also based in Durham, and among its directors we find Kevin James Stewart Dougan.

Almost immediately it was set up Tower Regeneration Ltd took out a loan with Forward Sound Ltd, of Durham, a company that had been set up less than a year before Tower Regeneration. In fact, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Forward Sound was set up specifically to capitalise on the Tower opencast project.

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Why the strong Durham connection? Well, on a practical level it was a coal-mining area, but on the emotional plane Durham to the bruvvers means the annual Miners’ Gala; it conjures up images of comradely solidarity, fluttering banners and fiery speeches.

On 1 December 2017 the ubiquitous Dougan ceased to be a director at Hargreaves Services, Tower Regeneration, and Forward Sound, but rejoined Tower Regeneration the very next day . . . though Companies House wasn’t notified until 27 April this year!

So from the outset, the Tower opencast and regeneration project has been funded and controlled by English interests. And now they’re lining up to get their hands on the money available for ‘restoration’ work. And we are talking many millions of pounds here.

And as might be expected, the English Labour Party in Wales is eager to play its allotted role in short-changing Wales, again.

It seems that the prettying up is to be done by The Land Restoration Trust, which is both a charity (No 1138337) and a company, though for some reason, on its website it’s called The Land Trust. Its headquarters are in Warrington and it specialises in “open space for community benefit”, much of that open space seems to be reclaimed industrial land, especially in former coalfields.

The Land Restoration Trust was set up by the Coalfields and Joint Ventures Division of the now defunct English Partnerships, “the national regeneration agency for England”, which was succeeded in December 2008 by the Homes and Communities Agency, since re-named Homes England.

Clearly the Land Restoration Trust is an England-only body. Though the website has pages for Scotland and Wales both read: “We currently do not manage any sites in (Scotland/Wales) although we are working hard to do so. If you would like discuss any potential opportunities please contact our Business Development team.”

Despite having no sites in Wales Alison Whitehead, described as ‘Development Manager’, enjoys visiting sites in Wales! But then, Alison, as her Linkedin profile tells us, was ‘Development Manager for North of England and North Wales’.

On 31 January 2018 a reception was held for the ‘Land Trust’ at the Senedd. It was hosted by Vikki Howells the Labour AM for Cynon Valley. Here’s the report from the Land Restoration Trust website.

And below you’ll see what Howells put out on Facebook the following day. Note that she mentions “ownership and management options”. In fact, it had already been decided behind the scenes, and years ago, making the Senedd reception no more than a PR exercise.

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Vikki Howells is involved for no better reason than she’s the local AM, having been elected in 2016 because she was the donkey with the red rosette. Does she really understand what’s gone on at Tower and who owns what?

Though if Ms Howells was so keen to inform the Cynon Valley public then she should have explained why her administration has abrogated its responsibilities and rolled back devolution. And also explained why the profits from developing this local site will be leaving Wales.

The Tower opencast operation didn’t last for much more than six years, it employed few, and when repayment of loans, leasing and hiring are taken into account, it wasn’t that profitable, certainly not for Tower. The big beneficiary appears to have been Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd, renamed Hargreaves Land Ltd in June 2018.

(It should go without saying that Kevin James Stewart Dougan ceased to be a director of Hargreaves Land on 1 December 2017. What is the significance of that date?)

Hargreaves Surface Mining was set up in October 2011, just before opencast mining began at Tower. The timing is no coincidence. Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd joined a host of new companies that had been created in north east England to make big bucks out of a mining operation in Wales.

An operation that put little money into the local economy but enriched strangers. It also served the purpose of being the necessary precursor to the second stage of the project that will inherit a large tract of land together with millions of pounds to landscape and redevelop it.

Who knows what will be done on the old Tower opencast site. Housing? A leisure resort such as we see not far away in the Afan Valley? One thing I predict with certainty – as with the opencast site, the profits will leave Wales.

Vikki Howells seems to envision the development at Tower linking with the Rhondda Tunnel . . . owned by Highways England!

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Or maybe it’ll be more wind turbines, for while they generate little or no electricity they certainly produce massive incomes for those who operate them, and the landowners involved. 

It’s difficult to believe that all this is happening after twenty years of devolution. But as I’ve argued many times, devolution is a sham, a façade; and behind that façade Wales is being ripped off and inexorably assimilated into England.

This assimilation along with the exploitation we see at Hendy and Mynydd y Gwair, Bodnant and Tower, is being facilitated by socialists, and the Labour Party, doing what they always do – selling Wales down the river.

GREEN PARTY OF ENGLANDANDWALES

Earlier this year members of the self-styled ‘Wales Green Party’ voted against becoming a Wales Green Party, choosing to remain part of the Green Party of Englandandwales and calling themselves The Green Party in Wales. Whereupon the party ‘leader’ defected to Plaid Cymru.

The confusion that resulted may be reflected in the fact that the party website seems to have been abandoned, with nothing posted since 10 July.

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Yet despite all the recent tribulations this Green Party of England in Wales is currently holding a leadership election. Yes, that’s a leadership contest to a non-existent party! Among those standing is Anthony Slaughter.

So who is he? Well, it should go without saying that he’s not Welsh. He lives in Penarth and seems to have a high regard for himself, adopting that tone of moral and intellectual superiority that so endears the Greens to me.

click to enlarge

And he spreads his talents wide, for when he’s not saving the planet he’s up in London demanding something called A People’s Vote, supporting the Stansted 15, and arguing for 20 mph speed limits. Sainthood can’t be far away.

But being a Green he’s probably a practising pagan. (Or am I thinking, vegan?)

Obviously there’s no such thing as the Wales Green Party, but then, there’s no such thing as the Welsh Labour Party either, it’s just a label, there’s nothing registered with the Electoral Commission. 

So maybe the Greens take their lead from the Labour Party, because they often seem close, almost as if the Greens are the idealistic younger relative indulged by the more staid Labour Party. 

And the closeness isn’t confined to the Greens, it seems to extend to the environmentalist movement as a whole, maybe it’s something to do with the self-absorbed regarding themselves as ‘progressive’

This perhaps explains why public money was recently spent on foot massage by the Future Generations Commissioner, that very close friend of the late Carl Sargeant.

click to enlarge

But it’s not just Labour that likes to cwtch up to those who think that the examples of Hendy and Mynydd y Gwair should be replicated on every pristine landscape in Wales. Who believe that carving up the countryside to lay thousands of tons of concrete is good environmental practice.

I mentioned that Slaughter, the would-be leader of the non-existent party, lives in Penarth. Where I’m told certain Plaidistas – the names Clubb and Wilton were mentioned – have been keen to do electoral deals with these Wales-rejecting colonialists.

But then, nothing surprises me any more, whether it’s the Greens, Plaid Cymru, or the Labour Party. They all pursue their own agendas, driven by narrow ideology and trapped within dogmas, rather than pragmatically promoting what’s best for the Welsh people.

That’s why they’ve failed us, and that’s why time is running out for all of them.

end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 11

As promised, here’s the latest instalment in the Paul and Rowena Williams Against the World saga (for that’s how it begins to look). I had considered postponing this update, but so much information is coming in that I have to publish before I’m overwhelmed.

Now I’ll say what I always say at this point: if you want the story (so far!) then you’ll need to go back and work through Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8, Weep for Wales 9 and Weep for Wales 10.

WHERE WE ARE

For those who don’t have time to read the previous ten episodes here’s a quick summary.

Paul Williams and his wife Rowena are two crooks who built up a property portfolio by dubious means and then sold those properties to themselves at insanely inflated valuations in order to obtain loans and mortgages well in excess of the properties’ true worth. This money of course they pocketed.

Soon after the phoney sales ‘ransom strips’ were detached from the properties and allocated to other titles. These properties were held by Leisure & Development Ltd, a company now in administration.

Paul and Rowena Williams, click to enlarge

This portfolio included properties in Cornwall and Northumbria but the gang’s ‘heartland’ was Powys and over the border in Shropshire and Herefordshire.

They next branched out into Gwynedd, buying the woebegone Fronoleu hotel and restaurant near Dolgellau, the Seiont Manor Hotel at Llanrug, and the impressive Plas Glynllifon near Llandwrog. Posing as major property investors they also strung people along by showing interest in Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, but after the truth emerged about them they were unable to raise the money to complete the purchase.

Realising the game was up, and having pissed off just about everyone they ever dealt with in the March they severed their ties and physically removed themselves to the Realm of Eagles.

In a further attempt to wash their hands of things Paul and Rowena Williams went through the charade of selling their Leisure & Development Ltd property portfolio for £11m to old friend, and convicted fraudster, Keith Partridge.

Having introduced Keith Partridge there are other characters we’ve met along the way who are worthy of mention. There’s Paul Williams’ sister, Debra Oswald, who seems to slip in and out of this saga, having served as director, partner, accountant, even creditor.

Paul and Debra’s father Michael has a hotel business in Goa. (Though it may have been struck off.) It would be interesting to know how he gets on with the locals, because on issues of race and colour he is said to have been expelled from the KKK for being too racist.

We’ve already met one fraudster in the form of Keith Partridge, another in the ensemble is the Williams’ accountant John Duggan. And if that wasn’t enough, the Waves Bar in Cornwall is run for them by Stuart Paul Cooper, of whom more later.

Then there’s faithful Rikki Reynolds, who runs the Seiont Manor. He drinks too much, he is dependent on drugs, but they keep him on. I refuse to believe the rumour that this may have something to do with Rikki being close to Rowena.

Not to be overlooked is Dudley Cross. His Linkedin profile would have us believe that he works for property specialists Lambert Smith Hampton, but he’s been involved with Paul and Rowena Williams for many years. He served as a director (until 01.02.2018) of Leisure & Development Ltd, and even donned his peaked cap to act as guide for Plas Glynllifon’s open day in June.

It is widely believed that it was his – and perhaps more especially, LSH’s – imprimatur that persuaded lenders to accept the absurd valuations we shall soon examine in more detail.

click to enlarge

In addition to being crooks, the Williams couple and Rikki Reynolds are repulsive individuals. They take pleasure in humiliating people. It sometimes seems that their greatest pleasure is derived from hurting those least able to defend themselves.

One such case was the treatment meted out to a kitchen porter at the Seiont Manor, a man with learning difficulties who had worked there for over twenty years, but Rowena Williams wanted him out.

It ended at an Employment Tribunal in September where the man was awarded £27,907.42 . . . money he is unlikely ever to see.

As might be expected, these odious creatures have been funded by the ‘Welsh Government’ and have received one uncritical report after another from the ‘Welsh’ media, with Owen Hughes of the Daily Post deserving of special mention.

Now read on.

PSST! WANNA BUY A HOTEL, GOIN’ CHEAP?’

So what have I got for you this time? Quite a lot as it happens.

First, let’s remind ourselves that the empire is crumbling and apart from the Gwynedd properties and a few outliers everything else seems to be in the hands of receivers and up for sale.

Those receivers being RSM, who are now selling the properties through the company Colliers. Click on the links for details for each of the properties: The Salutation Inn (and caravan site), near Berwick; The Waves Bar, in Cornwall; The Bird in Hand, Ironbridge; The Castle Inn (and caravan park), Wigmore; The Knighton Hotel, Knighton; The Radnorshire Arms Hotel, Presteigne.

Let us focus on the two Powys properties, as we have for most of this saga. You will recall that these properties were sold by Paul and Rowena Williams to Leisure & Development Ltd, and the prices they claimed to have paid in 2015 were £2,881,599 for the Knighton and £3,487,049 for the Radnorshire.

Radnorshire Arms Hotel, Presteigne, click to enlarge

RSM is now recommending sale prices of £550,000 (-£2,331,599) for the Knighton and £700,000 (-£2,787,049) for the Radnorshire. That’s a fall of £5,118,648 . . . and of course RSM might not even get the prices they’re suggesting, because there are plenty of pubs and hotels for sale at the moment, then there’s Brexit looming, maybe a general election . . .

How do we account for such a massive drop in valuations?

As I explained, the earlier valuations were dreamed up in order to get loans and mortgages for properties that Paul and Rowena Williams already owned, but pretended to buy through Leisure & Development Ltd.

Equally fictitious was the sale of those properties earlier this year for £11m to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge.

Which is how we end up in the bizarre position of Paul and Rowena Williams appearing as creditors to the tune of £11m of the company they claim to have sold to Part(d)ridge.

But then, there’s a certain symmetry to all this. Because if you can sell something to yourself why can’t you owe yourself money?

The only good news for Paul and Rowena Williams might be that Dyfed Powys Police are not pressing charges. Though quite what Plod was investigating in relation to “the sudden closure of hotels” previously owned by Paul and Rowena Williams is a mystery.

The only clue in the Daily Post report is “Tourism Investment Support Scheme grants”, which was never a runner.

FRESH NEWS, SAME OLD STORY

As I said earlier, I’ve received a steady trickle of information about Paul and Rowena Williams and their gang. Here are just some of the things I’ve been told since the previous instalment.

From an anonymous source:

“She (Rowena Williams) may well be autistic . . . She is morally empty, and I think that her son —— (who is a lovely lad) really deserves a more honest set of parents . . . I realise that this doesn’t really count as a story, but I was so annoyed at the Radnorshire Arms ending up like it is that I wrote to you . . . I was actually hurt by the experience . . . Please keep up the good work!”

A recent comment to Weep for Wales 9:

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Message to my ‘Contact Me’ box:

“Message: before i start I wish to remain anonymous about what I say. from November 2016, to November 17, I worked as ————————– for rural retreats and leisure, I can comfirn that HMRC had in fact been in touch with the Williams’s prior, as in july 2017, myself, and all the other live in staff of the knighton hotel, where subject to an investigation, regarding how our rent was paid. after HMRC had come back with the decision that there had been wrong doings in regard to how our rent was being taken. they told the Williams’s that we were owed back pay, as they were taking rent out of our wages as a deduction of wage, not as actual rent, of which became clear that I was being paid below the national minimum wage. shortly after this, the Williams’s slowly starting to dispose of us. myself being fired for gross misconduct on made up allegations with no evidence whatsoever. they practically forced a family of 4 to find a new house in the area, and pushed the head chef in an attempt to get him to quit, effectively taking us all out of the equation. I have been following all of your weep for wales, and everything you have said makes complete sense. on the outside, Rowena pushes a persona of care for staff, but on the inside, both of them are only looking out for them selves. I hope this interests you in your continuing saga.”

(A source with inside information was able to tell me that the total amount owed to staff was £58,594.)

Something you soon learn about Paul Williams and the “morally empty” Rowena is that they don’t like paying staff, suppliers, tradesmen, anybody. What’s theirs is theirs . . . and what’s yours is also theirs.

It seems that creditors were encouraged to have meals and drinks at Paul and Rowena Williams’ establishments, with the cost then deducted from the amount they were owed. One source tells me of walking into the bar of the Knighton Hotel one time and seeing nine creditors quaffing away!

Just picture it! Barmaid: ‘Another large whisky, Mr Jones? That’ll be £76, and it brings the amount Mr Williams owes you down to £5,732.68 – you’ll soon be owing him!’

There is something surreal about such a scene, though trying to turn your creditors into alcoholics has a certain logic – they might forget about the debt!

And of course, another twist is that Paul Williams wasn’t paying for the booze anyway! I’ve heard one sad story of a rep from Molson Coors being threatened with physical violence for daring to ask for the money he was owed.

A documented example I can give of Williams not paying his debts arrived last week from Grafters Group Ltd, a company that supplies staff to hotels. This company eventually had to resort to court proceedings in the hope of getting the money owed by Paul and Rowena Williams. Needless to say, they’re still waiting.

Take Jac’s advice: If you’re selling to these buggers, supplying goods or doing work for them – make sure you’re paid in cash, up front, and then check the notes to make sure they’re genuine.

A number of times in this series I’ve mentioned the distressed Fronoleu hotel and restaurant at Tabor, outside Dolgellau, bought by Paul Williams at auction in 2015 for over £300,000 and paid for in cash.  I also mentioned a seven-bedroom house alongside Fronoleu. Through another new source, I now know who lives there.

Fronoleu, click to enlarge

This person works for Paul Williams at the Seiont Manor, and as with so many other employees false declarations are made with regard to wages in order to save Paul and Rowena Williams money and cheat HMRC.

And yet, it seems Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs are aware of the Williams Gang’s tricks but are reluctant to move against them.

THE UGLIER SIDE

Paul and Rowena Williams are so transparently dishonest, so blatantly corrupt, that it’s difficult not to laugh at them, but there is a nastier side to the operation.

We’ve seen that the Waves Bar in Cornwall is for sale, with RSM asking for “offers in excess of £500,000”. Which seems reasonable, as it comes with “five apartments and a shop”. Though few things are straightforward with Williams, and the Waves Bar is no exception, for I’m told there are questions over the ownership of some of those apartments.

For some time now the Waves Bar has been run by Stuart Paul Cooper. Another associate with a colourful past. He came unstuck in 2012 when working as a debt collector. This Insolvency Service document suggests he then went on the lam.

Cooper eventually appeared in court and was sent down for three years in 2014. Later that year Companies House disqualified him from being a director until November 2022.

But of course none of this was an obstacle to him being employed by Paul and Rowena Williams. Being a fraudster with a penchant for violence made Stuart Paul Cooper the kind of recruit they look for.

Picture courtesy of RSM, click to enlarge

The latest news from Cornwall says that Cooper is behaving true to form. He recruits young staff, overworks them, underpays them, sacks them, and when they come asking for what they’re owed he threatens to kill them and anyone who dares to speak up for them.

Where the takings go from the Waves Bar is a good question. For there is a suspicion that since the collapse of Leisure & Development Ltd Cooper may be flying solo. Another question is whether suppliers are being paid.

But what really puzzles me is why liquidators RSM allow Cooper to remain at The Waves Bar, because the reputational damage this man is doing will not be put right by an ‘Under New Management’ sign.

A CAST OF CROOKS, THUGS AND SHYSTERS

You’ve met the leading players in this story, I’ve given you examples of what they’ve done and how they behave. I’m sure that like me you’re wondering why they aren’t behind bars where they belong.

For some reason the police, HMRC and others seem to look benignly on ‘white collar’ crime, they may even persuade themselves that such offences are ‘victimless’. But that’s wrong.

This gang has lied and cheated for years, and it’s not just banks and other lenders that have lost out. Decent, hard-working people – often vulnerable people – have been exploited, cheated of money they were owed, thrown onto the street, and put in fear of their lives when they sought redress.

From a social media account of a Williams gang employee, click to enlarge

But these gangsters laugh at us all as they drive around in their new Range Rovers and their Beemers with personalised number plates. They take us all for mugs.

There is something very wrong with the legal system of Englandandwales that it allows such people to go unpunished, and to prosper. It’s a system providing courts and tribunals that say, ‘Yes, we agree that these bastards owe you money, we’ll even fix the amount . . . but there’s nothing we can do to make them pay’.

While police and governmental agencies look the other way when criminal offences are brought to light.

We obviously need a different system; a better system; a Welsh system.

♦ end ♦

APOLOGY: I’m sitting on a number of good stories that I’m just unable to do justice to because I don’t have the time. Please understand that I’m not deliberately ignoring anyone, but as a one-man band with family and other commitments there’s only so much I can do.

UPDATE 03.12.2018: Soon after publishing I had a rush of e-mails from Companies House. Paul Williams ceased to be the ‘Person with significant control’ for both Plas Glynllifon Ltd and Rural Retreats & Development Ltd on November 30. Myles Andrew Cunliffe is a new director of both companies.

Cunliffe is also a director of Lifestyle 4U Finance Ltd, net current assets -£3,949; Get Me Finance Ltd, net current assets £11,648, with the website telling us that this company offers finance to those with a poor credit rating, and Paul Williams definitely falls into that category; and finally there’s Mylo Capital Ltd, Incorporated 20 September 2017.

Myles has been a busy boy in 2018. Between April and August he became a director of, and is is now sole director of: Pacha Sunderland Ltd; Etaireia Holdings Ltd (a company with a Scottish number); Girvan Dev Ltd; and Pacha Cleator Ltd. Then in October it was Network Transport and Logistics.co.uk Ltd.

Among Cunliffe’s previous successes we find Goldmann & Sons (Portugal) Ltd, with Companies House awaiting documents; J D Finance Ltd, wound up in 2007; Welcome 2 Car Finance Ltd, struck off in 2016; and H.O.H. Assets Ltd, also struck off in 2016.

I’m sure young Myles will be a colourful addition to the cast.

FURTHER UPDATE 03.12.2018: A message to my ‘Contact Me’ box reads: “Im told paul is telling workmen that work available as he got a mortgage on the 30th nov”.

I think we can safely rule out any possibility of Paul Williams getting a mortgage or a loan from a reputable lender, so it’s reasonable to assume that any fresh money is linked with the arrival on the scene of Myles Andrew Cunliffe.