Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’ – you were warned!

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

This was supposed to be a ‘quickie’ while I await a promised guest post on developments among the wind farms of deepest Powys. But as the information mounted up . . .

Most of you will be aware by now that Gavin Lee Woodhouse, who has a number of business interests in Wales, came under critical scrutiny last week from ITV News and the Guardian. He did not emerge smelling of roses.

Eventually the ‘Welsh’ media caught up with the story, here’s the BBC’s version and here’s WalesOnline’s contribution. (Note the positive spin in the headline.)

Click to enlarge

Now I don’t wish to be too critical, but Woodhouse has been a busy boy in Wales for a number of years, so it’s not unreasonable to have expected an investigation into his ‘innovative’ business practices to have been done on this side of the border.

Pity the country with a ‘media’ that is nothing but a relayer of press hand-outs, a conveyor of soporific ‘human interest’ stories, and a disseminator of its masters’ propaganda; leaving an ancient nation to scratch around for the truth.

Come scratch with Jac.

Perhaps the first time Gavin Lee Woodhouse swam into our collective consciousness was when, while negotiating to buy Plas Glynllifon, in Llandwrog, south of Caernarfon, he announced his intention to rename the old pile ‘Wynnborn’. This declaration met with the kind of response that might greet ‘Four Green Fields’ being sung at Ibrox.

Plas Glynllifon, image courtesy of North Wales Live. Click to enlarge

To familiarise you with what Woodhouse has been up to in Wales here are a few of my offerings: English Tourism in the Colony of Wales (18.04.2017); a brief mention in YMCA England(andwales) (23.04.2017); Bits & Pieces (27.04.2017); Colonial Investments (23.07.2017); Updates 12.12.2017; Weep for Wales (13.06.2018); Friends old & new (28.01.2019).

Now let’s get up to date with the boy’s adventures.

HOW IT WORKS

Woodhouse’s business model is, essentially, selling shares in property he owns, or plans to build. If it’s a hotel then you buy a room and then rent it to Woodhouse. If it’s a care home or a residential home, then it’s a similar system but with the guest obviously staying for longer.

The attraction of this system for Woodhouse is that he can buy a run-down hotel cheaply, maybe at auction, and then by selling off rooms individually he can quickly recoup what he paid, and more, from ‘investors’.

For investors, high returns are promised. There is often a guarantee that Woodhouse will buy back your room after a certain period at the price you paid for it, or more.

This is the model employed at his Neuadd Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy Valley, for which he received a ‘Welsh Government’ grant of £500,000 less than two years ago.

Neuadd Caer Rhun. Image courtesy of North Wales Live. Click to enlarge.

It makes a certain sense, but as with buying a timeshare, a great deal depends on the honesty of the vendor. And this leads us on to the allegations made last week.

WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG, ALLEGEDLY

In a nutshell, Woodhouse has taken money from investors for projects that do not exist. Or to put it another way, projects that are promised but never materialise. With much of the money paid into these projects disappearing after being shuffled around in the network of companies Woodhouse controls.

Explained here in this excellent graphic from the Guardian.

click to enlarge

As we see, £5.6m of the £14.8m investors have paid into the three non-existent care homes and £8.2m from connected companies made its way to MBI Consulting (UK) Ltd. This gives a total of £13.8m going into a company now in administration.

According to Companies House Woodhouse ceased to be a director of MBI 31 January 2016, but another document lodged with Companies House and dated 21 July 2016 makes clear that Woodhouse remains the majority shareholder. A further document of 08.08.2018 confirms that Woodhouse is the person exercising ‘significant control’. (All CH documents can be tracked from here.)

From MBI Consulting (UK) Ltd £1.2m went as a loan to Woodhouse himself while the rest, £12.7m, appears to have slipped through the gaps in the floorboards.

(Though the figures used are probably the latest available at Companies House. By now, all of the investors’ money might have headed south.)

AFAN VALLEY ADVENTURE RESORT

Perhaps the first time most people in the south heard of Gavin Lee Woodhouse was when, in April 2017, news broke of a tourism venture in the Afan valley behind Port Talbot.

The WalesOnline article had lots of ‘artist’s impressions’ and a video of the ‘Affan’ valley in the company of Paul Gardiner, managing director of the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. For that piss-drinking exhibitionist has been involved from the start.

A third principal was soon roped in in the form of Peter Moore, ‘the man who brought Center Parcs to Britain’. Whether that is to be regarded as an achievement I leave to others to decide.

One thing of which there can be no doubt is the ‘Welsh Government’s enthusiastic support for the Afan valley venture. The photo below comes from the website of Woodhouse’s Northern Powerhouse Developments and it shows ‘Welsh Government’ representatives meeting Woodhouse and Moore on the site of the planned ‘resort’ in April 2017.

Hustlers meet their ‘marks’. Click to enlarge.

As I hinted earlier, one of the problems in trying to make sense of Woodhouse’s business dealings is the sheer number of companies involved. A maze set up to deter the casually curious and make things difficult even for serious investigators.

Undaunted, I did a wee bit more digging, but stopped short of getting obsessively forensic.

One curiosity I uncovered was two parcels of land that seem not to connect with the 327 acres handed over for his ‘resort’ by Natural Resources Wales (i.e. ‘Welsh Government’).

These can be found under the ‘Charges’ against Afan Valley Ltd. One is an elongated triangle of land alongside the A4107 heading east out of Cymmer, valued at £25,000. Of more interest will be the other land, Caerau Park, valued at 250,000.

Companies House tells us that Afan Valley Ltd was born in April 2016 as Caerau Parc Ltd – with Woodhouse as sole director – and it changed its name in February 2017. Which means it was set up over a year before the Afan valley project became known about.

It’s reasonable to assume therefore that Caerau Park Ltd was set up for a purpose other than the Afan Valley resort.

The sliver of roadside land at Cymmer is owned by Afan Valley Ltd, and the lender is 360 Mi Ltd. The larger plot, Caerau Park, is on the slopes of Mynydd Caerau, to the east of the village of the same name in the Llynfi valley.

Image courtesy of OS via Land Registry. Unfortunately there’s no title plan available at the LR. Click to enlarge.

The owner of Caerau Park, according to the Land Registry, is Ontaris Resources Inc of the British Virgin Islands; but Companies House tells us – with regard to the charge – that the ‘Persons entitled’ is Clive Mishon. Clive Mishon is also the sole director and shareholder of 360 Mi Ltd, Incorporated 5 September 2017.

So who is Clive Mishon, who appears to hold both charges against Afan Valley Ltd? There’s not a lot of information available for him, here’s one of the few pieces I found. All we can say with certainty is that he’s an investor. (But not the kind of ‘investor’ who’d buy a room from Woodhouse.)

Given that the Caerau Park land has been owned by Ontaris since 2008, and Woodhouse set up Caerau Park Ltd in April 2016 – with the charge covering the transfer of ownership not taken out until December 2017 – was Woodhouse initially working for or with Ontaris?

And was Caerau Park the original site for the ‘resort’? For Mynydd Caerau is now part of the Llynfi Renewable Energy Park (wind turbines) run by John Laing.

Click to enlarge

Whatever the answer, by the early part of 2017 attention had obviously switched to the Afan valley. Borne out by Caerau Park Ltd becoming Afan Valley Ltd in February, with this followed by the public announcements involving the ‘Welsh Government’ just months later.

What explains this shift from the Llynfi valley to the Afan valley?

Perhaps the ‘Welsh Government’ can explain how the Afan Valley Adventure Resort first saw the light of day. For example, whose idea was it? Who made the first approach? Did the ‘Welsh Government’ entice Woodhouse from the Llynfi to the Afan?

And while they’re trawling through the files and the memory banks maybe someone can also explain why Caerau Park, ex-NCB land that passed to the ‘Welsh Government’ after devolution, was sold to a tax haven company in 2008.

Finally, maybe someone familiar with the upper reaches of the Afan and Llynfi valleys might have information I’ve missed, or information that is not in the public domain.

SCAMS AND FRAUDS?

Let’s return to Gavin Woodhouse’s business methods, which some might view as something similar to timeshare. And as we all know, timeshare was a largely unregulated sphere in foreign jurisdictions where perhaps the only way to avoid being fleeced was to rely on word of mouth recommendations from people you trusted.

Tangent alert! (As in, going off on one): A reason for timeshare being so risky was that a good slice of the business was in the hands of serious criminals, and used for money laundering. A few months ago, someone with experience in timeshare in the bad old days gave me this explanation.

“You see you could buy a week without anyone questioning anything and it was perfectly legal not to have to prove who you are – you just handed over what was then an average £25,000 for a week and signed a single sheet of paper. Now both these guys would have typically 120 units in a single development so they could handle £132 million through these units – that money was then cleaned in the system. Then every year you paid maintenance – another £600 or £3.2 million per site.

“Then the second spin would start in the auction and second hand market which was often when moms and pops took a hit. Even then none of it matters because under all these agreements if a site falls into a bad state then it goes back to the owners – who refurbish and start again. So it’s a perpetual sausage machine to clean money and they can call it what they want now i.e. points etc but its still the same thing.”

Worrying, isn’t it?

Now I’m not for one minute suggesting that Gavin Woodhouse is involved in that kind of thing, but selling individual rooms of hotels, and cabins at resorts, could be seen as a variation on a theme.

Because what’s to stop an unscrupulous operator selling the same room or cabin to any number of different people and then legging it with the money? Also, and unlike timeshare, there’s the advantage in this method that the investor doesn’t get to stay in his or her investment.

And when the property isn’t even off the drawing board – as with Woodhouse’s three care homes in north west England – then there’s no outlay whatsoever. All you do is sit there and let the money roll in!

Courtesy of the Guardian. Click to enlarge.

Even if we give Woodhouse the benefit of the doubt, and accept that he meant to deliver on his promises, the whole thing has still gone tits up for one reason or another.

But there’s a further worry with Woodhouse’s operations linked to the sudden and impressive increases in the valuations of his properties. As the Guardian put it . . .

Click to enlarge

Now that is impressive.

Unfortunately, I could find nothing for the Fishguard Bay hotel on the Land Registry website, and even when I focused in on the LR map I got a ‘too many’ message. Which could mean that there are a number of titles on the site following the sale of the rooms.

But would this account for the massive increase in the claimed valuation of the hotel? I don’t think so, after all, it’s still the same building.

Suspicious increases in property values like this can often be explained by mortgage fraud, where a property’s valuation is increased in order to pull down more in mortgages and loans, which of course are then not repaid.

(Those who followed Woodhouse at Plas Glynllifon, Paul and Rowena Williams, were heavily involved in mortgage fraud, even ‘selling’ properties to themselves! Just type ‘Weep for Wales’ into the Search box on top of the sidebar to catch up with this gripping saga.)

But it doesn’t seem to matter, it’s almost as if this is not real money.

It’s the black economy and it still buys big houses and Range Rovers, it pays for private schooling, and contributes to consumer spending. The UK government and the police know about it but nobody’s going to interfere unless the media takes an interest.

Which is why things are now looking so bleak for the Wolf of Wharf Street.

HOW DID HE GET AWAY WITH IT FOR SO LONG?

I don’t want to say, ‘I told you so’ . . . but I told you so. And I know that plenty of people in Cardiff Bay read my blog . . . if only to mutter ‘bastard’ under their breath while reaching for the voodoo doll.

But even before he appeared on my radar there were doubts about Gavin Woodhouse and his business methods. Read this 2015 article from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Did no one in Cardiff Bay carry out the simplest checks before rolling out the red carpet for Woodhouse? And the red carpet was most certainly rolled out, not only in the Afan but also up north where, as we’ve seen, the boy wonder was given a £500,000 grant by the ‘Welsh Government’ for Neuadd Caer Rhun hotel.

Reproduced courtesy of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Click to enlarge.

Where, not only was Woodhouse selling rooms in the hotel, he also wanted to build cabins or lodges in the grounds which, again, were to be sold off to investors.

Has he received any other little ‘favours’ while he’s been in Wales? Because he certainly likes Wales: he has at least six hotels, then there’s the Afan Valley Adventure Resort (for now), land at Caerau . . .

Or is it just that Wales is an easy touch, and that’s why we see the Woodhouses, and the Williams, and all the other crooks and shysters moving into our country?

But of course, it’s not us, not you and me, who are fooled by these people – it’s those running Wales, those who claim to know better than us, they are the ones who keep making these mistakes. Over and over again.

Or are they ‘mistakes’. It’s worth asking because is anybody really this stupid, or this incompetent?

A PRICE TO PAY?

If I was an investor who had lost money in the Afan Valley Adventure Resort or any other Gavin Woodhouse enterprise (in Wales or in England) I would claim compensation from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

I suggest this course of action because Woodhouse might have used the Caer Rhun grant, and the welcome he received in the southern hillsides, to establish his bona fides in order to gull investors.

But simply by being so accommodating towards Gavin Woodhouse, and giving him our money, the ‘Welsh Government’ was telling the world that here was a man to do business with.

Creditors seeking pecuniary redress should in the first instance contact: Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Infrastructure and Skills, Welsh Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NQ.

Or if you’re in the vicinity, then pop in. Tell him Jac sent you.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 04.07.2019: It’s all fall down.

At a court hearing today three of Woodhouse’s companies, including Afan Valley Ltd, were placed instantly into interim administration. Judge Sally Barber said: “This appears to be a thoroughly dishonest business model and a shameful abuse of the privileges of limited liability trading. I am entirely satisfied by the evidence before me that this court must take immediate action.”

That’s telling him, Sal!

Bits & Pieces 25.06.2019

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

INFAMY! INFAMY! (AGAIN)

My previous post, on One Planet Developments and Black Mountains College, suffered an extraordinary attack from Ifan Morgan Jones in a piece entitled ‘No, George Soros isn’t secretly controlling Wales’.

The title gives a strong hint of the tenor and quality of IMJ’s piece, which was both antagonistic (towards me) and riven with non-sequiturs. Make up your own minds as to whether he simply got his facts wrong or deliberately misrepresented what I had written.

Let’s start with the title of his piece. What I actually wrote was: “I’m not saying that George Soros controls Wales, but having read what Soros has to say on climate change – and it really is an obsession with him! – he could have dictated everything the ‘Welsh Government’ has put out in recent years.”

By which I meant that the ‘Welsh Government’s output on saving the planet is attuned with the way Soros uses the threat of climate change to enforce the political and other changes he desires. Somehow, from that, Ifan Morgan Jones chose to believe that I think George Soros is running Wales. The generous interpretation would be that he simply missed the ‘not’.

He continued: “Jac o’ the North’s evidence for this ultimately amounts to the fact that some people now working in Wales used to work for projects to which George Soros had given money, and that institutions set up in Wales have ties to institutions to which George Soros has given money.”

In fact, the two people I named, who are behind Black Mountains College, worked directly for George Soros.

One, William Newton Smith was, “For 20 years head of George Soros’s higher education programme”. He was the founding executive chairman of Soros’s controversial Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

The other, Ben Rawlence, worked for George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, and also Human Rights Watch, a body funded by Soros. Despite being Project Lead of a new higher education college Rawlence appears to have no experience of higher education other than having been a student himself.

As this document makes clear, Black Mountains College “would be part of a global liberal arts network mentored by Bard College, NY, USA.” Bard College is a small, off-Broadway kind of institution kept afloat with Soros money.

click to enlarge

And of course the ‘network’ referred to is the other institutions around the globe that Soros funds and through which he exerts his political influence. Many of them set up for him by William Newton Smith.

Even the name of the proposed Powys college resonates in the USA, for there was a short-lived Black Mountain College there, and Bard College is often viewed as its successor. Maybe Soros’s minions scoured the globe for another Black Mountain location.

If further proof were needed of how the policies of the ‘Welsh Government’ chime with the Gospel according to St George, we read in the document I linked to a few paragraphs ago, “It would be a college set up with the Well-being of future generations at its heart”.

The capitalised ‘w’ in mid-sentence tells me that it is a reference to the ‘Welsh Government’s Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

If established, Black Mountains College would produce climate change zealots dictating the political agenda in Wales, curtailing our liberties and making an already poor country poorer for no measurable reduction to global warming. This being the virtue signalling for which Wales is famous, and why it’s so attractive to those seeking to use Wales for their own ends.

There is no doubt in my mind that George Soros is the guiding influence behind Black Mountains College.

The final point I wish to address is Ifan Morgan Jones accusing me of being anti-Semitic. He tries to be clever by saying, “Jac himself strenuously denies any accusation of anti-semitism (sic) in his post. He himself never mentions Soros’ Jewishness”.

Consider: Ifan Morgan Jones introduces the issue of George Soros being Jewish, but only in order to suggest that I – who never mentioned it – am anti-Semitic!

I’ve been losing interest in Nation.Cymru for some time. It obviously serves a certain agenda, appealing to an in-crowd. ‘In’ with their own little cliques and echo chambers, but usually out of step with the great majority of our people.

THE MULE KICKS OUT

My piece on Black Mountains College was published last Monday. Ifan Morgan Jones’s attack came out on Tuesday, and then, on Saturday, in the Western Mail‘s ‘Weekend’ supplement (and TV guide) there was a double-page spread extolling the vision of those involved. (Available here in pdf format.)

Well, I’m sure that was the intention, but it was compromised by the statements made by the principals, and of course, the omissions. Let me explain.

To begin with, the article says that Rawlence and Sheers’ ” . . . thinking has has been shaped by the ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act”. The same connection I made in my article.

Later, Rawlence is quoted: “It (BMC) . . . can attract others . . . who want to come and work here”.

click to enlarge

Which supports something else I said – “the Black Mountains College will be in Wales, but not of Wales”. For this is not a college as you and I would understand it; BMC will cater for the kind of people who want to drop out on One Planet settlements.

Despite the highfalutin plans, the whole BMC thing still seems rather half-baked. And perhaps amateurishly managed. For the idea is three years old and yet there seems to be no tangible progress to report.

This despite Sheers and Rawlence receiving £82,500 from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority for a feasibility study in January 2018. Surely that study has been completed, so where is it?

The preferred location for BMC is the old Talgarth mental hospital, which the article told us is privately owned. Again, they’ve known that for three years, so have any moves been made to acquire the building?

I worry, given the involvement of Labour Party heavyweights like Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe, and Jane Davidson, former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, that the Black Mountains gang are expecting public funding.

I just hope that the redundancies announced at University of Wales Trinity Saint David are in no way connected with Black Mountains College. With UWTSD providing accreditation is BMC also lined up to join the UWTSD group, maybe as a replacement for Lampeter?

Other oddities in the WM report (attributed to Jenny White but almost certainly written by Rawlence and/or Sheers) was the absence of any mention of William Newton-Smith, so trusted by George Soros, who we read about in the first section.

He, you might recall from last week’s piece, is the sole director of Black Mountains College Ltd; also one of the six directors of Black Mountains College Project, and a trustee of the Black Mountains College charity, No 1180681.

But no signs yet of Uncle George’s money. Maybe he’s hoping some mug will cough up so he won’t need to put hands in his very deep pockets. That ‘mug’ might be us, the Welsh public.

Whatever, we’re entitled to know how Black Mountains College is to be funded. Because I honestly don’t think it’s going to be done through JustGiving.

click to enlarge

That the ‘National Newspaper of Wales’ should give them a two-page spread so soon after I asked a few questions, and that Ifan Morgan Jones was even quicker off the mark, tells me that Sheers and Rawlence (who remind me of a Simon and Garfunkel tribute act) must be well connected.

And if that’s the case, then we should be on our guard.

Stop Press: the accounts for Black Mountains College Ltd became available on Monday – a dormant company with a single £1 share. Can’t see that building a new college.

A NICE LITTLE BURNER?

Plaid Cymru’s support for One Planet Developments and related bullshit is not limited to the abstract or the ideological, for some Plaidistas are coining it from the hippy influx.

One whose name keeps cropping up is Vicky Moller of Pembrokeshire. Not only has she built up a nice little portfolio of smallholdings, but she was also a driving force behind OPD legislation. Almost inevitably, she has supported a number of OPD planning applications, including Beeview farm on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli.

And it seems to be generational, for her children are also capitalising on the invasion. Here is the Management Plan for Beeview Farm, where we encounter, on page 73, “energy consultant Jamie Ashe”. By page 79 he has become “reed bed designer Jamie Ashe”. (Is this promotion?)

Beeview farm. Anyone who says this is an improvement to the Welsh landscape is talking out of their fat, green arse. Anyone who accepts such bullshit should not hold public office. Click to enlarge.

Jamie Ashe is a son of Vicky Moller. Another son, Robin Donnelly, flogs wood-burning stoves.

Now I have never understood why the planet savers think burning wood is acceptable. Maybe it’s because wood is ‘natural’? But so is coal. Even lignite is natural. And yet, those who have been encouraged to move here to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint (work that out!) obviously see nothing wrong in filling the air with wood smoke.

I have driven the A487 past Corris on a windless winter evening and marvelled at the pall of smoke overhanging the valley thanks to the Centre for Alternative Technology cult’s acolytes. Who, with their wood-burning stoves, candles, joss sticks and joints make an Orthodox cathedral at Easter look smoke-free.

Twelve have walked on the Moon, but there have been dozens of OPDs allowed. So this arrogant twat criticises Wales for not allowing enough OPDs, but his own country, England, escapes criticism for allowing none. Click to enlarge.

With at least one of her offspring benefiting from Beeview ‘farm’ Vicky Moller was herself an enthusiastic backer of this OPD that breached the border defences of a National Park. The first, but certainly not the last.

Moller is a Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate, yet many locals have difficulty understanding what kind of Wales she wants to live in. And their confusion isn’t limited to OPDs.

Pembrokeshire county council wants to close village schools, especially in the Welsh-speaking north of the county. Yet Vicky Moller helped found, and is a big supporter of, Nant y Cwm Steiner school, attended by many of her ‘alternative’ friends’ children. While others prefer home schooling.

But then, since the advent of devolution, the tide has been running against the indigenous Welsh and in favour of those Vicky Moller supports. And others taking over our country.

Things could be about to get even worse.

Because last week, Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner, called for more climate change funding. Much of her pitch I found uncontentious – more spending on public transport, energy-efficient homes, renewable energy, but then came the sting in the tail . . .

Yet more money will be taken from Welsh farmers and given to English hippies by the ‘Welsh Government’. Click to enlarge

With that kind of money available in the future, what we’ve seen up until now could be viewed as a scouting party for the main force. Things could be about to get a whole lot worse.

MEAN STREETS AND ETHICAL ANGORA

No one can have failed to notice a big story from last week when a Greenpeace protester was bundled out of a private function by Tory MP, Mark Field. It went viral because it was caught on camera, like everything these days.

Click to enlarge

It’s been covered by countless media outlets so I’m not going over it again; no, what I want to focus on is protester Janet Barker, “from Builth Wells, Powys . . . who works in environmental education and homelessness prevention, and runs a small holding (sic) and ethical angora business”.

(I was relieved to read that, cos there’s a lot of unethical Angora about. Bastards!)

Another report I dug out told us that her partner is an author. It didn’t take long for them to be identified and located on social media. They live near Llyn Brianne . . . ‘off-grid’, of course.

Peter Barker has written a book entitled System Error. When I first read the blurb and saw that the central character is called Imogen Thomas I began to worry that it might be set in Wales. I worried because the author is from Dorset and his partner from Wigan.

My fears were realised, for Imogen – who is, you’ll be surprised to learn, also a Greenpeace activist – stalks the mean streets of Llandrindod Wells. Here’s a section I lifted from what the author has made available.

Click to enlarge

This is most definitely Station Crescent not the Nevsky Prospekt, but it has a certain . . . well, a certain . . . oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? It’ll come to me.

As far as I can make out this earthly paradise for ethical rabbits is not a One Planet Development, which serves to remind us that the problem is not limited to OPD.

And yet, I don’t wish to be too harsh (you know me), I’m sure they’re both sincere people. But there’s no way they’re making a living out of a few acres and rabbit fur. (Nor Peter Barker’s riveting prose.) Like virtually all those who come here they either have their own money, or they have family money to fall back on, or else they rely on grants, state benefits and other hand-outs.

Which makes a nonsense of whole premiss that families, with children, can live this way. And you have to worry about the children.

It can’t be done. So why is the ‘Welsh Government’ encouraging this fantasy? And if it’s such a great idea – and it’s obvious that many English people want to try this lifestyle – why aren’t OPD and other initiatives being introduced in England?

Because, yet again, we are being taken for mugs, and Wales exploited.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT . . . OR MAYBE NOT

A news report that caught my jaundiced eye a while back was this story about children’s homes springing up in Swansea. The article itself explained the problem:

“Relatively cheap property prices in the county are attracting private providers to places like Swansea, a group of councillors was told.

Swansea currently has 13 homes registered with Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), with at least four more due to open in the next year. Only one of them is a Swansea Council-registered home.”

The article also made it clear that the problem extends to Neath Port Talbot. So it’s a Swansea Bay problem due to companies from outside of Wales taking advantage of cheaper property here to bring in someone else’s problems.

I don’t want to sound heartless, because these kids have problems, and they need help – but they should not be our responsibility.

And they cost us money. Just read what the police had to contribute to the report.

“In March, South Wales Police chief superintendent Martin Jones said his officers were dealing with missing children and taking care of young people in crisis at weekends due to the increase in children’s residential homes in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

He said: ‘In these homes there are about 110 children and they’re being brought in from outside Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, that’s putting massive strain on police resources and on social services, and other resources in health.'”

So why is Care Inspectorate Wales licensing these homes?

I suppose because this is how Englandandwales must operate. The Valleys and Swansea Bay – accounting for some half the population of Wales – is becoming increasingly attractive to those who run ‘homes’ and the like.

Reproduced courtesy of WalesOnline. Click to enlarge.

The problem of Swansea’s unneeded children’s homes probably links with another problem I highlighted a few months ago in this post. (Scroll down to ‘Welsh Not 2019’.)

This story made news as a Welsh language issue, with staff speaking Welsh at a care home in Ystradgynlais said to be upsetting residents. No one thought to ask why residents at a home in a largely Welsh-speaking community were unfamiliar with the Welsh language.

And of course this system of social dumping goes a long way to explaining why Wales has such a bloated third sector. (And an overstretched NHS.)

Then, earlier this month, we heard of a case in the Rhondda that followed the same pattern – an English company planning to house highly disruptive youngsters in a Welsh community. The company in question being Rise Care Ltd of Bristol, and so new is this company that no accounts have yet been filed with Companies House.

Reproduced courtesy of WalesOnline. Click to enlarge.

The reaction was so hostile – problems with similar establishments in Tonyrefail and Ebbw Vale were cited – that even local MP Chris Bryant (Labour) and local AM Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) were forced to object. (Clearly there were votes to be lost.)

I have a suggestion for Bryant and Wood. Ask Care Inspectorate Wales why it registers such establishments, for unproven companies, in areas where there is no local need? Get to the root of the problem rather than engaging in very public displays of knee-jerk nimbyism to hang on to your seats.

And maybe your party leaders down in Corruption Bay will begin to appreciate that we have a serious, national problem of social dumping on our hands.

Wales is a corrupt country being exploited to benefit anybody and everybody – at our expense. It’s our country yet we are marginalised and exploited.

We need to be more assertive. And it really doesn’t matter how we go about it. Any nation being exploited and invaded has the right to defend itself.

♦ end ♦

 

One Planet, Future Generations & George Soros

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

I‘ve written about One Planet developments before, but to refresh your memories, and help newcomers, here’s a brief outline.

One Planet seems to be a generic term for a loose global network of people who believe in living a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, both as individuals and communities. And who can argue with that?

The wider and diffuse One Planet movement may be global but Wales is the only country that has implemented OP legislation.

This came about because certain people realised that devolution coupled with malleable politicos offered a golden opportunity for them to live the lifestyle they wanted, wherever they liked, with no restraints. And even to have it funded.

It also opened the door to those who wished to cover Wales in wind turbines. Those grotesque machines that inflict more environmental damage in their production, transportation and erection than is ever recouped during their short and intermittent working lives.

Although the One Wales: One Planet document of May 2009 was signed by then first minister Rhodri Morgan the main driving force within the cabinet would appear to have been Jane Davidson, Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing.

click to enlarge

Another influence would have been Plaid Cymru, which from 2007 until 2011 was the junior partner in a coalition with Labour. For Plaid had been cosying up to multifarious Greens for a couple of decades, some of them pathologically anti-Welsh. But what the hell! if there’s virtue to be signalled then Plaid’s your party.

The One Planet legislation was supplemented with Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

You can catch up with some of my earlier writing on this subject in: Fleece Jacket Fascists (01.08.2013); Plaid Cymru and the Green Party of Englandandwales (10.11.2014); Tryweryn, Happy Donkey Hill, Good-lifers (20.10.2015); The Green Smokescreen (05.09.2016); Hippies and associated problems (09.01.2018); The Green Menace (28.08.2018); The Welsh Clearances (16.10.2018).

SO WHAT’S NEW?

The purpose of this posting is to bring you up to date, with examples of how the legislation mentioned in the previous section is damaging Wales. Also, how our local authorities and planning bodies are impotent in the face of land grabs because the aggressors have the full support of the ‘Welsh Government’, DEFRA, and the Planning Inspectorate.

And then, we come face to face with George Soros in the form of the Black Mountains College.

MAENCLOCHOG

This example from north Pembrokeshire reminds us of how little support these eco-shysters receive from the indigenous communities. In Maenclochog, local councillor Huw George has even called for a moratorium on One Planet developments because, he argues, the system is being abused.

Councillor George has seen five OPD applications in his ward.

Image courtesy of BBC Wales, click to enlarge

And of course he’s right when he argues that the system is being abused. Everyone who looks at how One Planet operates can see that the legislation is too lax. Another – and predictable – problem is that One Planet and associated legislation is of no benefit whatsoever to Welsh people. But it was never intended to be!

Think about that for a minute: a ‘Welsh Government’ passes legislation that it knows in advance will be of no benefit to Welsh people.

Making what is dressed up as saving the planet just another form of colonialism. Encouraged by an administration that may celebrate Welshness on an official and superficial level while simultaneously allowing or encouraging the destruction of  the communities where that identity still thrives naturally.

PARC TEIFI

Not far from Maenclochog, just over the county boundary in Ceredigion, we looked a few weeks ago at Parc Teifi. (Scroll down a bit when the link opens.) There the ‘Welsh Government’ ‘sold’ five acres on the outskirts of Cardigan town to Mr Alpay Torgut (late of Islington) and his friends for just £1.

The indefatigable Wynne Jones tried to find out a little more about this remarkable deal. For example, was a business plan submitted; and how is such generosity – with Welsh public assets – justified. But after a deluge of flim-flam the shutters came down. As they always do.

Described as some kind of agricultural storage unit at Parc Teifi I guarantee there will eventually be a retrospective planning application for a One Planet dwelling. Click to enlarge

Anyone who takes an interest in the workings of the ‘Welsh Government’, and asks questions soon runs into a fog of obfuscation, which is usually the prelude to contact being ended completely. That’s because the ‘Welsh Government’ breaks its own rules, which then means that projects cannot be scrutinised or monitored.

Another feature is that many of those migrating to our rural areas to save the planet don’t want their children going to Welsh schools, or they think they can educate them better at home. This results in many kids just slipping off the radar, often with tragic consequences, as in the case of Dylan Seabridge.

I’m not suggesting that this boy’s parents, originally from Stoke on Trent, were involved in the One Planet scam; they just represent another type ‘escaping’ to our rural areas.

BEEVIEW FARM

Another recent arrival worthy of a write-up is Matthew Watkinson, who lives with his wife Charis and their two children at Beeview farm, near Newport, Pembrokeshire.

They live in what can only be termed a rural slum, and claim to make a living on a couple of acres from selling eggs. If children were living in conditions like that in a town then the NSPCC and social services might be alerted. But this is One Planet living.

A parallel universe, where for planning permission, fire safety regulations, child welfare, etc., all the norms and laws of society that you and I must obey are suspended.

Beeview farm. Image by Rob Melen. (Alright, Rob?) Click to enlarge.

Like most of his kind, Watkinson pissed off the locals, and responded to their objections with this diatribe that gets very personal. But it’s par for the course; facile and self-serving arguments sustained with a combination of invective and moral superiority driven home by a sense of entitlement – ‘You Welsh peasants have no right to be critical of us superior beings’.

Beeview farm appears on the list of approved projects* as Golwg y Gwenyn and is described as a ‘Prospective OPD application’, but then we are also told that it’s ‘the first OPD to be granted full planning permission within a Welsh National Park’. I suspect we reconcile these statements by understanding that the structure for which planning permission was granted in July 2016 has yet to be built.

Apart from him being an arrogant twat, another reason locals did not grasp Matthew Watkinson to their bosom was because his OPD is on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli, a very special area with Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age structures, including the famous hillfort.

Mynydd Carningli, click to enlarge

Quite rightly, no development is allowed on Mynydd Carningli and locals felt that Watkinson was using OPD to circumvent planning rules in a very delicate area. And he’s got away with it, further endearing himself and the One Planet system to the locals of the Newport area.

UPDATE: This article and video went up on the BBC website very soon after this post was published.

* You may have noticed an intriguing caveat to the list of One Planet Developments: ‘This is not a full list – some OPDs prefer not to make themselves public, and there may be more that are not known to us’. Where might one obtain a full list?

‘I’M A GYPSY, HONEST, GUV’

Now we turn to an example of One Planet and Future Generation guidelines popping up in an unlikely situation. Here’s a case from Garnant, near Ammanford. On one level it’s another chancer who’s moved into Wales and is now trying to con the system, but on another level it’s almost funny.

As we read in the report from the South Wales Guardian Henry Rogers and his family moved to semi-rural Bryncethin Road just outside Garnant in 2012. And he has now been given planning permission for a caravan and other amenities alongside the house in which he says his wife lives alone.

For Rogers claims to be separated from his wife, and because he is a gypsy, he now demands his own encampment where he can fiddle his evenings away accompanied by wood crackling on an open fire. Local objectors are unimpressed, saying he is neither a gypsy nor has he separated from his wife.

When councillors on the planning committee asked for proof of Rogers’ gypsy status planning officer John Thomas ‘ . . . said a 15-page statement justifying the applicant’s lineage and background had been submitted, and that Gypsy-traveller sites were lacking in the Garnant area’.

What! How many gypsy sites does a small place like Garnant need?

Councillors were denied a view of the statement and Thomas had to admit that it contained no hard evidence of Rogers’ claimed ancestry, but the planning officer covered his arse with, ‘ . . . . (Thomas) had consulted housing department colleagues, who “verified that it’s common practice to accept justification statements”’.

So all you need do is concoct a ‘statement’ and planning permission is yours!

If you turn to the planning officer’s report you’ll read what appears in the panel below.

Well-being of Future Generation (Wales) Act 2015 used to justify a gypsy site in Carmarthenshire. Click to enlarge

I have just one question: How does an Englishman claiming to be a ‘gypsy’ and having a caravan site in open country “improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales”?

As on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli, Maenclochog, and countless other locations, we see locals united in opposition. Which tells me that the bad feeling created by One Planet developments is damaging rather than improving ‘the social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales’. While the economic contribution is negligible if not negative.

THE GEORGE SOROS BLACK MOUNTAINS COLLEGE

For the concluding section of this offering we head for the Black Mountains – inspiration for Raymond Williams’ Border Country where big things are in the offing in the form of a new seat of learning – The Black Mountains College (BMC).

click to enlarge

I must confess that until a few days ago I knew nothing of this highly suspect venture exciting project. And when you see who’s involved you’ll wonder why it’s not headlines every day of the week. Let’s start at the beginning.

Here’s the website for the Black Mountains College. There is a charity, the Black Mountains College Project, No 1180681; and two companies, Black Mountains College Ltd (Incorporated 03.10.2017), and Black Mountains College Project (Inc. 07.02.2018).

From the Charity Commission entry. Click to enlarge

From the website we learn that the Project Lead is author Ben Rawlence, who has worked for George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, and also Human Rights Watch, a body that has seen much Soros funding.

Though I find it odd that Rawlence has no background in education. So you have to wonder what he contributes to the scheme, and why he’s Project Lead. Unless the answer lies in his links with Soros?

Programme Manager is Libby Pearson, who has connections with, among others, Swansea University and the ‘Welsh Government’.

The sole director of Black Mountains College Ltd and one of six directors of Black Mountains College Project is Dr William Herbert Newton-Smith, a Canadian philosopher of science and co-proprietor (with his wife) of Welsh Lavender Ltd of Builth.

As for the charity, we of course find Newton-Smith listed as a trustee, along with the other directors of Black Mountains College Project: David Isaac, Elizabeth Passey, Owen Sheers, Chris Blake and Emily Durrant. Short biographies can be found here, where we learn that Newton-Smith was, ‘for 20 years head of George Soros’s higher education programme’.

In fact, Newton-Smith was the founding executive chairman of Soros’s controversial Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, used to influence and control human behaviour by inculcating the globalist agenda.

Newton-Smith has launched a number of other ‘universities’ and institutions for Soros, here he is at the University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan . . . and now he’s involved in starting the Black Mountains College.

I don’t subscribe to all of the views on Soros we hear from the US right but I do worry that he may genuinely believe that it’s in the best interests of humanity to do away with borders, languages, religions and nationalities in order to create a homogeneous, anglophone, and ‘manageable’ global population, done by frightening us with global warming and other threats.

This is why I oppose Soros, and it’s also why I’m worried at the involvement of two of his former employees in this new education venture. Because the Black Mountains College will be in Wales, but not of Wales. Made clear in the clip below from the BMC website.

Talgarth may be the ‘gateway to Mid-Wales’ . . . but only if you’ve travelled up the M4 from southern England and the major airports. Click to enlarge.

Another clue is the complete absence of the Welsh language from the BMC website.

Something else that worries me is that the Black Mountains College wants to engage in teacher training and issue Post Graduate Certificates in Education (PGCE) in order to percolate its message through the Welsh education system.

An object made easier by having on the BMC’s Advisory Council both Jane Davidson, former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, who since 2011 has flitted around academe and elsewhere reciting her mantras; and Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner.

Most of those involved with the Black Mountains College are strangers to our country but they know that if you want the sun to shine on your project, with regular life-giving showers of funding, then it helps to have Labour heavyweights on board.

Finally, let’s look at this from an educational angle. Higher education in Wales is in trouble (some might say crisis), with a number of institutions having apparently over-reached themselves. Only last Friday, Jane Davidson, in her role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement and Sustainability, announced redundancies at UWTSD.

click to enlarge

This is the same Jane Davidson who is now helping launch Black Mountains College, which will almost certainly ask for large amounts of public funding, and may ultimately be controlled by George Soros.

What the hell is going on?

UPDATE: Ben Rawlence has responded, on Twitter, by accusing me of anti-Semitism.

click to enlarge

MAKING CONNECTIONS

There is a strategy in place for our rural areas that seeks to undermine traditional farming and replace our farmers with those you’ve read about here. Implemented by a ‘Welsh Government’ influenced by those who’ll be the beneficiaries of the strategy.

The ‘Welsh Government’ is now using Brexit to justify further cutting financial support to farmers, but as we’ve seen, the policy of undermining traditional agriculture has been in place for over a decade. (Though if Brexit is an issue then those liars in Corruption Bay could if they wished maintain funding at EU levels – as the Scottish Government will.)

The next assault will come from the ‘findings’ of the Brexit and our land consultation. A good source tells me that the consultation is a sham as the decision has already been made to proceed with the ‘public goods’ system on which the outgoing Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, Sustainable Management Schemes Collaborative Projects scheme was based.

No, the truth is that Welsh farmers are being discriminated against, and rural Welsh life threatened; a form of discrimination against an indigenous population that can only be viewed as colonialism bordering on apartheid.

William Newton-Smith delivering his speech at the Soros-funded University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan. Click to enlarge.

And now we know that George Soros is somewhere in the mix. I’m not saying that George Soros controls Wales, but having read what Soros has to say on climate change – and it really is an obsession with him! – he could have dictated everything the ‘Welsh Government’ has put out in recent years.

In William Newton-Smith and Ben Rawlence we have Soros’s emissaries in Wales, operating through the Black Mountains College. So should the ‘Welsh Government’ be giving funding, approval, accreditation or any other support to those representing a man who likes to run small countries by remote control?

The Soros connection is established beyond any doubt with this document in which the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority recommends grant funding. We read, “BMC would be part of a global liberal arts network mentored by Bard College, NY, USA”. Bard College is funded by George Soros. The ‘network’ referred to is the institutions around the world Soros controls through his vast wealth.

Bard College is funded by George Soros and the ‘network’ is the other institutions he funds and controls. Click to enlarge

The document also tells us that BMC’s accreditation will come from the University of Wales Trinity St David, which explains the presence of Jane Davidson.

But should Sophie Howe, Jane Davidson or any other public figures be involved in this venture that could, if it follows the pattern we’ve seen elsewhere, be subversive of democracy?

Or does the ‘Welsh Government’ already know that Black Mountains College is a George Soros project and is willingly co-operating?

If so, then how much influence does George Soros have in Wales?

UPDATE: There was a Black Mountain College in North Carolina between 1933 and 1957, renowned as a ‘liberal’ and ‘experimental’ establishment. Bard College, which will ‘mentor’ our Black Mountains College, is often seen as the successor institution.

So did Soros’s minions scour the world looking for another Black Mountain before settling on ours?

♦ end ♦

 

M4 relief road

By now everyone’s aware of the decision announced last week by the ‘Welsh Government’ not to proceed with the planned M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks.

This decision that took most of us by surprise needs to be examined and certain ramifications and possibilities considered. For last week’s decision might have significance beyond a single road project.

ALL CHANGE?

When Carwyn Jones was First Minister it was understood that the relief road would go ahead. So for a start, the decision announced last week means that things have changed under his successor, Mark Drakeford.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of last week’s decision is that Mark Drakeford, and the ‘Welsh Government’, have gone against the wishes of their superiors in London. It’s impossible to over-stress that what happened last week was a form of insubordination.

For make no  mistake, London wanted this road. The Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales backed the plan, with inspector Bill Wardrup waxing lyrical about the relief road while being almost insultingly dismissive of alternatives.

click to enlarge

Our Secretary of State, Alun Cairns, that most London-loyal of individuals – and, we now learn, a Boris Johnson supporter – was “hugely disappointed” by the decision. It may have come as a bit of a shock to him, for Cairns knew long ago what the inspector’s recommendation was, and he probably expected the new management team in Cardiff docks to follow Compliant Carwyn’s lead and do as the inspector (and London) recommended.

click to enlarge

So maybe any consideration of this shock to the system political boils down to two questions:

  1. Why has Drakeford refused to do London’s bidding in this instance?
  2. Is this a one-off act of rebellion or does it herald a fundamental change of course for ‘Welsh’ Labour?

CUI BONO?

One possible explanation might lie in the fact that despite all the criticism of London-centricity, and the disproportionate amount of infrastructure spending in London and the south east of England, for two decades Wales has followed exactly the same course.

Because a curious feature of devolution is that those areas that voted against devolution in 1997 have been the areas to benefit most since 1999. Maybe this is related to the phenomenon that has seen successive Labour administrations in Cardiff Bay neglect those areas that vote Labour.

So, to be generous, this decision not to proceed with the M4 relief road might mark the beginning of attempts to ‘rebalance’ the Welsh economy.

Even if I’m being too generous there, on a purely financial level, it would have been difficult to justify expenditure of £1.5 bn (at the very least) in a country of just over 3 million people unless the benefits are widely enjoyed. That would obviously not have been the case with the M4 relief road, and further, expenditure on that project would mean fewer infrastructure projects elsewhere in the country.

It’s even being suggested that areas of England – notably Bristol – would have benefited more from an M4 relief road than areas of Wales just twenty or thirty miles away, such as the Heads of the Valleys.

This is how Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, put it in a couple of tweets.

click to enlarge

Weighing up cost and benefit, the M4 relief road would have meant the ‘Welsh Government’ borrowing a great deal of money for a project that at best would only benefit one corner of the country, and at worst, might have been of more benefit to adjacent areas of England.

On those grounds alone, no body claiming to be the ‘Welsh Government’, serving the whole of Wales, could have given the go-ahead for the M4 relief road.

But that consideration has never before stopped an administration in Cardiff Bay from pouring investment into the city at the expense of the rest of the country. So there may be other explanations.

THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE FOR ENGLANDANDWALES

Having mentioned the Planning Inspectorate this is a good time to remind you of the malign influence this agency has exerted over Wales.

In this example from March 2014 I wrote about the plan to expand Bodelwyddan and how it linked with the Local Development Plan (LDP) for Denbighshire. In this post we see how the Planning Inspectorate was forcing a Welsh local authority to allow housing greatly in excess of any local need.

And even after census findings made it clear that the county would need less new housing than had previously been anticipated, the Planning Inspector insisted on keeping to the now discredited figures:

The planning inspector’s response to Denbighshire arguing it needed less new housing than previously projected. Click to enlarge.

“Objects and aspirations” can only mean catering for an influx of new residents from outside of the county, and almost certainly from outside of Wales. Which means that in many cases the LDPs that have been forced on our local authorities by the Planning Inspectorate are ‘local’ only in the sense that they affect areas of Wales.

In Denbighshire, the northern part of the county lies within the A55 corridor, which is being developed as a linear commuter belt for north west England. The ‘Welsh Government’ will never admit this – in fact, it might not even be consulted – but others know, and are planning for it.

This map was produced by Lichfields (planning and development consultancy), it makes clear that there are three strategic planning areas in Wales, Two we know about, the third is never mentioned.

This is part of a wider and ongoing plan to integrate northern Wales into north west England. This 2019 report from Transport for the North makes the medium- to long-term planning clear, and it goes beyond a narrow corridor.

What’s being done here could be done without devolution – so what’s the point of having a ‘Welsh Government’ if it doesn’t live up to the name? Is devolution just a chimera, a smokescreen?

click to enlarge

Cross-border co-operation is one thing, and desirable, it happens all over the world; but it must be done on a basis of mutual respect with both sides benefiting. The map you see above is Englandandwales in operation. Anyone arguing otherwise would probably describe Tryweryn as a mutually-beneficial project.

Without labouring the point I hope you get the gist – the Planning Inspectorate has done a lot of damage to Wales over the years. Which explains why the agency’s relationship with the ‘Welsh Government’ has always been a source of confusion for Welsh politicians and others.

Taken from a ‘Welsh Government’ publication. Click to enlarge.

The truth is that the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales has a desk in Cardiff but takes its orders from London, with the ‘Welsh Government’ allowed to pretend it has some control.

The truth is driven home when we see an inspector adjudicating on a Welsh case one week and being in Yorkshire or Devon the following week. (Though of course, never in Scotland.)

It was no surprise then that the Planning Inspectorate wanted the M4 black route. Because that’s what London wanted.

Though if Mark Drakeford can see the problem with the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales then he must also be aware that this is only the tip of an iceberg. That ‘iceberg’ being the problem of ‘Welsh’ civil servants relaying orders from London. 

PLANNING FOR A WELSH FUTURE?

The fact that the ‘Welsh Government’ went against the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, its London masters, and a number of powerful lobby groups (perhaps even . . . whisper it – Deryn!), means that Mark Drakeford has really stuck his scruffy neck out.

Which leads me to suspect, or hope, that this decision might be about more than the explanations we’ve been given on cost and environment damage. There might be things bubbling below the surface that could prove to be more important in the medium term than the M4 decision itself.

First off, I am convinced that the M4 decision links with this announcement from a month ago that Wales will soon have its own planning inspectorate. Let’s look at what the article in The Planner says.

“Currently, the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales is responsible for making decisions and recommendations on planning-related land issues and appeals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Welsh Government fund it.

Based in Cardiff, the inspectorate’s Wales Division manages casework on planning and related applications and appeals, including developments of national significance. It examines local development plans, which set out land use planning policies and form the basis of local planning decisions, using a team of dedicated Welsh inspectors and administrators.

The new planning inspectorate for Wales is expected to be fully operational by the end of the current assembly term, which is May 2021.”

This move was explained by the ‘Welsh Government’ thus: “planning law and policy has diverged and continues to diverge at an accelerating rate from England”. Which makes a certain sense, but if that’s the real reason then policing, broadcasting and many other powers would also be fully devolved.

Though a cynic might suggest that Drakeford is launching the new agency because he’s burned his bridges with the Planning Inspectorate after giving them two fingers over such a high-profile project as the M4 relief road.

Whatever the reason, I’m hoping Drakeford and his cabinet want a separate Welsh planning inspectorate to do things differently in future and for the right reasons. Otherwise, why set up a new and separate agency?

IN CONCLUSION . . .

Does the dropping of the M4 relief road coupled with the announcement of the new planning inspectorate herald a change of direction for the ‘Welsh Government’?

The cynic in me thinks, ‘Nah, this leopard ain’t gonna change its spots, Jac. After twenty years of screwing up on devolution Labour’s only pretending to do things differently now because it’s slipping in the polls. Any change will be purely cosmetic.’

But then, the optimistic side to my nature (long dormant) asserts itself and says, ‘Wait! Maybe from now on they will put the interests of Wales and Welsh people first. Perhaps they’ll realise that there are communities within twenty miles of Corruption Bay approaching third world standards of deprivation. And that our rural areas need more than zip wires and granny farms. 

‘Perhaps it’ll mean no more insane legislation to encourage hippies, ‘rewilders’ and other enviroshysters; no more grants showered on multinationals’ branch factories and con men with ludicrous ‘projects’; no more red carpet treatment for exploitive ‘celebs’ such as Bore Grylls; no more funding and other encouragement for the third sector to import England’s problems so as to maintain thousands of unnecessary jobs with our money.

‘Maybe, at long last, Wales will be treated as a country, in which the interests of those who belong here are considered more important than kudos gained from playing to galleries that only seek to exploit and marginalise us. Perhaps our kids will be given a decent education to prepare them for better jobs than scurrying around an Amazon warehouse or desperately waiting for Easter in the hope of some low-wage tourism job.’

Over to you, Mark Drakeford.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 04.06.2019

I haven’t prepared any in-depth or weighty post for this week; instead, I’ve put together a few things I’ve been thinking about, or been sent, that might also be of interest to you. You know me – always trying to please!

COALITIONS

One of the more bizarre responses to the 2016 EU referendum result came from Leanne Wood, then leader of Plaid Cymru – Let’s go into coalition with Labour!‘, she suggested.

Quite what this was supposed to achieve no one seemed to know, but it struck me at the time as a predictable response from Plaid Cymru’s clenched fist and beret tendency. Those who would still regard the Tories as ‘the real enemy’ even if ISIS invaded the Rhondda Fach.

I mention this because even with the Red Queen dethroned Plaid Cymru seems to be thinking along similar lines today. With new leader Adam Price calling for a coalition of Remain-supporting parties for the next UK general election.

click to enlarge

Ideally, of course, Plaid Cymru would like a coalition with Labour, but thanks to Comrade Corbyn’s vacillating that is not possible. So with that hope dashed, Plaid now seeks a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Change UK and the SNP.

(UPDATE: It’s all happening! Now the ‘Welsh Government’ has come out for Remain.)

Let’s consider the SNP first. Things are very different in Scotland, where the SNP will be hoping to win every seat in the next UK general election; so the chances of them doing a deal with other parties, which would almost certainly mean standing down in some seats, is a non-starter.

The SNP could even turn the next general election into a vote on independence and EU membership, especially if Westminster refuses to allow another independence referendum.

Next up is Change UK. If you’re unfamiliar with this lot, then let me explain that they’re a bunch of preening egotists who couldn’t get their own ways in their previous parties. Before the next election comes around clashing egos will have destroyed this collective huff of a party and that’ll be the end of Change UK.

(UPDATE: Within hours of publishing this piece the bust-up happened!)

On to the Greens, aka the Green Party of England, for there is no Wales Green Party. Worse, last year Greens in Wales voted on whether to set up a separate Green party and decided to stay as the Green Party of Englandandwales. Which means that Plaid Cymru wants to work with a party that refuses to recognise Wales as a country!

Note how the BBC reports it, as if common sense prevails against dangerous separatists seeking to sunder a sacred bond. Click to enlarge

Finally, the Liberal Democrats, the party that kept the Tories in power at Westminster between 2010 and 2015, and the party that – with its single AM – helps keep Labour in power down Cardiff docks. A gang of opportunistic and amoral politicos that would sell their grannies for a sniff of power.

Despite decades of trying to promote themselves as the ‘nice’ party I have a deep and abiding contempt for the modern Liberal Democrats. I had time for old Geraint Howells and a few others from the genuinely Welsh Liberal tradition, but the modern party is a venomous thing not to be trusted or handled.

Containing individuals like Callum James Littlemore, who is ‘Diary Manager’ for local party leader Jane Dodds. (She needs a diary manager!) I thought for a minute it was a typo, and he worked on her farm, but apparently it’s true. Anyway, young Callum bears out all I’ve thought about LibDems.

click to enlarge

Though he can’t have been in Wales for long if he thinks Plaid Cymru “support divisive nationalism”. Listen to Uncle Jac: Plaid Cymru is a bunch of evasive, wishy-washy, ishoo-botherers, forever seeking distractions to avoid confronting any specifically Welsh issue. Brexit being the latest such distraction.

Let’s hope we hear little more from Littlemore. (Couldn’t resist it!)

Ruling out the SNP for the reasons I’ve given, these are the parties that Plaid Cymru is ready to co-operate with thanks to Plaid’s fixation with Brexit. What would Plaid get in return – I mean, would these parties campaign for Welsh independence, or even greater devolution? I think not.

It also means that by turning the next election into a single-issue affair Plaid Cymru will ignore the things people care about. Done in order to line up with England’s Brahmin left, thereby alienating thousands upon thousands of people that must be won over if Wales is to escape the humiliation long ago imposed on us by John Bull; a colonial system loyally maintained into the present day by ‘Welsh’ Labour and its rag-bag of hangers-on.

There’ll be a price to pay for this posturing, this self-indulgent myopia. I sincerely hope.

CORRUPTION BAY

This is a term I coined well over twenty years ago as the title of an opus describing the ‘regeneration’ of Cardiff’s docklands. Perhaps the biggest milking of the public purse ever seen in Wales.

Made possible by Secretary of State for Wales (1979 – 1987) Nicholas Edwards, who set up, in April 1987, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC), to be run by his good friend and fellow High Tory, Sir Geoffrey Inkin. The CBDC became the conduit for pumping hundreds of millions of pounds of public money into land owned by Associated British Ports (ABP), of which Edwards was a director.

The CBDC was wound up in 1999 and Edwards – Lord Crickhowell since 1987 – stepped down from the board of Associated British Ports Holdings Ltd 28 April 1999.

Of course, Edwards/Crickhowell didn’t have it all his own way. For example, despite donning his Welsh National Opera tricorn he failed to get a new opera house to the Bay, but learning from that disappointment he made sure that the ‘consolation prize’ of the Notional Assembly building was located on his patch.

And while it was being built he saw to it that ABP continued to coin it by having AMs and staff use Crickhowell House – at £2m+ a year.

Crickhowell House/Tŷ Crughywel/Tŷ Hywel, click to enlarge

Crickhowell House was soon renamed Tŷ Crughywel, and is now Tŷ Hywel, apparently in honour of Hywel Dda. Which looks very much like an attempt to hide the Crickhowell connection, for I’m not aware of Hywel Dda having any local connections.

Despite having moved into the new Senedd building over ten years ago the ‘Welsh Government’ still agreed a series of leases that bind it – and us – to Tŷ Hywel until 2049, or Armageddon, whichever comes sooner. Guaranteed to cost us many more millions of pounds.

I mention this to give the background to what we see today in Cardiff Bay; the squalid and incestuous wheeler-dealing, the lying and the backstabbing, the cronyism, the incompetence, and the waste of public money.

The latest example of the incestuousness comes with Daniel Bryant leaving lobbyists Deryn for Plaid Cymru. This ménage à trois involving Deryn, Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party is not good for democracy or for Wales.

click to enlarge

(Cathy Owens is a director of Deryn. Though I shudder to think what ‘Deryn standards’ might be referring to. Could it be sarcasm?)

But this is what devolution has done. It has given us a class of people, divorced from the real world, who study politics, help out local politicians in their spare time and then, when they finish university, get a job working for a politician, or lobbyists, making contacts, and getting on their party’s list of approved candidates.

They then become politicians and make decisions affecting the lives of people with whom they have little contact and for whom they may have little concern. I say that because politics is no longer about serving the people, it’s a team game of abstractions and all that matters is scoring points against the opposition. (Though in Wales it often seems to be just two ‘teams’ involved.)

This system of musical chairs that begins with teenagers choosing a ‘career’ in politics goes a long way to explaining why Wales is in the mess she’s in today. And also why, alone in western Europe, Wales has no register or regulation of lobbyists – because the lobbyists won’t countenance such legislation!

Speak out in favour of such legislation – as Neil McEvoy has done more than once – and you will be hounded and vilified – by lobbyists, your own party, and anyone else the lobbyists can influence. Is this democracy?

Of course not, but it is Corruption Bay; and those we find lurking there today are worthy successors to the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.

REMOTE CONTROL

For anyone who missed it over on Jacqui Thompson’s blog, soon-to-be-retired Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James plans to stay active with Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd . . . of Brighton. A company formed 23 April 2019.

‘Why Brighton?’ you ask, and the answer is because that’s where his mates are. ‘Mates!’ Yes, you must remember his partners from the Cardiff Bay property business. I wrote about it in Baywatch and Baywatch 2. In particular, Mark Philip Carter, a director with James of Building and Estate Solutions Today Limited.

That company is based in Cardiff, but Carter has other companies based at the same Brighton address – 161-163 Preston Road – where we find Mark James’s new venture. Companies such as Friend-James Accountants LLP, Friend-James Ltd and Opher Ltd.

The two directors of Ffynnon Consultancy are James and his missus. He with 400 shares, she with 100.

click to enlarge

It was always unlikely that when James retires later this month, and surfboards out of county hall on a flood of tears, that he would put on his slippers and take up some innocent pastime like counting his money, or evicting bloggers.

But now, with his own consultancy, his protégée Wendy Walters taking over his job, and Emlyn ‘Two Barns’ Dole keeping the councillors in check, James should be able to run the show by remote control!

For as the old saying has it – You can’t keep a good man down. Or in this case, a vindictive and manipulative megalomaniac, and Private Eye Shit of the Year 2016.

You know he can’t just walk away – for there is a Wellness Village to build!

Talking of which . . . there’s something nagging me, for there is another company with a very similar name to James’s new venture. This being the Ffynnon Consultancy Group Ltd.

What’s interesting about the Ffynnon Consultancy Group is that its entry in the ‘Welsh Government’s Directory of Welsh Businesses tells us: “At the Ffynnon Consultancy Group we identify and establish business connections across a wide platform of business sectors in the UAE and the GCC”.

‘UAE’ is of course the initials of the United Arab Emirates, and ‘GCC’ stands for Gulf Cooperation Council. So why would this obscure little company be operating in the Gulf?

click to enlarge

I ask because I’m sure you’ll remember that it was links with that part of the world that led to suspensions at Swansea University and the halting of city deal funding for the Wellness Village.

The sole director of the Ffynnon Consultancy Group – a one-share company that appears never to have traded or done anything since being formed in June 2016 – was Angela Louise Williams of Llandybie, until she was replaced last Friday by Kevin Williams of New Quay, Ceredigion, with the company’s registered address also transferring to New Quay on 3 June.

Given the Gulf connection, I got to wondering if there might also be a link with Swansea University, the Wellness Village, or with outgoing Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James’s new company Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd?

In the hope of getting answers I e-mailed Ffynnon Consultancy Group and received a reply from Kevin Williams, who expressed surprise that Companies House had allowed registrations from two companies with such similar names.

He assured me that neither he nor Angela Louise Williams had any links to either Carmarthenshire County Council or Swansea University. So that would appear to be that . . . just an amazing coincidence . . .

M4 OR NO M4

As I write this, on Monday evening, the word is that tomorrow the ‘Welsh Government’ will not back the proposed M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks. So, on that assumption, here are a few points that immediately popped into the cavernous Jac cranium.

  • Let us hope that this unexpected decision heralds a new era of development and investment spread across the country, thereby obviating the need for an M4 ‘relief road’.
  • Presumably the announcement will be accompanied by promises to invest in public transport. Again, I urge that thinking goes beyond the Cardiff region, because there is a country out there.
  • Nothing would prove this administration’s commitment to both Wales beyond Cardiff and public transport better than a west coast railway line from Carmarthen to Bangor.
  • Finally, this decision might deter commuters from Bristol and elsewhere moving into Wales for cheaper housing – have you thought about that? Well, have you!

CAPTION COMPETITION

And, finally, this week’s caption competition. I am grateful to the person who supplied this wonderful photograph of Paul and Rowena Williams of Weep for Wales fame. The picture comes from the XscapeNow Facebook page.

click to enlarge

These crooks are former owners of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, The Knighton Hotel, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor Hotel and other establishments from Northumberland to Cornwall.

I can’t help thinking that holding an illustration of criminals being caught by the police might be seen as tempting fate.

♦ end ♦