A Chance To Be Decisive

This offering starts out as a quickie, and I hope it stays that way. But as you know, these things have a way of growing.


The origin for this piece was an article in last week’s Cambrian News. After a front-page intro the story was set out inside. And here it is.

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The same story appeared a couple of days earlier in NorthWalesLive and, presumably, the Daily Post.

This link to Google maps shows the land in question on the Penamser Industrial Estate in Porthmadog. Overlooked by Travis Perkins and Travelodge.

Local politicians claim that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has some kind of “exclusivity agreement” with a company that has resulted in this land gathering weeds while local businesses want to set up or expand on that land.

The company in question is Morbaine Ltd, of Widnes, in Cheshire.

Here’s a contribution to the dispute from local Plaid councillor Nia Jeffreys.

“It makes no sense at all that public money is being spent on this site whilst the Welsh Government is standing in the way of job creation in Porthmadog. They must seriously reconsider their decision and their priorities for the sake of our local economy.”

For God’s sake, woman, don’t use words like “economy” when dealing with the ‘Welsh Government’! Language like that could have Drakeford falling off his bike.


The CH entry for Morbaine Ltd seems to confirm what the website tells us about it being a family-owned firm. And that the family is named Finlan, though there are other directors.

When we turn to the Charges tab we see loans and other arrangements related to property and land in Wales, Scotland, and England. With 48 of them outstanding. There were a number of mentions for Caernarfon Road, Bangor.

This would appear to be the area of retail units on the edge of the city which, coming from Caernarfon, start with the Tesco Extra store on the roundabout. This must have made Morbaine a few quid.

The financials certainly seem to have perked up last year, with accounts to 30 June 2022 showing a profit of £727,251 against a loss of £1,168,055 the previous year.

I mentioned the new directors, and this may link with “significant control” passing in March from John Finlan who, if he’s still alive, is 98, to Morbaine Properties Ltd.

So what’s the story with Morbaine Properties? Well, there are 13 outstanding charges. With the latest accounts showing a gross profit of £5.24m on a turnover of just £6.87m. Which is quite impressive.

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The entry for significant control shows John William Finlan who, at 31 years old, I take to be the grandson of the old man I just mentioned. Yet this entry might be misleading.

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And I say that because when we turn to a document filed on June 22 showing the distribution of shares, we see that John William Finlan is a minority shareholder. And that’s been the case for some years.

Finlan owns just 60 out of a total of 200 shares. With 100 being held by “Helen Woods Equiom (Isle of Man) Ltd”, and another 30 by “Equiom (Isle of Man) Ltd Helen Woods”. (To make sense of the entry note that some listings are for 0 shares.)

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Here’s Helen Woods’ Linkedin profile. You’ll see that she’s, “Tax Director at Hotchkiss Associates Limited Isle of Man”.

So through holding most of the shares, Helen Woods / Equiom of the Isle of Man, now owns the company that has some kind of deal with the ‘Welsh Government’.

Or so it might appear at first sight.


As you’d expect, Equiom is quite a big outfit. I get the impression it provides legal and other services for even bigger fish. One of which seems to have swallowed it.

For an online search revealed that Equiom was taken over last year by Alcentra. Here’s the Alcentra website. With offices in London, New York, Boston, Tokyo and Hong Kong Alcentra has “Total Assets Under Management” of $34bn.

But as the website tells us, Alcentra itself is now owned by somebody else:

Alcentra is a wholly owned subsidiary of Franklin Resources, Inc. (Franklin Templeton) which is one of the world’s largest independent investment managers with $1.4 trillion in total assets under management

And this was another takeover achieved last year.

From what I can see, Franklin is still independent and owned by the Johnson brothers of Silicon Valley. And Franklin Resources are certainly big fish, listed at number 20 in this, “World’s Top Asset Management Firms”. A list headed of course by BlackRock and Vanguard.


Tracking something on the Land Registry website can be straightforward if you have an address or a title number. But in this case it’s just land in the vicinity of Penamser Road.

Still, I tried my luck. And the site is easy enough to locate, it’s in the centre of this OS Land Registry map.

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This helped me track down, “Land lying on the North side of Penamser Road, Porthmadog (Freehold)”. Title number WA612872. And here is the 30-page title document, but unfortunately there was no plan available.

We see that the owners of the land are, “The National Assembly for Wales”.

A search of the title document turned up two mentions of “Morbaine”.

The first, on page 24, refers to an “option to purchase the land edged mauve”. But without a plan we can’t locate this land. This entry is dated November 26, 1991. It was an agreement between Morbaine and the Welsh Development Agency (WDA).

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The second entry is on the penultimate page and it reads:

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That title number, CYM402906 refers to land now occupied by Travelodge. It was sold by Morbaine Ltd to Sunville Properties Ltd. Here’s the title document, scroll down for the plan.

From which I conclude that the original title WA612872 covered the land sold off for the Travelodge plus the land now being discussed.

Which means that a week or so before selling it on Morbaine bought the land from “The Welsh Ministers”. And without doing anything, sold the land to Sunville at a profit.

Nice work if you can get get it.


The problem with the land at Penamser Road is that Morbaine has an option to buy. But claims it can’t do so until the ‘Welsh Government’ carries out “remedial works“.

Which will of course be paid for from the public purse.

“The current position is that we are still waiting for the Welsh Government to deal with various issues on the site as part of the land transfer . . . Following these works we hope to then be able to progress expressions of interest received in the site from retail operators. The site has an extant retail consent.

“From our position it has been extremely frustrating that addressing these remedial works has taken so long.”

It has always been the case that too much of the money made in Wales leaves Wales. The Travelodge money-for-old-rope deal suggests Morbaine is just another company making money out of Wales while contributing nothing.

Devolution has made things worse, with successive administrations wanting to single-handedly save the planet, fight trans genocide, confront the fascist hordes . . . which in practice means throwing money at global corporations, unhinged narcissists, and grant-grab grifters.

I think Morbaine – or whoever now owns the company – should be told that 32 years is long enough to sit on an option to buy. And so the ‘Welsh Government’ is cancelling that arrangement and asserting full control over the land at Penamser Road.

Because, if, as the councillors say, there is “local interest to develop the land and create jobs“, then local businesses should take priority over Morbaine’s clients, who will almost certainly come from over the border.

The ‘Welsh Government’ can be decisive enough when it comes to making mistakes; here’s a chance to get something right for a change, and help Welsh people.

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♦ end ♦

© Royston Jones 2023

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Dyn Gwyrdd

Jac, This latest POSTING of yours again is excellent, but are people in Porthmadog asleep. This has only had six comments in five days and three of those are yours Jac and two from your regular ‘Dafis’. That being so I’ll post one here out of topic.
This Saturday evening 26-8-23 my old valve driven TV had nothing worth watching on its limited programmes. So I watched the S4C TV programme on the “Green Man Festival”, from the farm we paid about £4 million to the Senedd to buy for a load of “cross dykers” (naughty thinking readers – from over Offa’s Dyke I mean). The programme was well presented, but what they showed of the Festival itself was a load of “Billy Braggish Dirge”. Nothing comparable to what came out on TV from the recent National Eisteddfod. This event was certainly, in my opinion, not worth us the taxpayers of Wales stumping up £4 million to Drakeford and his Senedd cronies to purchase the farm venue for this event. It was money that should have gone to NHS Wales.Could other readers of this Blog give us their opinion reviews if they suffered to watch it. Even the now rundown (rundown from what it once was) Pontardawe Village Festival last week was streets far ahead of this Green Man event.


You should amend your criticism of Green Man to “Nothing comparable to some of what came out on TV from the recent National Eisteddfod.” There were times when the stuff from Y Maes resembled the output of a gay pride/trannie/weirdo fest from the outskirts of a major metropolitan area anywhere in England. The Welsh was a stilted pidgin affair as though the speakers were emphasising that they normally had as little as possible to do with this archaic language. The Eisteddfod is rapidly distancing itself from its cultural core and sucking up to any new fad or fashion that rocks up and demands attention.

I’m with you all the way in asserting that Green Man should be put in a box and buried deep as far as funding of any kind is concerned, but the Eisteddfod has also become a silly over enthusiastic promoter of passing fancies. No doubt it will soon be back to that other stoopid fvckwitt Drakeford looking for more funding so it can accommodate the next wave of drivel that serves notice of arriving at Ponty.


Land is scarce especially where it can be put to good use in convenient locations. It’s a commodity which isn’t being produced in high or low volumes. Occasional bits get repurposed by reclamation activity but very marginal quantities. Indeed if you believe a lot of the pessimists land will reduce in quantity as it becomes overwhelmed by rising sea levels!

So it has always been attractive to wide boys looking for a place for funds that are often the proceeds of crime or borderline activity which needs to evade close scrutiny. And these are often the people who find Wales’ government so welcoming and incapable of asking searching questions.


Lack of commercial aptitudes and expertise goes hand in hand with lack of scrutiny in Welsh government affairs. The Stan episode may have been the benchmark although the recent Usk Valley farm gives off a strong whiff of incompetence blended with deceit and corruption. Private sector consultants brought in by Government to advise should be culpable because they ought to know the real value of assets. Of course they water things down in the hope that the grateful buyer will see fit to instruct them on some juicy contract in due course. That should be a matter for punitive action.

Now I suspect that brown envelopes a la Hamilton don’t come into play. It’s a different kind of corruption where politicians and public servants enjoy rubbing up with “big names” and of course there may have been a few nice lunches at top venues, tickets to the Stadium or to the Millenium Centre down the Bay or even a trip to London. Big time schmoozing organised by guys who know how to pull such stunts and the suckers fall for it every time.

Neil Singleton

The Stan Thomas affair exposed the incompetence of Welsh Government employees in that they were inveigled into appointing private sector property experts who, in fairly common parlance “played both ended against the middle” i.e somehow persuaded gullible civil servants to allow them to act for both vendors (Welsh Gov.) AND purchasers (Stan and his connections). The results were predictable, land worth well in excess of £100 million was flogged off for £20 million or so. The whole fiasco was then covered up by WG in a secret deal with the erring private sector firms on the well established “dentists chair principal” whereby, as the dentist is about to start drilling, the patient grabs him by the testicles and says “we aren’t going to hurt each other are we?”
And so it proved.