Colonialism in microcosm, or Knighton

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 know . . . I promised a round-up of assorted stories, but I’m afraid it didn’t work out.

One story I was counting on fell through, though I am assured that what will eventually be provided will be worth the wait.

And then, what you see below, the report from Knighton, just grew to the point where it took over and knocked out a couple of other topics I’d planned to cover.

REMEMBER DARREN?

A couple of weeks ago we met Darren Knipe, who starred in Miscellany 03.11.2020. Scroll down to the section ‘A Wandering Shyster I (after Gilbert & Sullivan)’.

More news has come in of Darren and a host of drifters and good-lifers trying to take over the border town of Tref y Clawdd / Knighton in central Powys.

First, let’s pad out Darren’s CV, for since writing the earlier piece I have learnt that he spent time in the City of my Dreams. When I say ‘time’ I do not mean as a resident of Cox’s Farm down on Oystermouth Road.

It seems that Darren first came to Wales to study at Aberystwyth University in 1990. Which reminds us that our universities have a lot to answer for. Having expanded beyond Wales’s needs they had to take in just about anybody to fill the places.

Which gave us the problem today of the areas around Lampeter, Aberystwyth and Bangor being infested with drug-wrecked loafers who forgot to go home.

At Aberystwyth Darren claims to have gained a joint honours degree in Economics, Finance and Accountancy, which resulted in him being offered the chance to become a stockbroker in the City of London. But he turned it down!

Why the hell would anyone study those subjects if they had no intention of going into business, banking or finance? It makes no sense. So what did Darren do next? I’ll let him tell you in his own words . . .

“I became an events promoter, and designed an accredited OCN training course at Pembrokeshire College in Music and Entertainment Technology which came 2nd in Country for the Times Education Award for Widening Participation.”

I ran my own nightclub in Swansea for a few years, called The Palace. Some of you may have jumped on a bus organised by local promoter, Ben, and come to one of his drum n bass nights.

I designed and toured a solar powered cinema/stage around UK festivals, called Star Bar. I then ran a mobile organic bar, called WonderBar, running an operation for up to 80,000 people.

I moved to Chester with my then wife, and helped design and deliver cultural events for an organisation that is now called Storyhouse. It is from doing this for nearly 10 years, that we formed our own company, Dark Olive, which produces and delivers production contracts for local authorities and Arts Council funded cultural organisations.”

The Palace referred to is the old Palace Theatre, a lovely little ‘flat iron’ building just up from High Street station. It’s fallen on hard times and a succession of owners has allowed the building to deteriorate. Instead of lending money to people who have no intention of saving the building, Swansea’s Labour council has finally pulled its finger out.

In June, 2002 a drinks licence was granted to Darren Knipe and the co-directors of their company The Palace Swansea Ltd.

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At the time, Darren was living in Pembrokeshire, as were the other directors. Ian Stone could be found at Llawhaden, near Narberth, with Knipe living in the town itself; while the third director, James King, was at Llanfallteg, just outside Whitland. King doubled up as company secretary. Each of them held 500 £1 shares.

As with most if not all of Darren Knipe’s ventures, the night club did not last long, being compulsorily wound up towards the end of 2003 by The Commissioners of Customs and Excise under the Insolvency Act 1996.

Darren Knipe may claim, “I ran my own nightclub in Swansea for a few years”, but the Commissioners of Customs and Excise would disagree. His tenure of the theatre where Charlie Chaplin once trod the boards lasted about a year.

And ended in insolvency. He seems to have left that bit out.

As I told you in the earlier piece, after Pembrokeshire, Darren moved up to Aberystwyth before landing, around 2010, in Llandegla, west of Wrecsam, where a few companies sprang to life.

One was Datcloud Ltd, dissolved in the second half of 2016. Knipe’s partner in this venture was Duncan Charles Ion. Ion was also a member of the community council, which might explain how Knipe got the job as clerk.

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I can’t be sure when he took up the job because the online records go back no further than March 2015. But he was definitely in post by then.

Darren Knipe left around the time of an external auditors’ report, but I’m sure there was no connection. He must think he’s still cut out for this kind of work because I hear he’s been angling for the clerk’s job with Knighton town council since he arrived in the area.

Here’s a link to that external auditors’ report. To turn the pages scroll down and use the arrows found at the bottom left.

After his stay in Llandegla Darren Knipe was on the move again and he landed in Llanfair Waterdine, which lies in Y Tiroedd Coll. Where he’s asked to be co-opted onto the community council.

Though his main focus is Knighton, where he has aligned himself with the settler element. Of whom there are quite a few.

COLONIAL KNIGHTON

Those I’m referring to are members of the English bourgeoisie who’ve imposed themselves on the area. They have plenty of money and too much time on their hands, so they feel they should be ‘doing something’.

Even if it means making nuisances of themselves and getting up people’s noses.

Their local citadel, from whence they sally forth to dispense wisdom, do good, and generally uplift benighted natives, is the Knighton and District Community Centre.

Locals tell me that in a previous era the community centre was like any other in a village or small town, with discos, rugby club dos, wedding receptions, etc.

But about twelve years ago a couple blew in from Hong Kong by the name of Christopher and Karen Plant. Where he had been a teacher for the UK military. Under the reign of the Plants locals were made to feel unwelcome, and so they drifted away.

For where locals had once bopped the night away, drinking pints from the pumps, under the Plants it became Sounds of Soweto and wine only – the beer pumps disappeared!

Someone has described the wine-drinking Plants to me as “sociopaths and bullies”. Which seems a bit strong, until we learn that the Plants had to sling their hook following allegations of . . . bullying.

And the beer pumps returned!

One talent these colons possess is that of being able to secure public funding. Over half a million pounds was handed over a few years back by the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ for a new community centre roof, after the local library moved in. Described to me as “the world’s most expensive box profile tin roof”.

My old mucker Dafydd El was there for the opening. Probably sent up by his boss, Little Kenny Skates, he of the pearly white gnashers.

Though most locals still feel unwelcome, for the bridgehead established by the Plants was soon strengthened. To the point where everyone now involved with the community centre has arrived from over the border.

I’ve even been supplied with a list of names and places of origin:

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It’s quite frightening, isn’t it, how a small group can so completely take over the hub of a community that’s not theirs? Almost an invasion. No, it is an invasion.

Of course, the jobs are not full time, more pocket money and status jobs, but then, those we’re talking about don’t need the money, but they revel in the status. The recruitment system was explained thus: “Job descriptions are rigged to suit the person already lined up for the job, qualification is basically being middle class and from England.”

Some will read this and say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter where they come from . . . doing good work, blahdy blah’. Others will claim that it’s anti-English, but it’s not. A takeover so complete would be remarkable if it happened in any part of England.

Can you imagine a situation like this in a small town in Yorkshire, with ‘southerners’ taking over everything – and locals not raising hell! Yet we are supposed to be silent because they’re all English.

And note the ‘jobs’ that are being funded. Basically, to build up networks of people like themselves from which locals can be more effectively excluded.

But this selfless devotion to ‘their’ community don’t come cheap. To hire Knighton community centre for a Saturday evening is £210 – with bar and kitchen extra. In the community centre in Knucklas, about a mile away, run by the community council, hiring the new community centre (2013) on a Saturday night would cost you £75 all in.

But then, when you’re paying one of your friends £15 an hour . . .

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The justification for the exorbitant charges at Knighton are that, “It’s cheap by London prices”. Yes, there must be a lot of competition from London venues.

I’ve mentioned the network-building ‘jobs’ but there is already a network in Knighton that extends beyond those we’ve encountered. Though this wider network is made up of the same kind of people, those who never miss an opportunity to put their virtue on public display.

For we are dealing here with do-gooders of the most exhibitionist variety.

Such as Angie Zelter, who we see in the photograph below. She lives in a big house in Knighton with her partner Camilla Saunders, who works in the third sector. (I bet that surprises you!)

For someone like her to protest, in Wales, about apartheid and ethnic cleansing, can only be accounted for by a complete absence of self-awareness.

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Angie is also big in Extinction Rebellion, and has the arrest to prove it. She winters in New Zealand, and of course she flies to Aotearoa.

Then there’s Knighton and District Refugee Support Group. Though you have to marvel at the arrogance of people who’ve invited themselves into someone else’s country and then believe they have the right to invite others.

It may have been this crowd that attracted Michael Richer up from southern England a few months ago. Richer wanted to take over the empty Knighton Hotel for a while. If ‘Knighton Hotel’ rings a bell that’s because it was owned by our old friends Paul and Rowena Williams, who went on to Plas Glynllifon. (All covered in my ‘Weep for Wales’ series.)

Although Richer claimed to want the hotel for men and women in abusive relationships it was widely suspected that he intended bringing to Knighton migrants who’d landed on the south coast of England. That may still be the plan.

Housing migrants can be a very lucrative business. And quite easy when there is already a local network of leftists and do-gooders, as we see in Pembrokeshire. Anyone who opposes dozens or hundreds of undocumented young men being brought into a rural area becomes a ‘fascist’.

The fact that Richer’s company, Misan Traders Ltd, was set up only 7 or eight months before he showed up in Powys might suggest that he was looking at other buildings. Perhaps any old building he could hire or lease cheaply for a short period.

On Armistice Day the Knighton and District Refugee Support Group insisted on laying their white poppy wreaths against the war memorial itself, and clambered over the red poppy wreaths to do so.

The white poppy wreaths disappeared overnight.

This caused considerable consternation in the KDRSG, but must also have confirmed the ‘backwardness’ of the indigenous population.

The Councillor Angelique Williams mentioned in one of the images below meets Darren Knipe in Knighton’s Little Black Sheep cafe. Around this time last year Angie Williams left the Independent group on Powys County Council to join another . . . independent, sort of, group.

Whatever your views on poppies, and commemorations, this was yet another example of a small group of outsiders trying to over-ride the feelings of local people. Many of those local people are related to, even descended from, the men named on the war memorial

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The same ‘We know best!’ arrogance crops up time after time after time. Another example would be the campaign against local farmers, the Price family, by Sustainable Food Knighton. The spokesperson for this group is Camilla Saunders, partner of jet-setting planet-saver Angie Zelter.

Just look at this report from the County Times. It seems to be the same people, in the same place, just different placards. Maybe they meet regularly and think, ‘What’s the next thing we can do to piss off the locals?’

But it’s not just the Price family they’re trying to put out of business – they want the ‘Welsh Government’ to outlaw what they call ‘intensive farming’. Most of them are of course vegetarians, if not vegans, so we know where this is heading.

Relations between the in-crowd and the town council are strained, due in large part to a curious incident not so long ago. As I’ve mentioned, the town’s library has relocated to the community centre. I’ll let a source take it up:

“Community (centre) ended up housing the library, they did a deal with the community council whereby the council would pay the librarian’s wages, only afterwards they did a deal with Powys (county council) who agreed to pay for the librarian, only they didn’t tell the community council and it was only when Powys threatened to close the library that community council found out that they were being cheated out of the money.”

‘O, what a tangled web . . .’.

But enough of the virtue flaunters and the schemers, the do-gooders and the planet savers, for we are neglecting Darren Knipe.

DARREN FINDS A FRIEND

Knipe claims that – with the help of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action – he will be bringing to Knighton the benefits of the UK government’s Kickstart scheme. Starting in January 2021.

Maybe the WCVA can confirm?

As I reported in my earlier piece, Knipe has threatened, “I can run this anywhere, and currently looking at Newtown and Welshpool as options, which will be Knighton’s loss.”

What he’s really saying is – ‘Give me the empty library building’.

The problem is that others want to use the building, chief among them, Banc Cambria, the new cooperative bank for Wales.

Knipe is telling people that Banc Cambria is not interested in the old library. But I have it on impeccable authority that Banc Cambria is most definitely interested in the building, and them taking it over would bring more long-term benefits to the town than any hare-brained scheme of Darren Knipe.

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In addition to the memsahibs Darren has a new best friend in the form of Dr John Goodband, the husband of the vicar. Goodband recently came from Warwickshire when he married the vicar, Miss Beresford Webb, who had arrived in the area earlier.

And it should go without saying that he’s joined those wondering how Knighton managed before they arrived.

In this report from this week’s County Times we read of Goodband and Zelter opposing Banc Cambria and the town council. They even presented a petition with 67 signatures. Wow, 67 signatures!

I bet locals could guess most of the names on that petition!

There seems little doubt that Knighton town council is the next target of this gang.

News soon came from Warwickshire that Goodband was a repeat offender – for he had been attacking the parish council where he’d previously lived! Here’s a link to the Minutes of the Long Lawford Parish Council from February last year.

Goodband seems to be suggesting that Long Lawford Parish Council is part of the Corleone family, with the clerk trousering thousands of pounds!

As we’ve seen, allegations are now flying in Knighton, where his new mate Darren Knipe wants the job of clerk to the town council and the library building. Coincidence?

I’m no psychiatrist, so I don’t know what afflicts John Goodband. Is it just attention seeking, like a child throwing a tantrum? Does he have nothing better to do than accuse people he doesn’t know of things they haven’t done? Does it turn him on, is it a substitute for sex?

I really don’t care. When it comes to people like John Goodband I’m all out of sympathy, too many of them are washing up in Wales. And Knighton has more than its share. More than any small town deserves.

CONCLUSION

It would be bad enough if what we see in Tref y Clawdd was a one-off, unrepresentative of Wales as a whole, but it’s not.

Everywhere we look we see the same problem of Welsh people being patronised or insulted, and pushed aside by sharp-elbowed and arrogant immigrants. It’s no longer just about holiday homes. It never was.

And this deluge is being encouraged by the leftist consensus in Corruption Bay because our ‘progressives’ identify with these bullying charlatans better than they identify with Welsh people.

From the other side, neither the Conservative and Unionist Party nor any party on the BritNat fringe will object to Wales being colonised and assimilated into England.

That’s why we need the new parties Gwlad and the WNP. And more importantly, a fresh mindset that calls colonialism by its name. And fights back on every front.

♦ end ♦

 




Yes, there’s definitely an election on the way!

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

A few weeks back I wrote Elections, May 2021, which some may have thought was a bit premature. Well, things have hotted up and there’s no doubting it now – the election campaign has definitely started!

THE ‘NATIONAL MOVEMENT’

In this piece I’m going to focus on elements of what is often referred to as ‘the national movement’. Partly because I’ve been part of this movement for over 50 years and partly because that’s where much of the action seems to be at the moment.

Let’s start with Yes Cymru, which has seen phenomenal growth this year, with the trend accelerating in recent weeks. But this growing interest in independence has not resulted in any increase in support for Plaid Cymru

In fact, according to the latest Welsh Political Barometer Poll Plaid Cymru remains in third place for the constituency vote next May (but up by 2%), and in the same position for the regional list vote (down by 1%).

The poll predicts Plaid will win 15 seats, and if Labour only wins the 25 predicted then we’re in for a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition. Five years of virtue signalling, pumping more money into the third sector, being told what to do by lobbyists and civil servants, while blaming every Tom Dick and Boris for Wales’ continuing economic and social woes.

In August, there had been a YouGov poll which suggested that, with Don’t knows removed, 51% of Labour voters would support independence if the option was put to them in a referendum. The same poll suggested that only 45% of those who voted for Plaid Cymru in December 2019 would definitely vote for independence.

Which highlights two problems for Plaid Cymru.

On the one hand, most of those who could be won over to independence do not vote for Plaid Cymru, and never will. While on the other hand, the party has in recent years attracted oddball cliques that see Plaid Cymru as just another mouthpiece for what really matters to them, and these have little or no interest in Wales or in Welsh independence.

This is bad news all round for Plaid Cymru, and yet it’s a problem that often afflicts socialist or ‘progressive’ parties, as this tweet, quoting Irish revolutionary, James Connolly, reminds us.

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The message there, and certainly the lesson for Plaid Cymru, is that in Ireland, in the early twentieth century, the socialist movement stayed focused on Ireland, and independence. It did not allow itself to be sidetracked by cranks and dilettantes.

Plaid Cymru not benefiting from the growth in support for Yes Cymru, or from the increasing interest in the option of independence, explains them desperately pushing the idea that anyone leaning in that direction must vote for the party – because there is no alternative.

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But when you think about the panel above, if Plaid Cymru was the party it pretends to be then it wouldn’t need people to ‘lend’ it their vote. Anyone wanting or even considering independence would already be a Plaid Cymru voter.

That Plaid’s support remains static, uninfluenced by the rise in support for independence, speaks volumes.

And of course, Plaid Cymru is no longer the only party promoting independence. We now have Gwlad and the WNP.

The argument used against these newcomers is that they will ‘split the nationalist vote’, which is laughable. By being unable to win over independence-minded supporters of other parties, and with so few in its own ranks wanting independence, Plaid Cymru is already splitting the nationalist vote.

Or, maybe, it has failed dismally to maximise the nationalist vote.

The truth is that the new parties can only increase the nationalist vote by attracting those who wouldn’t ‘lend’ their vote to Plaid Cymru if the offer came gift-wrapped and with a weekend in Tenby thrown in.

Plaid Cymru will, I’m sure, lose votes to Gwlad. I’m thinking of socially conservative nationalists who’ve stuck with the party despite the lurch to the left and who, more recently, have been alienated by the intolerant advocates of identity politics.

If these traditionalists desert in any substantial number then Plaid Cymru will be even more under the control of the aforementioned cranks and dilettantes. Irrespective of who is paraded as the party ‘leader’.

As for those Labour voters prepared to go for independence if a referendum was held, we know where they live. The great majority of them in the urban south between Burry Port and Blaenavon. And many of them voted for Brexit.

Yet Plaid Cymru has recently said that an independent Wales will be a member of the European Union, no ifs or buts. And with no mention of a referendum!

A political party talking down to those it claims to want as voters deserves to be rejected. But this contempt for the white working class seems to be the norm among socialist parties nowadays.

Though maybe some half-hearted effort will be made to reach out to the anglophone working class.

For Plaid Cymru recently applied to register a new descriptor with the Electoral Commission. That new descriptor is New Wales Party, NWP.

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What a coincidence! For earlier last month the WNP applied to register as the Welsh Nation Party, WNP.

After I’d been alerted to it I put out the above tweet last Friday. On Monday, there was an article in Llais y Sais. Now why the hell would something apparently so minor justify such an article?

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Though according to the article, the decision to apply to the Electoral Commission for the change was not made by the National Executive Committee of Plaid Cymru. So who was responsible? The cleaner at Tŷ Gwynfor?

Who’s running this show!

Something else that struck me about the article was that the writer, Martin Shipton, seemed to have forgotten that Plaid Cymru already had the English name Party of Wales. Is that to be dropped?

But it didn’t end with the article. There was even an editorial!

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So much coverage for Plaid Cymru, insisting the change had been under discussion for yonks! A cynic might suggest it sounds like Plaid Cymru desperately trying to explain itself after being caught out in a spoiling tactic intended to confuse voters.

It also suggests that Martin Shipton might be going soft on Plaid Cymru.

Plaid Cymru’s shortcomings may be exposed to the world but it still has options for promoting itself and attacking rivals. Within Yes Cymru, Plaid Cymru supporters urge members to join the party, and last weekend we saw Plaid use an old subsidiary in the form of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (CyIG), the Welsh Language Society.

At the CyI AGM a motion was passed saying, “the pressure group would refuse to engage with anyone whom in their words: ‘promote and tolerate prejudice against any groups, be they LGBT +, black people, migrants or women’.”

And that included Gwlad!

An interesting choice of words, though. “Tolerate prejudice” rather than being prejudiced is straight from the BLM playbook, where not being racist isn’t enough. And I was struck by the use of “migrants” rather than ‘refugees’. Basically, anyone should be allowed to move anywhere without any checks.

Infantile, open borders, anti-Western drivel.

Though consistent. Because Cymdeithas yr Iaith wants Wales to be open to everybody. Which means that a group trying to keep Welsh alive as a community language seems unaware that the biggest threat to the language is inward migration to the language heartlands.

That motion suggests CyIG’s priority now is playing politics rather than saving the language.

Just like Plaid Cymru Cymdeithas suffers from the problem of grabbing off-the-shelf global positions and being unwilling or unable to modify them for Wales.

Look around Europe at small nations or minority groups, Basques, Corsicans and others. Yes, they have socialist parties or groups, but their socialism is used to benefit their people and promote their cause. Not so in Wales.

Saving the planet means covering Wales in foreign-owned wind turbines that create no jobs and put only crumbs into Welsh communities. While supporting migration makes it ‘racist’ to challenge the colonisation of Wales.

Which makes Wales unique in having ‘socialists’ unwilling to challenge colonialism in their own country!

Yet there’s humour in everything. And while Cymdeithas yr Iaith has clearly been  infiltrated by the ‘wokies’ there remains the long and embarrassing shadow of Saunders Lewis.

Saunders Lewis was a founder member of Plaid Cymru, an academic, WWI veteran, a playwright, author, convert to Catholicism, and well to the right of the political centre. His 1962 radio lecture, Tynged yr Iaith (the Future of the Language) was the inspiration for the formation of Cymdeithas yr Iaith.

But the wokies cannot acknowledge Saunders Lewis. He cannot even be named! As we see in the panel below taken from the Society’s website.

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It’s surely only a matter of time until the reference to “a leading academic” is also excised. I can see the next version – ‘Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg was formed at a congress of workers, peasants and intellectuals that had gathered to discuss sending volunteers to Cuba to fight US imperialist aggression’. Right on!

Joking aside, there’s little in the short term that Plaid Cymru, Yes Cymru, Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Gwlad or the WNP can do to bring Welsh independence nearer. I say that because factors beyond our control are likely to be much more influential.

I’m thinking now of Scottish independence, and the reaction to that of the Labour Party in Wales. Or perhaps it won’t be the party itself that puts Wales on the path to the final rupture but the party’s voters.

I’m suggesting that those who reject Plaid Cymru could help deliver independence. What irony that would be. So much for Plaid Cymru being ‘the only way’!

In the meantime, the UK state will do what it can to support Plaid Cymru. Because as I never tire of telling you, from London’s perspective Plaid Cymru is the ideal ‘national party’.

In a flattering light Plaid Cymru can pass for a national party, but its true benefit lies in its dog-in-a-manger role, blocking the emergence of genuine nationalist parties. Its leaders are biddable, easily seduced with peerages and other ‘honours’, but the party – and this extends to its subsidiary groups – is no threat whatsoever to the constitutional status quo or the colonisation of Wales.

For what more could Mother England ask?

IN OTHER NEWS . . .

Limbering up for May’s elections has not been confined to the disparate elements of the national movement, and confirmation of this has come from wildly differing directions.

Let’s start with an old favourite on this blog.

You’ll recall that a couple of years back, and by a substantial majority, members of the self-styled Wales Green Party voted against becoming . . . . the Wales Green Party. Thereby and irrevocably confirming that they were naught but the local branch of the Green Party of Englandandwales.

But lo! even these colonialist carpet-baggers have sensed the changing mood and are now in favour of Welsh independence! As reported here in Left Foot Forward. (Of which I am an avid reader.)

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“Wales can stand alone”, says Siân Berry . . . but not, apparently, her party’s members in Wales. Driving this inconsistency ad absurdum we could have an independent Wales in which elections are contested by the Green Party of Englandandwales.

At the very least, and if only, for once, to be consistent, the Greens in Wales should now break from England to form a genuine Wales Green Party. To not do so makes them look like opportunists jumping on a bandwagon.

Let me explain what drives this new-found enthusiasm for our national liberation. For it dovetails perfectly with what attracts the oddballs, cranks and dilettantes I mentioned earlier to Plaid Cymru.

Under devolution, and especially with the virtue-signallers managing the show, pressure groups and assorted cranks have realised they can wield influence in Wales to an extent that would not be tolerated in better regulated countries.

This unwelcome phenomenon explains, for example, why we have One Planet Developments. Put simply, Wales is becoming internationally known as a ‘soft touch’.

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The thinking therefore runs . . . ‘If we can get all this in a devolved Wales, then we could control an independent Wales’. Elections would be a minor inconvenience, for cohorts of Estuary English-speaking charlatans in Corruption Bay would control the political process and the spending priorities.

The only way out of this nightmare is to stop voting for politicians and political parties manipulated by people who simply want to use our country, and our money, to fulfil their fantasies.

In my earlier piece I told you about a new grouping called the Independent Alliance for Reform.

This has been formed by David Rowlands, who was elected in 2016 as the Ukip AM for South Wales East; Caroline Jones, elected at the same time for Ukip in South Wales West; and Mandy Jones, who took over the North Wales Ukip seat vacated when Nathan Gill resigned in 2018.

This could be a half-way house, and the word to emphasise may be Reform. I say that because the Electoral Commission’s website tells us that an application has recently been received, and is under consideration, to relaunch the Brexit Party as Reform UK.

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If I’m right, then this would leave Neil Hamilton as the last man standing of the 7 that made up Ukip’s 2016 intake.

The other player for the Brexit / London-knows-best vote is of course the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. No doubt, some time between now and next May they’ll realise that what they seek to abolish has changed its name.

CONCLUSION

For the first time in a long time Welsh politics is looking interesting. Partly because of what’s happening in Wales, but mainly because of what’s happening in London, and Scotland, and elsewhere.

For the arrogance, ineptitude and corruption we see from the Conservative government in Westminster has done more to make Welsh independence an attractive proposition than anything happening in Wales.

With the SNP more likely to deliver Welsh independence than Plaid Cymru.

And while Wales voted for Brexit, we did not vote for the looming disaster that will make us even poorer, perhaps turning Holyhead and Fishguard into ghost towns.

All that being so, it really is time for Plaid Cymru to adopt a little humility and accept the realities of modern Wales. Which are:

1/ Plaid Cymru is not the only party or group advocating independence.

2/ Most of those coming around to the idea of independence do not vote for Plaid Cymru and are unlikely to ever vote for Plaid Cymru.

3/ The independence movement contains individuals, groups and political parties with which Plaid Cymru will not see eye to eye. Grow up and accept it!

4/ However, if ideological purity is more important than independence, and if Plaid Cymru continues to align itself with Unionist parties, cranks and others exploiting Wales, then it must expect to be regarded with suspicion.

5/ Ultimately, Plaid Cymru is faced with a simple choice. Either be part of the movement for Welsh independence, or else remain a self-deluding obstacle to achieving independence.

6/ Things are moving in ways that leave Welsh politicians impotent. So look beyond the Corruption Bay bubble, take in the bigger picture, and be ready to seize the opportunities that will surely come our way.

♦ end ♦

 




Miscellany 03.11.2020

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 week’s piece takes us all over the place to meet interesting characters. Most you’ll be familiar with, but there are some new faces.

JAKE BERRY MP

We start with someone you all know, Ynys Môn landowner and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry.

I’ve written about Berry a number of times. It started when it was reported that, in May, during the first lockdown, he had broken the rules and gone to ground at his holiday home in Rhoscolyn. Yet still travelled regularly to London and his constituency.

More recently, now mindful of the wind direction, and still bitter at being sacked from the cabinet, Berry led a rebellion of sorts by a group of Tory MPs from northern English constituencies.

This did not go down well in No 10 and he was almost certainly reprimanded. (If not debagged and radished.)

So, on Saturday, he appeared in the Times with a ‘good man hard done by’ piece in the hope of gaining sympathy and detracting attention from his perceived treachery. (Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall.)

I have little interest in the machinations of the Conservative and Unionist Party, but in his orgy of self-pity he pointed a finger at those who had criticised his earlier behaviour, and in doing so he made some wild accusations.

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The issue was not that he was a ‘newcomer’; the issue was breaking lockdown restrictions and lying about it. Or getting local MP, Virginia Crosbie, to lie for him.

As for the alleged threats to “burn the house down”, who made these threats? Or maybe the question should be – Did anybody make such a threat?

I invite North Wales Police to clarify whether or not they warned Jake Berry that he was a target for arsonists.

But even if he believed he was a target, why would Berry take a pickaxe handle to bed? It would be useless in the event of a fire.

The story took life on Twitter. With what seemed to be mainly anti-abortion Anglo-Catholics jumping in to support Berry, slag off the NHS (for the treatment of Berry’s wife), and of course attack would-be arsonists.

Among them was ‘Petra’. The account looks like a bot, but it still pointed me out as one of the “Ultra-nationalists”. Done in two tweets; or rather, the second seems to be the first re-written.

UPDATE: ‘Petra’ has left the building.

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What is going on?

Anyway, on Saturday afternoon Gwlad put out a statement making it clear that neither that party nor I had made any threat against Jake Berry.

If Jake Berry believes his business dealings should remain private, if he thinks Welsh people should be ignorant of his growing property portfolio, if he believes rules are for little people, if he can’t take criticism, then he shouldn’t be an MP.

Saturday afternoon was a bit hectic, what with me trying to take in what Berry was suggesting while also watching the rugby (we lost), keeping up with the Swans score (won 2 – 0), and doing a few other things.

And then, by a strange coincidence, and to complicate matters further, I received unrelated information from a source in Berry’s constituency. To explain . . .

In a previous post I wrote about secret funders to the Conservative Party, The Portcullis Club and The United and Cecil Club. These are unincorporated associations, a legal loophole that allows funding to reach the party without anyone knowing the origin of that money.

The money usually goes to the constituency association, but not always. Sometimes it takes devious routes, such as we read about in this story. (‘Aide to Grant Shapps’! God Almighty! Imagine having to put that on your CV.)

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I’ve dealt with similar deceits in my earlier pieces on Berry.

The report says that the £12,000 involved came via Rossendale and Darwen Portcullis Club. Yet the address given for this ‘donor’ is 6 Manitoba Court, London SE16 7AY, the address of Berry’s parliamentary researcher. Scroll down and click on the number in the left hand column.

Other underhand donations came from The Portcullis Club that year but without the name of the constituency. Though using the same London address.

But then, in 2017, The Portcullis Club seems to have found a local base at Whins House, near Clitheroe. The first mention I can find of Whins House in that connection is here (click on left hand column again). Though strangely, it’s just The Portcullis Club, with no mention of Rossendale and Darwen.

So, what do we know about Whins House?

Well, it’s not just The Portcullis Club that can be found there, for it was the original address for Palatine Hill Ltd. The officers / directors of which are Maria Bernadette Duckworth, Ford Bridge Farm Ltd, Duckworth Estate Company Ltd, with Paul Worrall Fitton as secretary.

So who are they?

Maria Bernadette Duckworth lives – or formerly lived – at Whins House, along with hubby Andrew John Duckworth. Ford Bridge Farm Ltd – aka Rhyd y Bont – is the company of Mr and Jake Mrs Berry, with their solicitor Fitton again serving as secretary. Duckworth Estate Company Ltd is, predictably, the Duckworths’ company.

I use the caveat in relation to the occupants of Whins House because it was for sale earlier this year. Probably linked with what I interpret to be the bankruptcy of Andrew John Duckworth, as suggested in B4 of the Land Registry title document. My source directed me to this report by way of explanation.

The linked companies with stakes in each other make it clear the Duckworths and the Berrys are close. With the Duckworths being quite happy to use their home address for the channelling to Jake Berry of funding from God knows where.

I’m sure their local MP will therefore find some way to return the favour in his friends’ hour of need. Perhaps he’ll add Whins House to his property portfolio.

FUNDING ENVIROBOLLOCKS

This section takes us back a bit, to the days before Natural Resources Wales, when our woodlands were the responsibility of Forestry Commission Wales. It also takes us back to the time before OPDs were legalised with TAN 6, published in July 2010.

And it brings Objective One funding into the mix, reminding us how most of that EU funding was squandered.

The story seems to start in 1996, when Calon yn Tyfu was formed . . . as a ‘workers co-operative’ at Henparcau farm, near Boncath in north Pembrokeshire. Certainly, the company was Incorporated in March of that year.

The website tells us: “Having run an organic fruit vegetable holding at Henparcau for over 15 years, we decided to give the lands and ourselves a rest in 2010 after a frozen winter where we lost our winter crops we refocused towards the woodland work.”

This change of course was possible thanks to the acquisition of Ffynone and Cilgwyn woodland, part of the old Ffynone estate. Over 300 acres then in the stewardship of Forestry Commission Wales, which was distributing some of the Objective One bonanza under a scheme called Cydcoed.

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In this report Nick Powell of ITV Wales quotes someone describing Cydcoed as, ‘one of the most successful Objective One programmes that ran in Wales … it used woodlands to provide new jobs and opportunities, promote healthy recreation, education and conservation’. It boasts that ‘more than 160 community groups across some of the poorest areas of Wales benefited’.

The subsequent criticism hinged on that term, ‘community group’. For Calon yn Tyfu may have called itself a workers co-operative but it was in fact a private company run by a husband and wife and a third person.

These being Robert David McDowell – who seems to have signed all the company documents I’ve found – Kate Maria Moore, and Andrew Peter Lowe, ‘Laird of Camster’. (In much the same way as I am Tsar of All the Russias.)

Calon yn Tyfu obtained the woodland in 2007 . . . with an Objective One (Cydcoed) grant of £502,000 from Forestry Commission Wales! Just think about that – FCW gave public money to a gang of good-lifers so they could buy public property.

We know that Objective One funding was wasted in Wales thanks to the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru being ideologically opposed to enterprise and business, but there can be few examples of such blatant and indefensible waste.

In total, £18m was dished out under the FCW Cydcoed scheme. And what do we have to show for it?

Manordeifi community council was so unimpressed by the deal that it petitioned the Welsh Assembly which referred the matter to the Auditor General for Wales.

She concluded that no rules had been broken. Which might suggest it was no surprise that schemes for distributing Objective One cash wasted money.

The Auditor General also noted that, “Calon yn Tyfu have made a commitment to dedicate the site under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, which should allow public access to the woodland in perpetuity.”

I’ve searched the Calon Tyfu website but I can’t find any reference to such a commitment. Has it been made?

If not, then in 2027, the company will be able to sell off at a very handsome price what it was given for nothing. That said, ownership in all but name now seems to be exercised by Dutch bank Triodos N V.

Triodos first appeared on the scene in May 2013 with a loan enabling Calon yn Tyfu Cyf to buy Pontnewydd cottage and land nearby for £150,000. Here’s the title document.

In April 2015 Calon yn Tyfu went back to Triodos. This time taking out a loan against the Ffynone woodland. The title document tells us that in 2007 Calon yn Tyfu paid £460,000 for this forest (out of the £502,000 grant from Forestry Commission Wales).

I believe that the money borrowed from Triodos was used, later that year, to purchase Hen Parcau – where Calon yn Tyfu had always been based – for £225,000. That’s what the title document suggests. And although the loan was taken out in the name of the company the house is registered in the name of Robert David McDowell.

The third engagement with Triodos begins on 21 April, 2015, the same day as the second, but leads to a hearing at the County Court in Swansea in October, and what is described as a ‘Charles Court order’. (No doubt, someone will explain.)

This would appear to give Triodos a claim against the whole Calon yn Tyfu operation.

Now were that to happen, then McDowell would still have enjoyed the income from almost 20 years of forestry operations. And of course he would also have the dwelling, Hen Parcau, and the land around it. And it won’t have cost him a penny!

For their part, Dutch bank Triodos will be happy because they’ll own over 300 acres of Wales.

So, everybody’s a winner! Not quite, because of course we Welsh have lost out again. Not only have we lost a bit more of our homeland, but those useless bastards down in Corruption Bay paid somebody to take it over!

I’ve referred to Calon yn Tyfu as envirobollocks, and so it is. A pretentious precursor to the One Planet nonsense. How else are we to read:

“We are interested in working towards a sustainable future, survival cooperation is the concept of exploring what might be required to survive in a post-industrial world and exploring the process of cooperation that we  can start with now that will lead us towards a  sustainable path.”

“Post-industrial world”, be buggered! There are hundreds of thousands of Welsh families living in a post-industrial world of managed decline created by the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru, parties that have fallen over themselves to favour shysters like those we see at Calon yn Tyfu.

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Having mentioned OPDs I have to introduce ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson. And provide further proof that she is indeed the mother goddess of the OPD firmament, worshipped by those who toil below filling out grant application forms.

A good source tells me, “She (Davidson) does claim that she wrote OPD into TAN 6 expressly to help Lammas rather than interfere in their planning application directly as a then minister”.

What this means is that we suffer OPDs for no better reason than Jane Davidson wanted to help the eco-colonists at Lammas.

When it was suggested that Planning Policy Wales – which TAN 6 supplements –  could be used to help farm succession, Davidson is said to have sneered, “I didn’t write that policy for farmers!”. (With the emphasis on farmers.)

‘Dr’ Davidson became an Assembly Member in 1999. It’s reasonable to assume that she was acquainted with the crew at Calon yn Tyfu. Did she have a hand in this incredible waste of money?

GWYNFRYN

Now we head north to Plas Gwynfryn / Gwynfryn Plas, just outside Lloyd George’s village of Llanystumdwy on Llŷn. I’ve written about it a number of times in recent months so you might want to search for what I’ve written and catch up.

The old mansion ended up as a hotel and is now just a ruin following a fire in 1982. Some suggest the fire was arson.

Y Plas. Click to enlarge

A curious development has been this advert for 17 acres of woodland on the right-hand side of the drive leading up to the Plas. That is, opposite the gate house.

Because if we refer to the Land Registry title document, and scroll down to the plan, we see something odd. The strip in yellow cuts right across the drive, and as A2 in the title document talks of “a good and substantial stockproof fence” it suggests that the drive is effectively blocked! There is certainly no mention of a gate.

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Another curious feature is that no one in the area knows the owners of this 17 acres. They bought it less than a year ago and are selling it for less than they paid.

Though owner Keith Varley seems to be a genuine businessman with a number of companies to his name. Among them Glan Gors Training Ltd and Glan Gors Management Ltd. Digression alert!

Glan Gors rang a bell and so I checked, and yes, it is Glan Gors in Harlech; where my old mate, the late Barri Edwards, the busking harpist, used to live. Spent some time there. Got some good memories.

I remember calling one morning, planning to take Barri for a pint, but he was boycotting the local pubs (or possibly he was banned). So we sat there, him unshaven, in his underpants. By midday he was on his third can of Guinness. He looked at me and said, “I don’t understand why I can’t pull the women any more, Jac”.

I was lost for words. I just sat there and nodded. God bless you, Barri.

I have no idea why Varley and his partner bought the woodland in the first place or why they’re selling it. And as for the ‘stockproof’ fence across the driveway . . . your guess is as good as mine. I’m open to suggestions.

But it might have had a knock-on effect. Because reports tell that the owner of the land around the old pile, Philip Andrew Bush, of Kent, has been a busy boy of late. He has been harassing neighbours and threatening to knock down a wall that has been in place since 1948 so that he can open up what he claims is a right of way.

He made no answer when asked why he couldn’t use the driveway.

Philip Bush taking a photo of someone taking a photo of Philip Bush taking a photo of . . . Click to enlarge

The truth is of course that even if Bush had access via the driveway it would not be enough for the highways department to agree to the planned 30 residential units in the old Plas. Or perhaps that should read, on the site of the Plas, because it’s in a poor state of repair.

For planning permission to be given for 30 residential units when the only entrance / exit is so close to a junction is not going to happen. (Click here for image.) The council will insist on two entrances, or one entrance and one exit.

Another reason Bush insists on reclaiming his alleged right of way is to gain access to the old laundry, which he says he plans to renovate.

And the best of luck with that. First, because the old laundry has almost collapsed. Second, because it was purpose-built as a laundry, to serve the Plas, and has been used for no other purpose, which means a ‘change of use’ will probably be required.

Gwynfryn laundry. In estate agent jargon, ‘Ripe for renovation’. Click to enlarge

Regular readers will recall that Bush kept the Gwynfryn land after selling the old pile to his good buddy, Aaron Hill, who we’ve encountered before in connection with the crooks at Bryn Llys – who appear in the next section!

The word is that Hill has sold the chapel he was living in in Bontnewydd and his whereabouts are unknown. Though a dicky bird tells me that Hill and Bush have a project planned in Scotland, and that Hill might have already taken the high road.

I know I have readers in Scotland, so be on your guard for Aaron Hill and Philip Bush, two not-to-be-trusted Sassenachs.

I conclude this section with another curiosity. If you go to the Google map for Llanystumdwy, grab the little yellow man, and try to place him on the road that runs past the woodlands that are now for sale, and you’ll find that the road is somehow closed.

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I’m assured by locals that this stretch of road has always been visually ‘accessible’ on Google maps before. How strange!

BRYN LLYS

Never a dull moment with the Bryn Llys gang.

Let’s start with another court appearance, this one by erstwhile rocker Shane Baker, aka ‘ShakingShane’ (or variants thereof) when he wants to comment on newspaper reports.

He was up before the bench in Caernarfon on Monday last week charged with criminal damage caused whilst driving a large excavator from Bryn Llys to the main road where a buyer was collecting it. He might just be a poor driver or, more likely, this was another crude attempt to widen the access to Bryn Llys.

Baker’s fines and costs came to £660.

His boss, professional fraudster Jonathan Duggan, was in attendance. As was a barrister! For people with no money these buggers seem able to afford everything.

Duggan’s attempts to persuade authorities he’s a farmer continue. A source writes:

“Mr. Duggan has brought more animals onto Bryn Llys, cows, pigs and goats – he is probably going to claim that he is a farmer to justify his road. His goats have already broken a fence and escaped onto neighbouring land as there is no grass left at Bryn Llys.

The neighbouring land owner complained to the police that he was intimidated by a group of people from Bryn Llys and its collection of sheds and caravans as he and a helper returned the animals to the Bryn Llys land and repaired the fence.

I understand that a large police officer visited Bryn Llys over the incident and was subjected to a torrent of swearing and abuse by Mr. Duggan who was told that everything was being recorded by the officer’s camera and it would appear on the police log dealing with the Community Protection Notice warning already served on Mr. Duggan.

Bryn Llys has already had a visit from the RSPCA after someone who came to buy a horse was so shocked about conditions that they contacted the RSPCA. The place is overstocked with animals, hardly a blade of grass and the animal sheds are full of human beings.

What looks like a bird hide with windows has been erected by the lake which was recently dug – I expect that Bryn Llys will be claiming to be promoting wildlife after destroying much of the habitat.”

This report reminds us that quite a settlement is developing at Bryn Llys in various sheds and caravans. All crooks from over the border. How long will this be allowed to continue?

Oh, yes . . . the ‘bird hide’ blew down in last weekend’s storm.

But never mind all that, would you like a holiday at Bryn Llys? Or rather, Snowdon Summit View. You – yes, you – can “win a 3 or 4 night stay in our luxury holiday home in North Wales”. Here’s the Facebook page on which you’ll find the details.

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So if you want to spend a few days surrounded by criminals, kept awake at night by starving animals, enter the competition.

The blurb says, “set within 30 acres of woodland”. Actually, there is no woodland at all. In fact, there is hardly any grass – that’s why the animals break out onto neighbours’ land looking for something to eat.

Bryn Llys / Snowdon Summit View is a wasteland, a lunar landscape. The nearest trees are in a conifer plantation across the river on someone else’s property. Even the images used on the FB page make it clear there are no trees.

These bastards just can’t stop lying.

Though there is a funny side. Someone set up a phoney competition using the same details. Here’s the link.

This is appalling! Click to enlarge

I hope GogPlod has its finest detectives working on the case to protect the reputations of Jon Duggan, Shane Baker and the other shy and retiring souls at the Snowdon Summit View Meditation Centre.

A WANDERING SHYSTER I (after Gilbert & Sullivan)

I am indebted to a source in Powys for bringing to my attention a would-be impresario by the name of Darren Knipe. Darren has plans for the old library in Knighton.

For he organises things, events and the like. Every community should have a Darren. In fact, it seems that every community in Wales does have one, and at least one. They appear as if by magic when they sniff funding in the air.

As I say, Darren now has plans for Knighton’s old library. It’s all explained on the Facebook page. So let’s go through what it offers.

Darren plans, “an accredited training centre in Community Event Management”. To be funded by . . . The governments new scheme, kickstart . . . the lost generation of 16-25 yr olds . . . making over £3bn available to pay 6 months salary and training”.

Actually it’s £2bn across the UK, though the ‘Welsh Government’ is participating.

He continues . . . “We will be working with Welsh Council of Voluntary Associations (WCVA) as our gateway partner, and will use a mix of mortgages, loans, and Social Enterprise grants to purchase building and startup costs.”

No, Darren, it’s the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. Though this section does take us to the meat – loans, grants, etc.

This is clearly an opportunity that Knighton cannot miss, and Darren warns, “I can run this anywhere, and currently looking at Newtown and Welshpool as options, which will be Knighton’s loss.”

I don’t know how to break this to you, Darren, but I suspect you wouldn’t be missed if you carried out your threat.

Now the thing about Darren is that he has history in these imaginative schemes. Which means that when Darren talks grant-grabbing bollocks he does so with some authority.

Though his business career has not been a cloudless sky.

Last year there was the attempt at crowdfunding, which raised . . . sod all! The money was wanted to teach people how to party. No doubt he does a sideline teaching cats how to catch mice.

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In his favour, Darren does get about, though success is never a travelling companion.

A tool I use is 192.com and when I checked for Darren Knipe I came up with 14 results, 8 of which I suspect are him. His stay in Pembrokeshire ended in bankruptcy in 2003 or 2004.

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From there he seems to have moved up to Aberystwyth before operating for a while at Llandegla, just west of Wrecsam. I’m told another bankruptcy or insolvency resulted.

In Llandegla we find Datcloud Ltd, where his partner was a Duncan Charles Ion. The company was formed in August 2014, with Knipe making it to the lifeboat in August 2015 before the good ship Datcloud went down.

Another information technology launch that had them quaking in Silicon Valley was Hootso Ltd. It filed as a dormant company and was eventually put down earlier this year.

Then there’s Dark Olive CIC. (The CIC he refers to on Facebook?) Now, chwarae teg, the latest accounts show a gross profit of £33,985.82, but it was almost all swallowed up in salaries, expenses and other running costs.

The website seems a little ‘threadbare’, as if he had one gig in 2018 and that was it.

The latest venture in which he’s involved, set up in March, is Robins Retreat Ltd, which sees our hero team up with the eponymous Robin Wealleans of Llanybydder. They can rest easy in Silicon Valley and Hollywood because this latest venture is in the holiday business.

Though anyone who thinks there are mountains in Carmarthenshire really should stop taking whatever makes him imagine them. It’s as bad as Duggan’s woodland.

“Mountains of West Wales”! Click to enlarge

In addition to Robins Retreat Ltd there is also Robins Realm Ltd, but Knipe is not involved in this one. Though I would have expected to see him on board another of Wealleans’ new companies as it could be named for him – My Catastrophe Ltd.

Listen to me, Darren . . . stop fantasising about being Knighton’s (publicly-funded) Jean-Michel Jarre and just get a real bloody job.

CONCLUSION

Was any country that hadn’t been militarily invaded and taken over ever cursed with so many undesirable outsiders?

But they come, and they keep coming, because we have politicians that encourage some of these buggers and do nothing to stop the others. Worse, they even fund them!

♦ end ♦

 




Housing in Wales

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

The title tells you what this week’s article is about. I’m going to look at how the picture has changed in the past few years.

THE BIG PICTURE

Obviously, there are different types of housing, from mansions like Jac o’ the North Towers to more modest owner-occupied properties; then we have social rent properties, and properties rented from private landlords.

So let’s start by looking at how types of tenure have changed over the past two decades. (The year up to March 31, 2001 is the earliest I can find on the StatsWales website.)

The table I’ve drawn up is fairly self-explanatory. ‘Registered Social Landlord’ (RSL) is of course the official term for housing associations.

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The headline figure is that there are 163,067 more dwellings or housing units in 2020 than there were in 2001. Though in the same period the population rose from 2,910,232 to 3,152,879, while the average household size fell from 2.36 to 2.26.

In fact, if we multiply the total number of housing units by the average household size we arrive at a figure of 3,248,901.42. Almost a hundred thousand more than the population estimate. But of course calculations are complicated by people living in care homes, prisons and other institutions. And then there are holiday homes. And properties that have just been abandoned, where it’s often difficult to track the owner.

So, all things considered – and without taking my socks off to do some really serious figuring! – we have roughly the same availability of housing in relation to demand as we had twenty years ago. Maybe things are worse.

Something else we can extract from the table is that in 2001 19% of Welsh properties were social rents, whereas the figure today is just 16%.

But perhaps the biggest change has been the doubling in the percentage of properties now rented from private landlords.

If current trends continue then very soon more people, more families, will rent from private landlords than from councils and housing associations combined. This of course is what the Conservatives want, but why is it happening in ‘progressive’ Wales?

SOCIAL HOUSING

In 2001 we had 242,853 units of social housing. By 2020 this had fallen to 229,902, a decrease of 12,951. Found in this table.

Partly explained by 34,829 units being sold in this period under the Right to Buy legislation introduced in 1980 by the first Thatcher government, with this later supplemented by Right to Acquire.

Though offset by the building of 21,878 social rented housing units in the same period. Just over 1,000 a year.

Right to Acquire is Englandandwales legislation introduced by the Blair government and in operation from 18 January, 2005. Explained more fully here.

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At this point I should tell you that not all sales of social housing are accounted for by Right to Buy and Right to Acquire because this table tells us there have also been sales of “non-social housing”. Though I don’t understand why the figure for this category is only shown from 2013 – 2014. Though there’s certainly been a steady increase since then.

Building just over one thousand social housing units a year must be considered a failure after two decades of socialist administrations in Cardiff Bay. Especially when we remember that in 1979 – 1980 (immediately before Right to Buy was introduced) Welsh local authorities built 3,322 new council homes. (RSLs built a further 377.)

And a thousand a year looks even less impressive when we remember that in the period of devolution a couple of billion pounds in capital grant funding has been given to an ever-expanding galaxy of housing associations.

In the past five years alone, £574 million pounds of Social Housing Grant (SHG) has been paid to housing associations. Wales & West, Labour’s favourite, has seen £61m of it.

SHG is not the only capital grant paid. There’s also the Housing Finance Grant.

I’ve drawn up a table for SHG payments you can view by clicking here. It’s quite a big table, so please have patience.

(I should add that while the bottom line is correct I can’t vouch for every figure in every column. I may have made a mistake or two in transcribing them. So here are the figures I received.)

While the amount paid in SHG from 2015 – 2016 to 2019 – 2020 was 20% more than for the previous five years the stock of social rented housing increased in the same period by less than 2%.

We know that housing association executives like to pay themselves big salaries, and drive fancy company cars . . . shiny new offices are a must . . . and how can they miss out on all the conferences and other jollies, but these could never account for the increasing gulf between funding received and social housing built.

Something else must be going on.

If nothing else, Wales is following England in providing less social rented housing. So much for Rhodri Morgan’s, “clear red water”. So much for, “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”.

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The Tories came to power in 2010, and that’s when the decline started. Clearly, the Labour management team in Corruption Bay is following Conservative directives when it comes to social rented housing.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

If we take the period 2014 – 2015 to 2019 – 2020 we see that it covers important changes in the way RSLs are regulated, and also how they operate.

I’m sure most people didn’t notice, but in the past five years Welsh housing associations were originally private bodies, were then made public, before being privatised again.

It was the Office for National Statistics that decided they should be public bodies due to the amount of public funding they were receiving. Plus the political involvement. But making them public bodies transferred their debts to the public ledger and so the parliaments in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff quickly privatised them again.

It’s explained clearly and succinctly in the article below from Inside Housing, just click on it to make it readable. (Here’s a link to the original article.)

I bet you’re thinking . . . ‘If housing associations are now private companies, why are they still getting lashings of public funding?’ Funding that, as we’ve seen, has greatly increased since they were ‘re-privatised’!

The answer is that they’ve branched out into building private housing.

To such an extent that, in addition to the public funding, our housing associations are also taking out private loans with various financial institutions.

Here’s a report from May of United Welsh of Caerphilly, which has just 6,000 properties, borrowing £50m from Scottish Widows.

In July we learnt Coastal Housing Group of Swansea had entered into a £250m ‘refinancing’ deal with Aviva Investors.

In August, Cadwyn Housing Association of Cardiff did a deal with Westbourne Capital Partners of Chicago.

And other housing associations have done similar deals with organisations much sharper than them in the ways of the financial world. I do hope they’ve read the small print.

Though I suppose the only real collateral housing associations have is their housing stock. If they default, does this mean that Welsh social housing stock gets taken over by lenders? Or will the ‘Welsh Government’ step in with yet more money?

Talking of the ‘Welsh Government’, if RSLs need money for investment, why can’t they go to the Development Bank of Wales (DBW), which is already lending to other builders, many from over the border?

So let’s recap. Housing associations, now private bodies, still receive increasing amounts of public funding. Yet they also enter into arrangements with financial institutions around the world. And let’s not forget that the other major source of income – perhaps the major source – is rents from the housing stock they own. Most of which came free as stock transfers from local authorities.

Another noteworthy feature in this period is that most if not all of our housing associations have set up subsidiary companies, or companies that are not subsidiaries but still part of the group.

SUBSIDIARIES, PARTNERS, PRIVATE HOUSING

An example would be the relationship between Ateb (formerly Pembrokeshire Housing Association) and Mill Bay Homes Ltd (MBH). The latter, despite being a separate company, is a “wholly controlled subsidiary company of Ateb Group Ltd”.

The arrangement is that MBH builds and sells market properties and the profits go to parent company Ateb to build social housing or ‘affordable homes’. Which might be fine if Mill Bay Homes had its own money . . . but it hasn’t, it relies on loans from Ateb.

Which means that the ‘Welsh Government’ funds a RSL to build social housing but the money in fact goes to a subsidiary to build open market homes (that most locals may not be able to afford) with a fraction of the original money returning to the parent company.

What is the point of such a system?

While Mill Bay Homes is a company registered with Companies House the Ateb Group is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

As we’ve seen with other housing associations, the Ateb Group has also borrowed money recently. Last month from the Principality Building Society. Back in July it was a loan of £18m from bLEND Funding PLC.

Officially, a cash security trust deed.

Click to enlarge

Eighteen bloody million! How much does a relatively small, rural housing association need? It’s already getting money from the ‘Welsh Government’, and seems to have stopped providing social rented housing.

A visit to the Ateb Group website turns up what you see below. Quite clearly, Ateb is now a private house builder with social rented accommodation an afterthought.

Click to enlarge

Click on ‘homes for sale’ and you of course get taken to the Mill Bay Homes website.

And there seem to be some rum doings between the two.

I am indebted to Wynne Jones in Cardigan for these documents from the Land Registry website (from which I have redacted a few names in the second).

A property on this development in Cilgerran (Ceredigion) was built by MBH, with money borrowed from Ateb, then sold to Ateb for £164,950 in October 2019; the following month Ateb sold a 125-year lease on the property for £57,733.

What business model is this?

Mill Bay Homes makes no secret of the fact that it’s punting for retirees and ‘investors’. The latter category will include Buy-to-Rent landlords, and whaddya know – one of the new Cilgerran properties is already being advertised for rent.

Plot 3 at Maes Rheithordy, Cilgerran, is being rented for £670 per calendar month through Jac y Do Letting of Blaenporth.

A similar arrangement to that between Ateb and Mill Bay Homes exists in Gwynedd between Adra (formerly Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd), which took over Gwynedd council’s housing stock some ten years ago, and its subsidiary, Medra Cyf.

A few days ago Adra put out this puff about building 1,200 new homes across ‘North Wales’. The “housing crisis” referred to is perhaps the lack of housing for commuters in the A55 corridor.

Click to enlarge

The subsidiary that will be doing much of the building is Medra . . . with a loan from Adra.

This loan between a Welsh RSL and its subsidiary was arranged by London law firm Trowers & Hamlins. I’ve seen that name in other loans I’ve looked at. Are there no lawyers in Wales?

Of course there are, so who’s directing them to that company?

Also worth highlighting from recent years, in addition to the proliferation of subsidiaries, is the strange partnerships we see being forged.

For an example of this we stay in the north, with Cartrefi Conwy, based in Abergele.

I’ve written about this lot a few times. Below you’ll read what I had to say earlier this year, in Housing Associations, a broken model. The Byzantine network of ‘partners’ also throws up a mystery investor.

“Cartrefi Conwy set up a subsidiary in 2015 called Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company). Then, in May 2018, Creating Enterprise went into partnership with Brenig Developments Ltd to form Calon Homes. (Assets at 31 May 2019 £37,853.)

From the Creating Enterprise CIC accounts for y/e 31 March 2019. Click to enlarge

As I wrote back in November: “There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.”

When we look at the directors for Brenig Developments Ltd we find Mark Timothy Parry and Howard Rhys Vaughan. Both are also directors of Brenig Homes Ltd.”

Another horse out of the Brenig stable is Brenig Construction Ltd. Just another local building firm, run by local people . . . so impeccably local in fact that it could have come from League of Gentlemen.

But then, in December last year, a new director joined, a man who might have been taking his life in his hands if he’d turned up in the Royston Vasey shop.

I’m referring now to Yin Han, a Chinese businessman, presumably bringing a lot of yuan. For when I say Chinese businessman I do not mean that he hails from Hong Kong or Taiwan. Yin Han is a resident and citizen of the People’s Republic of China.

How did Yin Han and Brenig Construction find each other? What do we know about him? I guarantee he did not get involved with Brenig Construction without permission from back home. And that means the Communist Party.

These subsidiaries and partners, together with the loans and investment, are needed to build private housing for sale on the open market.

But housing associations are now private entities, so why do they need subsidiaries and partners to build open market housing? Surely they could do it in their own names?

Of course they could, but that would make it too obvious and probably jeopardise the public funding. So we have this charade of public money for social housing being given to RSLs and then filtered through intermediaries to build private housing.

And the ‘Welsh Government’ is a willing party to this deception.

‘AFFORDABLE HOUSING’

As a student of history, I’ve always loved Palmerston’s quote: “Only three people have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business – the Prince Consort, who is dead – a German professor, who has gone mad – and I, who have forgotten all about it.”

It comes to mind when I see the term ‘affordable housing’. Because there’s a great deal of confusion as to what it means.

It’s important to get a definition because it’s what RSLs now claim to be building, and what the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ is funding.

Is the ‘Welsh Government’ really proud of these figures? And ‘Rent to own’ in fact offers people a share of a lease! Click to enlarge

When I contacted the ‘Welsh Government’ I was referred to a publication wherein was found . . .

“The concept of affordability is generally defined as the ability of households or potential households to purchase or rent property that satisfies the needs of the household without subsidy (further guidance is provided in the Local  Housing Market Assessment Guide) 7 This could be based on an assessment of the ratio of household income or earnings to the price of property to buy or rent available in the open market in the required local housing market area.”

Which is interesting, and for two reasons.

If the concept of affordability is based on what local people on local wages can afford, then why is ‘affordable housing’ not reserved for those same local people? I ask because all the term means in practice is that a few properties in a development are labelled ‘affordable’ – but still put on the open market.

And if a small number of properties in a development are classed as ‘affordable’ then it must follow that the majority of the properties are regarded as unaffordable to most locals. So why are we building so many properties – with public funding! – beyond the reach of most local buyers?

The woolly term ‘affordable housing’ is just a fig leaf for the ‘Welsh Government’ and RSLs to disguise the fact that very little social housing is being delivered.

We are encouraged to believe that ‘affordable housing’ is for local people, or that it means social rented properties. Wrong.

CONCLUSION

This system, as I’ve argued before, is broken. It is broken because it consumes vast amounts of Welsh public funding for little or no Welsh public benefit.

Another cause for concern is that just as many third sector bodies are agencies of the Labour Party a similar picture emerges with housing associations.

In fact, housing associations and third sector bodies operate hand in glove, with the former housing the disruptive ‘clients’ of the latter, many of whom have been shipped into Wales. It’s collaboration like this that contributes to the problems we’ve looked at in Tyisha, Llanelli.

‘Welsh’ Labour’s little empire; stuffed with cronies and others dependent on political patronage and public handouts.

Take Wales & West, which I’ve referred to as Labour’s favourite. The CEO is Anne Hinchey, whose hubby Graham is a Labour Councillor in Cardiff. This explains why Wales & West has pulled down £100m in Social Housing Grant alone in the past decade.

And yet, let us remember that the reason the Office for National Statistics decided to put housing associations into the public sector was because there was so much governmental control!

As the June 2018 article from Inside Housing I reproduced above put it,

“In a letter to the Welsh Government sent yesterday, the ONS left open the possibility to reclassify individual associations as public should the level of state control increase.”

A strong case could be made for reclassifying a number of Welsh housing associations. Certainly Wales & West.

Where do we go from here?

I suggest that it starts with making it clear we do not want housing associations to build properties for sale to Home Counties retirees in Pembrokeshire, or to Manchester commuters in Denbighshire.

The sole duty of Welsh housing associations must be to deliver homes to Welsh people at sales prices or rents WE can afford.

If they are unable or unwilling to fulfil that role then I believe we should let our local councils provide social rented housing. Ensure they are well enough funded to provide decent accommodation to any and all local people wanting it. And make strong local connections the over-riding consideration in allocating those properties.

Then cut all funding to housing associations, which are, after all, private companies. Let them borrow from private lenders – as they are already doing – and cease being a burden on the public purse.

Whatever is decided, the present system is broken. Changes must be made. Even if you think this doesn’t affect you, just think what we could do with the money saved!

♦ end ♦

 

 




Elections, May 2021

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

The next elections for the Welsh Parliament are just over six months away; so this week I’m taking a break from crooks, money-launderers, con men, enviroshysters, third sector leeches to focus on politicians.

Reading that, the cynics among you will say, “So no great change there, then, Jac!”.

How dare you be so disrespectful of our tribunes! Go stand in the corner!

THE 2016 RESULT

Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the overall result from the previous election in 2016.

‘Abolish the Welsh’ refers to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party, a harmless bunch of anti-Welsh cranks not a gang of loonies bent on genocide. Well not yet, anyway. Click to enlarge

The first thing you might notice is that despite these elections being organised under a system of proportional representation the result, certainly for Labour, the biggest party, gives an outcome not a lot different to first past the post.

You’ll also see that the main challengers get seats roughly in line with their share of the vote, with the smaller parties generally losing out. It’s a system designed to protect the Labour-dominated status quo in Wales, while also stifling ‘insurgent’ parties.

This system has worked to perfection in Wales because the Conservatives are unlikely to ever gain a majority of seats. And when Labour fails to get a majority then Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats will always be there to help.

After the 2016 election Labour went into coalition with the sole Liberal Democrat AM. Which meant that parties with a total of 38% of the vote were able to form an administration.

Is this really how PR is supposed to work?

THE LABOUR PARTY

At the risk of sounding uncharitable, the great thing the Labour Party has had going for it is . . . not being the Conservative Party. The advertising campaigns, the policy drafting, the tub-thumping and the sloganising could all have been ignored in favour of the simple message – ‘Vote for us, cos we’re not the Tories’.

And it’s worked, for almost a century.

In England, the decline of traditional industries, and their associated trade unions, have weakened the Labour Party. Labour in Scotland suffered the same problem, exacerbated by the rise of the Scottish National Party to the point where Labour is hanging on for dear life, with just one Westminster MP left.

In Wales, Labour has fared better because we’ve been spared the corrupting influence of prosperity, and also because there is no equivalent of the SNP. Of course, Plaid Cymru likes to view itself as the Welsh SNP but the SNP set out to destroy the Labour Party in Scotland whereas Plaid Cymru seeks to keep its Welsh branch alive and in power.

How Labour will do next May depends to a considerable extent on perceptions of the Conservative government in London. For while Scotland has a vigorous national media allowing elections to be influenced by Scottish issues, the absence of a Welsh media worthy of the name means that here we tend see Englandandwales elections.

The exception being perhaps areas with high numbers of Welsh speakers who are less reliant on news from London.

On issues of the day, there is a general and widespread belief that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than Johnson, Hancock, Jenrick and the rest of the gang up in London.

But then, being seen as less incompetent than that crew is no great achievement.

When we address purely Welsh issues, it’s difficult to think of anything Labour has to crow about. For Wales continues to fall behind other countries in areas like wealth, health, housing and education.

Cardiff seems to be prospering but away from the Lesser Wen the country can be divided into post-industrial areas experiencing managed decline and rural areas undergoing engineered population change from Welsh to English.

Labour leader, Mark Drakeford, is less oleaginous than his predecessor, Carwyn Jones, but still a difficult man to like. Despite the Brownie points gained for Covid-19 there remain plenty of bear traps for him to negotiate between here and next May.

By any criteria one cares to apply, Labour has been a failure since 2016. Labour has failed Wales since the dawn of devolution in 1999. But for the reasons I’ve given, Labour will still emerge as the largest single party, with around 30% of the vote.

But well short of a majority of seats.

If nothing else, such a result should increase calls for more Senedd Members and a system of true proportional representation.

THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY (CUP)

The last few years have been a series of peaks and troughs for the CUP, with Brexit almost tearing the party apart under Theresa May. Things took a turn for the better when Boris Johnson became party leader and won a famous victory in December . . . since when it’s been downhill again.

In last December’s election the Tories won a number of seats in the north, most notably, Wrexham, held by Labour since 1931. But the overall vote in Wales only increased by 2.5%. The real story was that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party saw its Welsh vote go down by 8%.

Things have not gone well for the CUP since that December election for all sorts of reasons. Such as a number of the new intake being pretty odious specimens.

The new MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosby, has appeared on this blog a number of times, usually defending her colleague and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry. Berry owns properties around Rhoscolyn and earlier this year people were asking if he was breaking lockdown restrictions to travel between his Welsh properties, his London home, and his constituency.

Then Delyn MP Rob Roberts got into trouble for asking young staffers to “fool around with him”. While Wrexham new girl, Sarah Atherton, wondered why the military weren’t dealing with the refugee/migrant boats crossing from France.

While old favourites like Alun Cairns, the MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, continue to amaze with their talent for finding little sidelines to supplement their meagre incomes.

The situation does not look like improving for the Tories, for two main reasons.

Let’s look first at Covid-19. As I said in the previous section, the Conservative government in London has had a disastrous pandemic: incompetence, lies, contracts to cronies, it’s all there, and this will be remembered next May.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Tories seem determined to alienate even more people by insisting that the ‘Welsh Government’ is being anti-English when – for perhaps the first time ever – it prioritises the interests of Wales.

That’s certainly what was said by Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, and Alun Cairns. Which makes them either complete bell-ends or calculating politicians.

I believe it’s the latter, because in spouting this nonsense, the Tories are playing to a particular gallery. I’m thinking now of the anti-Welsh, gammony element that might otherwise be seduced by the growing number of splinter group parties on the BritNat fringe. (I’ll come to them later.)

The other problem of their own making is, again, Brexit. Of course Wales voted for Brexit, but I’m sure very few of us voted for privatising the NHS, chlorinated chicken, and undermining the Welsh farming industry. I certainly didn’t.

But it’s now become clear that a No Deal Brexit was always the favoured option for the CUP leadership in London. Which will mean the City of London remains at the centre of the biggest money-laundering network in the world; the NHS is opened up to US Big Pharma; and we have to get used to food products from the USA, where standards in both hygiene and animal welfare are more ‘relaxed’.

All the Welsh CUP MPs voted for this deal. Which is not clever for people representing constituencies with large numbers of farmers . . . and their extended families . . . and contractors to the industry, and so many others who rely to a greater or lesser degree on agriculture for their livelihoods.

There will be a price to pay next May for the coronavirus cock-ups and the shafting of our farmers. And while the Tories in Corruption Bay weren’t responsible, it’ll be some of them who’ll pay the price.

Other factors working against the Conservatives will be the Englandandwales media/election paradigm and the Vera Lynn Fan Clubs competing for regional votes.

For all these reasons I expect the CUP representation in the Welsh Parliament to fall.

PLAID CYMRU THE PARTY OF WALES

Although Plaid Cymru won 12 seats in 2016 the party is now down to 10. Lord Elis Thomas, the constituency member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, left to become a Labour-supporting Independent; and Neil McEvoy, the regional AM for South Wales Central, left to sit as an Independent before forming the Welsh National Party (WNP).

A further change since 2016 is that Plaid Cymru also has a new leader in Adam Price. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about him is that he’s not former leader, Leanne Wood.

For most Welsh voters Plaid Cymru is the party of Welsh independence, but as I’ve argued, Plaid Cymru is a party that sought more autonomy for Wales, more funding for Wales, and the creation of a new class of politicians and administrators made up of . . . well, the kind of people who populate the upper echelons of Plaid Cymru.

This was to be a system that created a new class that Djilas would have recognised enjoying prestige and influence without the responsibility of having to fund it. Devolution, with a bit more power, many more sinecures, and lots more money, is the end of the line.

Plaid Cymru was always Cymru Fydd resurrected, not a Welsh Sinn Féin. Until, that is, it moved to the left in the 1980s and really screwed itself up. Enjoying only a brief period of coherence under the leadership of Dafydd Wigley and the first Assembly elections in 1999.

Today we again see a schizophrenic party where Welsh-speaking social conservatives from the rural heartlands mix uncomfortably with some real oddballs and a few with views that should have denied them membership.

Plaid Cymru is today one of those confused leftist parties that is vehemently opposed to intolerance . . . except when it’s those it approves of being intolerant.

As a leftist party Plaid Cymru believes that, thanks to the capitalist system, we’re either going to fry due to global warming, or else we’re going to drown from rising sea levels, so Wales must play its part in trying to avert these outcomes.

In practice, that means supporting wind turbines that create no jobs and simply exploit Wales. Where profits flow to a City hedge fund, or a multinational, or a state-owned energy company from Scandinavia.

Except on issues that are largely irrelevant to Wales – where Plaid Cymru can play gesture politics – the party comes across as weak and indecisive. Take holiday homes. Plaid talks the talk but it won’t walk the walk.

At present Welsh local authorities can impose a council tax surcharge on holiday homes up to 100%. The only council that levies the 100% is Labour-controlled Swansea. (And despite what you might think, there are many holiday homes on the waterfront, in Mumbles, and of course around Gower.)

Independent-run Powys recently voted to impose a surcharge of 75%.

But Gwynedd, where Plaid Cymru is in control, imposes only a 50% surcharge. It’s a similar picture in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

On independence, Plaid Cymru has been outflanked and overtaken by Yes Cymru. While on the party political front there are two new challengers in the form of Gwlad and the Welsh National Party (WNP). Both are unequivocal about prioritising Welsh interests, and are fully committed to achieving independence.

So you really have to wonder what Plaid Cymru stands for nowadays, and where it’s going. That’s certainly what Welsh voters will be doing in May. Many will conclude that Plaid Cymru has hit the buffers.

Which certainly seems to be the case.

For while opinion polls tell us that more and more people are prepared to consider independence, those same polls show little or no increase in support for Plaid Cymru. Recent polls show 51% of Labour voters prepared to consider independence, but only 71% of Plaid Cymru voters!

What’s going wrong for Plaid Cymru?

In a nutshell, Plaid Cymru believes that the only acceptable vision of independence must be well to the left of centre, pro EU, in favour of open borders, anti Trump, and dragging a whole baggage train of ishoo-of-the-month idiocies that turn off most voters.

Dogmatic to the point of being unelectable.

Plaid Cymru always failed to engage with the urban, anglophone population. After the disappointment of Brexit, the success of the Brexit Party (winning the May 2019 EU elections in Wales and the UK), and BoJo’s victory last December, many in Plaid Cymru – like the US Democrats – have given up trying to win over stupid, racist, poor whites.

They find it preferable to retreat into their cocoons of progressive self-righteousness in the echo chamber of social media.

Which is why I believe Plaid Cymru will lose Ceredigion and also end up with fewer Members from the regional lists.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

There’s a temptation to be very unkind in this section . . . but it’s not in my nature to put the boot in when somebody’s down. And boy! are the Liberal Democrats down.

Down to a single Member, Kirsty Williams, the constituency MS for Brecon and Radnorshire. After the debacle of 2016 Ms Williams threw in her lot with Labour and became Minister for Education. You probably haven’t noticed.

It’s an amazing decline for the party of David Lloyd George, but entirely predictable when we consider the quality of leaders and representatives in recent years at both Welsh and UK level. I’m not sure if Ms Williams holds group meetings with herself but I’m sure she will have thought the same thing many a time.

And yet, despite currently being down to a solitary representative, the Liberal Democrats could be the big winners in May next year.

As I’ve suggested, the CUP has pissed off a lot of people, and most certainly a lot of farmers. Few will know that better than Kirsty Williams, a farmer’s wife.

Obviously, I’m not privy to what goes on at Welsh Liberal Democrat Party meetings (I can never find the telephone kiosk!) but I’m sure Kirsty Williams has hopes for the seats of Montgomeryshire to the north and Ceredigion to the west. (If the students in Aber’ and Lampeter have forgiven the Lib Dems for reneging on tuition fees.)

So I’m predicting that the Liberal Democrats could double, or even treble, their representation in May 2021. These are the three constituencies mentioned, and there might even be a regional list seat.

VERA LYNN FAN CLUBS

This is where it gets tricky, because the landscape on the BritNat right is forever shifting. Hardly surprising when we look at the personalities involved, and realise how many of them are often described as ‘interesting’, or ‘eccentric’ (code for ‘absolute nutter’).

Back in 2016, the big winner among this section of the electorate was UKIP, with 13% of the vote and seven seats. The Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party did not stand constituency candidates and got just 4.4% of the regional vote (which was still more than the share won by the Green Party of Englandandwales).

Since 2016 UKIP has had eight or nine UK leaders, numerous resignations, and in Corruption Bay is now reduced to the solitary – but dapper – form of Neil Hamilton. In fact, I’m not sure if Neil Hamilton isn’t the current party leader. Or was that last month?

Not so long ago the Abolish lot was the fringe of a fringe, but now it boasts two Members of the Senedd, Gareth Bennett and Mark Reckless. Though you’ve gotta be pretty desperate to boast about those two.

Others who were returned under the banner of British exceptionalism were Nathan Gill, Michelle Brown, David Rowlands and Caroline Jones. Following his resignation in 2018 Gill was replaced by Mandy Jones. Michelle Brown now sits as an Independent.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at those UKIP meetings because by comparison ferrets in a sack are models of harmony and co-existence.

The most recent development is that Rowlands and the Jones women have formed a new group, the Independent Alliance for Reform. And if that name doesn’t stir something deep inside you – other than wind – then you are beyond hope.

It is obviously designed to be interchangeable with or to complement Aux barricades!

And all the while, in the wings, observing, is Nigel Farage. Will his Reform Party put in a late appearance, or will it be the promised relaunch of the Brexit Party? Though with Brexit almost done what would be the platform?

For let us remember that the Assembly elections of May 2016 were held just ahead of the EU referendum and were almost overshadowed by it. This propinquity benefited Ukip.

One thing’s for sure, if all the parties we’ve looked at in this section fight all the seats then we’ll be royally entertained by the stars they’ll recruit from Wetherspoons and other squelchy underfoot salons. A goodly number of whom will have to withdraw before the election after saying or doing something really stupid.

The BritNat right has no hope of a constituency seat, so hopes rest on the regional lists. Which means that a lot will depend on whether they fight each other or come to some arrangement.

I suspect there are still enough “Brexit means Brexit” types out there to win 3 seats.

THE SERIOUS ABOUT WALES PARTIES

Looking around Wales and seeing the mess this country is in is painful enough, but when you realise that none of the existing parties offers any hope of meaningful change, then new parties will be formed.

And that’s exactly what’s happened; and why we have Gwlad and the WNP.

I am a member of Gwlad and played a small part in its creation, but it was easy for me to withdraw to the blogosphere because the party is in such capable hands.

I like to think that Gwlad combines patriotism with pragmatism. For example, in believing that relying on handouts from London, as Labour and Plaid Cymru prefer, only perpetuates the misconception that Wales could never stand on her own two feet economically.

There are radical yet practical proposals across the board. We’ve already touched on Plaid Cymru’s fear of upsetting second home owners – a number in their own ranks – with meaningful levels of council tax; well, Gwlad does not hesitate to demand a 500% council tax surcharge.

It’s all here in the Manifesto for 2021.

Predictably, the criticism levelled against Gwlad by Plaid Cymru is that we shall “split the nationalist vote”. This is nonsense, because Plaid Cymru has already split – or certainly, limited – the nationalist vote by its inflexible and off-putting socialism.

This is borne out in recent elections and in even more so in recent opinion polls.

What Gwlad will do is reach out to those who want, or would be prepared to consider, independence, but could never vote for a hard-line socialist party also lumbered with the tag of still being a party only for Welsh speakers.

Gwlad could come through a crowded field to win a constituency seat and should certainly collect 3 or 4 regional list seats.

Of course, I’ve met Neil McEvoy a few times and we exchange the occasional e-mail, Wales is a small country after all. But I really don’t know much about his new party beyond what I read in the media.

Though I do know a few others involved with the WNP.

Over the years I’ve sunk a few pints with Councillor Keith Parry . . . and I’m still haunted by a car journey one very rainy night as I tried to concentrate on the road ahead while my mate and Keith’s Jewish wife argued over the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum.

I feared it was all going to end in a fight and a fireball car crash. Phew!

Many observers try to say that Neil McEvoy only took the course he did in forming the WNP because he was effectively thrown out of Plaid Cymru. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Neil has been in politics a long time, and he knows what’s wrong with Wales. On one level it’s London’s political, economic and cultural stranglehold, but on the local level it’s the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru.

Labour holds power on local councils and in the Senedd . . . simply to be in power; to stop someone else getting the salaries and the expenses, attending the bun-fights and the jollies. Labour has little intention – and no real incentive – to improve the lives of our people because for a century it has capitalised on Wales’ deprivation.

Plaid Cymru, as I’ve said, is a party of gestures and abstractions. It is the twenty-first century political equivalent of those medieval divines who would argue over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

But actually doing anything? Forget it!

But if one of his constituents persuades him they’re getting a raw deal, then Neil McEvoy will take up the case and demand something be done about it. And he sometimes ruffles feathers doing it. But if kids are sharing a bedroom with rats, or there’s water rippling down the kitchen wall . . .

Neil McEvoy is a do-er, a man who believes in the direct approach; and that makes the anguished attitudinisers of Plaid Cymru very nervous. And never more so than when he confronts the Labour Party.

On two major issues, the ‘nuclear mud’ being dumped off Cardiff, and the forged signatures on cladding certificates, Plaid Cymru has behaved abominably. None worse than Llywydd Elin Jones. But she couldn’t have behaved as she did without the backing of Labour and Plaid Cymru.

Sticking it to the man may outrage the sensitive flowers of Plaid Cymru but it goes down well with real people, on the streets of Cardiff, and elsewhere in Wales. People want their problems solved, they do not want to be patronised, or taken for granted, by an aloof and self-serving political class.

The big test will come in the constituency seat of Cardiff West, where McEvoy will be standing against First Minister Drakeford. Plaid Cymru will of course be splitting the nationalist vote in the hope of securing victory for Mark Drakeford.

Neil McEvoy’s street cred and his sheer hard work might win Cardiff West next May, plus a couple of regional list seats.

My very personal belief is that Gwlad and the WNP should not get in each other’s way next May. Neither has the strength yet to fight a full national election so it’s in their interests, and more importantly, it’s in Wales’s interests, for there to be some kind of deal.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I obviously can’t account for all those who might be standing next May, there’s bound to be a wild card or two. But what you’ve just read is how I see it panning out.

Other factors will I’m sure influence voters. Perhaps the UK government’s Internal Markets Bill; supposedly about ‘repatriating’ powers from the EU but which, in reality, gives BoJo’s gang the power to trample all over devolution.

Perhaps it will even be used to challenge the 1707 Act of Union.

More specific to Wales is a growing awareness of and dislike for the chumminess of Cardiff Bay. The air of cronyism and unaccountability exemplified by Labour and Plaid Cymru refusing to bring in a register of lobbyists.

The problem in this area is obvious, but there are always excuses for doing nothing. This is because Labour and Plaid Cymru are too close to those who might be held to account by such legislation.

Another issue that might influence some voters to take a punt on a new party is the widespread perception that Cardiff gets everything. Which doesn’t change when an MS goes to Cardiff promising to speak up for his area . . . only to be sucked into the swamp that is Corruption Bay.

But perhaps we should remember Harold Macmillan’s response when asked what was most likely to influence or derail political plans. Supermac is said to have replied: “Events, dear boy, events.”

In other words, that which cannot be foreseen. Six months is a very long time in politics.

♦ end ♦

 




Miscellany 14.10.2020

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 week we’re back to the Miscellany format, with a mixture of updates and new reports. It’s big, but broken up into digestible chunks.

GWYNFRYN 

To make sense of this section you’ll need to know what has preceded it. So if you haven’t read the previous issues I suggest you start with ‘Residential units’ – how many is too many?. This was followed with an update in Poor Wales: magnet for property spivs, fraudsters, and enviroshysters.

What remains of the Gwynfryn estate of Hugh John Ellis-Nanney near Llanystumdwy has been split. Philip Andrew Bush has retained the land for himself after selling the shell of the house – which was badly damaged by fire in 1982 – to his good friend Aaron Hill, with whom Bush stays when he visits the area.

Bush needs accommodation because he may live in Kent, or he may live somewhere more exotic, where vitamin D deficiency is unlikely to trouble the locals. I suggest this possibility because Bush has been associated with a number of companies registered in locations where a very laid back approach is found to keeping records and obeying the law.

We are now asked to believe that this listed building Bush sold to Hill is to be given new life with ’30 residential units’. You can view the rudimentary plans here. The more I learn about this project the less sure I am that much, if anything, of the old building will be re-used.

I say that for a number of reasons.

First, the building has been treated with contempt by Bush and those he has allowed to use it. In the previous posting I mentioned a character named John Day. The pictures below follow his time at Gwynfryn; when Bush allowed Day to use this piece of Welsh history as a scrapyard.

Just click on an image to enlarge it.

You may recall that in an earlier post I referred to plastic chairs from Butlins. One of the images above corrects my mistake.

Then there was the second fire, in 2013. Philip Bush has been so unlucky with fires.

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Over and above these mishaps the general condition of the old pile suggests it may be past saving. For it’s not just general and gradual decay. Sometimes things take a dramatic turn with a fall of masonry.

Again, click on an image to enlarge it.

So for a number of reasons I suspect that whoever’s behind this project – and the jury’s still out on this – will incorporate very little if anything of the old building into the new. No matter what is claimed in the planning application.

‘SEND A MESSAGE TO LONDON’

The name Tyisha might be familiar because it’s the area near Llanelli railway station that’s plagued by petty criminals and drug addicts. Tyisha is now the most deprived ward in the whole county of Carmarthenshire. Here’s a report from WalesOnline.

You’ll read one local complain, “I think the area’s used as a place to put undesirables . . . a lot of landlords in the area don’t know what their residents get up to and don’t care – they just care about the money in their pockets . . . so many of the drug abusers they’re not even from the area – loads of them are coming here from England, why are they all being dumped here?”

(Many of the ‘landlords’ will be housing associations.)

People are being dumped in Tyisha because a number of third sector bodies and other agencies have found a location with the necessary criteria: working class urban area (locals can be ignored), near railway station (‘clients’ can be put on a train from anywhere), cheap property (ideal for HMOs).

Of course, once the rot sets in there begins a spiral of decline that only benefits those causing the problem. What I mean is that property prices fall even further because nobody wants to live in Tyisha. Those locals who have not moved out are now stuck in houses worth less than they were worth five years ago.

Although Plaid Cymru is supposed to run the county council, and has even held the Llanelli seat in Corruption Bay, the town councillors are overwhelmingly Labour. And some of them are of the worst sort.

Though Gary Jones in Llangennech is definitely one of the better ones (he’s even sent me photos of Dennis Coslett’s grave). But I’m afraid he’s let himself down by his involvement with Tyisha.

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It pains me to say this, but what I see here is a Labour councillor apparently celebrating the misery brought to an area of his town by his party’s cronies in the third sector and housing associations. It supports the widely-held view that Labour keeps Wales poor in order to blame the Tories and keep getting elected.

What the hell were you thinking, Gary? What is that pose?

Last year it was announced that Tyisha may be in line for cosmetic redevelopment to the tune of over £9m. Which means that Tyisha can look forward to those big flower pots on the streets for the drug addicts and the drunks to use as very public lavatories.

Here’s a suggestion for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. Don’t give public funding to your cronies for them to import problems and then we won’t have to spend yet more Welsh public money to remedy those problems. Capiche?

What a way to run a country!

If we had a functioning media then the properties causing the worst problems would be identified, the relevant information obtained from the council and the Land Registry. And then the owners of those properties, and/or those renting or leasing the properties, would be named and shamed.

And then, rather than capitalising on peoples’ misery, the town’s Labour councillors might pull their fingers out and demand an end to it.

OPD GARRISONS

Over the years I’ve written a lot about One Planet Developments. I wish there’d be no need to write anything because I wish the insane TAN 6 legislation had never been passed.

But it was passed and, predictably, it is now being abused. For people soon realised that the OPD route offered a way around the ban on new dwellings in open country. That’s because planning permission is guaranteed if you can satisfy planners the dwelling you want qualifies as an OPD.

We’re at the stage now where a ‘Hobbit house’ that cost a few thousand to knock together with straw bales and bits of spare wood is being offered for sale at £475,000. There is some uncertainty in planning circles as to whether such a structure can be demolished and replaced with a conventional bricks and mortar mansion.

That the seller feels they can ask this price suggests they believe such a transformation can now be wrought.

While on the outskirts of Swansea developers have seen a way to build properties in the green belt – with a few acres of land – by calling them ‘farmlets’. Each of them less than two acres.

Now I learn of yet another innovative approach to OPDs from Swansea, this time a plan to house military veterans. And not just one settlement but “a network of ecovillages”.

I have to confess that when I saw the city of my dreams linked with veterans my heart sank. I immediately thought of this crew, the Democrats and Veterans Party, shown here at one of their shindigs.

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Though since I wrote about them (scroll down to section ‘(swivel) eyes right!’ they have renamed themselves the Five Star Direct Democracy Party. And they’ll be standing next year in the elections for what they still call the Welsh Assembly.

(It’s going to be a crowded field on the BritNat fringe!)

But thankfully there appears to be no connection between the would-be eco-warriors and those seeking to marry up Great with Britain again.

That said, it’s difficult figuring out which organisation is actually behind this project, because a number are named.

In no particular order, they are: Garrison Farm CIC (originally Project One Ecovillage) a company formed in March; the Community Ecological Land Trust (CELT); and EcoSpace Housing Co-operative, which seems to have an address in Swansea and can be found on the Directory of community-led housing in Wales website, but about which I know little else.

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The two principals are Christopher John Carree, who lives in Ravenhill, and Ross Edwards of Morriston, who is clearly local. With maybe Carree in the driving seat.

And yet, despite the Swansea connections, the Garrison Farm Facebook page suggests the operation is based in Chester. Though the map is fixed on Brittany!

If we are to have OPDs then I’m sure some would prefer Welsh veterans living on them rather than charlatans from over the border doing well-paid day jobs in England and using the OPD as a weekend retreat.

Something that – coincidentally! –  I’ve exposed quite recently. Scroll down to ‘One Planet Developments’.

As I’ve hinted, the worry is that too often the term ‘veterans’ links with far right politics. And heading out into the boondocks of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire has echoes of US militias getting away from the federal government.

Maybe Messrs Carree and Edwards can clear things up.

While I was looking into this report I ran across a site that brings together those looking for land in Wales suitable for OPDs. You might want to follow it. If nothing else, reading it will remind you of the threat posed by One Planet Developments.

‘I DON’T WANT TO GROUSE, BUT . . . ‘

Actually, they’re pheasants, but you get my drift. And they’re to be shot on land around Cwmrhaidr, to the south of Machynlleth.

I suppose I first became aware of the issue when I saw a tweet from beaver lover Iolo Williams. Yet another rich person from England has bought a chunk of Wales and proceeded to do whatever he likes.

Iolo Williams calls for Natural Resources Wales to intervene. Touching. He’d have had more chance of a response if he’d called on the Vladivostok fire department.

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This new site for game shooting is marketed as, ‘Dyfi Falls’ by Guns on Pegs. It’s said to be “near the village of Machnylleth (sic), in mid Wales”.

Another company involved is Cambrian Birds, which is not an escort agency (as I’d hoped), but organises days out for the kind of braying ass prepared to pay £395 for a ‘sock’. (Not sure if that’s one sock or a pair.)

A resistance group was set up on September 30th called Arbed Cwmrhaidr a’r Llyfnant (Save Cwmrhaidr and the Llyfnant).  The group explains that its concerns are not limited to the unnecessary killing of birds for sport:

“The release of 40,000 gamebirds, most of which seem to be escaping into neighbouring farms and woodlands (including SSSIs), are already causing massive ecological damage. They eat endangered plants and animals, compete with native wildlife for food, and their excrement creates ammonia pollution capable of destroying the rare species that are special to this place.

The bulldozing of trees and new roads is devastating this landscape, a famous beauty spot since Victorian times.

Who benefits? Not local people. The company (Cambrian Birds) is registered in Shropshire. The owner is in Essex. The gamekeepers have been brought in. The clients pay over £2500 per day, but it will be invisible to the local economy.”

I’m not sure I approve of, “famous beauty spot since Victorian times”. Wasn’t the area beautiful before it was ‘discovered’ by visitors from over the border? We’re in Columbus territory here.

As you’ve read, the land was bought by a man from Essex and has been leased to Cambrian Birds. If the protesters know the identity of the buyer they seem reluctant to make it public. Thankfully, the quibble-free proprietor of this blog has no such qualms.

Here’s the title document. It tells us that the land was bought by Thomas William Speakman for £4.75m, without apparently needing a loan or a mortgage. I’m afraid the Land Registry did not offer a plan of the land via website enquiry.

How did we get to this situation?

Certain agencies, including the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, have been so successful in ‘selling’ Wales that many people now see Wales as the new frontier (or maybe the final frontier); a territory just waiting to be ‘opened up’, peopled only by primitive natives who can be brushed aside.

They will continue to believe this until we, the Welsh people, make them realise they’ve got it wrong. And it has to be us because no one else will do it.

To end on a lighter note. Something that occurred to me as I was writing this piece is that these birds are now running wild on land coveted by the rewilders of Summit to Sea.

What do Monbiot and his chorus of memsahibs have to say about this?

AN UNUSUAL SCAM

A good source has been in touch to tell me of a couple in their sixties, husband and wife, man and woman, male and female, who stayed – briefly – in a cottage he owns. They stayed one night, left early the next day and then tried a bit of blackmail.

Which is why they’re appearing here.

They arrived the Friday before last having booked through holidaycottages.co.uk. Within an hour the woman was on the phone complaining that the television didn’t work, the place was filthy, and she had been vacuum cleaning almost since she’d arrived.

When the guests went out for dinner the cleaner checked the place out – everything was fine, and the hoover hadn’t been used.

Early the next morning my source found a scruffy note pushed through his letter-box with a litany of complaints – but the pair had fled! He soon received an e-mail, which read:

“Following our abortive holiday to the above cottage which we left on 3 October 2020 due to dirty condition, missing/not working equipment, we have contacted holidaycottages.co.uk with photographs of the filthy conditions and await their response.

We have given that company 7 days in which to respond to our refund request and advised them that if they do not respond within that timeframe, we will issue county court proceedings (small claims jurisdiction) against them bringing you in as third party defendants.

While we would like to resolve this matter amicably, we shall have no hesitation in publishing our photographs online and commencing said proceedings in the event you or the holiday cottage agent do not strive to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to this matter.

It would appear, thus far, our communications with the company are going unanswered and, hence, court proceedings look inevitable unless you wish to settle this matter yourselves”.

Then the photographs materialised. I’m using just two to make the point. The one on the left is claimed to be from inside the cottage. The one on the right is actually from inside the cottage. Two completely different window frames.

And yet . . . in both images we see the same yard. Someone has gone to the trouble of Photoshopping the image on the left by imposing the phoney window frame onto a genuine picture of the yard below!

Click to enlarge

There was an exchange of e-mails which resulted in the complainant giving her bank details and demanding an instant refund for the two weeks she and her silent husband had paid for.

As far as my source and the local police can figure it . . . the woman would have quickly cancelled or claimed back the payment made on her credit card, then demanded a refund from holidaycottages.co.uk, plus a refund – or more – from my source using the threat of putting the doctored photographs online.

This was too well practised to be a one-off. So if Mrs Sandra T—–t of W—— M—–, Suffolk, tries to book a holiday in your property tell her you’re hosting the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference and both bedrooms are taken.

My source made light of it eventually, and had a little laugh in his final e-mail to her. Here’s an extract:

“But then was it worth it, such a tawdry little scam – surely you are now old enough to see how pathetic you are. You made so many mistakes . . . the fingerprints and some lovely CCTV shots of you enjoying P———. A word of advice, the trouser suit is not a good look in a woman of your age – especially from behind”.

The fellow’s a cad!

THE BLM DIVIDEND

Ever since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis the world has gone a little bit crazy. But there’s never been a better time for those who can sniff out Welsh public funding from a long way away. From England, in fact.

It’s time to introduce Diverse Cymru. The name says a lot.

You must have noticed that any third sector organisation hoping for Welsh money either gives itself a full-on Welsh name or, at the very least, adds ‘Cymru’ to the name of the local branch of an English organisation.

As for diversity, it will ‘represent’ a tiny percentage of the population. In my experience BAME organisations are usually made up of sub-Saharan Africans and those with origins in India or Pakistan. Others, such as the industrious Chinese, seem to be totally absent. And of course, there are white people – usually women – with Labour Party connections, in order to ease the flow of the lucre.

The help such organisations provide to members of the public is debatable, but they serve their primary function, which is to create well-paid sinecures and regular jollies for a class of people, often ‘woke’ to the point of hysteria, who might be unemployable in the real world.

Diverse Cymru made the news recently with this call for more help for BAME people suffering mental health issues under Covid lockdown restrictions. According to Samira Salter of Diverse Cymru, BAME people have been “forgotten about” during the pandemic.

Which is nonsense. George Floyd was killed on May 2, and BAME people have never experienced such solicitous attention as in the period since his death.

Image: BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

The people who have suffered worst under Covid are poor people. And certainly many BAME people fall into that category. But the great majority of poor people in Wales are white. It’s about poverty, not colour.

And if we’re dealing with the mental health issues around Coronavirus and lockdown, then I guarantee that these problems are worse in rural areas, not the cities and towns where BAME populations are largely found.

So who runs Diversity Cymru? A source has given me some information and after reading it I knew what kind of body we are dealing with.

“Lead director is Ms Eunica Aure who’s an economist from the Philippines and was a government Spad there. After a stint in the Asian banking sector she moved to London to work on land evaluation of estates in Afghanistan and now works for WYG the consultants that management consult on overseas aid.

Mr Benjamin Coates. His full time job is Assistant Director & Head of Performance and Effectiveness at Equality and Human Rights Commission, based in London.

Ms Helen Susannah Dodoo. Her daytime job is Assistant General Manager at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which on her Linkedin profile she has located in New South Wales, Australia. She actually lives in Pontcanna, Cardiff.”

What the hell do these people know about Wales? Who appointed them trustees?

I didn’t believe the bit about New South Wales, so I checked. It’s true.

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These people, remember, are the trustees of a ‘Welsh’ third sector body that has received millions and millions of pounds of Welsh public funding.

The website tells us, “Diverse Cymru was created in 2010 through a merger between Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People and Awetu” (Swahili for unity).

Diverse Cymru is either a pantomime horse of an organisation or a clever merger suggesting disabled people and BAME populations have a shared experience of discrimination.

Whatever the answer, how many other BAME bodies are operating in Wales? And how many charities and local government services for the disabled? And how many bodies tackling mental health issues?

With Diverse Cymru we find yet more of the duplication, competition and waste of money that we find wherever we look in the third sector.

Let’s focus on the money for a bit.

The company is actually called Diverse Excellence Cymru Ltd. And it should go without saying that in addition to the grant funding it has also received a loan from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’s, Finance Wales Investments Ltd.

(And there was me thinking that Finance Wales exists to build up the Welsh economy, to create jobs.)

Down in the south west, local authorities are coughing up lots of money for Diverse Cymru to deliver services to the disabled which elsewhere, and on the national stage, Diverse Cymru seems to have abandoned.

As the latest accounts tell us, the principle source of funding now is now Direct Payments from the three local authorities of the south west. This explains the office in Carmarthen.

While it seems to have a free hand in the south west, in Newport Diverse Cymru “works alongside the Council’s Independent Living Advisors”. Click to enlarge

For some reason the funding from Pembrokeshire reduced by more than 50% from 2018 to 2019, while the other two authorities increased their payments. What is the explanation for these variations?

Of course, getting paid for delivering services looks a lot better than just getting hand-outs from the ‘Welsh Government’, and this is reflected in the table below.

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But I return to what I said earlier about Diverse Cymru being an absurd hybrid trying to deliver two unrelated services. Not only that, but we have also found a geographic split between the Cardiff-based, BAME arm, and the council-funded services for independent living for the disabled organised from Carmarthen.

And so I can’t help wondering if any of that money raised in the south west is funding what are clearly the true priorities of Diverse Cymru.

LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL

It’s time to catch up with another rascal in the manly form of Tristan Scott Haynes who, last year, bought the old Shire Hall in Llangefni, capital of Ynys Môn.

Tristan appeared on this site in Not another one!, after which he was called back for a few curtain-calls in Wales, colonialism and corruption (scroll down to section ‘Llangefni Hire Hall’), Miscellany 06.06.2020 (‘Ynys Môn 2’), before finally putting his head around the curtain in Odds & Sods 22.07.2020 (‘Llangefni Shire Hall’).

In that final appearance I reported that the Shire Hall was up for sale. That, I thought, was the end of it, unless another ‘interesting’ character took the stage.

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But now I learn that the old monstrosity has been withdrawn from sale.

Not only that, but Haynes is touting for investors. Or rather, he has issued a prospectus that says it’s directed at contractors to fulfil his dream in Llangefni, but as you read the document you soon realise he’s looking for money.

The prospectus is issued by his company Chief Properties Ltd, though it doesn’t say whether it came from the Paris office or the Los Angeles office. In truth, it’s probably from the garage he rents in Bedford.

There is no website for Chief Properties, but I did find a very basic YouTube channel. I suppose it has to be basic because the company has no money and is lumbered with two loans from Together Commercial Finance Ltd, another of the ‘specialist lenders’ that we so often find in Manchester.

Read the prospectus for yourself. (I am indebted to a recipient for sending it to me. He assures me he’s ripped open the sofa and is now going through all his trouser pockets in order to cash in on this unmissable offer.)

As such documents go, it’s badly written. I suppose this would serve as an example, “29th May 2020 Executives of the Anglesey County Council suggests and supports the development of SHIRE HALL to residential use.”

In addition, it’s amateurishly compiled with a number of spelling mistakes. One glaring mistake, due to the large print, is the “Ariel view” provided of the building.

And here’s an example of the gibberish I’m referring to. What the hell is it trying to say? How does the council feel about being associated with this? It reads like a very poor translation.

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But it’s not all bad, for the prospectus reminds us of Eryri’s claim to fame: “Snowdonia National Park – otherwise known as the adventure capital of the UK”.

The bastion of Welsh resistance to English aggression now reduced to England’s playground. Makes you proud to be Welsh.

♦ end ♦

 




Poor Wales: magnet for property spivs, fraudsters, and enviroshysters

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’m kicking off with an update of last week’s piece about the old Gwynfryn mansion near Llanystumdwy. The ‘main course’ will be a fuller account of the crooks behind the Glynllifon project on Ynys Môn. But I’ve also slipped in a couple of tit-bits: news of the latest windfarm, and the curious business career of the guy at the centre of the cladding scandal in Corruption Bay.

GWYNFRYN

To recap: Plas Gwynfryn / Gwynfryn Plas is a 19th century gentry mansion near Llanystumdwy that ended up as a hotel and was badly damaged by fire in 1982. Since when it has lain empty. Deteriorating.

As I reported last week, plans have recently emerged to convert the old pile into ’30 residential units’.

A planning application has been submitted by Partington & Associates Ltd on behalf of DM Property Group Ltd with David George Taylor a director of both companies. The details can be found by following this link.

Image: Daily Mail. Click to enlarge

The Gwynfryn ruin itself is owned by Aaron Hill, a self-styled ‘property developer’ who drifted into Gwynedd a decade or more ago. He is an associate of the Duggan family of Bryn Llys, criminals of whom I have written a number of times. Most recently, last month, in Bryn Llys, the Liverpool connection.

Though the ‘developers’ in this instance are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong. The latter has a company called Acquérir Ltd; Wilmott has a few companies of his own; but they get together in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd.

OK, so what’s new?

Let’s go back to the fire in 1982. I’m having this second-hand, of course, but a member of the fire service told a local that the fire was started in a number of different places. Arson was suspected.

Soon after the fire, the owner of Gwynfryn, Philip Andrew Bush, disappeared, and was not seen again until 1995. Around the same time a John Day appeared, apparently acting for Bush, sometimes posing as a prospective buyer.

Day was in fact a scrap dealer and, “Over the next few years he filled the derelict building and grounds with scrap from various locations in the area including the old Butlins, a wood-yard and chapel and many scrap vehicles. This caused great disturbance to the surrounding neighbours”.

Bush seemed to vanish again around 2001/2. Day too, leaving the accumulated junk at Gwynfryn.

Day moved to Llanwnda where he ran a junk/antique business. On the death of his partner a dispute is reported between Day and his late partner’s children, with them getting access to Gwynfryn. I’m told that £20,000 was realised from the 80 tons of metal and vehicles cleared away.

The plastic chairs and other junk from Butlins and elsewhere was left. And is still there.

In the earlier piece I told you, ” . . . in April 1980 a couple named Hooper sold what remained of the Gwynfryn estate to Global Leisure Ltd. In 1995 it was transferred to Magnet International Holdings Ltd, a Guernsey-registered company. Magnet was compulsorily struck off in 2006.”

I have since learnt that on the passing of Magnet International Holdings ownership transferred to Casablanca Investments Inc of Monrovia, Liberia. There are many companies with the same or similar names but I can’t track down that one.

Liberia makes sense given that Bush is said to be in the shipping business. Though some suggest he is not so much a shipping magnate as another scrap merchant. Perhaps involved in this kind of activity.

Also, while Bush may give an address in Switzerland, and perhaps claims to be a tax exile, many believe he lives in England. Kent, to be more exact. And to take exactitude to an even higher lever, the Canterbury-Faversham area.

This Steptoe of the Seven Seas resurfaced again around 2017 and a sale was agreed with Aaron Hill. After which the new owner of Gwynfryn became quite the busy boy, cutting trees, tidying up the drive, and you’ll never guess who helped him – the Bryn Llys gang!

Knowing how altruism weeps from every tattooed and stretched pore I’m sure there was no ulterior motive in them doing this work. Perish the thought!

Then again . . .

To give you some idea of when the latest dynamic duo got involved, Wilmott put out what you see below on his Facebook page 23 April, and Armstrong put out this video a day later.

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Which means that Wilmott and Armstrong have been involved for at least six months.

It’s also clear that they’ve been dealing with Gwynedd’s planning department, and they’ve found these discussions encouraging. One of them told neighbours that planners are ‘desperate’ to see something done at Gwynfryn.

I do hope this ‘desperation’ hasn’t beguiled the boys into thinking this is in the bag.

Though they might believe they have an ace in the hole. For one of them has stated that there exists legislation allowing old buildings to be developed without restrictions if costs are too high to restore to the building to its original state.

They may believe this gives them carte blanche to do whatever they like at Gwynfryn.

But there are other issues the developers and investors are probably hoping aren’t raised. Which is why I’m raising them!

Image: Google. The entrance to Gwynfryn showing the lodge or gate house. Click to enlarge

For example, there’s the access to Gwynfryn, the only access. Right on a junction. Now this was no problem when the squire was trotting to church of a Sunday in the 1880s; but twenty-first century traffic – especially in the summer months when the ‘residential units’ will be busiest – has to condemn the project to the receptacle marked ‘Trash’.

For I would be surprised, alarmed even, if Cyngor Gwynedd’s Highways Department didn’t have something to say about this accident black spot just waiting to make the front pages of the local weeklies.

Finally, Natural Resources Wales will have to do a bat survey. And although they don’t notice ‘nuclear mud’ when it’s dumped off Cardiff, or iffy timber contracts, they will soon realise that the Gwynfryn ruin is home to many bats.

The bats aren’t alone, for there are owls and other critters to be found in the ruins.

Given the criminals peripheral to this project, and the offshore links, I believe that, to allay the reasonable fears of a number of people, Cyngor Gwynedd must insist that the identity / identities of the investors behind the project be made public.

ANOTHER ‘COMMUNITY OWNED, LOCAL BENEFITS’ WIND FARM. NOT

Do you remember those far-off days when devolution was young, gambolling in the yet empty meadows of Cardiff Bay? When there was hope in the collective Cymric breast as we looked forward to a new era of progress and prosperity?

No, nor me.

Though I do recall that when the ‘Welsh Government’ started implementing the legislation that it insisted was to be our contribution to saving the planet we were promised bounty unlimited in terms of jobs and benefits for hard-pressed rural communities and post-industrial urban areas.

This was the sugar to sweeten the pill of tearing up our forests and peat bogs to plant thousands of wind turbines. And it probably explains Natural Resources Wales, which came into existence, fittingly, on All Fools’ Day 2013.

Since then it’s been a succession of wind farms across the land owned by hedge funds, companies nobody’d heard of ’til they crossed the Dyke, government-owned companies from Germany and Scandinavia, with the only Welsh beneficiaries being hard-pressed – sometimes absentee – landlords.

And now there’s to be another, on Mynydd Margam, above Port Talbot. Though it was announced over a year ago only now is the opposition organising. And that opposition seems to include local Tory MS Suzy Davies.

Image: Beryl Richards. Mynydd Margam. Click to enlarge

Perhaps to vary the mix, this particular project is a joint English-Irish venture. From Ireland we have state-owned ESB, while from England (possibly Scotland) we have Coriolis Energy Ltd.

But of course, no Welsh involvement.

The only director of Coriolis is David Charles Murray, who doubles up as secretary. The company is in debt. Murray is also secretary-director of the Vale of Leven Wind Farm Ltd, a company formed in July last year.

But perhaps both come under the umbrella of Coriolis Energy Developments LLP. Yes, a Limited Liability Partnership, which itself was only formed in July 2019.

There are other Coriolis companies associated with Murray, but they’re either too new to have filed accounts, or they’re in the red, or, in the case of Coriolis Renewable Energy Ltd – the oldest of the Murray Coriolis companies – it was dissolved in 2015.

There’s not a lot there to inspire confidence. Little experience and less money. So why has Murray got the Margam Mountain gig? Well, boys and girls, I suspect he has connections . . . in London.

Which brings me back to Natural Resources Wales. For NRW has given permission for this new wind farm on land it owns.

If you look at the NRW board, then from the chairman down, you’ll find people who would have had trouble finding Wales on a map. That’s because they’ve been appointed by someone, or some committee, outside of Wales.

If we go back to the origin of the NRW, it’s widely known that the new agency took over the responsibilities of Forestry Commission Wales, The Countryside Council for Wales and Environment Agency Wales. What is less well known is that NRW also took powers from the ‘Welsh Government’ – yet we are asked to believe that NRW answers to the buffoons in Corruption Bay!

No, Natural Resources Wales was set up at the instigation of London to facilitate the kind of developments we’re looking at here. But not only wind turbines.

For once you realise the nature of the beast, other things become clear. Such as the matter I hinted at earlier, why NRW was so easily satisfied that mud being dumped off Cardiff from Hinkley Point nuclear power station is safe.

It’s because the word came down – to both NRW and the ‘Welsh Government’ – that the decision had been made. Accept it!

Why couldn’t the ‘Welsh Government’ have set up a company to design and build wind turbines in Wales? It could have created a few thousand jobs and kept a lot of money in the country. And if we’d been good at it, then that company could have competed for contracts around the world.

I’ll tell you why – because that’s not how a colony is allowed to operate.

GLYNLLIFON, YNYS MÔN

Last month I wrote about a development at Marianglas on Ynys Môn. Click here and scroll down to section ‘Glynllifon Ltd’. I suggest you read it to avoid me having to repeat myself, again.

More information has been received. Much more. It’s pretty disturbing to realise that creatures like those you’re going to read about are walking around free. Worse, that they can still find ways to invest money they don’t officially possess.

Money they’ve conned out of decent, hard-working people.

The two I’m going to write about are Neil Moir, a native of Cheshire now living on Ynys Môn, and Rhys Wyn Williams, a local.

Glynllifon. Click to enlarge

Let’s deal with Neil Moir first.

As we read in this report from 1999: ‘THE winner of top TV quiz Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is set to lose his fortune – because he is a crook.

Millions saw 51-year-old Neil Muir (sic) land a £64,000 prize this week. But under the programme’s rules he is BANNED from entering.

Muir has convictions for theft, deception and forgery. And Rule 6 says: “You must . . . have no criminal convictions (subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974).” London TV company Celador launched an investigation yesterday.’

Moir is a fundamentally dishonest individual. A career con man.

By one route or another he found his way to Bodorgan. From where he now runs a number of companies. Here are some more. But Glynllifon Ltd, which owns the Glynllifon Hotel (click for title document), uses an accommodation address in London.

You’ll see that the purchase was made with loans from one of the many ‘specialist lenders’ in Manchester. This one being Goldcrest Finance Ltd. Remember the name, for we’ll return to it later.

Also worth noting is Moir’s company Impactt Properties Ltd, which changed its name from NE11 Ltd in August 2017. There is significance in the ‘tt’ that will be also become clear.

A few years back Moir got involved with local con man Rhys Williams. I can call him that with certainty. Here’s a report from the Daily Post of Williams’ appearance on Y Byd ar Bedwar, complete with video.

Rhys Williams with his wife, Lisa Alaw (nee Saxon). On the right a poster compiled by a man who has lost hundreds of thousands of pounds to Williams. The reference to ‘sex addict is about a trip made, from Spain to Dubai, in which Williams convinced his companion that the investment was sound. While there, Williams spent a lot of time trying to hook up with, er, hookers. Click to enlarge

And because so many of his victims were resident in Spain, here’s a report from Canarian Weekly. He also made the Olive Press. Note that both reports make sure we know Williams is Welsh!

This is a rather complicated story with the potential to overwhelm and confuse, so I’ll try to simplify it.

1/ Rhys Wyn Williams is a fraudster and a con man. He has ripped off many people and owes millions of pounds.

2/ Much of this criminality took place in Spain and the Gulf of Iran. A great deal of the money was channelled though Dubai.

3/ These criminal assets are now being repatriated back to the UK.

4/ Neil Moir acts as front man, helping launder the criminal assets through property deals.

To confirm the Williams-Impactt-Moir link, the three documents below should help. They’re set out in chronological order.

On the left we see an announcement from January 2016 that Rhys Williams was appointed the legal representative of Impactt General Trading Ltd of Dubai. The document signed by Brian Balachander, director and shareholder of Impactt.

In the centre we see a letter(?) from Neil Moir, using his Bodorgan address, and Impactt headed notepaper, telling Czech company Via Aurata Europaea SE that he is ready to receive the “underwriting fee of £150,000.00”. To be sent to the Commercial Bank of Dubai. The UK face of this company is Via Aurata Ltd, but the only director is resident in the Czech Republic.

On the right you’ll see a capture from the Companies House filings for a company called Golden East Limited. This company brings together Moir and Balachander.

A further link comes with this Impactt document signed by Balachander which uses the same font and logo as on the one below used by Moir.

Click to enlarge

(In case the image is a bit large to handle, it’s also available here in PDF format.)

The address for Golden East is Kemp House, 160 City Road, London EC1V 2NX . . . the same address as Moir’s company Glynllifon Ltd. What’s more it was set up 14 June – just 4 days after Glynllifon Ltd. Such coincidences!

Another Moir company at the same address is Helvetia Finvest Ltd. Incorporated in August last year. The other director was Lode Hendrikx, a Belgian, resident in the Netherlands, who I’m told has done bird in Switzerland.

It should be pointed out that the London operation was just a branch of the main outfit headquartered in Maastricht.

The declared directors of Golden East have been Moir, Balachander and John McKenzie, but when we look at the distribution of the shares we see that a majority is held by Vijay Anandan Somu Rao. So who’s he?

Golden East Ltd shares allocation. Click to enlarge

Before moving on, you might as well know that there is also an Impactt company registered in the Netherlands. No surprise there, then!

As we’ve seen, Glynllifon Ltd was the vehicle set up to buy the Glynllifon hotel in September last year for a claimed £850,000. I emphasise ‘claimed’ because the building is worth half that. But paying over the odds is a classic money-laundering tactic.

Though the money to make the purchase allegedly came from Goldcrest Finance Ltd of Manchester, run by a family of Indian heritage. The other directors are John Charles McGuire and Steven Mark Gildea.

I’m fairly sure that McGuire and Gildea both live in Manchester, but Gildea might be of interest to Welsh readers.

I say that because other companies he’s involved with are: White House (Criccieth) Management Ltd; Aber Flats Management Company Ltd and Gwel yr Afon Ltd.

I’m not for one minute suggested that Gildea is up to no good but he is a director of Goldcrest Finance, and there are certainly questions to be asked of any company getting involved with Neil Moir and Rhys Williams.

Though telling Moir and Williams apart may not always be easy. Because there are those convinced Williams uses Moir’s name. It would make sense, because Williams is a bankrupt twice over, and before hiraeth got the better of him in Marbella he pissed off people it’s unwise to piss off.

However it’s being done, Williams and Moir are trying to launder dirty money through various property deals in north west Wales. Another one is the site of the old Marine Hotel in Caernarfon; on North Road overlooking the Menai.

Click to enlarge

Now you know me, I love to make enquiries . . .

The Marine Hotel site was bought in July this year by Malaysian Invest Ltd, a company giving an address we’re very familiar with – 160 City Road, London EC1V 2NX. The only director of this company is . . . yes, Neil Moir!

(Brian Balachander, of Golden East, has associates in Malaysia.)

The money to make the purchase supposedly came from Broadoak Private Finance Ltd of Abercynon . . . sorry! Manchester. Another of those ‘specialist lenders’ that seem to account for most of that city’s financial sector.

But Moir and Williams don’t need to borrow money. So taking out loans could mean:

  • The lender is a distraction to disguise the fact the buyers already have money
  • The lender will be ripped off (as happened with the loans to those who ended up at Plas Glynllifon. See ‘Weep for Wales’).

There was certainly no need to borrow money in this case. Because if we go back to the title document we see that in 2016 this land (with a couple of adjoining titles) was sold for £300,000. This, I’m told, was a cash purchase by Rhys Williams.

So, either Moir has bought the Marine Hotel site off Rhys Williams or, if Williams is using Moir’s name, then he’s bought it from himself. (Again, echoes of Plas Glynllifon.)

Lies, corruption and money laundering from start to finish. And on an inter-continental scale.

Which is why I insist that, as with Gwynfryn, planners and councillors should demand to know who is ultimately behind every commercial property development. Where is the money coming from?

I wish to thank Adrian Parsons, a victim of Rhys Williams, for his valuable contribution to this report.

Having mentioned Plas Glynllifon at Llandwrog more than once you might be interested to learn that Plas Glynllifon Ltd was finally wound up by an order of the court on 21 September. 

At the end, the company left eight unpaid loans with Together Commercial Finance Ltd – yet another of Manchester’s ‘specialist lenders’.

CLAD IN CONFUSION WITH A DOLLOP OF BULLSHIT

If you’ve been following the news then you’ll know that serious concerns have been raised about cladding on blocks of flats in Corruption Bay. And indeed elsewhere in Wales. But as concerns were taken to local MS Neil McEvoy, and given the number of new apartment blocks in Cardiff, that’s been the focus.

Finding the problem was enough of a worry, but now it’s emerged that the certificates saying everything was hunky-dory were faked. This came to light when one of the residents of Century Wharf became suspicious of the signature on the External Wall Fire Review (EWS1).

Image: WalesOnline. Click to enlarge

This concerned resident rang the surveyor – who was horrified to learn that her signature appeared to be on the form, because she had not signed it.

The inspection was undertaken by Specialist Facade Inspections Ltd, a company set up as recently as last October in Newbridge, Gwent; and with just one director, 22-year-old Joshua Tedstone.

Yet the article linked to says: “Paul Tedstone, chief technical officer of Specialist Facade Inspections, founded the company with his son in October last year. The company offers EWS1 certifications, cladding inspections and remedial works like re-cladding.”

So why isn’t the father a director of the company?

Whatever the answer, Tedstone Snr was adamant that he hadn’t forged the signatures either. And I’ve been told he’s probably right.

Even so, I got to wondering about Tedstone, and his background. What I found out makes for interesting reading. Below is a list of the companies Paul Tedstone has been involved with. Many of them have gone belly-up owing a lot of money.

I suppose it could all be bad luck . . . one episode after another of bad luck. But I find it difficult to believe that anybody could be this unlucky.

Paul Tedstone’s business record can be broken into three parts:

1/ From 1996 he was involved in three companies with a Glenn Dunn, all of which failed, one spectacularly, owing over £1.5m.

2/ From 2011 to 2017 he has parted company with Dunn, yet we see more failed companies, setting new records for debt.

3/ From 2018 Tedstone seems to have teamed up with local businessmen running interlinked companies. (The one exception is Alusafe ACM Ltd.)

Here’s the list of companies Paul Tedstone has been involved with in chronological order by his involvement. (And here’s the table in pdf format with working links.)

Click to enlarge

This story is still being teased out, but few will emerge from it with any credit.

Certainly not the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, which was given some £60m by Westminster for this very purpose . . . but spent it on something else.

HOW DID WE GET INTO THIS MESS?

For socialists like Labour and Plaid Cymru the 18th and 19th centuries were terrible times, ‘the people’ exploited by ‘evil capitalists’. (Leftists love their labels and their cliches!) And yet . . .

Those ‘evil capitalists’ who owned the mines, the slate quarries, the steel and tinplate works, even the great country estates and the big houses – created hundreds of thousands of jobs. Jobs that supported families, and communities, and a nation.

The countryside was dotted with small, family farms. Homes to Welsh families. Each little harbour had its fishing boats.

God! it must have been awful. Marinas and caravan parks and activity centres and holiday homes and OPDs and managed decline are such an improvement.

Today we are expected to welcome crooks and shysters such as you’ve read about here as ‘investors’. We must accept the wind turbines – all foreign owned! – that trash our hills and increase flooding – but create no jobs – because they contribute to saving the planet!

This is little different to 19th century clergymen urging workers and small farmers to accept their lot because there was some intangible reward at some unspecified time in an indeterminate future.

The real message was that there’s sod all for you in this life, Dai. So just accept your lot. It was, ‘Pie in the sky, by and by.’

And it’s the same message today . . . but without the jobs, and without the little fishing fleets, and with the Welsh family farm under concerted attack from socialist politicians in Corruption Bay and their soap-dodging and rewilding friends.

If exploitation was wrong in earlier centuries why is it acceptable now?

Is it because today we are lied to by a ‘Welsh Government’?

A ‘government’ that behaves no different to a third world kleptocracy in the way it allows the country to be exploited, or stands silent rather than confess its impotence. The only difference being that there are (to the best of my knowledge) no offshore accounts, no French chateaux.

That’s because those idiots in the ‘Welsh Government’ are either too stupid to see that they’re running Wales into the grave, or, it’s deliberate, done in order to maintain the system that has served them for a century: Poor Wales – blame the Tories – vote Labour.

That system has certainly served the Labour Party, but it has not served Wales.

Which is why it’s time to get rid of Labour, and their little helpers in Plaid Cymru, and anyone else who believes that socialism serves anyone other than socialist politicians.

Next May’s elections will be your chance to make a change. Use it by voting for Gwlad or the WNP. They’re Wales’ last hope.

♦ end ♦

 




‘Residential units’ – how many is too many?

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

After my tribulations last week, with computer and internet service, I’m delighted to report that everything is now resolved.

Despite the problems I managed to make a start on the piece you’re about to read. It’s yet another tale of money from north west England – possibly further afield – buying property in northern Wales. And as is so often the case, when you look more closely into what’s happening, and who’s involved, then the more questions arise.

BACKGROUND

An interesting property, Gwynfryn Plas, aka Plas Gwynfryn, near Llanystumdwy, on the Llŷn peninsula. Due to both forms being used I shall stick with ‘Gwynfryn’.

It was home to Hugh John Ellis-Nanney, scion of an anglicised Welsh gentry family. Educated at Eton and Oxford, and now the owner of a sizeable estate, Ellis-Nanney wanted a house to reflect his status, and so Gwynfryn was completed in 1878.

Persuaded to stand in the 1890 by-election for Caernarvon Boroughs, Conservative Ellis-Nanney was defeated by the Liberal candidate, up and coming local boy, David Lloyd George.

With Ellis-Nanney having no male heir the estate passed to his daughter, and after her death Gwynfryn served a number of purposes, finally a hotel, before being gutted by fire in 1982.

INTRODUCTION

From around 2010 reports appeared in the media bemoaning the fact that the old pile was in such a mess, with no one knowing who owned it. Here’s one report from the BBC in October 2011.

The location of Gwynfryn. Click to enlarge

In the report you will have read, “Aaron Hill, who lives near Caernarfon, wants to take over and renovate the property, which was gutted by fire in 1982”. Hang on! – Aaron Hill?

Yes, the very same Aaron Hill who bought 4 Glanrafon Terrace, near Bryn Llys, and then ‘loaned’ fraudster Jonathan Duggan the money to buy the land attached to the house. Done so Duggan could extend his holding and lay an unauthorised access road. (Bryn Llys is now called ‘Snowdon Summit View’.)

Which landed Duggan in court. I wrote about it a few weeks ago in Bryn Llys, the Liverpool connection.

From 2010 onwards there were also regular mentions of Gwynfryn in page-fillers often headed ‘Buildings at risk’ until, in 2018, we started reading that the charred old pile was for sale, with an asking price of £500,000.

Let’s get up to date.

WHO OWNS WHAT?

The original title document states that in April 1980 a couple named Hooper sold what remained of the Gwynfryn estate to Global Leisure Ltd. In 1995 it was transferred to Magnet International Holdings Ltd, a Guernsey-registered company. Magnet was compulsorily struck off in 2006.

UPDATE 19.10.2020: From Companies House in Guernsey I have now received more information on Magnet International Holdings Ltd. As might be expected with Channel Islands registrations, it’s just one company hiding behind another.

The shareholders are all companies using the name ‘Bachmann’ followed by a different Greek letter. Possibly this Peter John Bachmann.

While the listed directors are ADL One Limited and ADL Two Limited, both linked with a long list of mainly property companies. All of them using PO Box 175 in St Peter Port, Guernsey.

But, strangely, no mention of Philip Bush, who has owned the property throughout this period.

Image: Daily Mail. Gwynfryn, click to enlarge

If we carry on reading the title document we see that in June 2018: “Copy filed under CYM745545. 4 (28.06.2018) The land edged . . . has been removed from this title and registered under the title number . . . “ The property description has been altered to reflect the land alone remaining in the original title.

And confirming that the house is now registered under CYM745545, and owned by Aaron Hill. Who is said to have paid £100,000 for the ruin.

Unfortunately, the Land Registry does not offer maps with either title.

A MAN OF THE WORLD

Leaving the land around the house owned by Philip Andrew Bush, using as his address a PO box in Switzerland. Bush may be a successor to Magnet International Holdings.

He seems to be an interesting character, though getting information on him is not easy. Largely because he operates through foreign and offshore companies. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Bush is mentioned in the Paradise Papers.

Where he’s linked with Realmar Shipping Limited of Malta, as both director and judicial representative. If you have time, click on the J B Sorotto node, with its 74 connections.

Image: Offshore Leaks site maintained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Please make a donation. Click to enlarge

The only UK-based company I can find for Bush is Bush Shipping Limited, dissolved in 2010. Documents are available, including the final accounts.

The address given for Bush Shipping is 77 Walton Street, Chelsea. Since 2008 it has been home to Jak’s Cafe & Deli.

Of perhaps more interest is this Annual Return (to Companies House) from 2006. The other directors appear to be his daughters, but it’s the division of the 10,000 shares I found interesting. For Bush has just one share in his name, the other 9,999 are held by International Nominees SA, with an address in Switzerland.

Though the Paradise Papers tell us that International Nominees SA is actually based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). In fairness, I suppose the company could have moved since that document was filed with Companies House in 2006.

So, the man who owns the land around Gwynfryn is involved in shipping and a network – or networks – of offshore companies.

RECAP

We know the house and the land were owned under one title by Philip Andrew Bush, who may or may not have been a successor to the companies that had earlier owned the property, Global Leisure and Magnet International Holdings.

A number of reports from 2018/19 suggested that the house and the land were for sale together. This Facebook page tells us that someone believed this was still the case as late as November 2019.

Yet, as we’ve seen, the house was detached from the original title, and that new title bought by Aaron Hill 12 June 2018. So why did people over a year later think the house and land were still for sale?

Click to enlarge

And as if that wasn’t enough ducking and weaving, ‘now you see me, now you don’t’, who’s that over in the trees, in camouflage fatigues, watching Gwynfryn through his high powered binoculars? Well, bless me! – it’s Bore Grylls!

Because the address for Bore’s Dragon Raiders Activity Park is ‘Gwynfryn Lodge’. In addition, he owns a tract of woodland that belonged to the original estate.

Grylls is always looking to buy more of Wales so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s interested in buying the Gwynfryn land from Philip Bush. This would be one explanation for why it’s no longer for sale.

Which leaves the house, or what remains of it. Is Grylls also after that?

Because I’m still not clear why Aaron Hill bought Gwynfryn. I’m pretty sure he has neither the expertise nor the money to restore it. In fact, he may have no intention of restoring Gwynfryn.

Though others appear to have plans for Gwynfryn.

SALT AND VINEGAR

For last year Cyngor Gwynedd received a pre-application enquiry to turn the old house into “30 residential units”. The inquiry came from Partington & Associates Ltd of Chorley, Lancashire, on behalf of DM Property Group Ltd.

(What I’m referring to with this ‘enquiry’ is an approach from a developer to gauge the planning authority’s likely response; with the response influencing whether a planning application is submitted.)

Partington seems to be a genuine company, it’s certainly been going for a few years.  Though the information available with Companies House is pretty skeletal it does tell us that a director of Partington, who owns 50% of the shares, is David George Taylor.

Taylor turns up again as a director of DM Property Group. There’s little information available on DM Property because it was only formed in August 2019. Though Companies House can tell us that the other director is Michelle May Sturdy, who shares an address with Taylor.

An even more recent creation of Taylor and Sturdy is DM Commercial Property Group Ltd. Formed in June this year.

When she’s not planning property empires with David Taylor it seems Michelle Sturdy runs the local chippy.

So David Taylor of Partington & Associates has put in a pre-planning enquiry for himself and his other company, DM Property Group. Why couldn’t it have been done through DM Property?

To help you along here’s the council’s reply to Partington from November last year and here’s a notice that Partington, on behalf of DM Property, is going ahead with the planning application. The second document handily provides a link to drawings and other documentation.

Image: Partington & Associates. Click to enlarge

If we follow the road connecting the Plas with the highway we see that it runs through Cabin Wood and on to the lodge or gatehouse, owned by the maggot-munching man of action.

QUESTIONS

It could be that given Hill’s links with the Duggan gang at Bryn Llys, and the notoriety they’ve attracted, he might have thought he had more chance of getting planning approval for 30 residential units at Gwynfryn if the application came from someone else.

Another possibility is that a deal has been struck, conditional on planning permission being granted. By which I mean, DM Property will buy Gwynfryn from Hill but only if it gets planning permission.

What other reasons might there be for a company to submit a planning application for a property it doesn’t own? I’m open to suggestions.

Of course, there is the possibility that what’s planned for the old house forms part of a bigger project. Which is why I raised the possibilty of Bore Grylls being involved.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that Grylls would be involved in anything shady, but who can forget his ill-starred association with Gavin Lee Woodhouse at the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

Click to enlarge

Woodhouse, the self-styled ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’, came to a sticky end when his empire – built on selling rooms in his hotels as ‘investments’, also rooms in care homes that he never bothered building – was exposed last year.

If you didn’t catch them first time round, here’s what the Guardian had to say about Woodhouse, and here’s the ITV News’ verdict. (It was a joint investigation.)

I first wrote about the dynamic duo as early as April 2017, with English Tourism in the Colony of Wales. And many times afterwards. Many, many times.

Having been taken in by a con man I suppose we should be thankful Grylls is still with us. For it’s surely a miracle he survived all those SAS missions when instantly recognising and taking out the bad guys is a matter of life or death.

(Big sigh of relief! Touches wood.)

UPDATE 30.09.2020: I regret to inform you that Bore Grylls is no longer involved with Dragon Raiders at Llanystumdwy. Such a pity, as I enjoy writing about him. However . . .

A source tells me that those behind the Gwynfryn project are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong.

A company mentioned was Acquérir, where Armstrong is the sole director according to Companies House. This is a company offering, “Hands-off investing for the foreign investor”.

Though Wilmott has his companies AC Property Group Ltd and QA JV Ltd, both of which are also very new.

Where we find find Armstrong and Wilmott together is in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd, a company Incorporated as recently as last September.

My source further suggests that these two whizz-kids may have learnt all they know from motormouth Samuel Leeds. In this video we see Leeds talking with – or to – David Taylor of Partington & Associates and DM Property Group.

It’s said that Wilmott and Armstrong have exchanged contracts with Aaron Hill conditional on Taylor getting planning permission.

The picture at Gwynfryn is not yet high definition but definitely getting clearer. And if Armstrong and Wilmott are offering investment opportunities to foreign investors then, who knows, Gwynfryn could soon be owned by men with fur hats and snow on their boots!

‘Oh what a tangled web we weave . . . ‘.

CONCLUSION

Cyngor Gwynedd’s planners will no doubt insist that planning law must be adhered to. That’s their job. Though some of them have, in recent years, been far too zealous in accommodating ‘developers’.

So how is it likely to pan out?

The council’s planning officers will probably recommend that the planning committee (made up of councillors) approves the application for 30 residential units at Gwynfryn. I expect the committee to reject the recommendation and refuse planning permission.

The applicant(s) may at that stage appeal. If so, it becomes the responsibility of the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ to appoint an inspector to review the case and come to a decision that may over-rule the council planning committee.

This is where the farce turns into a charade. Because the ‘Welsh Government’ has no authority over the Planning Inspectorate. The Planning Inspectorate is run from London and invariably makes decisions against the Welsh national interest.

The bottom line is that we are helpless in the face of the onslaught represented by planning applications like this turning us into strangers in our own country. Helpless bystanders as Wales becomes England’s playground.

Even so . . .

It must be established who owns Gwynfryn.

What must also be established is the relationship between Aaron Hill, Partington & Associates / DM Property, Samuel Leeds, James Armstrong and Anthony Wilmott, and anyone else who might still be lurking in the shadows.

Also, the ownership of the land formerly linked with the house needs to be clarified, not least because so many offshore owners have been involved in the past. There is also the possibility that the plan for the Plas may be part of something bigger.

Let’s have the truth. Something so often absent from planning applications in Wales.

REMINDER

As I’ve said more than once . . . what passes for the UK economy is whatever best suits the City of London; that island unto itself floating on a cess-pit of corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance.

In Wales we see the ripples from the cess-pit in the form of crooks and shysters turning up looking for something to buy in order to launder money, or an address from which to operate shell companies.

(I’m not talking now of the Gwynfryn application but of countless other stories I’ve brought you over the years.)

Yet if devolution was what it pretends to be, if those in Corruption Bay were what they want us to believe they are, then this application at Llanystumdwy wouldn’t even get past the pre-application enquiry stage.

For the applicants would be told, ‘No, we don’t need this development because it offers nothing to the local area or to Wales other than further colonisation. Consequently, there is no point in you submitting a full planning application. Goodbye’.

It’s because we can’t do this that I don’t want to hear any more nonsense about “Making devolution work”, or that things would be so much better if only there was a different party managing the show.

Devolution is not supposed to ‘work’ for Wales; it is a purely cosmetic measure. Designed to give the Labour Party opportunities for cronyism and patronage, and Plaid Cymru a “Pocket money parliament”. (© N. McEvoy.)

Which is why it’s futile to try tinkering with devolution. Only independence can solve our problems and prevent Wales being completely assimilated into England.

And time is short.

♦ end ♦

 




Miscellany 21.09.2020

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

Here’s the round-up that’s been postponed for the past few weeks. It covers quite a bit of ground and a variety of subjects.

CHOO-CHOO TRAINS

SNOWDON MOUNTAIN RAILWAY

I wrote about the Snowdon Mountain Railway (SMR) a while back. Over three years ago, in fact, with ‘Respecting Snowdon’. Even though I say so myself, it’s a good read.

(And by the way, did you know that Snowdon is the highest mountain in Belgium and Wales?)

Tourists swarming over a national icon having been brought up by the Snowdon Mountain Railway. Click to enlarge

Among the many interesting facts I unearthed was that the company, Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd (formed 1894), files accounts for a dormant company.

At the very end of the latest Report & Accounts we read that “The company (Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Heritage Great Britain PLC.”

Heritage Great Britain PLC we are told, in its latest Annual Report, “is the holding company for Heritage Attractions Ltd and Heritage Brand Ventures Ltd”.

Click to enlarge

Here’s the Companies House link to Heritage Attractions Ltd, and here’s the link to Heritage Brand Ventures Ltd.

At the very end of the latest Heritage Great Britain Annual Report & Accounts we read that everything is owned by a Jersey company:

Click to enlarge

So the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd is owned by Heritage Great Britain PLC which in turn is owned by Cherberry Ltd of Jersey.

And as I found out when writing the earlier piece, Cherberry Ltd of Jersey is in turn owned by Dukla Ltd of Gibraltar, set up August 2015. And Dukla is probably owned by a company based in an even more sun-blest location.

So it’s Snowdonia to Liverpool, Liverpool to Jersey, Jersey to Gibraltar, Gibraltar to God knows where.

Which means that the patriotically named Heritage Great Britain PLC is ultimately owned by an entity based offshore. But why would a company running tourist attractions need such a twisted web of ownership?

It might have something to do with the Jersey connection, and former undertaker Kevin Leech, and perhaps his links to North Korea. For it’s generally believed that the ‘colourful’ Leech owns the companies we’ve read about here.

His interests are now looked after by his son, Allan James Stuart Leech, who sits as a director on the boards of these companies.

The reason I’m returning to the Snowdon Mountain Railway is because of its new hybrid locos, built by Clayton Equipment of Staffordshire. Word has it that these new locos are not performing as hoped.

Image: Clayton Equipment. Click to enlarge

As you can read in this piece from the Rail Technology Magazine website, “SMR plan to operate at Llanberis entirely on battery power, operate the generator charging on the uphill journey, turn off the generator on the downhill journey and use the regenerative braking to recharge the battery packs”.

The problem I’m hearing about seems to be two-fold. First, the batteries don’t charge as the loco descends, with the brakes on; and second, the brakes themselves don’t work too well as brakes. And with each battery weighing ten tonne, this is a serious matter.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions these problems have been hidden, but they won’t go away. And with the SMR planning a full switch to electric and hybrid technology they need to be fixed, pronto.

Due to this problematic investment in hybrid locos, and the loss of income from Covid-19, there must be a possibility that the Snowdon Mountain Railway will soon be seeking financial support from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

The ‘Welsh Government’ should not give a penny to a company that is ultimately owned by persons or companies based in tax havens.

BALA LAKE RAILWAY

One toy train that is definitely seeking ‘Welsh Government’ money is the Bala Lake Railway.

Google entry. “Alice the little Welsh engine”! How patronisingly twee. Click to enlarge

The BLR line currently runs from Llanuwchllyn up the eastern – Llangower – side of Llyn Tegid to Pen-y-Bont station, near to where Afon Dyfyrdwy (Dee) leaves on its journey to the border and the sea.

Though there’s nothing really new about this plan, it goes back to the 1980s. Here’s a report from 2014.

Last Friday we learnt that the Bala Lake Railway is asking the ‘Welsh Government’ for £2.5m to extend the line to a new station in the town of Bala. And the ‘Welsh Government’ seems keen on giving the money. (Kenny – ‘Flint Ring’ – Skates is already brushing his teeth for the photo op as you read this.)

One of the things that struck me on the Charity Commission website entry was that the contact address for the Bala Lake Railway Trust is in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Then, in a couple of places, I read, as the aim: “To advance enjoyment, education and learning and to promote regional public benefit through the restoration, maintenance and exhibition by operation steam locomotives, rolling stock and other railway artefacts directly associated with the slate industry of north Wales and in particular those regions of Dinorwic and Penrhyn.”

But the Bala Lake Railway runs along a stretch of the old line from Barmouth to Ruabon. It has no connection with the slate industry, and certainly not with Dinorwic or Penrhyn. (Did I say ‘Penrhyn’! That BLM woman will be after me!)

Click to enlarge

So who runs this show . . . from Shepton Mallet? The six trustees are: Squadron Leader Toby Kenneth Watkins, Steve Valentine, Julian Peter Charles Birley, Roger Hine, Christina Lillian Kennedy, Steve Davies.

Toby Watkins and Julian Birley B.E.M. are also with The Locomotive Conservation and Learning Trust. And while Watkins is obviously a retired RAF officer, Birley is a property investor and buy-to-rent landlord, who has recently moved to Llanuwchllyn. His only current company seems to be Property Land Ltd.

Christina Lillian Kennedy accounts for the Shepton Mallet address. She has been involved in countless trusts and the like. While also running a few consultancies.

Roger Hine is another who has graciously come to live among us. Though back in July 2011 he threw a strop when Dŵr Cymru fixed the local water system during school holidays, which meant his toy trains needed to run on diesel for a couple of hours.

Hine was quoted: “I didn’t expect to be cut off in peak season. My next door neighbour runs a guest house and said it was typical in Wales because they are not tourism-orientated.” Useless bloody Welsh! Thank God the English come here to run the tourism industry for us. Did I just say, ‘for us’!

Steve Valentine “owns and runs an award-winning confectionery company in Bala which is also the town’s largest single employer”. This is presumably Gwynedd Confectioners, though the company registered with Companies House is Sweet Valentine Limited, with a Porthmadog address.

I would have expected to see ‘trading as’ somewhere in the Sweet Valentine documents filed with Companies House, but I couldn’t find anything.

Which leaves only ‘Steve’ Davies. When he’s not chuff-chuffing on the banks of Llyn Tegid Davies busies himself with The Friends of Sierra Leone National Railway Museum, The Duke of Lancaster’s Lancashire Regiment Museum, and chairing The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust.

Stephen Davies is from Lancashire, lives in North Yorkshire, and is another ex-military man. Here’s a bit of a bio. And wouldn’t ya know – he too has a consultancy.

Two military officers, someone awarded the British Empire Medal, and the rest suggest a very English establishment outfit. The only thing the Bala Lake Railway seems to want from us is our country and our money.

The question is, boys and girls: Should £2.5m of Welsh public money be used to fund a hobby train, one encouraging the ‘Playground Wales’ tourism that is turning us into strangers in our own country, or should those involved be told to steam off into the sunset?

Answers on the usual post card, please. (And if you’ve run out just send me a message on a post card and I’ll send you some more.)

BEDDGELERT

Another of the ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’ is the Welsh Highland Railway, which runs the 25 miles from Caernarfon to Porthmadog via Beddgelert. At ‘Port’ it links with the Ffestiniog Railway that goes on to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

These lines are for tourists, few locals can afford to use them. I say that because it costs £80 for two to make the 15-mile trip from Caernarfon to Beddgelert in a ‘seating bay’, which I assume to be two, facing bench seats.

Click to enlarge

Which reminded me of something written by Julian Birley B.E.M. on the BLR Trust website; talking of narrow gauge railways, he said: “Largely based in rural regions, these railways are becoming a lifeline for people in areas of high unemployment and in need of regeneration.”

How true is that?

But I digress.

The reason I’m introducing the Welsh Highland Railway is because one of its directors is David Edward Firth, who happens to live in Beddgelert, so I’m sure he uses the train regularly . . . without having to pay.

Another company of which Firth is a director is Glaslyn Leisure Ltd. I’m sure the name won’t mean anything to you and I only came across it in a story about five holiday homes being sold in Beddgelert. Being sold together as an ‘investment’.

They seem to be in a cul-de-sac off the main A498.

Image: Google. Coed Gelert, Beddgelert. Click to enlarge

I suppose £1.2m for five holiday homes in a place like Beddgelert is about right, but when I checked the company accounts an anomaly was revealed. For according to the accounts, or rather, the unaudited financial statement, the company’s tangible assets / net book value amount to only £275,524.

Almost a million pounds less than is being asked for the Beddgelert properties. How is this explained? In two words – debts and depreciation.

The creditors are almost certainly the four directors of Glaslyn Leisure and the debt is presumably what it cost them to buy the land and build the six properties.

Perhaps the real anomaly is depreciation. For in the real world, and especially with holiday homes in Wales, values increase every year; but in declarations to Companies House owners are allowed to apply depreciation of 2% a year on freehold property and 20% on fixtures and fittings.

Which means, over a period of time, property that is increasing in value can, on paper, be made to lose value. Clever, no?

To help me make sense of things I drew a table. Starting in 2010 we see that the fixed assets / book value stood at £526,612 which, a decade ago, with property markets still suffering from the financial crisis of 2008, might have represented some two thirds of what the properties would have fetched if they’d been sold.

Click to enlarge

The big drop in 2018 is accounted for by the sale to David Firth and his wife of Plas Tegfryn. Which means that, as individuals, they bought the house off the company of which they were directors.

How was that calculated?

This sale – the ‘disposal’ mentioned in the financial statement – also explains the reduction in the amount owed to creditors from £519,280 in 2017 to £266,433 in 2018.

I was able to get details of Plas Tegfryn from the Land Registry, but the properties for sale – Sygun, Aran, Y Garn, Hebog, Craig-y-Llan – seem not be registered by name or number. (I got the names from AirBnB.)

Or, rather, on the Companies House website I was able to bring up an individual property, but what’s available for download is the title document for the land on which Coed Gelert was built. You’ll note that when the land was bought David Firth was living on an estate called Oberon Wood. I kid you not – Oberon Wood!

Click to enlarge

And of course we aren’t told how much these properties have earned in the two decades since they were built. So it could be £1.2m clear profit from the sale. Perhaps more. And it will all go to England.

I’ve included this story because it tells us so much about what’s wrong with Wales.

On the one hand we have narrow gauge railways, run by strangers, for the enjoyment of strangers; with hardly any local involvement, but always looking for Welsh public funding by suggesting they provide some public service!

And then we have the kind of tourism-linked property speculation we see in Beddgelert. But not limited to this or any other area.

For as a correspondent from Llandysul wrote a few days ago: “Stories from all directions about ‘selling a shithole house in England and buying three here. One to live in and two to rent out’. I think we’ve had it now.”

This is a decent, caring Welsh person resigned to the death of his nation.

JAKE BERRY

Talking of property speculation reminds me of Jake Berry, the Conservative and Unionist MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire. Berry owns an unknown number of properties on Ynys Môn.

He’s been honoured with coverage on this blog in Jake Berry MP: ‘They seek him here, they seek him there . . . ‘. Jake Berry MP, part 2, Jake Berry MP, part 3, and Jake Berry MP, part 4. As if that wasn’t enough, there were subsequent mentions in Miscellany 06.06.2020, Miscellany 15.07.2020, and Wales and envirocolonialism.

One of those properties is Rhyd-y-Bont, at Rhoscolyn, an area of the island being rapidly cleansed of the Welsh and other undesirables. Berry, or his wife, Alice Molly Radclyffe Berry, bought it last year for £780,000.

Jake Berry MP. Click to enlarge

The name of this rural retreat translated into English takes us to Ford Bridge Farm Ltd, a company formed in May, that uses the address of an accountant in Bacup, in Berry’s constituency. The directors are Berry and his wife, with said accountant, Paul Fitton, serving as secretary.

There have been some developments worth reporting. I just hope I can explain them.

On the Companies House website, at the top of an entry, all company names are given in upper case, so I was amazed to see, Ford Bridge, FARM LTD. Also, this curiosity has a date of birth! Though December 1983 is also when Jake Berry’s wife was born.

Had she changed her name?

At the second attempt I found another entry for Ford Bridge Farm Limited, with Palatine Hill Limited listed as an appointment. This is in addition to the original entry given above.

Clicking on Palatine Hill tells us that the listed officers are Duckworth Estate Company Limited and Ford Bridge Farm Limited. With Duckworth Estate owned, it would appear, by Palatine Hill Ltd.

Palatine Hill could be a ‘Russian doll’ arrangement for Jake and his missus’ property dealings, set up to deter enquiries – cos there’s some nosy buggers out there! I suppose the next step would be offshore, but that might look bad, even for a Tory MP.

I suggest that because checking the ‘Filing history’ I saw this entry for 31 July, 2020 “Withdrawal of the directors’ residential address register information from the public register”. And if you want a ‘company snapshot’ then you’ll need to cough up £15.

As you all know, the Palatine Hill was one of the seven hills of Ancient Rome. It’s where the toffs were said to live. Which is entirely fitting for upwardly mobile Jake and Alice Berry.

But under no circumstances should it be confused with the Capitoline Hill or any of the other five. And it’s nowhere near Blueberry Hill, of which the late Antoine ‘Fats’ Domino so often sang.

See, you don’t just get informed on this blog, you get bloody well educated as well.

Tidy, mun!

ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS

Towards the end of August I wrote Black Mountains College, in which we looked at this project in Talgarth, Powys that seeks to become a kind of university for eco-warriors.

One of the sidetracks down which comments took us led to the OPD settlement at Rhiw Las, near Whitland in Carmarthenshire. I’d been keeping an eye on this through regular updates from Companies House on Rhiw Las Ltd, a company formed in September 2013.

But of course, filings to Companies House can’t always tell us what’s happening on the ground. And that’s why I’m indebted to those who commented to the blog or contacted me in other ways.

The 21.5 acre Rhiw Las site is made up of four couples living on separate OPDs, each of roughly 5 acres. Planning permission was granted by the Planning Inspectorate in June 2016 after being rejected by Carmarthenshire planning committee.

The stated thinking behind OPDs is to encourage people to live self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyles, in order to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint. The fact that all those choosing to live on OPDs have moved to Wales, thereby increasing Wales’ carbon footprint, is an inconvenient truth and therefore ignored.

As it is set out in the ‘Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note 6 the strategy is about “delivering sustainable rural communities”. And what a welcome innovation this will be, for in the 10,000 years since the retreat of the ice Wales has never known sustainable rural communities.

Soon after releasing into the wild the piece about Black Mountains College news started arriving about the denizens of Rhiw Las. One couple in particular may have been telling porkies about where they live, and what they do.

I’m referring now to Chris Vernon and Erica Thompson. That’s Dr Chris Vernon, who works for the Met Office in Bristol; and Dr Erica Thompson, a Fellow of the London School of Economics.

Colonialist charlatans with young. Click to enlarge

When she’s not teaching in London, or attending conferences, or at her holiday home OPD, Erica Thompson is chairwoman of the One Planet Council. Which means that she knows the buzz-words, she has the connections, and the buttons she needs to push are invitingly illuminated.

OPDs can look commendable, deserving of support, until you learn more and appreciate the bullshit involved.

Great dollops of which can be found in the Management Plan for Rhiw Las, that accompanied the planning application. It makes a big thing of the availability of wild food. But if you’re going to use wild food to strengthen your case then you might as well say there’ll be lots of air to breathe, and birds singing, and flies flying . . .

One Planet Developments are supposed to be about people doing things for themselves, not relying entirely on Mother Nature . . . plus of course, the Met Office and the LSE.

Click to enlarge

Then there’s Wycliffe Tippins, another resident of Rhiw Las. It seems Wycliffe lives or works in Gloucestershire. As a comment to the Black Mountains College post told us, “Wycliffe is a computer games developer. Another useful addition to the rural skillset at Rhiw Las !”

What’s more, not so long ago, Wycliffe was advertising for unpaid help to look after his OPD while he was designing computer games in England.

Note that Wales is “over here”. Click to enlarge

And before he was even using the static caravan on his visits to Wales, and before Rhiw Las was given planning permission, Wycliffe was demanding a strong Well-being of Future Generations Bill! Which would of course be of benefit to him and his friends.

Which meant he was trying to influence Welsh legislation when he wasn’t even pretending to be living here! Arrogant colonialist fucker!

Another member of the Rhiw Las gang who may be working full-time in England is Dr Paul Jennings. But what I found really interesting about him came from this interview with Lowimpact.org in April.

Contrary to what I’m sure most of us believed, according to Paul Jennings, ‘The (OPD) policy is intended to strengthen local, rural economies in Wales – it’s not about self-sufficiency.’ Though in other areas he agrees with us.

Click to enlarge

Though I’d love to know how the dissembling incompetents in Corruption Bay think inviting into Wales small groups of arrogant colonialist fuckers© standing aloof from the indigenous population strengthens local rural economies. I really would like that to be explained.

Over at Lammas we find Cassandra Lishman, the ‘Woman of the Willows’. Are she and her husband living a self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle? Almost certainly not, for as the article tells us, hubby “Nigel has a ‘conventional’ job as a care support worker.”

To which he drives every day.

“Cassie is at pains to stress that living at Lammas – reliant upon sun, water and wind for power, and running smallholdings in tune with nature – does not preclude having a ‘normal’ life”.

All they really want is a cheap place in the countryside. And it has to be the Welsh countryside because no other country on Earth has been so stupid as to submit to these people by introducing the OPD system.

Once they’ve got their little bit of heaven, built for a few thousand pounds, it can be sold for a premium price as a dwelling in open country.

It so happens – Cassandra Lishman is selling her place!

Clearly, the OPD system is being abused on a massive scale. And yet the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to intervene, leaving local planning authorities helpless. And so the envirocolonists keep coming, in an ever-increasing tide.

Here’s what one local source told me:

“As far as I can tell there in no policing by Pembs CC and given the fear of litigation that Carm CC  suffered at the hands OPD lawyers they are reluctant/can’t afford to enforce any of the planning restrictions imposed originally

I foresee many of the properties sold as general housing with a very large garden and a lifestyle

Sure as hell nobody local will be buying these properties as it will be cash buyers only, I somehow doubt that they are mortgageable

Lammas is a shambles and beyond any controls it seems. The latest episode is —– laying down on the track to stop a farmer hedge cutting because he can’t get his hay equipment to fields further up the hill

There are more appearing in the valley and it is divisive. A farmer is buying blocks of land just to prevent more arrivals as he is already surrounded.

They are not going away so sooner or later most will be sold on the open market.

I don’t see the an end to it.

Wealthy incomers, from SE England and Bristol queuing up to buy a toy farm in countryside, working from home and not having the skills abide to OPD planning conditions. What then?

The farms are being fragmented and they will never be able to be reinstated as a viable family farm of the type that has built the indigenous community”.

I know it’s easy to laugh at these people and their pretensions, but they are ambitious, greedy, well connected, and dangerous. Never forget that the clowns in Corruption Bay have already bent over backwards to do their bidding.

The ambition I’m referring to stretches way beyond the few settlements we see today, mainly in the south west. According to Paul/Tau Wimbush, a Lammas guru, Wales could easily accommodate another 115,000 eco-holdings. That’s 414,000 people – all them land-grabbing charlatans, with few living the life they’ll claim to be living.

Paul/Tao Wimbush’ vision for Wales. Click to enlarge

Chris Vernon agrees that there should be many more faux OPDs. Go to 7:10 in this video to hear him say: “There is no reason why Wales couldn’t support several tens of thousands of smallholdings in the open countryside”.

GLYNLLIFON LTD

Glynllifon is a name you’ll be familiar with, but this section has nothing to do with Plas Glynllifon, the old mansion south of Caernarfon that has attracted so many crooks over recent years.

No, this Glynllifon is on Ynys Môn, near Marianglas, with Benllech to the south and Moelfre to the north. Though just like its mainland namesake it also attracts crooks!

As I was informed in a couple of anonymous e-mails earlier this month telling me that certain ‘businessmen’ had a project at Traeth Bychan, Marianglas, and that a company called Glynllifon Ltd was involved.

This company was formed 10 June last year, with Neil Moir as sole director. (The name is sometimes spelt ‘Muir’.) The company soon took out two loans with Goldcrest Finance Ltd to buy the Glynllifon hotel. Goldcrest Finance is yet another “specialist lender based in central Manchester”. How many of them are there?

Glynllifon Ltd uses an accommodation address in London, 160 City Road EC1V 2NX.

Here’s the Land Registry title document. I suggest you keep it open in another window. Because before moving on to the latest developments I’d like to concentrate on the title document for a bit.

Glynllifon Hotel, Marianglas. Click to enlarge

Going back to 1999 (page 2) it would appear that the Glynllifon Hotel passed from people named Beardsley to a Lesley Karen Boshell. Yet on page 3 we find that, “A Deed dated 17 September 2015 made between (1) Thelma Eileen Beardsley and (2) Ocean and Country Developments Limited contains restrictive covenants.”

Turning to Ocean & Country Developments Ltd we find Ronald Kenneth Boshell of Cheshire as a director. It’s reasonable to assume that he is related to Lesley Karen Boshell.

Ocean & Country Developments is heavily in debt and the debt may be explained by an outstanding charge held by ‘The Santhouse Pensioneer Trustee Company Limited Marc Howard and Avis Howard’ against . . . the Glynllifon Hotel. Marc Howard is the other director, with Boshell, of Ocean & Country Developments.

The Boshells were obviously living on Ynys Mon in January 2005 because this report from the Daily Post tells us that one of the Boshell children was hit by a car on the way to school.

The report also told us that, “Mr Boshell and wife Leslie (sic) said they closed the hotel last year because the road was so dangerous”. The hotel was called the Beauchelles Hotel (geddit?), though closing due to traffic is unlikely.

UPDATE 22.09.2020: My suspicion has been confirmed – the Beauchelles Hotel was Glynllifon. Sources say it went downhill, almost as if it was designed to fail.

One source sent me a photo of Ronnie Boshell, now domiciled in Spain.

Click to enlarge

In that report from the Daily Post you will have seen the name of local ‘spokesman’ Barrie Durkin. He became a councillor and in 2013 he was complaining about the derelict buildings in Benllech:

“Cllr Durkin said: ‘For years now Benllech and its surrounding areas has seen a number of its prominent hotels and properties purchased by property developers just to be closed down with no work done. (My emphasis.)

‘They have been left dangerously, inadequately secured and are blots on the beautiful landscapes.”

He drew attention to Y Gorlan, on Benllech promenade, which has already been set on fire, has been left open to the elements and has become a magnet for unsuspecting children to get injured or killed.

Some of the eyesores also include the Bay Court Hotel, the Bryntyrion (sic) Hotel and the Beauchelles Hotel, which Cllr Durkin says are letting the village down.'”

It could be that companies were being set up, and property bought, to launder money. Such things happen.

The image below, from Google, was captured in July 2016. It would appear to show some plan to develop the Glynllifon site as apartments and holiday cottages, perhaps by Ocean & Country Developments Ltd.

Click to enlarge

The Boshells, or Beauchelles, appear to have moved back to north west England.

The empty and semi-derelict Glynllifon Hotel has now been bought by Glynllifon Ltd and Neil Moir. So who exactly is he?

In a word, another crook.

THE winner of top TV quiz Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is set to lose his fortune – because he is a crook.

Millions saw 51-year-old Neil Muir land a £64,000 prize this week. But under the programme’s rules he is BANNED from entering.

Muir has convictions for theft, deception and forgery. And Rule 6 says: “You must… have no criminal convictions (subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974).” London TV company Celador launched an investigation yesterday.

Although his roots seem to be in north west England Moir is, I believe, living on Ynys Môn. In Bodorgan, on the opposite side of the island to Marianglas.

He seems to have a number of companies registered at his home address. It’s worth flicking through them. One of the companies – the Anglo Chinese Property Corporation Ltd – also has loans with Goldcrest and owns property in Wrecsam.

In August 2015 the Financial Conduct Authority refused Moir permission to engage in credit broking. (Though you have to admire his chutzpah!)

In recent days the Glynllifon Hotel has been in the news because the planned development – if it’s not another money laundering operation! – plans to open under the ‘Traeth Bychan Heights’ label. This has upset many locals angry at so many traditional names being lost.

Though when the story was reported by the Daily Post someone supported the change. “Can’t live in the past”, the comment said. It came from ‘Shakinshane’ . . . otherwise known as Shane Baker, of the Duggan family Bryn Llys gang.

(Bryn Llys has been renamed ‘Snowdon Summit View’.)

Click to enlarge

Now what interest would Shane Baker have in the Marianglas / Benllech area? Silly me! – it’s where the police found his boss John Joseph Duggan hiding out. Though given what we now know about the area I can’t help wondering who owned the property in which Duggan was hiding.

Somebody must know.

To complete the picture my source tells me that Neil Moir has a partner. And that partner is Rhys Williams.

I’m sure I’ll return to this story in future posts. If anyone has more information, then get in touch.

Toy trains, ‘investment’ holiday homes, Tory MPs’ property empires, envirocolonists and outright crooks are just the same monster glimpsed in different lights. All elements of a colonial system that no longer simply exploits but also destroys.

Either we start taking back control, from those you’ve read about, and from those who refuse to take action against them, or it will be victory for Shane Baker and those who agree that doing away with everything that makes us Welsh is progress.

♦ end ♦




Bryn Llys, the Liverpool connection

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

You will recall that last week I planned on giving you a few reports from here and there, but one just grew to the point where it took over? Well, would you believe it – the same thing has happened again this week!

The purpose of this piece is two-fold. First, to bring you up to date with recent developments; second, to take a fuller look at the background and those involved in the recent acquisition of more land.

BACKGROUND

To cut a long story short . . . Bryn Llys was a traditional smallholding near the village of Nebo, not far from Caernarfon. Then it was bought by a gang of fraudsters from West Yorkshire. To launder the proceeds of crime they went on a building spree.

The head of the gang is perhaps John Joseph Duggan. I say ‘perhaps’, because with him being in prison quite often, or on the run, business seems to be handled by his son, Jonathan James Duggan.

Because neither Duggan is officially supposed to have any money, Bryn Llys is, for the Land Registry record, owned by their associate Andrew Battye.

Explained in this piece from March, ‘Bryn Llys, unravelling’. (And earlier pieces. Just type ‘Bryn Llys’ into the search box atop the sidebar.)

Before going away for his most recent period of incarceration Duggan senior brought a bit of excitement to sleepy Benllech when police swooped to arrest him. (Police always ‘swoop’ in situations like that.)

They also paid a visit to Bryn Llys looking for him.

Click to enlarge

Duggan Senior has a long criminal record. And when he was sent down in 2005 his son – using the name Ripley – took over the family fraud business.

On paper, Battye is central to the whole operation, but in the real world, as observers testify, he cuts a rather sorry and peripheral figure. At best, a decoy; at worst – for him! – the fall guy.

Desperation to move money combined with a total absence of taste resulted in an ‘extension’ to Bryn Llys in a style that I would describe as Dickensian workhouse. This soon dwarfed the original building and it was put on the market last year – as ‘Snowdon Summit View’ – for £850,000.

Click to enlarge

There were no takers, so it went to auction in February with a guide price of £650,000. Again, no takers. There’s a lesson here, one that those involved may be too stupid to learn. So let me spell it out for them.

The reason they can’t find a buyer is that anyone making basic enquiries about Bryn Llys soon learns that there are enforcement notices and other legal issues hanging over this monstrosity. Then there are the disputes with neighbours . . . police raids . . .

And more recently, court appearances. (More about these later.)

This is trouble gang members have brought on themselves because they turned up in Nebo with a sack full of swag believing they could intimidate neighbours, bamboozle planners, and just steamroller their plans through.

Plans exposed by the formation in June last year of Bryn Llys Ltd, a company in the business of “Holiday centres and villages”.

4 GLANRAFON TERRACE

Before bringing you up to date with the latest developments I need to delve a little deeper into the recent acquisition made by the gang. Some ten acres of land that came with the purchase of 4 Glanrafon Terrace. For this is central to the Duggans’ grand vision.

The recent changes are set out in the plans below, which will also give you the lie of the land. It might help if you keep this open in another window.

Click to enlarge

Plan 1 shows the boundaries of Bryn Llys, together with the access road, after it had been split into two titles with both, officially, held by Andrew Battye (Image: Ordnance Survey, Land Registry.) Here’s the title document for Bryn Llys, and here for the land adjoining.

Plan 2 shows the original boundary for 4 Glanrafon Terrace and the land attached. (Image: Ordnance Survey, Land Registry.) Here’s the title document.

Plan 3 shows the land, edged in red, sold to Jonathan Duggan following the purchase of 4 Glanrafon Terrace by Aaron Hill. (Image: Ordnance Survey, Land Registry.) Here’s the title document.

Plan 4 shows the new access road Jonathan Duggan has laid to Bryn Llys despite there being an enforcement notice against this work. (Image: JPJ Architectural Design, Llandudno.)

Although Duggan argues that he needs the new road for agricultural purposes, the Duggans know nothing about farming. Though, in fairness, a few cows have now appeared at Bryn Llys, with bovine recruits and established gang members staring at each other in mutual bewilderment.

Back to Glanrafon Terrace.

From around 2006 the house was home to Nicholas Brian Williams and David Brookwell. It is suggested that Brookwell had suffered an injury and that Williams was his carer. Whatever the truth of it, I have found two men with the same names living next door to the Tregib Arms in Upper Brynamman in 2004/5.

Williams and Brookwell eventually fell behind with their mortgage repayments and around March 14, 2018 the property was repossessed by lenders AMG. But it was not straightforward. Security guards were needed on the property 24/7 to stop Jonathan Duggan taking over the adjoining land he claimed and laying the access road for which he had no planning permission.

There seems little doubt that once he realised they were in financial difficulties Jonathan Duggan homed in on Williams and Brookwell. They perhaps agreed to sell the land to him. Whatever agreement might have been made was made late in the day, with the vultures already circling.

After their home had been repossessed Nick Williams and David Brookwell were graciously allowed to live at Bryn Llys, but soon given the heave-ho when they were of no further use to Jonathan Duggan.

I hear they may have moved south, and that Nick Williams was managing a charity shop in Cardigan.

I feel sorry for them. Whatever settlement they received from the lender following the sale would have been considerably reduced by having to pay for 24-hour security thanks to Duggan’s behaviour. They may have been left with nothing.

And now it gets really strange.

LEGAL EAGLE

Some time after the property had been repossessed a document appeared claiming to show that Williams and Brookwell had entered into an agreement with Jonathan Duggan’s wife, Emma, and Andrew Battye, to sell them the land adjoining 4 Glanrafon Terrace. Read it here.

But the document threw up a number of questions.

From the Paul Fosh catalogue for an auction on May 3, 2018. Click to enlarge

Superficially, it looks the real deal. But it’s a document that can be found on sites like this, even the details can be filled in online before the form is downloaded.

In the accompanying e-mails you’ll see that the solicitor acting for Jonathan Emma Duggan and Andrew Battye was Kathryn Elizabeth Parry of Parry and Co Solicitors Limited of Liverpool.

This company has been in liquidation for over a year.

I’m not sure it ever did much business, and it seems to have been stripped before the liquidator arrived. For if you check the liquidator’s statement from July, under ‘Asset realisations’, you’ll see ‘Nil’ recorded against fixtures and fittings, motor vehicles and computer equipment.

Which might suggest that Kate Parry travelled everywhere by bus and did all her business face to face and by word of mouth. That’s not true, of course, but the liquidator’s report is worth reading.

According to her Linkedin profile Kate landed on her feet, for she is now a senior solicitor at Victor Welsh Solicitor & Notary Public. I can’t find a website other than this, possibly because the company was only formed last October.

An unusual move you might think for a man of 73 years.

Click to enlarge

Though perhaps I’m being a little unfair, for according to Companies House Vic is a Renaissance businessman. Being a past or present director of investment vehicles, buy-to-rent companies, residential homes and a golf club.

It is suspected the document alleging an agreement between the Bryn Llys gang and the residents of 4 Glanrafon Terrace was concocted when it became obvious that repossession was in the offing. And backdated to November 2013.

Because that date is within weeks of Duggan turning up at Bryn Llys, and before Williams and Brookwell could have known him, so why would they enter into such an agreement? Especially as repossession was a long way away.

And if Duggan really had that agreement in writing since November 2013 why did he spend the next few years making life hell for other neighbours demanding they make him concessions he already had?

The document is also suspect because it clearly wasn’t proof-read by a solicitor, or anyone else. A quick flick through turned up a number of curiosities.

For example, On page 3 I see, “Miss Emma Duggan”, but she’s Jonathan Duggan’s wife. Isn’t she?

At 4.2 a, we read “land adjourning 4 glanarfon terrace”.

The addresses for the four parties involved, and the dates on which it’s suggested they signed, were written by the same hand.

The only address and dates in a different hand are those for the witness – an odd-job man who works for Jonathan Duggan.

A half-decent lawyer would have fun with that document.

But it’s when I looked more closely into Kate Parry’s associations that the old Jac eyes opened wide.

MERSEYSIDE BUSINESSMEN

Let’s go back to Kate Parry’s company, Parry & Co Solicitors Ltd. When we click on the ‘Charges’ tab we bring up three loans.

One came directly from Lee James Spencer, who was a director of Parry & Co in 2013/14. Another from LJS Corporate Projects Ltd, a company started by Spencer where Parry was a director. The third is Mass Medical Solutions Ltd, another Spencer company, this one in liquidation.

Clearly, there is some relationship between Parry and Spencer. So who is he?

In the caption to a photograph in this report from the Echo he is described as a “Liverpool businessman”.

The project discussed in the Echo report is Chinatown, located between the Anglican cathedral and the waterfront. It’s a project that has not gone smoothly. In fact, Chinatown is one of a number of major projects in central Liverpool that have either ground to a halt or collapsed altogether.

Make sure you read it in full. It’s a great piece of reporting, the kind of thing we never get from the mainstream media in Wales.

Image: Echo, Liverpool. Click to enlarge

Things got so bad that in 2017 Liverpool City Council referred the New Chinatown project to the National Crime Agency, perhaps under pressure from investors in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and elsewhere who were beginning to realise they’d been taken for a ride by certain ‘Liverpool businessmen’.

Among the companies mentioned as having taken Far Eastern investors’ money and then gone bust is North Point Global Limited, formed in 2015 by Lee James Spencer. We also find Spencer as a director at China Town Development Company Ltd.

Although he doesn’t appear as a director of these Spencer companies Peter McInnes was definitely involved, as this report from the Echo makes clear.

“Mr McInnes became one of the biggest players in Liverpool’s vibrant regeneration scene through prominent roles at development firms PHD1 and North Point Global.

He spoke out on behalf of both companies as they embarked on plans to transform Liverpool city centre, with his quotes appearing on press releases marking key stages of projects with a projected value of more than £320m.

They included the New Chinatown deal for proposals for 800 homes, 200,000 sq ft of shops and the creation of as many as 1,000 jobs in a massive scheme set to lie in the shadow of the Anglican Cathedral.”

Yet despite that write-up McInnes prefers to take a back seat. We see PHD1 mentioned in the Echo report. There are a string of PHD companies where McInnes’ interests are represented by his sister, Julie Caroline McInnes.

Then there’s North Point (Pall Mall) Ltd where I found (son?) Joshua McInnes.

Though I’m sure it’s the headline to the story that caught your eye. You can almost hear the kiddies in the audience shouting back – ‘Oh yes you do!’ Bless ’em!

Click to enlarge

So let’s recap.

The Bryn Llys gang holds a remarkable document proving that Jonathan Duggan is the true Tsar of All the Russias . . . or at least he might have some sort of arrangement to buy a few acres near his demesne.

To promote this claim the Bryn Llys gang chose a Liverpool solicitor who keeps very racy company indeed. But how did it come about?

For Kate Parry was running a shoestring outfit few people had heard of, and may have existed primarily to serve Lee James Spencer. Duggan is from West Yorkshire with, as far as I’m aware, no Merseyside connections. So how did they find each other?

You may be thinking along similar lines to me, so we’ll leave it there for the time being.

JONATHAN DUGGAN HAS HIS DAY(S) IN COURT

The Bryn Llys Gang was in court a few weeks ago and found guilty of breaching an enforcement notice. Jonathan Duggan was bound over for 12 months, Battye for 9 months, and Emma Duggan for 6 months.

It was reported, ‘The judge added Mr Battye, who owned the building and continues to pay the mortgage, had “lost interest in the property and washed his hands of his responsibilities.”‘

Think about that for a minute. Here’s a man who’s bought a large property on which he’s still paying the mortgage. People he’s generously allowed to live there are behaving as if they own the place, and his only response is to shrug his shoulders!

How about  . . . Battye doesn’t own Bryn Llys, and he never did.

Click to enlarge

The ‘architect’ shown in the picture is Scott Smith, half-brother to Jonathan Duggan. For a while Smith had his own company, Diseno Ltd, which drew up the plans used in the alleged ‘agreement’.

Smith now works for C K Architectural of Hull. This company is run by Christian Lawson, who had his own day in court a couple of years back.

The day after the family gathering in Llandudno Magistrates Court Jonathan Duggan was back for breaching an enforcement notice regarding an unauthorised bridge on the newly-acquired land. He lost, again.

The reason Battye wasn’t in court for the second hearing was because the new land is owned by Jonathan Duggan. But it’s not that simple.

For after 4 Glanrafon Terrace failed to sell at the Paul Fosh auction earlier this year it was bought by Aaron Hill, another Englishman being victimised in Wales. And then, Hill loaned Duggan £50,000 to buy the land from him!

Because as I keep telling you – Duggan doesn’t officially have any money!

Though, thinking of money . . . in the ‘agreement’ we see £5,500 mentioned, this being the figure Emma Duggan and Andrew Battye were to pay for the land. Yet Duggan claims to have paid Hill £50,000. So either he was cheated or Williams and Brookwell were going to be cheated.

I wonder . . .

It’s all so complicated, and failure to understand the complexities of Bryn Llys may have led to JPJ Architectural making a howler. Go back to plan 4 above, and in the legend on the right you’ll read: “Blue line represents Bryn Llys site boundary prior to purchasing the additional land”.

But the new land does not form part of Bryn Llys. They’re two separate titles. Bryn Llys is owned by Andrew Battye and the new land by Jonathan Duggan – bought with a loan from Aaron Hill! Officially.

Though you have to wonder why Hill bought the property at all. Did Duggan give him the money to make the purchase?

SHAKIN’ SHANE

One not mentioned in the court reports, but who deserves recognition, is Shane Baker. It was Baker who got me interested in Bryn Llys when, on Twitter a couple of years ago, he called me “a right cunt”. (I had to rummage in my drawers for great-aunt Fastidia’s smelling salts after reading that!)

Shane is a BritNat of the variety that believes people like him, the Duggans, Aaron Hill, Paul Williams, Gavin Lee Woodhouse, Myles Cunliffe, et al should be able to stomp into Wales and do what they damn well like because they are English and we are mere Welsh.

Click to enlarge

Shane Baker lives on the Bryn Llys site, in a large caravan. His role is to flog off goods, equipment, machinery, etc., that the Duggans have obtained but have no intention of paying for. This being their modus operandi.

And we are not talking small items from Amazon left in the porch. One excavator caused a hell of a lot of damage as it was being removed. This may be another reason Duggan wants a new access – so he can order, not pay for, and flog off, even bigger machinery!

Baker made a few comments to the Daily Post report on the first court appearance as ‘Shakingshane’ (for he is a performer in the Rock ‘n’ Roll genre). “The council up to there old tricks again , there all bent”, he sagely contributed.

Before washing up in Gwynedd Shane Baker lived in south west England where he amused himself – and indeed others – as vocalist for a band called Kabinrock. If you feel up to it, here’s a video of him jumping around at a wedding reception.

THOUGHTS

Getting the gang into court over planning issues is progress, I suppose. But the real crimes are still going unpunished.

Pressure must now be maintained; by neighbours, council, and police. There are weak links in this chain that might crack under pressure. And when they do, they’ll have a lot to say.

Also, let’s make sure that no local suppliers or contractors deal with the Bryn Llys gang. Neighbours were disappointed to see a Llŷn contractor working on the unauthorised access track. I’m sure he now knows what sort of people he’s been dealing with.

Jonathan Duggan’s attitude to life is to ignore rules, laws, and all decent forms of human behaviour; to push a situation as far as he can to his advantage and then stand back and say – ‘Well, what are you gonna to do about it?’ Let’s show him what we’re going to do about it.

Because what sort of country is Wales that it attracts and tolerates people like this, and allows them to prosper? Obviously, a homeland over which we Welsh have no real control. It’s time to change that, for this and so many other reasons.

Finally, there’s always room on my stack of solicitors’ letters for one more. So I’ll say it again: Jonathan James Duggan is a liar, a bully, and a crook.

♦ end ♦

 




Baghdad to Pendine?

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 week’s posting began life as a round-up of four separate stories, but one of them grew and grew until it pushed the others out of the nest.

But don’t distress yourselves, for I shall pick them up and breathe life back into them for the next posting.

RUBBISH, RUBBISH

This piece began when I read something interesting on WalesOnline – and it’s not often I get to write that!

The story was about rubbish dumped behind the Lidl Supermarket in Pontardawe in November 2018. Rubbish that had come from a building in central Swansea.

Click to enlarge

The guilty party was Gower Way Limited. Given the name I assumed it was local to Swansea; but no, for Gower Way Limited has its registered address in London.

Where it was Incorporated in July 2015, and there’s been no change of name. Suggesting the company was set up in London with the intention of operating in Swansea. Though, curiously, the address transferred from Swansea to London in September 2018 – without any record of it ever transferring to Swansea.

The only director and sole shareholder is Nasser Saleh Alanizy.

The confirmation statement is currently overdue with Companies House. In fact, the company was struck off late last year and restored just before Christmas. Though the contact name given on the restoration document is not Nasser Alanizy but Baber Wassim.

Whoever this is, he’s never been a director of Gower Way. Though if it’s this Baber Wassim, then he has a string of dissolved companies to his name.

The unaudited, micro-entity ‘accounts’ suggest capital and reserves of £874,900 in 2019, down from £1,820,720 the previous year. Made up entirely of fixed assets, possibly buildings.

That’s what’s suggested when we click on the Gower Way ‘Charges’ tab. For the charges refer to a retail unit at 62 Kingsway, and ‘The Box’, in Welcome Lane. Both in Swansea.

I must confess that for a minute this old Jack couldn’t place Welcome Lane and so I had to resort to Google. It’s a short street running down from Castle Street to the Strand. But there’s nothing there apart from an old public lavatory. Is that ‘The Box’?

Welcome Lane. Swansea. Click to enlarge

Indeed it is. As the title document and plan prove. In two instalments totalling £114,210.70 Swansea council seems to have paid Gower Way Ltd to take this old public loo off their hands on a 125-year lease commencing 14 December 2015. Though the charges are dated 31 March 2017.

Over on the Kingsway we find a similar story. Two charges totalling £174,521.97 against No 62. According to the title document the lease only cost Gower Way £80,500 plus VAT, so why did the council cough up £174,521.97?

Was it payment for disposing of the rubbish?

That gives us a total of £288,732.67. So I’m not clear as to where Gower Way’s assets of £879,000 shown in the accounts come from. There must be assets in addition to the buildings in Swansea. Presumably.

To recap; Gower Way Ltd was Incorporated 9 July 2015. The lease for 62 Kingsway was signed 10 September, 2015, and the lease for ‘The Box’ on 14 December, 2015. The four loans from the Council are dated 31 March, 2017.

Does this mean that the Council signed lease agreements with a company that over a year later needed money from the Council to honour those lease agreements?

UPDATE: It now appears that a Middle Eastern restaurant opened in April 2017 at 62 The Kingsway. This probably explains the council loans in March 2017. A Twitter account was started, but never tweeted; and a Facebook page was also opened, and abandoned.

There was even a short-lived company called Feasting House Swansea Limited. Incorporated March 2017, application to strike-off made 18 January 2018. There may have been a restaurant on the premises for a short while but I doubt if that was the primary purpose to which the building was put.

And what were the loans for the public lavatories in Welcome Lane used for?

Swansea council was taken for a ride.

UPDATE 08.09.2020: A source tells me that the loans were linked with Property Enhancement Development Fund (PEDF) and Homes Above Shops (HAS). This Google link suggest that funding was announced for Swansea in June 2014. Gower Way Ltd was formed a year later, almost certainly to take advantage of the funding.

Click to enlarge

Unfortunately the link only opens The Wave (radio station) home page.

HOW THEY ARE RELATED

Nasser Alanizy’s Linkedin entry says that he has also been a director of ‘Old House CMC’ since September 2009. I have no idea what CMC stands for, but a Nasser Alanizy is a director of Old House Group Ltd, a company launched as recently as February last year.

Though his day job would appear to be with the Focus Building Group. Or it was until a couple of years ago. But the Focus Building Group doesn’t appear at all on Alanizy’s Linkedin profile.

Click to enlarge

A bit confusing. And now it gets more confusing.

For another of Alanizy’s companies is Canons Lodge Ltd. The accounts are overdue with Companies House but the latest available accounts, up to 31 July 2018, show ‘Capital and reserves’ of minus £237,000.

And yet, if we compare the accounts for 2017 and 2018, specifically the extracts below, we see that what was £630,000 in 2017 has reduced in the 2018 accounts to £63,000. Is this a typo, the sort of thing that happens with unaudited, ‘do-it-yourself’ submissions, or is it something more?

Click to enlarge

But perhaps what’s even stranger is that with Canons Lodge we encounter the same four charges with the City and County of Swansea. The total amount – £288,732.67 – is exactly the same as that listed against the two properties in Swansea for Gower Way Ltd.

So Swansea council is shelling out for a building in London!

Canons Lodge Ltd began life with a London address, Then on 24 March, 2017, it transferred its registered address to 62 The Kingsway. The moolah from the council was delivered the following month.

Then, just like Gower Way Ltd, in September 2018 the address was changed to a London address. Both companies eventually settling at 23 Crawford Street, London W1H 1BY.

So what or where is Canons Lodge?

CANONS PARK

It turns out that Canons Park is a municipal park in the borough of Harrow in north west London, with an Underground station of the same name. The Lodge used to serve as the park-keeper’s residence and it seems that Nasser Alanizy has recently bought the place.

I got this information from Friends of Canons Park, who told me “Mr Alanizy is the resident of the Lodge in Canons Park.  He is a property developer and is trying to adapt the Lodge to create an arts centre and meeting rooms, which the Friends are happy to support as they will directly benefit the park.”

Click to enlarge

The Land Registry title document for the Lodge tells us, page 3 C5: “(09.04.2014) A Transfer of the land in this title dated 19 March 2014 made between (1) The Mayor And Burgesses Of the London Borough Of Harrow and (2) Intercontinental Developments Limited contains restrictive covenants.” 

So who are the previous owners, Intercontinental Developments Ltd? To begin with, it is registered with Companies House. The only current director is Surmid El Akabi. A previous director – from February 2005 until March 2019 – was Karim El Akabi.

Surmid El Akabi’s Linkedin profile tells us that he is CEO of the FIAFI Group, an Iraqi company, that gets a mention in the Panama Papers. (Click on a node to open links.) There we see Karim El Akabi, and also Namir El Akabi.

It’s reasonable to assume that the three El Akabis are related.

Digression alert!

I came across this reference from 2013 to Namir El Akabi buying the Paragon Hotel in Birmingham. BirminghamLive said: “According to sources, Iraqi owners the El-Akabi family are preparing to invest in a multi-million pound overhaul of the hotel which will see it restored to its former glory”.

The Paragon Hotel was soon being used to house more than 230 young male asylum seekers, placed there by G4S. The owners promised to clean up their act and refurbish the hotel.

The re-named building seems to have operated as part hostel for asylum seekers and part commercial hotel. Last month, the citizens of Brum learnt that it was still housing asylum seekers . . . but without the knowledge of the city council.

Surrendering to the curiosity that would surely have killed me by now if I’d been born with a taste for mice I wondered who owns the Paragon/Rowton Hotel.

The answer is Paragon Investment Estate Ltd, Incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Presumably a front for the El Akabis because the most recent sale recorded with the Land Registry was the one reported in 2013.

Click to enlarge

The BVI is also home to Namir El-Akabi’s Almco group of companies. (Again, click on the nodes to open further links.) The man himself is described in this piece from the New York Times of May 2011 as one of ‘The Hot-Money Cowboys of Baghdad’.

Namir El Akabi was one of the wealthy exiles who helped bring down Saddam Hussein . . . and he expected his cut of post-Saddam Iraq. His reach, under Western patronage, also extended to Afghanistan, as this 2019 piece from the Bureau of Investigative Journalists explains.

Namir El Akabi has contacts in the UK government. And so it’s no surprise to find him in 2013 buying a hotel in Birmingham to house refugees, many from his own country. Perhaps he had better contacts than Birmingham City Council.

Recap: This digression came about because the Al Akabis previously owned Canons Lodge which is now owned by Nasser Alanizy who leases the buildings in Swansea with loans from the Council.

Moving on . . .

I can’t help wondering if the modestly-named Intergalactic Developments had plans for Canons Park Lodge that the council made clear would not be allowed. Thwarted, the boys from Baghdad found (perhaps already knew) Alanizy.

There was a bogus ‘sale’, and the council being aware of this subterfuge explains why the Friends of Canons Park tell me, “all his (Alanizy’s) applications to Harrow Council have been turned down”.’

Extract from the Land Registry title document for the Lodge, Canons Park. Click to enlarge

You will recall that one of Alanizy’s companies was the Old House Group Ltd at the popular accommodation address, 23 Crawford Street, London W1H 1BY. The only other director was Mazin Daood.

We find Daood and Alanizy together again at Bombay Development Ltd, which takes its name from property owned in Bombay Street, London SE16. Another director is Ednor Mata of Focus Developments. The shares are divided 400,000 to Focus Developments Solutions Ltd, 700,000 to SSL Investment Ltd, and 300,000 to Mazmo Partners Ltd.

Alanizy is a director of Focus Development Solutions along with Ednor Mata and Gentian Mata. Each holding 100 of the 300 shares. Only formed in June 2018 the first accounts were due 12 March. Companies House is still waiting.

SSL Investment Ltd belongs to a Jordanian family living in the United Arab Emirates.

Mazmo Partners Ltd has Mazin Daood as sole director. But with another person who may be his father also involved.

PENDINE IS VERY POPULAR AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR

But I have little interest in what’s going on in Baghdad, Birmingham, Abu Dhabi or London. Wales is my concern, and those we’re discussing may now have business interests west of the old home town.

Among the companies using the Crawford Street address we find another with Mazin Daood as director, formed as recently as April this year, Pendine Sands Ltd. The Nature of business SIC tells us: “Support activities for animal production (other than farm animal boarding and care) not elsewhere classified”.

Which I thought was a bit odd, why the sudden interest in animals? Are they hoping to profit from the ‘Welsh Government’s war on farmers?

Whatever the answer, we have an interlocking set of property investors with Middle East connections, one of whom has turned his attention to Pendine Sands, which was famous for land speed record attempts in the first half of the 20th century. You’ll recall that J G Parry-Thomas was killed there in 1927 trying to beat his own world land speed record.

Image: Kevin Trahar. Pendine beach. Click to enlarge

As if that wasn’t enough, there is an Irish company called Pendine Sands 4894 Limited (known as Olympus Leasing 4162 Limited until September 2015). Through a number of intermediaries it is ultimately owned by Goshawk Aviation Funding Ltd, which I assume links with this aircraft leasing company.

There are two other ‘Pendine Sands’ companies at the same Dublin 2 address, Pendine Sands 4832 Limited and Pendine Sands 39621 Limited.

So many companies using the Pendine name could be pure coincidence. Then again, maybe not.

Finally, let’s remember that the UK Ministry of Defence owns over 20 square kilometres at Pendine, which it leases out to QinetiC. We’ve come across QinetiC before. Involved with wayward drones at MoD Aberporth, and through links with Snowdonia Aerospace LLP at Llanbedr.

QinetiC has strong connections with the UK Government’s allies and business associates in the Middle East.

UPDATE 20.09.2020: Well, well, well! RAF lands huge transport plane on Cefn Sidan beach, just a few miles from Pendine.

CONCLUSION AND QUESTIONS

As you must know, there’s a lot of money sloshing about the Middle East just looking for a home. Or perhaps a raison d’être.

The City of London and its far-flung empire of tax havens attract this money because no questions are asked.

But I have some questions:

  • When and how did Nasser Alanizy make contact with the Council of the City and County of Swansea?
  • Why were the ‘The Box’ and 62 Kingsway leased rather than sold outright?
  • Why did the Council need to fund the deals for these two properties?
  • Has any work been done on either of these properties?
  • Why would Canons Lodge Ltd – buying a property in London – need to temporarily move its address to Swansea?
  • Were the changes of address connected with the loans, and therefore a deliberate attempt to deceive someone into believing these were Swansea-based companies?
  • If so, was anyone at Swansea Council complicit in this?
  • Now that Swansea Council is aware of the facts, what is it going to do?
  • Is the ‘Welsh Government’ aware of any plans for Pendine relating to the MoD property?
  • Is the ‘Welsh Government’ aware of any Middle Eastern involvement or investment at Pendine?
  • Can the ‘Welsh Government’ be bothered to make enquiries of its masters in London?

What do you make of it, boys and girls? Answers on the dog-eared postcard I’m sure you’ll find at the back of a drawer.

♦ end ♦

 




Housing for Wales or housing for the Welsh?

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

We are confronted by a paradox. The stock of housing in Wales is growing, yet less and less of it is accessible to Welsh people.

INTRODUCTION

What I’m describing is a bizarre housing system that works against the native population while promoting the interests of strangers. A system too complex and too consistent in its outcomes to be attributed to incompetence or happenstance.

Once the bigger problem is deconstructed and its component parts exposed, then remedies present themselves. All that’s needed then is the political will to implement those remedies.

In this article I shall explain a problem and then make one or more suggestions for tackling it. I’m sure many of you reading this will have your own ideas – so let’s hear them.

PRICES, TOO HIGH AND TOO LOW

When dealing with house prices we find problems at both ends of the scale. On the one hand, houses are being built in many areas that most locals can’t afford – but that’s OK because they’re not intended for us.

Take Newport, Pembrokeshire, a ‘holiday hotspot’. Locals are being squeezed out of the local housing market and this shortfall is then used to justify building new housing . . . that is also beyond the reach of locals!

Such as this modest – and rather ugly – three-bedroom home for £425,000.

While at the other end of the scale, in declining seaside resorts and post-industrial areas, property prices are so low that they attract those who buy in bulk and ship in problems.

Which takes us to Llanelli, and the Ty Isha neighbourhood, by the railway station. Third sector bodies, private landlords and others have moved in, bought up terraced houses and flats, and dumped petty criminals and drug addicts from England.

I’m not sure how to read this without more information, but it’s pretty, and some people enjoy this kind of thing. Blame WalesOnline for ‘Tyshia’. Click to enlarge

Those who profit from trading in undesirables – with the full support and financial backing  of the ‘Welsh Government’ – were initially attracted to Ty Isha by low house prices, and they have succeeded in driving property values down even more!

Some of those interviewed in the report are now trapped in houses they have lived in all their married lives but can only sell at a price below what a house such as theirs would fetch in a normal neighbourhood.

Yet in a system that prioritised Welsh needs the small terraced houses of Ty Isha would make ideal starter homes for young people.

SUGGESTIONS: In the case of Newport, Pembs and countless other such developments, the answer is that we simply do not allow the building of new properties that locals either do not wish to buy or cannot afford to buy.

I’ll explain later how we could both achieve this and forecast local need.

To argue that allowing such properties takes the pressure of the existing stock, thereby making many such properties available for local buyers, is absolute bollocks. The numbers wanting to relocate to Wales is limitless, and the demand for holiday homes insatiable.

As for Ty Isha, funding should be withdrawn from any third sector body importing problems from outside of Wales to any part of Wales. The same should apply to housing associations.

I shall also offer suggestions for achieving these objectives.

Those whose properties have been devalued, and their lives affected by the riff-raff dumped around them, should be compensated by the ‘Welsh Government’.

THE NUMBERS GAME

Let’s now focus on the problem of houses being built in numbers greatly in excess of what Wales needs. And, again, at prices most of us can’t afford. This is particularly noticeable in the eastern parts of the country as English commuters look west for cheaper housing and nicer scenery.

Black-spots are along the A55 in the north and the M4 in the south and, since the removal of tolls on the Severn Bridge, increasingly evident in southern Gwent, including the city of Newport. An example would be the 900 dwellings of the ‘urban village’ planned for Mamhilad, north of Pontypool, towards Abergavenny, but close enough to the M4 for Bristol commuters.

Building in Wales to meet a demand from England has also become noticeable around Wrexham in recent years. It begins with the ‘Welsh Government’ producing absurd population projections to justify building an excessive number of new houses.

Then, when the projections are shown to be exaggerated, the Planning Inspectorate insists on sticking with the original number of new houses. This article explains it well.

I looked into this problem back as March 2014 in a piece I wrote about Denbighshire. The council said, “Look, the latest projections suggest a smaller population increase, so we don’t need to build so many new houses”.

The Planning Inspectorate’s response was, “Yes, you’re right about the population projections . . . but we insist on sticking with the original number of new dwellings”.

Planning Inspectorate insisting that discredited population projections still be used to determine housing provision. Click to enlarge

A response like that sort of gives the game away, doesn’t it?

Back in 2011 the ‘Welsh Government’ was insisting that the population of Wrexham would increase by 20% in the near future, then the projected increase reduced to 10%, and the latest calculation is that the borough’s population will actually fall by 1.5% by 2028! Yet the number of houses ‘needed’ must remain the same as when an increase of 20% was forecast.

Major housing developments planned around Wrecsam. None to the south or the west. Quelle surprise! Click to enlarge

As the map above makes clear, the planned developments are all to the north or the east of the town, in other words, convenient for Cheshire. Or rather, convenient for those who aren’t wanted in Cheshire, in order to preserve property values in Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and the other communities of the ‘Golden Triangle’.

Add to all the new housing the proposed road improvements and the fate allotted to Wrecsam becomes clear. The A483 is of course the road to Chester.

Here’s a late addition about 200 more houses at Rhosrobin, right next to the A483.

What has clearly been happening is that the ‘Welsh Government’ (or others acting in its name) has been producing what it knew to be inflated, contrived, population projections. Done to justify building excessive numbers of new dwellings.

When the population projections were exposed as bogus, and revised downwards, the Planning Inspectorate stuck with the discredited figures in order to push on with building what were now clearly excessive numbers of new houses.

And by so doing the Planning Inspectorate exposed a dishonest system.

SUGGESTIONS: To begin with, calculations to determine how many new homes an area needs must be based on what the people of the area need, not on how many properties developers think they can sell. In fact, I can’t think of any good reason why developers need to be involved in assessing demand.

The Wrecsam area being used to take pressure off Cheshire is part of the wider integration strategy of the Mersey Dee Alliance. A giveaway is estate agents referring to the area as ‘West Cheshire’.

The Planning Inspectorate does not serve Welsh interests, it never has. It must be replaced with a new Welsh body free from political interference and divorced from commercial interests.

Why can’t we have a register of those who think they’ll be looking to buy a new home within an area; something similar to the waiting list for social housing. Once people grasp that contributing to such a database will make it more likely they’ll find the home they need then the more likely they’ll be to participate.

HOLIDAY HOMES

A perennial issue in Wales and the Covid lockdown has highlighted the problem. First, it was people sneaking to their holiday homes for lockdown rather than staying at their usual residence, while more recently it’s been the increased demand for holiday homes.

The latest figures for Gwynedd suggest that 40% of the properties being sold in the county are now bought for use as holiday homes. Take the towns out of the calculation and it’s reasonable to assume that a majority of the properties in villages and in the countryside are being sold as holiday homes.

Gwynedd council is run by Plaid Cymru but it has only imposed a 50% surcharge on holiday homes. Yet another example of Plaid Cymru wringing its hands, “Oooh, isn’t it awful, something should be done”, yet when a roar of defiance was needed Plaid Cymru could only whimper.

This is Plaid Cymru terrified of being called ‘anti-English’. That mauling Glenys Kinnock handed out to Ieuan Wyn Jones on Question Time in February 2001 has left a deep and painful scar.

Swansea waterfront. Click to enlarge

Compare Gwynedd to Swansea, where the Labour-controlled council has imposed a 100% surcharge, (which also applies to properties left empty for a long period). And in case you think this is only a gesture because the city has few holiday homes, there are many hundreds in the waterfront area, and of course, on Gower.

All the arguments used in defence of holiday homes are self-serving bullshit. “Nobody else wanted the place” . . . “But we put so much money into the local economy!” . . . “An essential part of the tourism industry”, etc, etc.

SUGGESTIONS: One simple change in the law would go a long way to easing the misery of holiday homes.

Legislation stating that only 10% of properties in any electoral ward can be registered as holiday homes, with the figure reducing to 5% in 2030 would have a number of immediate effects.

First, in wards where more than 10% of properties are currently registered as holiday homes such legislation would immediately curtail future demand. Knowledge of the change in 2030 would remove the threat of further properties being bought as holiday homes.

Resulting in more properties, at reduced prices, becoming available for locals.

Severe penalties must be imposed for using a property as a holiday home when it is not registered for that use. And the loophole allowing holiday homes to escape council tax by registering as a business must be closed.

To further reduce the demand for holiday homes and increase their contribution to the local community council tax should be charged at a rate of 200%.

Some may think that a 5% figure is too low, others that it’s unduly generous. My belief is that no area of Wales should suffer more than 5% of its housing stock being used by strangers flaunting their greater wealth.

RETIRING TO WALES

An often overlooked factor in inflating house prices is retired and elderly people moving to Wales. The negatives increase when we remember that the older a person is the more likely they are to need medical care of some kind. This is a universal truth.

Which means that this influx will obviously impact on our NHS and other services.

In fact, it’s difficult to think of any benefit Wales derives from people in the older age brackets moving in. But that doesn’t stop some from trying.

Some three years ago I wrote to the ‘Welsh Government’ with a few questions on this subject. What I received by way of an answer contained a paragraph that has caused either mirth, or head shaking, whenever people read it. (For the full letter, click here.)

Click to enlarge

On a planet where all other countries view an ageing population as a ‘ticking time-bomb’ Wales alone sees the takeover by alien wrinklies as something positive. Or rather, the ‘Welsh Government’ wants us to believe it does.

This is the sort of nonsense that officialdom spouts when it’s cornered. I say that because while the letter I received makes highfalutin’ references to “liberty of movement” the truth is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has enacted legislation that encourages retired and elderly people to move to Wales.

Click to enlarge

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine that Welsh people going into care can hold on to £50,000, I might benefit from such a provision myself one day. But it also encourages into Wales people who have spent their working lives elsewhere. And the cost of looking after these elderly goes into the debit column of our national accounts and is used to prove that Wales is a financial basket-case.

I see a boy at the back with his hand up, “How big is the problem, Sir?”

Here’s a table I compiled using data from the 2011 Census. You’ll see that in some local authority areas only a minority of the population in the 65+ age bracket was born in Wales.

Click to enlarge

With the problem not confined to the north, just look at Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. There’s a definite correlation between tourism and the numbers of retired and elderly people moving to an area.

Though Flintshire would appear to buck the trend in that it is not a tourism hotspot, but even so, half of the over 65s were born in England. While this can be partly explained by maternity services being located in Chester I can also suggest another explanation.

Let’s say you’re a likely lad living on the Wirral. Aunt Mabel is going to leave you her money, a nice round figure of £100,000. If she goes into a local care home you might only see £23,350, but take her to Mold or Connah’s Quay and you’re guaranteed at least £50,000. More if you can get the local authority to cough up.

And, anyway, is the old girl going to know where she is!

Finally, let’s not forget the political dimension to this phenomenon. It has been proven time after time that the older an English voter is the more likely that person is to be royalist, patriotically British, pro-Brexit, conservative and Conservative.

From a Welsh perspective, encouraging retired and elderly English people into Wales is both an economic and a political disaster. But it benefits England for the same reasons.

SUGGESTIONS: There’s no need to deny Welsh people the £50,000 limit, but insist on 20 years residency in Wales before anyone qualifies.

And let’s stop building retirement bungalows and flats to be advertised over the border. Many of those who move to such properties may be fit and active when they arrive, but Father Time will soon do his work.

Only a country run by idiots drives out its own young people and replaces them with another country’s elderly.

SOCIAL HOUSING

At one time it was so simple – local authorities built and rented council houses. You put your name down on the list and you waited your turn. Obviously there was favouritism shown in certain allocations, but by and large the system worked to the benefit of Welsh communities.

Then came the housing associations and the transfer of council housing stock.

There’s a general and touching misconception that Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), more commonly known as housing associations, have simply replaced councils, and that social housing is universally available for those who cannot afford to buy a home but would rather not rent from a private landlord.

Er, no.

That was the intention, and that may have been how it started under the new system, but things got much more complicated as years went by. Much more complicated.

There are a number of fundamental problems with the way RSLs now operate.

1/ To begin with, social housing in Wales is locked into an Englandandwales system. This was explained to me in December 2010 in a response I received from Nick Bennett, who was then CEO of Community Housing Cymru, the umbrella organisation for housing associations.

He wrote, “There are over 2 million people on waiting lists for social housing”. This figure cannot be for Wales alone, and yet it was provided by the head of the body supposedly responsible for social housing in Wales. And only in Wales.

Bennett emerged a couple of decades ago from under a lily pad in Cardiff Bay as a fully-formed Spad, before becoming a business partner of Labour’s Alun Davies. He then served as CEO at Community Housing Cymru from 2006 to 2014, and since leaving CHC he has guarded the posterior regions of our politicians and civil servants as the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Corruption Bay in mortal form.

Who gets a vacant house may be decided by a third sector body, in contact with a sister body in England, which has ‘recommended’ Chardonnay and her six semi-feral children; the little darlings having been chased out of their last home by neighbours fed up with the thieving and the vandalism.

They get priority treatment, “Cos they is homeless, innit. Little kiddies, look”.

This rehousing of ‘priority cases’ can have catastrophic consequences. As we learnt when Grwp Gwalia of Swansea housed a network of Satan-worshipping paedophiles from London in Kidwelly.

It was never explained why this was done. And no politicians asked . . . because they didn’t want to know. ‘Priority cases’ are still being dumped in Wales, every day.

2/ A more recent problem with housing associations – and there are dozens of them, competing with each other – is that they are now privatised, but still in receipt of public funding.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, nearly all of them have subsidiaries, or private companies that are not subsidiaries but still members of the group. And then there are the partners.

This diversification has led to the mis-use of public funding, an almost complete lack of monitoring and accountability, and RSL group members building private housing for open market sale. Sold to retirees (officially ‘downsizers’), buy-to-rent landlords (officially ‘investors’), and even as holiday homes. While also selling shares in leasehold properties, with the agreements poorly explained and many duped into thinking they’re buying a freehold property.

This, remember, is the hated leasehold system that the ‘Welsh Government’ elsewhere opposes. Yet it is funding RSLs who then slip money under the table to subsidiaries, or partners, to con people into buying a share in a leasehold property.

To explain how confusing it can become, I suggest you read this piece I wrote recently on Cartrefi Conwy and its offshoots. (Scroll down to the section ‘Cartrefi Conwy, Associates, Chinese investors’.)

Brenig Construction, with Chinese investment, is in partnership with Creating Enterprise, which is a subsidiary of RSL Cartrefi Conwy. Wales and West is Labour’s favourite RSL and the only one that operates all over the country. It has a bad record for housing drug addicts and petty criminals from outside of Wales in towns like Lampeter and Fishguard. Click to enlarge

What a system! What a ‘government’! What a country!

SUGGESTIONS: The bottom line is that what Wales needs is social landlords renting decent housing to Welsh tenants. Nothing more.

We don’t need subsidiaries of RSLs using diverted public funding to build and sell buy-to-rents in Pembrokeshire. Nor do we want convoluted arrangements using Chinese money to build more retirement bungalows and flats on the north coast.

Housing associations are past their sell-by date. A root-and-branch reform of the social housing system is needed. Wales must leave behind the mess created by ‘diversification’ and adopt a system closer to the original council housing model.

One big question will be what happens to the housing stock currently held by RSLs. Seeing as almost all of it was either built by local authorities, or built since stock transfer with money from the ‘Welsh Government’, a strong case could be made to bring it back into public ownership.

This twilight zone of private bodies living off the public purse while also taking out commercial loans with banks and behaving like private developers must end.

In the meantime, to avoid the dumping of undesirables, no one should be allocated a social tenancy by a RSL unless that person has been resident in Wales for at least 10 years.

CONCLUSION

We have a housing sector in Wales that has for years been steadily divorcing itself from the needs of our people. The situation has worsened under devolution.

There is clearly a strategy to settle in Wales as many people as possible who are loyal to the UK or England, in order to ‘secure’ Wales. We can expect this assault on Welsh identity to intensify with Scotland looking more and more likely to choose independence in the next few years.

There is one final weapon in the armoury that can be employed to stem the tide of colonisation. That is the Land Transaction Tax (LTT). It replaced Stamp Duty and it’s already in operation.

Below is a table I’ve compiled showing the current LTT rates with higher rates I’m suggesting as a way to curb the invasion. ‘Existing main residence’ is self-explanatory. Holiday homes are covered by ‘Existing higher residential’.

My suggestions are at the bottom, in yellow. What I’m proposing is higher rates all round for those not already living in Wales. Exceptions could be made for key workers, investors and others deemed necessary for the national good.

Click to enlarge

I am also suggesting that LTT kicks in lower down the price scale, and there’s a good reason for this. In the Valleys, post-industrial towns, even parts of Swansea, properties sell at prices buyers from prosperous areas of England find irresistible. Many are being bought for the wrong reasons.

Just think back to Ty Isha, Llanelli.

What’s more, most properties bought by retirees will be below the £250,000 threshold, so why should they be free of LTT?

I suppose one response to everything I’ve written will be, “It all depends on the political will”, and clearly that political will is absent. For the following reasons.

  • Civil servants of the ‘Wales would be better without the Welsh’ mindset ‘advising’ – some shagging! – ‘Welsh Government’ ministers.
  • A zealously Unionist Labour Party containing too many politicians who can dismiss concern for Welsh identity as ‘ugly and narrow-minded nationalism’. And then of course they have their third sector and housing association cronies to think about.
  • A Conservative Party (plus a rag-bag of BritNats) who will never object to English people moving to Wales, or the votes they bring. “All British . . . free to move anywhere . . . God Save the Queen.”
  • A so-called ‘national party’, Plaid Cymru, scared witless of being called anti-English by the anti-Welsh. And anyway, national survival is nowhere near as important as trans rights, BLM, refugees, getting Trump out of the White House . . . 

You’ve read that 40% of the properties now sold in Gwynedd are to be used as holiday homes. I’ll bet that another 40% are bought by people moving from England into Gwynedd permanently. And it’s the same in other rural areas.

Thanks to the refusal of successive ‘governments’ in Corruption Bay to build a rural economy, the forced reliance on ‘shit anywhere’ tourism, the neglect of everywhere other than Cardiff . . . Wales, thanks to the ‘progressive’ parties’ refusal to confront the assimilation agenda, is approaching the point of no return.

To refuse to challenge the assimilation agenda is to accept it.

♦ end ♦